April 29, 2021
Dear Members of Our Campus Community,
I am writing to bring you an update regarding UC Santa Barbara’s current financial outlook. Through prudent fiscal policies, cautious use of reserves, and the welcome availability of federal stimulus funds, our campus has been able to address our budget shortfall for the 2020-21 fiscal year. So, I am pleased to report that we will not be asking units and departments to implement one-time reductions this year.
We also remain hopeful that the State will follow through on its announced plan to restore funding to UC for the next fiscal year, which will provide much-needed ongoing support for our campus. Our campus awaits further details on our budget status following the State finalizing its budget in June.
In the 2020-21 fiscal year, our campus had to adjust to a 10-percent reduction ($21 million) in state appropriations. Our campus also estimated that the overall impact of the pandemic at UC Santa Barbara would be between $160 and $210 million. These projections were based on the State’s reduced funding; additional unanticipated expenses for testing, quarantine housing, vaccine clinics, personal protective equipment for staff and students, instructional equipment and technologies; and the loss of revenue from the many services that operate on our campus. These estimates forced us to adopt urgent fiscal policies such as our hiring pause and other cost-savings measures including the salary freeze for policy-covered staff and faculty, with the exception of the faculty academic merit cycles.
Throughout the year our Chancellor’s Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy (CCCBS) has been meeting biweekly to develop various means of addressing the budget impact of the COVID-19 crisis. I am deeply grateful for their time and insights as we sought to mitigate the significant budget shortfalls of the past year.
Even as we have worked to address these shortfalls, we have maintained our standard annual distribution of $230 million in undergraduate financial aid and $103 million in graduate student support this year. In addition to these funds, we have distributed $25.2 million in federal stimulus funds directly to students with demonstrated need since the onset of the pandemic.
We are optimistic that the availability of vaccines will allow us to resume normal operations by the end of the next academic year, and that in turn will enable us to restore some of the revenue streams lost due to the pandemic. The CCCBS will continue to meet to review our budget strategies to ensure the fiscal health of our campus and to advise on ways to address any one-time losses to campus revenue streams, as well as longer-term gaps between revenues and expenses.
We are relieved that our campus has navigated the challenges of this difficult year while protecting and preserving jobs and salaries. However, we must continue to be innovative in our approach to balancing our campus budget so that we can perpetuate the excellence and diversity of our institution, and continue the world-class instruction, frontier research, and groundbreaking work of our faculty, staff, and students for generations to come.
I know how difficult and stressful the past year has been for all of us and our families. Words cannot express my gratitude for everyone’s dedication and perseverance in support of our campus mission. I hope this news about our current budget situation brings all of us a modicum of comfort and reassurance.
Henry T. Yang