Better-than-expected investment income, cost-cutting and an increase in tuition revenue from out-of-state students helped drive an extra $15 million into the University of Maine System over the past fiscal year, which ended in June, according to campus officials.

“That is compared to what we were expecting, which was a budget loss of $1.8 million,” said Ryan Low, the system’s vice chancellor for finance and administration. 

Low presented the final budget figures Monday at the board of trustees meeting on the Portland campus of University of Southern Maine.

Campuses that reported better-than-expected budget figures, primarily at the two largest campuses, kept the money and rolled it into their current budgets, according to Low.

USM had a surplus of $7.4 million, he said, in part because of lower-than-expected expenses and a bump in tuition revenue because it enrolled 30 percent more nonresident students than expected last year, Low said. 

USM President Glenn Cummings said the savings was mostly due to deferred capital investment projects and not immediately replacing staff who left during the year. USM put $2.4 million of the savings into reserves, bringing the total up to $10 million, he said.

The University of Maine in Orono also saw better-than-expected revenue from out-of-state students, contributing to a $3 million surplus, most of which the campus invested into capital expenditures and reserves.

The cost of in-state tuition, fees, and room and board is $17,986 a year at the flagship campus in Orono. Out-of-state students — who generally pay about three times as much as Mainers for tuition alone — pay about $38,000 at the Orono campus.

The University of Maine at Farmington reported a $1.4 million deficit, with both regular enrollment and out-of-state enrollment short of expectations.

Overall, the seven campuses had a surplus of about $8.2 million, and the system operations, such as employee benefits and investment income, accounted for the remaining amount over budget. Low said returns on investments were $2 million over budget, and that amount was transferred to the system’s Budget Stabilization Fund, which is used to help campuses close unexpected funding gaps. About $1 million was refunded to campuses, another $1 million was earmarked for one-time purchases for information technology, human resources and strategic procurement, and the remainder was put in reserves to pay for benefit claims.

Also Monday, the trustees were updated on fall enrollment figures, which showed an overall increase of 2.5 percent after a slight dip last fall.

There are now 29,735 students enrolled in the system. Out-of-state enrollment is up 6.2 percent, to a total of 5,972 students, and in-state enrollment is up 2.1 percent — notable given that in-state enrollment was down 3.5 percent last fall.

The trustees were also briefed on the expansion of Early College programs, which allow qualifying high school students to attend college classes online, at their high school or at a nearby college campus.

Fall enrollment in the programs has increased from about 1,500 students in 2015 to nearly 2,800 students this year, largely due to a focus on providing students in rural communities with career-tracked options.


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