San Diego State reports $42 million in losses associated with pandemic

The majority of the lost revenue constitutes housing, meal plan and parking reimbursements.

by Brenden Tuccinardi, Senior Staff Writer

San Diego State will face new financial realities in the coming fiscal year as the coronavirus pandemic is expected to decrease tuition revenue and bring changes to the state budget timeline and appropriations.

Already, the university reported $42 million in lost revenue and expenses due to COVID-19, according to an email sent by President Adela de la Torre and Chief Financial Officer Agnes Wong Nickerson on Monday. 

The majority of the lost revenue constitutes housing, meal plan and parking reimbursements, while the remainder was unbudgeted costs. A similar or greater amount of lost revenue is expected in the coming fiscal year, according to the email. 

“We have developed and carried out a thoughtful and necessary initial response plan for the near and long-term to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic on our institution and community,” the email said. 

The university has implemented a hiring chill on all open administrative positions in accordance with California State University system guidance, deferred non-critical construction projects, extended travel restrictions to May 31 and tapped into one-time reserves set aside for economic uncertainty. 

The university has also requested assistance from FEMA and applied for a number of federal, state and philanthropic sponsors grants.

According to the email, SDSU is expected to receive $29 million in federal aid from the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, the CARES Act. At least half of this funding will be used for emergency grants for students, and the remaining money will be used to offset the university’s unexpected costs. 

“We have overcome budget challenges in the past, and the team we have in place is working tirelessly on its approach to each financial decision,” de la Torre and Nickerson wrote in the email. “More changes are expected in the days ahead but if we continue to respond with resolve and resilience, we will overcome the challenges and return to an even stronger campus.” 

A clearer picture of the university’s financial situation won’t be available until final enrollment numbers are available in August. Even after those figures are available, the university may not have a clear idea regarding its budget until September or October, the email said. 

Due to the pandemic, the state’s tax filing deadline was extended from April 15 to July 15, and October 15 for those with a further extension. Lower tax revenues are anticipated due to high unemployment claims and volatility in the stock market.

The state budget is scheduled to be approved and signed into law by June 15, but unlike past years, changes to the final state budget may occur in September or October, leaving the university’s financial situation unknown.