How they decided to spend your money: College Board budgetary plan for the new fiscal year

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During its June meeting, the college board approved the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) budget for the new fiscal year, without any discussion or dissenting votes. The new budget, which covers the entire university system for the 2025 fiscal year, includes few deviations from the past budgets. Its exposure, however, may provide for the layperson a few surprises. We, therefore, present what was approved, underscoring some of the seldom noticed features of this and previous IHL budgets.


For starters, the overall operating budget for the system is $5,801,115,260, nearly six billion dollars. It is an increase of 1.13% over last year’s budget. Of the total amount budgeted, the state appropriated $1,127,676,956 or 19.44%. The other $4,673,438,304 or 80.56% was self-generated. This may come as a surprise since much of it comes from student tuition and fees.

For the sake of those of us who are laypersons, it is important to point out that the operating budget covers several broad categories to which we turn our attention for emphasis. (1) The University of Mississippi Medical Center accounts for $1,971,512,232 or 34% of that amount. (2) Education and General, which speaks most directly to the teaching and learning process, accounts for $1,506,143,541 or 25.9% of the operating budget. (3) At the other end of the scale, agriculture accounts for 3% and student financial aid 1%. (4) Ayers funding is no longer a category that is being funded. Some $4,599,884 in carry-over interest from the public endowment initiative is the only trace of its funds that appears in the budget.


An item that is of interest to many faculty, staff, students, and alumni is the amount allocated to each university. In the new budget, Alcorn State University is allocated $60,734,516, a 1.08% increase over its last year budget. Delta State University is allocated $48,492,420, a 2.76% increase. Jackson State University is allocated $108,547,442, a 5.57% increase. Mississippi State University is allocated $464,987,102, a 7.09% increase. Mississippi University for Women is allocated $43,886,288, a 5.14% increase. Mississippi Valley State University is allocated $40,743,725, a 12.30% increase. The University of Mississippi is allocated $508,959,376, a 9.31% increase. The University of Southern Mississippi is allocated $231,292,672, a 4.24% increase.

It is of interest to many, especially students and parents. that of the operating education and general funds, 65% of the revenue comes from tuition and fees. Only 30% comes from state appropriations. This compares to 56% being state appropriation and 32% being provided by tuition in 2000. Clearly, students and their parents are paying more and more, many being priced out of the market.

When looking at the education and general funds by function, the money for teaching and learning is even less than most people realize. Of the $1,507,643,541 allocated, only $545,131,291 or 36% is for instruction. Of the remaining money, $319,551,381 or 22% is for institutional support and academic support. This is primarily for administration. The education and general funds also include $305,338,499 or 20% for scholarships, $152,274,594 or 10% for operation and maintenance, $97,107,414 or 6% for student services, $71,072,748 or 5% for research, $8,547,894 or 1% for public services, and $7,719,720 or less than 1% in transfers.

Many may also find it helpful to view the education and general allocations by major object categories. This shows where the money is being spent as opposed to the specific function for which it is spent. The new budget shows $970,295,940 or 64% of the money goes to personnel and $457,789,445 or 30% is allocated for contractual services. Those were by far the largest categories of education and general funding. Far down the scale was spending on commodities ($20,916,470 at 3%), capital ($18,863,506 at 1%), and travel ($11,098,043 at less than 1%).

Generally speaking, much less than one would probably have concluded is being spent on the teaching/process. While what may appear to be a tremendous amount being spent on personnel, considering the position of the universities’ teachers compared to other states, too little is actually going to teachers. A large share, apparently too much, is going into administration.


Given the fact that UMMC is such a large institution, it can and should be looked at separately. Although it functions fairly independently, it is still technically under the umbrella of the University of Mississippi. Given its size and influence, one can understand why there was such an uproar among white leaders 50 years ago when plaintiffs in the case of Ayers vs. Waller sought to place UMMC under the auspices of historically Black Jackson State University, which is located in Jackson, as opposed to it remaining under the auspices of the University of Mississippi, which is more than 160 miles away in Oxford.

Aside from its size, it is allocated 34% of the system’s operating budget. Some may want to look at UMMC’s allocations and compare it to the education and general funding for the universities. One area that stands out is that for UMMC the state provides 64% ($262,756,256) of the needed revenue, compared to only 30% for the other universities. Simultaneously, student tuition accounts for 24% ($47,826,727) of UMMC’s revenue, compared to student tuition having to cover 65% of the other universities’ revenue. 

This is not to say that students at UMMC are being taxed too lightly, it’s that the state is too tight-fisted regarding the other students. Since education is an investment, students in all professions should be amply supported rather than some having to go in debt for much of their adult lives and others being priced out of the market. 

Finally, looking at UMMC in terms of its major object categories, he/she will find $1,060,930,939 or 52.6% of its budget is devoted to personnel. Contractual services are second in line and account for $311,474,034 or 15.7% of the proposed expenditures. Travel represents $4,245.913, and commodities, $375,925,293. Then, there is the category of “others”, that accounts for all other expenditures. 


Hopefully, this provides a snapshot of how the college board, with the assistance of the staff of the office of State Institutions of Higher Learning, plans to spend the public’s tax money this fiscal year. The plan is not greatly different from what has been occurring during the past decade. At the same time, however, things could be improved if the public monitored, lobbied, and pressured the college board and the state legislature more specifically and more consistently for needed changes. There is no need for citizens to wish for things to improve, but then accept whatever is offered up by a board that otherwise has no overseers or individuals to whom it is accountable.  

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How they decided to spend your money: College Board budgetary plan for the new fiscal year

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
July 7, 2024