(The Center Square) – Due to declining enrollment, St. Cloud State University is expected to cut 94 programs and dozens of staff or face millions in debt.

Over the past decade, enrollment has fallen by about 6,000 students, representing 38% of the student body. While it follows a general trend of declining enrollment at colleges across the country, St. Cloud State University has been hit especially hard with a $24 million budget gap for the following fiscal year.

"St. Cloud State University is a strong university with a bright future," SCSU President Larry Lee said in an announcement. "We're just in a difficult moment now, aligning our expenses with our revenues."

In total, 42 majors, 50 minors and 54 faculty members are expected to be cut. Heavily impacted programs include the physics, music and sociology departments. The program cuts are expected to affect 13% of faculty and 8% of current students. Those already enrolled in cut programs will be able to complete their degrees.

Minors on the chopping block include criminal justice, applied analytics, applied mathematics, applied behavior analysis, English studies, creative writing, STEM education, economics, several e-sports disciplines and global and gender studies. The entire masters program has suspended admissions for the fall.

St. Cloud State University
St. Cloud State University
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“When adjusting this year to account for a one-time allocation from the state of $9.75 million, our actual net operating loss would be $15 million for fiscal year 2024,” Lee wrote in a letter to the college. “It’s evident that with a $5 million projected cash balance, we cannot continue to lose $15 million a year, and adjustments to our operating structure are necessary.”

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The college has struggled to maintain a president during its financial woes. Lee announced a move to Blackburn College in late May, but will act as president until July 1. Former SCSU President Robbyn Wacker announced her resignation in November, but left early in May. Larry Dietz, former president of Illinois State University, is expected to take over after Lee.

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Some faculty and students blame the school’s increased focus on an accelerated online program for the budget deficit. The college is partnered with a for-profit company, Academic Partnerships. The company provides marketing and outreach services for the online program, in exchange for half of the tuition revenue.

“What I want folks to know is that there's nothing wrong with St. Cloud State. It’s a great university,” Wacker said. “Yes, we have some challenges. We’re addressing those and we’re moving forward and continue to serve Minnesotans.”

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