Higher education administrators today are facing unprecedented fiscal challenges after years of budget cuts have continued to chip away at their schools’ funding. In fact, funding for public two- and four-year colleges is almost $10 billion less than it was before the Great Recession, less than 10 years ago. As a result, administrators have offset budget cuts by increasing tuition prices, driving tuition up 33 percent since the 2007-08 school year.
This is hardly a long-term solution. As it is, student loan debt continues to reach unprecedented levels. At a certain point, tuition prices may discourage students from enrolling altogether, leaving the future of higher education institutions in jeopardy. Administrators are not blind to the instability they face—a 2016 Hobsons survey of college presidents revealed that only 48 percent were confident about their schools’ 10-year financial plans.
Adding another level of complexity to the budgetary woes of universities, cutting edge telecommunications infrastructure is increasingly being viewed as a need—not an amenity—for incoming students. Thus, administrators cannot simply maintain the status quo in order to shore up their fiscal woes. They must continue to grow and invest too.
So how can university leaders ease the strain of their tightening budgets without passing the cost onto the student body or relying on outdated technology? One simple answer is to take advantage of the benefits offered through Energy Services Contracts.
Utilizing an energy services program may help universities address their budgetary shortfalls in a number of ways. For starters, these programs are designed to replace outdated and inefficient infrastructure. By upgrading to more energy-efficient systems—ranging from lighting to electricity and HVAC—universities have vast potential to reduce their monthly utility bills while simultaneously replacing key components of the university infrastructure.
Participation in energy services programs may also help administrators develop energy and water conservation methods to further drive down utility costs.
If you’re an administrator in the difficult position of reconciling the need for more efficient infrastructure with an already tight budget, you’ll be happy to learn that your school may be able to participate in an energy savings program without any capital outlay for the equipment upgrades. This may give your school the unique opportunity to make a significant investment in facilities that will save money in the long run without sacrificing your short-term needs.
Participation in an energy services program may potentially earn your university additional cost savings through government and utility incentives as well. If your school is going through renovations or preparing to break ground on a new construction project, you may be able to leverage an energy services program to design and build LEED-certified facilities. LEED certification may qualify your university for additional funding, tax incentives, or grants. Benefits vary state-by-state, so to learn if your university may be eligible, speak with a LEED consultant or energy services company before starting a new project.
Even though university administrators are in a difficult financial position today, there is cause for hope. Participation in an energy services program can help schools address short-term financial concerns, while also integrating the infrastructure that will help create a stable long-term strategy for growth. Speak with a ConEdison Solutions representative today to learn more.