Abilene Christian University introduces plan to curb student debt, cut back on jobs


ABILENE, Texas - Abilene Christian University has announced new plans for its budget to reduce student debt, but the school says the move will mean fewer jobs on campus.

ACU President Dr. Phil Schubert said in a statement the goal of the new budget alignment plan is to reduce student debt and "the cost of delivering a quality higher education, while increasing affordability."

The plan is aimed at lowering expenses by between five and seven percent, amounting to $7-8 million.

While the school says it is not certain how many jobs will be impacted during the adjustment, it says a voluntary retirement incentive will be offered to most faculty positions, and that most staff positions are already in the process of being reduced.

According to the plan's outline, while the school's new programs have attracted more students, it has not kept up with "growth in expenses."

The school says keeping higher education affordable has become a widespread struggle across the market for several reasons, including rising tuition costs in contrast to flat household incomes, an increase in dual-credit, which allows high school freshmen to earn college credits elsewhere before attending ACU, and an increasing interest in Texas universities.

According to ACU, "Texas is one of only a few states in the country forecasting double-digit growth in the number of high school graduates over the next 10-15 years."

The university says it is "focused on reaching an overall financial target, not a specific number of jobs."