DE article prompts SIU response on distance education funding

March 24, 2023

Just two days after a Daily Egyptian story about confusion over distance education (DE) funding, SIU sent a memo to the university’s deans seeking to clarify what is happening with the money.

“We know there have been many questions about not only the history of the payback program but the ways in which we can make the required payments,” the memo from co-acting Provosts Marc Morris and Robert Morgan said.

The March 8 edition of the Daily Egyptian outlined SIU’s use of distance education funds and the financial stability plan enacted by the university in response to an Illinois budget impasse from 2015-2017.


The administration memo, released shortly before spring break, said the university decided to work in a deficit-spending mode at that time.

“It was determined that the university would continue to operate without significant reductions to staffing levels by curtailing expenditures wherever possible and utilizing cash reserves while trying to maintain the ability to serve our students and fulfill the university’s mission,” the memo said.

The memo also attempted to offer some clarification on the issue of where the university was able to obtain the funds to continue operating after 2017’s disastrously low state appropriation fund.

“At the end of FY17, the university was allowed to carry a deficit of $38 million in the income fund because there was enough total cash from other allowable funds to cover university cash flow requirements.”

The financial stability plan referred to this money as locally held, designated unrestricted funds which were “borrowed” from multiple sources to maintain operations, and emphasized that they must be repaid.

Provided below is an updated chart of the school’s repayment efforts to date.


Distance education funds are generated when various schools throughout the university make their classes available online. A previous administration promised the schools they could keep a portion of the money to cover faculty and student travel, equipment and other items as needed.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the memo is a specific chart representing the DE funds generated in FY2022 and “carrying over” into FY2023, totaling 5.3 million, as well as funds from FY2021 and before which were meant to carry over into the current financial year, totaling 9.3 million. That money existed on paper and was anticipated by faculty and staff, but was not actually real, as it was spent by previous administrations during the crisis caused by the state budget impasse. According to the provosts, this fund was used, “…to maintain employment across the university, to provide services to students and others who rely on the university and to award scholarships to help with enrollment.”

The chart is provided below.

The next chart displays $7.1 million of distance education revenue allocated to the colleges and the provost, generated from the start of FY2023 on July 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022. It summarized the expenses paid with DE funds which the school currently possesses, giving us an idea of the distance education funds the school actually currently possesses (about $3.7 million as of Dec. 31, 2022).

The memo says that the university may require less for the repayment fund of 8.7 million in FY24 if revenue from state appropriations and enrollment increase, but departments should still plan to contribute.

The provosts acknowledge that previous university administrations kept DE funds with the departments that generated them. They “will continue to assess the financial position of the university and the possibility of allocating all or part the $9.3M from FY21 and prior based on sufficiency of funds within a given fiscal year.”

Given staff criticisms mentioned in a previous story, the university has resolved to provide the FY2024 budget prior to the beginning of the fiscal year, to prevent further confusion and financial complications for departments. In addition, the provosts promise current revenue allocation of 65% college / 29.5% chancellor / 5.5% provost will continue and all allocations made to the college will remain with the college.


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