Bethel University the latest Minnesota college to face budget issues amid declining enrollment

Updated: December 11, 2019 07:25 PM

Another Minnesota college is dealing with budget issues. It tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS cuts to its operation and staff are on the way.

Just this week, St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota Crookston cut certain athletic programs – football and both men and women's golf at SCSU and football at the U of M Crookston.


Now, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is finding out Bethel University has a budget problem and will likely see some of its staff cut. That will include faculty and the university will have to chop some of its operational budget as well.

"It's agonizing to make these decisions," Bethel University President Jay Barnes said. "I'd really like to stress the importance in investing in things as well as cutting things."

Bethel has recently focused on the students of the future – investing in sciences and online courses.

In a statement, Barnes shared this with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS about the budget issue:

"We will be proactively addressing an $11 million budget gap over the next three years which is roughly 10% of our overall budget. Part of that adjustment will come from operational budgets and part of that will come from staff and faculty reductions—the numbers of which we have not yet finalized."

St. Cloud State to drop football and golf, add men's soccer

In Bethel's case, as well as SCSU's, enrollment numbers are playing a big roll with these adjustments. A look at the last five years shows the negative trend for both schools. 

Bethel University's Fall Enrollment Numbers:

  • 2015: 4,860
  • 2016: 4,674
  • 2017: 4,630
  • 2018: 4,527
  • 2019: 4,387

SCSU Fall Enrollment Numbers:

  • 2015: 15,461
  • 2016: 15,092
  • 2017: 14,615
  • 2018: 13,467
  • 2019: 12,608

President Barnes said the numbers may never bounce back, citing the simplicity that there aren't as many college-eligible students as their once was.

"We have to make hard decisions in order to make sure Bethel has a strong future and that call for some really difficult choices," Barnes said about the road ahead.

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Ben Henry

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