Memorial Tower

The LSU Memorial Tower stands Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2020 on Tower Drive, Baton Rouge.

From winning a national championship to losing over $20 million due to COVID-19, the University has had an eventful year when it comes to its finances. 

As a whole, the LSU system saw total revenue losses of $45.42 million and total expenses of $13.98 million due to COVID-19. The breakdown for each campus is as follows:

  • LSU A&M: $27.73 million total revenue losses, $5.57 million total COVID-19 expenses

  • LSU Ag Center: $490,749 total revenue losses, $67,416 total COVID-19 expenses

  • LSU Alexandria: $349,901 total revenue losses, $202,880 total COVID-19 expenses

  • LSU Eunice: $159,588 total revenue losses, $134,317 total COVID-19 expenses

  • LSU HSC New Orleans: $7.42 million total revenue losses, $3.05 million total COVID-19 expenses

  • LSU HSC Shreveport: $341,191 total revenue losses, $539,339 total COVID-19 expenses

  • Pennington Biomedical Research Center: $8.76 million total revenue losses, $37,919 total COVID-19 expenses 

Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO Dan Layzell told the Reveille that although he doesn’t have the exact figures for how much the University gained from winning the national championship in January, the University saw an increase in trademark royalties from merchandise purchases. 

“Obviously there was a lot of interest and excitement about winning the national championship, and certainly that has an impact on people attending LSU,” Layzell said. 

By March 13, the University went completely remote, sending faculty, staff and students back home to prevent spread of the coronavirus on campus. 

The University lost $2.50 million in student fees, $5.25 million in lease and rental fees, $4.82 million athletic events, $1.39 million in conferences, $442,460 in performances, $8.05 million in sales, $1.15 in facilities and administrative costs, $189,728 in grants and contracts, $413,937 in dining, $1.63 million in international and study abroad programs and $1.89 million in other revenues dating back to March.  

The University did not lay off any employees due to COVID-19, according to Layzell. The University paid the full salaries and benefits for those employees — for example, facility workers — who were unable to do their jobs remotely.

Facility Services was able to hire additional custodial staff to maintain additional cleaning protocols, and the University also contracted outside janitorial services to augment the Facility Services staff for enhanced cleaning. 

Although the University has begun this year's 10-game, conference-only football schedule that has Tiger Stadium capped at 25% capacity, Layzell said it’s still too early to predict what the ultimate financial impact of the games will be for LSU.

According to The Advocate, LSU Athletics brought in about $157 million for the University during the 2018-2019 season. Due to the diminished capacity and reduced ticket sales, the University will see a negative impact, Layzell said.

"There's no doubt that there will be a financial hit because such a large portion of Athletics' budget comes from football, and a large portion of football comes from ticket sales," Layzell said.

He added that LSU Athletics does not receive any financial support from the University, but the department has looked at implementing cost-saving initiatives. He hopes the University will see a "normal" athletics program and season by 2021. 

As for the University itself, Layzell said it experienced "significant revenue loss." By July, the University spent $5.2 million in additional unexpected COVID-19-related resources, including technology to allow for remote learning and laptops and computers for faculty and staff. 

A breakdown of COVID-19-related expenses by activity is as follows:

  • Preparation for online instruction: $976,752

  • International Study and Faculty Led Programs: $872,980

  • Remote Work: $619,420

  • Research and Sponsored Programs: $646,585

  • Clinical Trials: $10,460

  • Ag Center: $1,840

  • Transition of Student off Campus: $46,346

  • Dining Services: $26,655

  • Student Health Services: $61,756

  • Education Campaigns, communications and public relations: $67,412

  • Sanitation and Disinfection Activities: $399,101

  • Other Operational Impacts: $1,779,156

  • Resumption of Services: $61,597

“As we began moving toward reopening this fall, we obviously had to begin acquiring the necessary personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies to ensure that we were able to welcome students and faculty back to campus,” Layzell said.

The University spent $405,960 for cleaning and sanitation supplies. The University spent $2.5 million for its multiple coronavirus testing pods and the tests they administer, according to Layzell. 

The University's enrollment count remains "fairly strong" and "positive," Layzell said. Over 2,000 more students attend the University this year compared to last year's headcount, and this year's freshman class saw a 600-person increase. This also brings the University into “a much better financial situation.” 

“All things considered, from an enrollment standpoint, we feel very fortunate and good compared to many of our colleagues across the country,” Layzell said. 

The University had to obtain a modest reduction from the state budget this year and followed the lead of numerous colleges throughout the state, Layzell said.

The University received $8.9 million less from the state budget compared to previous years, equating to an approximate 7.5% reduction in state funding. When the fiscal year ended on July 30, the state provided supplemental funding to LSU and other universities out of the federal coronavirus relief funding it received to help offset the cuts. The University received $5.4 million. 

“Once you factor that into what the state provided, that actually reduces the overall cut to about three percent,” Layzell said.

Is the University financially prepared for another campus shutdown? Layzell said administration has prepared for a wide range of scenarios.

However, the University will not consider refunding students their tuition should it return to completely remote instruction as it did in March.

“Whether you’re in class or you’re remote learning, it’s the same faculty delivering the courses. We have the same expenses to keep the University going, so when we do get back to some sense of normal, the University is ready to open," Layzell said. "We have fixed costs when it comes to running the University (utilities, insurances, etc.). Those expenses remain, regardless of whether or not students are on campus.”

Rob Stuart, president of the LSU foundation, did not respond for comment on whether booster club funding has been affected by coronavirus.  

The University’s plans for the spring 2021 semester are still up in the air, but Layzell said one of the real questions that administration is concerned about is whether enrollment will continue to remain strong in the spring. 

“Given the impact of COVID[-19] on the state of the economy, what’s that going to mean for the overall state budget? Are they going to have to make cuts?” Layzell said. “We don’t have any indications that that’s the case right now, but it is always a possibility.

“This is an unknown situation for all of us. I think we feel--at least in the administration--really good about all of the planning we’ve done over the past several months to get to this point. At the end of the day, as the president said, our main priority is going to be safety. Safety of our students, our faculty and our staff is what will guide us as we move through the fall semester.”

*A previous version of this story misspelled Robert Stuart's last name. It has been updated with the proper spelling. 

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