President Donald Eastman sent an email to faculty and executive staff detailing financial losses due to COVID-19 and Eckerd’s plans for the future.
The email discussed millions of dollars in refunds for students, how certain parts of the college, such as food service staff and lifelong learners, are affected and enrollment for the 2020-2021 academic year.
The May 6 email said refunds for room and board payments will total about $4.3 million. He also said the refunds for student fees will be about $300,000.
All food service staff were furloughed in March, according to the email.
“There will be some savings from our payments to Bon Appetit for food service; however, this comes at the cost of all food service staff being furloughed in March,” Eastman said.
In addition to enrollment fees, Eckerd’s profits from Executive and Continuing Education (ECE) are expected to decrease by around $1 million. ECE is involved with the English Learning School (ELS) program, which teaches students from different countries English and American culture, and the Road Scholar program, which takes Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) members on trips locally and abroad.
“The ELS and Road Scholar programs are in hibernation, while executive education is down significantly,” Eastman said in the email.
All scheduled summer camps and conferences are cancelled, which are an annual source of money for the school. Eckerd is expected to lose money because of the cancelation of these events and potential decrease in fall enrollment.
“We are unsure when these programs will recover,” Eastman said.
Eastman said that Eckerd began this academic year in the best financial position in its history, with cash reserves and the endowment at record levels.
“However, we now face risks that none of us would have imagined, and we are only beginning to feel the effects,” Eastman said.
Eckerd has nearly 600 students committed for the class of 2024, which is higher than last year. Eckerd planned its budget by estimating an enrollment of 1,950 students for the 2020-2021 school year.
Eastman said if that number is reached, the financial losses would be more manageable. He also said the college will pay for daily cleaning of offices, classrooms and common areas.
The American Council of Education estimates that enrollment declines nationwide will be 15% next academic year. According to Eastman, those losses will be larger if Eckerd continues remote teaching in the fall. The college plans to cover excess losses with its cash reserves.
Eastman also said in the email that the college is planning for the possible resurgence of the virus in late fall, as well as possible evacuations for hurricanes.