UVU enrollment decrease expected after LDS missionary age change

Posted at 12:27 PM, Feb 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-07 20:49:12-05

OREM, Utah -- Utah Valley University announced Wednesday they predict a massive budget shortfall because of decreasing enrollment numbers.

The announcement was part of President Matthew Holland's annual state of the university address.

Many say the shortfall, estimated to be between seven and ten million dollars, is connected to the announcement by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to lower the age for missionary service.

"It's dependent on how many actually go, how the state budget shapes up, how the federal budget shapes up," said Chris Taylor, UVU spokesman.

In October, the LDS Church announced men can now serve a mission at 18 years old and women can serve at 19 years old.

About 80 percent of UVU's student body is Mormon. Next semester, the school estimates that enrollment could drop by 2,000 students.

The school said they are preparing for the change by staying flexible and absorbing some costs so they do not have to raise tuition. They are also looking to the state for additional funding.

"Right now, 40 percent of our budget comes from the state and that is the lowest in the entire system of higher ed. So we are looking to improve on that," Taylor said.

The school has also initiated a "hiring chill" where they are not actively filling vacant positions. The drop in enrollment is believed to have a short-term impact on the school and they are working with students so they can come to school after their missions.

The school offers a deferred admission program, where students apply at the end of high school and can secure a spot and scholarships at UVU to be used when they are ready to attend the school.