leveland State University is moving ahead with its plan to offer buyouts to faculty and staff as the university faces a projected $40 million budget gap. 

Officials completed a big step in the process during a special board of trustees meeting Tuesday. Trustees voted unanimously to tap into Cleveland State’s reserves to cover costs related to the buyouts.  

No number was publicly discussed Tuesday. But Cleveland State President Laura Bloomberg previously said the one-time spend would cost around $9 million.  

“The specifics of this are yet to be worked out,” Bloomberg said. “But, in broad parameters, we’re looking at the possibility of offering a voluntary separation agreement for benefits-eligible employees with 10 years of service or more.” 

Cleveland State projects $40 million budget hole  

University officials recently told Signal Cleveland that if the university maintains a “status quo approach,” the university will face a forecasted $40 million budget shortfall. 

Plus, they added, “proposed strategies for growing revenue in the near term are only projected to reduce the deficit to approximately $34 million.” 

“Because of this, throughout the process, the university’s administration has clearly communicated that this comprehensive plan will include recommendations for a combination of budget cutting and cost containment as well as strategic investments – all grounded in CSU’s ongoing commitment to its students and to Northeast Ohio,” officials said in a statement last week. 

They said the shortfall results “mostly from the projected ongoing smaller enrollment, higher costs and other factors.” Cleveland State has seen about a 13% drop in enrollment over the past five years. Its fall 2023 enrollment clocked in at roughly 14,175 students. 

The institution is working with accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young for financial guidance. Signal Cleveland reported the details of the $900,000 contract earlier this year.

How many employees will be eligible for Cleveland State’s buyouts? 

Bloomberg first publicly offered a detailed look at the buyout plan at a faculty meeting last week

About 332 faculty members – or roughly 63% of the university’s 525 full-time educators – would be eligible for buyouts. So, too, are 391 full-time staff, or about 43% of the nearly 900 people who work there.  

Employees taking the offer are slated to receive a one-time lump sum payment equal to an individual’s annual salary. 

Bloomberg said an application process may be ready by early May.

Higher education reporter for Signal Cleveland in partnership with Open Campus.