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Aerial view of Pearl Street Mall in Boulder Colorado. Photo Credit: pawel.gaul (iStock).

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Enrollment at the University of Colorado Boulder for incoming freshmen is expected to drop by more than 12% this year, contributing to the additional $25 million budget shortfall amid the pandemic, officials said.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano told the university system’s Board of Regents on Thursday that overall enrollment is expected to decline by 2%, the Daily Camera reported.

“The decrease in enrollment was disappointing and is coming at a time when we’ve made significant investments in returning students to campus, but it’s within our range of budgeting for this year,” DiStefano said.

System Chief Financial Officer Todd Saliman said the data presented Thursday represented enrollment as of Sept. 4 and another official count is scheduled this week, although no significant differences are expected.

Enrollment numbers are lower than what was predicted in June, but departments have already prepared for a 5% budget cut, which is likely to remain in that range.

DiStefano said the cuts could mean layoffs, salary reductions and positions held vacant as well as cuts to operating, facilities, technology and library budgets.

The 12% freshmen enrollment drop accounts for about $20 million of the $25 million revenue shortfall, university spokesperson Deborah Mendez Wilson said, adding that a smaller incoming class sets a lower tuition base for the university.

“Our revenue loss is outpacing our decrease in enrollment,” Wilson said. “This means we have less revenue to support the costs to instruct our students.”

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