The Montana Board of Regents isn't expected to pass additional, state-mandated budget cuts when it meets this week in Butte.
But through the fall, the Montana University System will have to determine how to reduce its contribution to colleges and universities by $16.9 million during the current fiscal year. The reduction could be $17 million next year.
It amounts to a 10-percent cut, which other state departments are also planning.
With discussions about tuition rates forthcoming, it's unclear yet if each college or university will be subject to a full 10-percent reduction in its state appropriations.
"It's too early for us to be able to say whether a 10-percent reduction in the total MUS state appropriation for campuses would be allocated 'across the board,'" said Kevin McRae, a spokesman for the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, in an email.
Gov. Steve Bullock announced more details of the cuts late last week. They were triggered by lower-than-expected tax revenue.
The university system's 10-percent reduction comes from the $170 million that was budgeted to go toward universities and colleges.
An additional $20 million raised through a property tax levy won't be affected by the cuts, McRae said.
The state appropriations represent large chunks of university revenue. Montana State University Billings, for example, was budgeted to receive $21.6 million in state support for this fiscal year. That makes up about 54 percent of revenue.
A 10-percent reduction in that funding stream would amount to about $2.1 million.
The rest of the revenue largely comes from tuition. Prior to these budget cuts, the university system was already dealing with few state dollars. Most campuses implemented tuition increases, but MSUB was the only one without an increase this year for most students.
Another change in tuition rates by university officials could determine how the cuts are carried out over the next two years.
McRae said that the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education expects regents to pass the current budgets, without additional cuts, at its meeting this week. Discussions into the new budget cuts will take place between then and the regents' November meeting.
Through a spokeswoman, interim MSUB Chancellor Ron Larsen didn't say whether he supported a tuition increase. He said that the process remains at administrative levels of government in Helena.
"At some point Montana State University Billings may be asked to participate in budget reductions, but at this time we have not received any such request," Larsen said.
Larsen previously said that MSUB expects no layoffs as a result of these cuts.
The university was already expecting cuts of about $600,000 from reduced state allocations passed in the 2017 Montana Legislature.