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Important Budget Communication: Financial Impact of COVID-19

Dear campus community,

The COVID-19 pandemic has required we all respond to a rapidly evolving and unprecedented situation. This is not without significant, unexpected costs to the university. Some examples include non-refundable travel expenses incurred for faculty-led international study trips, cleaning supplies and services, costs associated with online instructional delivery and remote work, and the like.

There are significant financial costs associated with this pandemic. The university’s centrally held contingency budget was depleted earlier this year due to enrollment shortfalls. We are asking for your assistance during these challenging times.

As it relates to the current fiscal year, FY20, we need your help to adequately capture the financial exposure the university is facing as well as finding available budget savings to help offset these incremental costs. To facilitate this, a discrete fund has been set up to track all expenses associated with these activities.

Fund 1278 – Coronavirus 2020 has been established and should be used for expensing all COVID 19 financial activity Please use your own department number when charging expenses to fund 1278.

How can you help?

  1. If you are incurring additional expenses associated with COVID-19 that were not planned or budgeted (including reimbursements for non-refundable travel or event costs), please expense these to fund 1278. If you have any operating budget amounts available to help offset these costs, please submit a one-time budget adjustment request to move your departmental operating budget into fund 1278. Examples of this type of costs would be additional laptops and other hardware needed to allow employees to work remotely.
  2. If you no longer need operating budget funds due to the cancellation of scheduled activities, or if you have savings from activities being scaled back, please complete a one-time budget adjustment request to move budget from your department into fund 1278.

Your support in helping to cover these unexpected expenses through your departmental budget will make a real difference. Instructions for how to submit a budget adjustment can be found in Polaris. If you need to change where an expense has already been booked based on the above guidance, please contact Sharon Francis in general accounting.

As you can imagine, the uncertainty surrounding the duration of the pandemic is challenging for our FY21 budget, and we expect further negative impacts for our financial situation for next year (see the Boston Globe article discussing the challenges COVID-19 is having on higher education institutions in Polaris). We will be engaging with the budget advisory committee and the broader university community to assess what this might mean and to develop solutions. In the meantime, keep doing all that you are doing to support the success of our students and to continue essential mission functions and activities. Thank you for your dedication and your professionalism.

If you have any questions, please contact Jon Amari in the budget office at


Karen House
Vice President for Finance and Facilities

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