SEBTS Trustees Approve 2020-2021 budget

During the spring trustee meeting, SEBTS Board of Trustees voted to wait until June 15 to vote on a budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Today, they approved a 3% reduced budget in response to the ongoing pandemic and economic downturn.

On June 15, the executive committee of the board of trustees for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) convened virtually in order to adopt a reduced budget for 2020-2021 in response to COVID-19. During the spring meeting of the board of trustees, the board voted to allow a rescheduling of budget approval in order for SEBTS to have a better understanding of the overall economic and enrollment impact of the pandemic. With a better picture now in sight of reduced Cooperative Program contributions, a slowing economy, and other factors related to the current moment in society at large, SEBTS presented a budget that accounts for an estimated $932,000 in revenue reductions.

The budget adopted by the trustees amounts to an overall reduction of 3%, from $31.2 million to $30.3 million. Included in the newly proposed budget was also a cut to student tuition by 5% across the board. This overall reduction is another step is assisting students financially during the pandemic, in addition to nearly a quarter of a million dollars in student financial aid that was made available at the start of the pandemic.

President Danny Akin said, “By reducing our student tuition, we are showing continued commitment to remove any obstacle that may stand in the way of our students going on from here to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission. It is my hope that money will never keep a single student from getting to GO as soon as possible!”

In addition to reduced tuition, the 2020-2021 budget also allowed SEBTS to achieve its goal of not laying off full-time staff members during the pandemic. In order to maintain all employees, full-time staff received a reduction in pay, led by President Akin and the members of Cabinet, according to the following schedule:

  • President Akin: 6%
  • Cabinet members: 5%
  • Full-time Staff according to base salary:
    Over $60,000: 4%
    Between $40,000 – $60,000: 3%
    Between $30,000 – $40,000: 2%
    Below $30,000: 1%  


Faculty members were not asked to take a reduced salary during the 2020-2021 budget year. Instead, the base teaching load for faculty will be increased from 18 credit hours per year to 21 credit hours per year.   

Further, SEBTS will be switching insurance carriers from Cigna to GuideStone. With Guidestone, full-time employees will continue to receive full coverage for themselves and their families at no cost. Thanks to lower premiums, SEBTS is able to save $400,000 to help meet the reduced budget. Employer HRA contributions, however, will be reduced from 80% reimbursements to 40% reimbursements for deductible costs.

Although SEBTS leadership has taken every step to ensure the financial health of the seminary, make adequate provision for employees, and provide aid for its students, there is little doubt that the unprecedented events of the last 3 months could still have unforeseen consequences for the future. During the spring meeting of the board of trustees, it was noted that SEBTS has more than doubled its operating cash reserves from $4.4M In 2013 to $10.1M in 2020. These reserves are separate from the Board Designated endowment funds. As part of its preparations to meet any unforeseen circumstances, trustees today gave permission to allow the seminary to release up to $3 million in cash reserves to cover any revenue shortfalls in the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year. The seminary does not anticipate using these reserves, but this contingency (along with the use of the PPP Funds received in April) will allow the seminary to remain in a strong financial position through the present economic recession.

Dr. Akin emphasized the need to meet these challenges head on and not to lose sight of the mission: “King Jesus has called us to take the gospel to all nations. He is not surprised by the state the world and our country is in and he has not pressed pause on the Great Commission. We may be surprised and disappointed by all we have experienced in the last few months, but we have not lost sight of our goal. We must press on in our commitment to equip students to serve Southern Baptist and to reach the lost.”

The next Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for October 12-13, 2020.

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