Institutional announcements

SFU's 2021-22 Budget: Update and Information Sessions

November 06, 2020

Dear students, faculty and staff,

This is a year like no other. We are all facing uncertainty and stress, and the effects of COVID-19 have forced SFU to adjust many university processes in order to continue supporting our community during this challenging time.

Currently, teams across the university are working through our annual planning and budgeting process. We anticipate that this will be a difficult budget cycle, and we know many of you may have questions about SFU’s budget for the upcoming year and how the university will respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

COVID-19 has caused many uncertainties at both the global and local level, and many of its long-term effects have yet to be seen. Some of our challenges in planning for the future include the volatile nature of investment markets, uncertainty about future enrollment numbers, and the cost of transitioning to remote learning and teaching—all of which will affect our financial outlook.

As we continue to move through the budgeting process, we want to share our rationale and have a conversation with the community about our priorities. We will be holding two virtual information sessions where we provide information about SFU’s budget for the upcoming year,  answer your questions and hear your thoughts. A session for all SFU students will be held on November 23, and an open session for faculty, staff and students will be held on November 30.

We are taking many factors into consideration when it comes to developing the 2021-22 budget. We know that this budget must set a path to manage the complications caused by COVID-19 and ensure the long-term financial health of the university, while prioritizing our academic mission. That academic mission includes support for our students, faculty and staff. This support comes in many forms—financial, emotional, educational, technological—and is embedded in our planning and budgeting processes.

Right now, we expect a decrease in income, resulting in $26M less income than anticipated. At the same time, our expenses have not decreased—the shift to largely virtual course delivery required significant investment in order to support students and faculty—and we are continuing to feel the pressures of inflation, as we do every year.

SFU’s Board of Governors approved a 2% increase for domestic undergraduate tuition and a 4% increase for international undergraduate tuition for the current academic year, and we propose similar increases for the next two years.

We understand that this is a challenging time for many, and that COVID-19 continues to place a financial burden on students, some of whom are acutely affected. While we are increasing student tuition, we are actively looking for opportunities to address student affordability challenges. Finding cost savings for students is a priority in this budget and in our overall planning.

From March to April, we offered 3 million dollars in emergency support to students who lost income opportunities, or needed financial assistance to find secure housing or fund cancelled travel costs. We will continue to support students facing financial difficulty by directing increased funding to student supports, and to bursaries for both domestic and international students. We have also established a working group in partnership with the Simon Fraser Student Society and Graduate Student Society to find solutions to student affordability, waived athletics and recreation fees for students learning remotely, and will continue to identify administrative savings in the budget to help further offset costs for students.

We hope you will be able to join us for our upcoming budget information sessions. Until then, we invite you to visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more details about how the budget works at SFU, the tuition increase, and how this budget addresses affordability for students. If you have additional questions about SFU’s planning and budgeting process, they can be submitted to

This is a year like no other. We are dedicated to finding solutions that ensure the long-term financial health of the university, while continuing to provide support for the students, faculty and staff that make up our vibrant SFU community.

Stay safe, healthy and well,

Jon Driver
Vice-President, Academic and Provost pro tem

Martin Pochurko
Vice-President, Finance and Administration

You can learn more about SFU’s budget at our upcoming virtual information sessions. Students are invited to a session on November 23, and faculty, staff and students are invited to an open session on November 30. For more information, visit the Finance website.

How is SFU’s budget determined? How do tuition fees get allocated? What is SFU doing to address student affordability in the budget? You can get more information about the proposed budget on our Frequently Asked Questions page and submit your questions to