The university expects a total shortfall of about $90 million in the current fiscal year ending June 30, according to the letter.
Other measures include increasing the payout rate from the university's $10.8 billion endowment, and a temporary furlough of about 250 employees who are unable to perform their duties remotely.
As of Dec. 31, 2018, the Northwestern University Retirement Plan had $2.8 billion in assets, according to the university's most recent Form 5500 filing.
Jeri Ward, university spokeswoman, and Storer H. Rowley and Jon Yates, university spokesmen, could not be immediately reached for further information.
Duke University and Georgetown University also announced last week they will suspend contributions to their employee retirement plans and make other cutbacks to address an escalating financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, presidents of the schools said.
In a message May 13 to Duke faculty and staff, President Vincent E. Price announced several cost-cutting measures, including temporarily suspending the university's retirement contributions for one year.
"To avoid cutting direct compensation, we will instead temporarily suspend all employer contributions to the Duke Faculty and Staff Retirement 403(b) plan for a period of 12 months," Mr. Price said in the message.
Duke employees who earn more than the federally mandated 403(b) contribution threshold of $285,000 will also see a temporary 10% reduction in the portion of their salary above that threshold, for 12 months. Those measures and other cost-saving efforts will save an estimated $150 million to $200 million next fiscal year, he said, "and provide, we hope, the necessary resources to sustain and advance our academic programs for the near-term."
Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said in a message to the campus community May 12 that "the implications of the crisis have become clearer" and that "trying to imagine" the financial demands for the coming academic year will be even more challenging, with an expected operating loss of at least $50 million.
Beginning in June 2020, the start of its fiscal year, Georgetown will suspend retirement plan contributions for all faculty, staff, and adjunct professors, saving $47 million. "If we find ourselves in a stronger financial position during the coming year, we will revisit this decision," Mr. DeGioia said.
The Duke University Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan had $5.7 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2018, and the Georgetown University Voluntary Contribution Retirement Plan and Georgetown University Defined Contribution Retirement Plan had a combined $2.2 billion in assets as of the same date, according to their 5500 filings.