Campus Clips: How the Student Government budget works – without words like fiscal and appropriation
Now that the elections have passed, it is time for the Student Government (SG) to finalize the 2018-2019 budget. The budget is set to be finalized on Monday, March 19 at the general assembly meeting. We sat down with Student Body President David Thompson and Vice President Maria Almonte to get the big picture of how the SG budget works.
Who works on the budget:
Almonte is the former chief financial officer (CFO) of SG. The CFO is a member of the executive branch appointed through a formal process rather than being voted in. One of the CFO’s roles is to manage the SG budget. Click here to read about current CFO Asmita Palsule and her responsibilities per the SG website.
“We start our budget process in November/December,” Almonte said, explaining how the budget works. “The student government budget, which consists of three branches, executive, legislative, and judicial, their budgets are due on the first Friday in January.”
The budget funds a variety of entities including: the Office of Leadership & Student Organizations (often called LSO), the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), Campus Recreation, Harborside Activities Board (HAB), Student Life Center (SLC), the Crow’s Nest, Department of Student Life & Engagement, and of course – the rest of student government.
“They each have a director or coordinator that will analyze how they used the budget last year to see what kind of funds they are going to need this year,” Almonte said. “We provide them the spreadsheet and the support for doing all of that. They have from November, when we send out the spreadsheets and information, until the first Friday in February.”
Meanwhile, a committee of senate members, titled the Senate Committee on Appropriations (SCA), works to piece together all aspects of the budget. Okay, so I did use appropriations once, now twice, but that’s all!
The SCA develops a timeline of due dates, listens to presentations from clubs or entities wanting funds, and passes the budget along to the president once it is voted on twice in general assembly meetings and finalized. Here is a link to the timeline posted on SGA’s public google drive.
Where the funds come from:
After each department submits their budget, the executive branch meets with the budget director from the university, David Everingham. This meeting determines the projected number of credit hours that students are enrolling for. The average is typically 12 hours per student.
The SG budget gets all of their funds from a portion of fees that students pay for when they pay their tuition, titled activity and service fees (A&S). Of that fee, $11.83 per credit hour goes to fun SG and its entities. So, if you take 12 credit hours in a semester, you pay $141.96 into the SG budget per semester.
Say there are 6,000 full-time students enrolled, and each of those students takes 12 credit hours per semester. The portion that goes directly to SG and their funded entities would be $851,760 per semester.
Additionally, a large portion of the SG budget is allocated for the University Student Center (USC). Students pay $13.80 per credit hour into the USC budget from A&S fees, totaling an additional $1,987,200 into the overall SG budget.
The total anticipated budget for 2018-2019 is $3.4 million. The 2017-2018 budget was approximately $3.2 million. For exact figures allocated for each entity, follow this link to the SG google drive containing their budget document.
How the budget gets passed:
Once the budget committee has a finalized budget, it goes to the legislative branch where the senate votes on it. It must receive 50 percent of the votes plus one to be passed. After that, it goes back to SG President Thompson to either sign off or veto it. After, it goes to the Chancellor of the University.
How students impact the budget:
Almonte explained that students play a big role in how the budget is developed.
“I think it’s important for students to understand that they have a voice when it comes to the budget,” Almonte said. “They don’t directly get to vote on it, but for example, if they go to the gym they swipe in and they collect all that data. So then when they come to us and ask for more money, we ask what is the data behind it. If students are increasing their use, then we will fund that entity more. The same goes for HAB and OMA. They do card swipes at every event.”
Students can take advantage of the funding that SG can allocate to clubs and organizations.
“We also allocate money, not just for those entities, but we also have a clubs and organizations account and money that we use to send individual students on travel,” Thompson said. “If you have a club or organization, there is money set aside for you to do events and stuff like that. Take advantage of that as much as possible.”
Thompson and Almonte went explained that students can use this account for event food, t-shirts and travel expenses for conferences. They noted that there is often leftover money in that account.
We will provide an update on the budget once it goes to the general assembly for its second, and possibly final, hearing on Monday, March 19.
So, there you have it. The SG budget, how it works, and how students play a role in it. Have questions about funding, how something works or anything of the like? Send us an email and we will do our best to help. If we cannot, we will point you in the direction of someone who can.
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