By Elizabeth White
The Board of Trustees will present their case for a zero-based budget for the next fiscal year at their meeting in June. It will then be officially decided if FDU will adopt this new budget university-wide, although it is not expected to affect student organization budgets.
Under the new zero based budget, it does not mean that certain areas of the university won’t receive funding, it means that they will have to justify why they need each expense.
Dr. Gillian Small, University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, answered some questions concerning the zero-based budget proposal.
“I am not exactly sure about student organizations, but I don’t expect them to be affected by zero-based budgeting,” Dr. Smalls said.“Zero-based budgets are common in universities and the industry world,” she said.
It is her first year at FDU and she came from City University of New York (CUNY). Dr. Small is the university’s second ranking officer. She explained that some areas of FDU are already operating on zero-based budgeting, such as the facilities department, and that this proposal would be on a larger scale for the entire university.
The budget planning that takes place in July is based on what the Board of Trustees believes the enrollment numbers are going to be for the next academic year.
If approved, the new budget will start at the beginning of the next fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.
Since the enrollment estimate can often be off, the budget is adjusted in October to reflect actual enrollment numbers.
The new approach to developing the budget will to first put all contractuals aside. The university is already committed to these, and they will cost the same for the upcoming ear. Zero-based budgeting is about what areas of the university actually need, versus what they want.
Since needs change, zero-based budgeting provides the university more flexibility and the ability to cut down on unnecessary costs.
“Zero-based budgeting allows universities to start fresh each year,” Dr. Smalls said.
Public universities, like the CUNY schools that Dr. Smalls came from, receive funding from the state each year; private universities receive no state aid.
However, with the current state of the economy, public schools resort to the same kinds of fundraising that private schools do to raise additional revenue.
The budget is largely tuition driven. With higher enrollment figures, the university has more leeway to adjust the budget to its needs. When enrollment numbers are down, the university adjusts the budget accordingly.
Since FDU is a private university, the state will not interject if they go over budget. The state is not involved with their budget or spending in any way.
“Even in public universities the state doesn’t take over,” Dr. Smalls said. “The state might not be happy that the university went over budget, but there would be no takeover.”
“FDU has achieved a surplus budget for 17 consecutive years and we are on track to again achieve a surplus budget in the current fiscal year (FY 2017) which will make it 18 years in a row,” Angelo Carfagna, the associate vice president for university communications, said.