It’s that time of year again – student organizations want their money.
Every year, student groups wait for money to be distributed from the Student Association, and every year some groups do not get all of the money they want. Organizations may be even more concerned this year because the SA has less money available to allocate to students groups than it did last year.
SA and University leaders, however, are asking students to put the SA financial allocation process in perspective. While there may be less money available this year compared to last year, it is because the SA had an abnormally large amount of money to allocate last year.
The amount of money available in this year’s budget is actually the target budget for the SA, said Tim Miller, director of the Student Activities Center, which oversees the SA and student organizations.
“Instead of this year being an anomaly with less money, it is actually the norm,” Miller said.
SA President Lamar Thorpe agreed.
“We got the exact amount of money we should be getting,” he said.
Student organizations are funded through the SA, which in turn gets its money from two sources: the student fee and a rollover.
Each student taking classes at GW must pay $1 per credit hour for up to 15 credit hours. Additional money is given to the SA through the rollover, which is money in the SA’s budget from the previous year that was rolled over to the next fiscal year because it was not spent.
This year, the SA had a $ 10,000 rollover compared to a $170,000 rollover last year, representatives said at a meeting of the SA Finance Committee, which manages monetary allocations to student groups.
Overall, there is 30 percent less money available this year than was available last year. SA leaders said despite the decreased amount of cash available this year, they still expect the allocation process to run smoothly.
“More people want a piece of the pie, and the pie isn’t getting any bigger,” said senior Josh Lasky, the SA executive vice president.
“But the word is getting out that less money is available, so hopefully student organizations will recognize that,” he said. “The financial allocation process is inherently a difficult one, but I don’t expect this year’s process to be any harder than previous years’.”
Lasky suggested to student organizations who feel strapped for cash to take advantage of alternative sources of revenue other than the initial operational budget allocation process from the SA.
These include the co-sponsorship fund and independent fundraising, he said. The co-sponsorship fund is a bank of money reserved by the SA to allocate to student organizations throughout the year to subsidize the cost of events.
Andrew Salzman (GSEHD), an SA Senator and chair of the finance committee, said the co-sponsorship will be about 25 percent of the $475,000 available in the SA general fund.
“It is important to recall that operational allocations are generally just that; they help fund the group infrastructure and minor programming, and the co-sponsorship fund is expected to assist in individual programs,” Salzman wrote in an e-mail.
The other method Lasky suggested for generating funds is more independent fundraising.
“Part of the responsibility of being a student organization is the responsibility of generating funds,” he said. “I would love to see more student organizations less reliant on the student fee.”
The SA Finance Committee spent the weekend poring over the budgets submitted by about 219 student organizations; last year about 197 organizations requested money.
This week, organizations will receive their initial operation budgets from the committee and will h`ave an opportunity to appeal those budgets to the finance committee. At the end of the week, the finance committee will reconvene and create a final budget proposal.
Salzman said even with the fewer funds available that they will go about the operational budget process just as they would any other year.
“Each submission was analyzed in terms of operational or programmatic expense, and each group’s previous experience with using SA funds was considered,” he said. “While the overall process did remain the same in terms of what could be funded, the level to which they could be supported had to be adjusted in order to reflect fiscal reality.”
That budget proposal will outline the funding of each student organization and the three branches of the SA. It will be voted on by the SA Senate and must be approved by Thorpe, a senior, before funds are available to student groups.
Thorpe said while there is less money available this year compared to last year, this year’s budget amount is “the norm,” and it shows that the SA has become too dependent on the rollover in recent years.
“Perhaps now is the time to begin talking about increasing the student fee,” Thorpe said.
He insisted, however, he would not make any recommendation to support a fee increase until after the budget allocation process is complete.