The Students’ Association has spent about 80 percent of its budget, said Treasurer J.P. Ralston.
SA receives about $180,000 of student fees each year to divide among campus organizations. But any money that is not spent goes to a restricted account for SA.
“Any student funds that come through SA, if they’re not used, stay with SA,” said Jan Meyer, interim vice president of student life and dean of students. “They go back to a restricted account for Students’ Association.”
Each department on campus is given an operational budget with a fiscal year from June 1 to May 31 and some have restricted accounts as well, accounts in which the funds are allocated for a specific purpose.
“Everybody has an annual operating budget,” Meyer said. “Some areas, like SA, have a special restricted budget, which is money that is to be used for a specific thing.”
Unused funds are kept in this restricted account indefinitely and are used only for SA, but are not reallocated to them the next year.
“SA can propose to utilize some of those funds if there’s a specific need,” Meyer said. “It serves as a fund so that SA doesn’t lose it, but in order to use it, they have to have specific purposes requested.”
Ralston, senior finance and accounting major from Plano, headed the task of creating a budget and allocating funds to each club and organization on campus.
“My main responsibility as treasurer is to ensure that $180,000 that the Students’ Association receives every year from Student Life gets used,” Ralston said. “My job is to spend it all.”
Each year, students are encouraged to spend their allotted money in its entirety to ensure it is being used properly.
“Everyone’s budget is connected to funnel right back into ACU,” Ralston said. “We encourage all the student groups to spend everything because then it will go back to the general fund and it’ll look like SA can’t spend money, which isn’t good. So basically, we want to be good stewards of the money that ACU has given us.”
To ensure the money is being used properly, a representative from each organization must interview with SA officers to request funding for what they think is a priority to their organization that semester.
“We are dealing with student tuition money,” Ralston said. “We want to make sure that, if we can empower students with their own money to go do things, we’ll do what we need to do to make that happen.”
The amount each organization receives fluctuates from semester to semester and depends on previous budgets that were made.
“That’s where the job gets kind of weird,” Ralston said. “You could have a group that spends really, really well one year and the next year they don’t spend anything. We encourage every group to be a good steward; if they don’t do very well in the fall we try to compensate for that in the spring by not giving them as much money.”
This semester, $112,000 was requested from campus organizations, but only $46,000 was available for disbursement.
“We are allocated this money and we need to act like professionals and use the money we’ve been allocated,” Ralston said. “At the end of the day, a single dollar is not being wasted, but we do want to make sure we’re being good stewards with the money that we are allocated and I communicate that to the student groups as well.”