How DePaul Builds the Annual Budget

St. Vincent's Circle
St. Vincent's Circle (DePaul University/Josh Woo)
In ways large and small, DePaul's budget affects every person who sets foot on our campus. That's why it's important to understand how the budget process works.

A major step in the process - the Strategic Resources Allocation Committee's development of budget recommendations-is set to begin in early November. However, the process begins far before then and won't complete until the spring.

Want to learn more about DePaul's budget process? Read on.

How does the university's budget process work? What is the timeline?

Individual departments and units across the university began planning budgets in September. At the same time, Enrollment Management and Marketing conducted the review of fall enrollment results, and then projected enrollment and financial aid for the coming year. Since DePaul is a tuition-driven institution, these projections are critical to setting the annual budget.

The Strategic Resource Allocation Committee, known as SRAC, meets several times in the fall to consider the budget planning groundwork and projections. Before the end of November, its membership votes on a budget proposal to recommend to the university president. The president may approve or modify the recommendations before making a budget proposal to the board of trustees' finance committee.

In December, the board's finance committee considers the president's recommendations and may send the budget as proposed or a modified set of recommendations to the general board of trustees.

The board votes on a final budget at its spring meeting. This approved budget then would take effect on July 1, 2017.

What is the Strategic Resource Allocation Committee? How does it work?

SRAC has nine members who represent DePaul's faculty, staff, students and administration. Though the bulk of the committee's work is completed in the fall, this year SRAC received updates in the spring and summer on the university's financial position and had the opportunity to share budget process ideas before heading into the fall planning sessions.

In November, the group will receive presentations from Human Resources, Enrollment Management and Marketing and the university's three major areas-the Offices of the President, Academic Affairs and Executive Vice President - about topics such as compensation and benefits, tuition pricing, proposed expenses and strategic initiatives. Based on that information, the committee then builds a university-wide budget for recommendation to the president for approval.

Who serves on SRAC?

Voting members for 2016-17 are:

  • Jeff Bethke, executive vice president and SRAC chair
  • Marten denBoer, provost
  • Sherri Sidler, controller
  • David Miller, dean, College of Computing and Digital Media
  • Salma Ghanem, dean, College of Communication
  • Bamshad Mobasher, Faculty Council president
  • Tom Mondschean, Faculty Council representative
  • Charles Snelling, Staff Council president
  • Richard Popp, Student Government Association president

What does SRAC do?

SRAC considers how to balance key costs, such as total compensation, facilities management and student financial aid, with the university's expected financial position. For example, in the past SRAC has made budget recommendations on merit compensation increases, the university's 403(b) match, support for faculty development and student financial aid.

The committee also takes into consideration budget parameters that were set by the board of trustees finance committee. For the 2017-18 budget, the board's finance committee asked the university to set a budget that is based on conservative enrollment projections and moderate tuition pricing increases. Other parameters include keeping budgeted departmental expenses at the same level as those of the current 2016-17 fiscal year and a positive budgeted operating margin.

What doesn't SRAC do?

SRAC doesn't set the university budget. Rather, the committee represents an opportunity for faculty, staff and student representatives to participate in a comprehensive budgeting process that begins at the departmental level and eventually is finalized by the university's board of trustees.

SRAC also doesn't make recommendations on budgets for specific departments or units. For example, SRAC would not recommend a budget for an individual department's office supplies or would not determine the varying amounts of each employee's merit compensation increases. Individual units conduct this type of budgeting.

MAP funding was a major university concern in the last fiscal year. What happens if the state government refuses to fund MAP in 2017?

First, some background: The Monetary Assistance Program, or MAP, provides grants to Illinois students who attend community, public or private colleges in Illinois, including nearly 5,000 DePaul students. During the Illinois state budget impasse, the state delayed reimbursement for the grants that had been awarded to students-and there was some concern that the grants would not be funded at all. In keeping with our Catholic Vincentian mission, DePaul agreed to honor the grants and support our students who had been promised the state funding. The state eventually approved the funding in June.

With continued uncertainty over MAP funding, SRAC will consider the likelihood of losing state funding, its potential effect on the university budget and various contingency plans. In past budget cycles, the committee recommended setting aside money that could be used if state funding was not approved. SRAC will consider whether the university should do the same or develop a different contingency plan.