The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Student Life Budget Crunch

Posted by iusbvision on February 10, 2007

It is that time of year when attention shifts to budget issues, and in the world of the student government there are two budgets that are particularly important. The first and more far reaching of the two is the Indiana state budget.  Here is where in one small way the fate of students’ tuition will be decided. Over the past five years the state has averaged an increase of 1.7% to the IU budget. This is far below the inflation rate. At the same time, the state put a cap on tuition increases, limiting any increase to 4.9%. While many are for tuition caps, with no additional support from the state it has caused a fiscal tension in our institutes of higher education statewide.

The future could be bright, though. According to the budget presentation from the Governor’s office, he looks to be pushing forward an increase in funding of 5% which would help to bridge the gap in any project budget shortfalls for the campus over the next two years. The real question is how that 5% will be divided. Is it going to be an across the board raise, or will it go to things like the IU Life Science initiative, or to projects that more directly affect our campus, like the renovation of the Associates Building?

However the budget turns out this year, you can make a difference by actively lobbying your legislature during this year’s “Get On the Bus” trip to the statehouse, a free trip to Indy. It is a chance to play a part in the government and it is organized by the Alumni Association and the Student Government. In addition, clubs can earn money by attending the event. For more details contact the Alumni Office in Room 100 of the administration building or the SGA in Room 202 of the SAC.

The next budget in question is the Student Activity Fee budget. This fee is located on students’ bills every semester and is a slightly exceeding $50 for a full time student. Perhaps only a few students completely understand what that fee entails and how it is administered. On this issue, a member of the student government spoke to the Vision on the condition of anonymity. The source explained that this year’s budget is going to be tight. According to the source the fee has generated around $670,000 which was scaled back about $50,000 from the previous year. This money covers everything from the athletics program, free student tickets to arts events, subsidized childcare for students, funding for the publication board, and the actual funding of the SGA itself. The Senate determines how much goes into these various accounts, under the approval of the Chancellor. “Last year’s cut in the activity fee budget was extremely hard on all the departments. Some were completely cut out such as the counseling center and club counsel, while most everyone else took around a 10% hit,” the source stated.

The source added that there is no new money for this year’s budget so the financial belts will remain tight. “One of the biggest problems facing this administration is the issue that inside of this stagnant budget are many full time salaries. These salaries have mandatory increases every year and that is eating away at the actual expendable amount of money. It basically equates to less programs.” According to another source, the tightening of the budgetary belt can be seen in the reduced hours of the SAC this year. That change also came with an increase in the SAC membership fees that the facility charges faculty, staff, and alumni.

If past records are an indication, the SGA will hold its open budget hearings sometime in March. Here they allow all the departments that receive funding from the fee, plus anyone new who wishes to start receiving funding, to present their proposed budget. The SGA will then compile these budgets and vote on the lot as a whole. This approved budget is then passed up the chain till final approval is given by Chancellor Reck.

This year’s hot topic items are said to include the current SGA members stipends and whether or not they should be lowered, the creation of a health fee to support the under funded Wellness Center, and a follow up of the athletics department. The athletics department, according to a presentation by Executive Director Jeff Walker in the September 2, 2005 SGA minutes (located online), ran $44,000 over budget and made a promise to repay the money over the course of four years.

Rashida Vindic
with additional reporting by:
Jarrod Brigham

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