Ahead of Higher Ed: Knowing the SFACts
The Student Fees Advisory Committee is currently in its week full of meetings with the more than 30 fee-funded unit that make presentations requesting money for the upcoming fiscal year. At the conclusion of the meetings, SFAC will write its annual report dividing the funds and offering explanations about each unit’s allocation.
The committee is made up of 10 members: two faculty members, five students appointed by the Student Government Association, two students appointed by President Renu Khator and non-voting member and Dean of Students William Munson.
Each student fee-funded unit, either a student organization or student affairs department, must annually present the budget it is proposing for the next fiscal year. This is the opportunity for the units to request a budget increase or a one-time allocation. The presenters must justify the increase and must also yield to questions from the panel. In addition to a presentation, the entities have to fill out a questionnaire packet and budget spreadsheet prior to the presentation. The packet is required to include goals, strategic initiatives, organization charts, fund requests and anything that is important for SFAC to know when making their decision.
UH’s SFAC receives its power from section 54.5062 of the Texas Education Code put into effect by the Texas Education Agency and the Texas legislature. TEC also mandates the specifics of student fees in general for the whole state in section 54.5061. The University of Texas at Austin has a similar committee called the Student Services Budget Committee and likewise files an annual report.
Because of the complexities of SFAC, specifically its verbiage, here is all of it in its simplest forms.
Terms every student should know about SFAC
- Fiscal year: The 12-month period beginning in August and concluding in July. SFAC is planning for FY15, or August 2014 to July 2015.
- Request: The general term for all organizations’ packets of information.
- Base augmentation request: A request by a unit to raise the annual funding by a certain amount for a specific purpose. For example, if an organization wanted to create a paid position to function in the organization indefinitely.
- One-time request: This request asks for a lump sum of money for a specific, singular purpose. For example, if an organization needed to buy new computers. Units can request one-time requests for FY15 or for the current fiscal year.
- The questionnaire: Each unit fills this out annually. It calls for a description of the organization, goals, initiatives and more.
- Budget spreadsheet: This form has no justification or explanation. It simply calls for the numbers: how much the unit asked for before, the new requests and more.
- SFAC Recommendations: These are the responses from the committee. Each entry tells each unit how much money was approved and why.
The meetings continue on Friday and Monday. After that, the committee will meet to finalize allocations and file the recommendations. For more information about SFAC or for last year’s recommendations, visit uh.com/sfac.