GSS, UHR pass $4.4 million student budget

On Tuesday, April 20, 2010, the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) and the Graduate Student Senate (GSS) passed a $4.4 million Student Government Association (SGA) budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The budget uses profits generated from student activity fees (SAF) to fund Tech organizations.

This year’s budget allocates $3 million to Tier I organizations, which are the Campus Recreation Center (CRC) and the Student Center. The budget allots $930,000 to Tier II organizations, which include the graduate and undergraduate SGA, the Interfraternity Council (IFC), student publications, DramaTech, Outdoor Recreation at Georgia Tech (ORGT) and WREK radio. The budget designates $480,000 for Tier III organizations, which include sports clubs, cultural organizations and other special interest groups. The SGA budget for the fiscal year is approximately $130,000 up from last year’s $4.27 million budget.

With statewide budget cuts and talk of tuition hikes, the UHR originally wrote a bill for $4.3 million, while the GSS wrote a bill for $4.5 million with the expectation of a student activity fee increase.

“The GSS recognized that even without a fee increase, the Tech Budgeting Office projects a $4.55 million revenue from students paying the SAF,” said Matt Cauble, third-year IE major and Chair of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC), as an explanation of the GSS reasoning.

However, “There is a great uncertainty as to whether or not the Board of Regents will approve our request for a fee increase given the other fees already imposed on students the past year,” Cauble said, explaining why the UHR established a budget with respect to no changes in enrollment or SAF.

The conference committee established to rectify the different budgets originally considered passing two separate bills, and the implementation would be dependent on the state’s SAF decision. However, the JFC instead decided to reach a single compromise of the two bills.“The JFC decided…[to fund] at one level and enjoy any extra funds received from an SAF increase in financial bills next year,” Cauble said.

To reach a compromise bill, the JFC began with the $4.3 million version and worked up from there, “since the UHR had passed such a draconian bill at such a low level,” according to Parker Hancock, fourth-year EE major and Executive Vice President.

The bill is established using the projected enrollment from the admissions office, but with no expected increase to student activity fee.The JFC reversed the 10 percent stipend cut, with the exception of some positions in the IFC, and increased funding for student publications. It additionally cut funding for the Leadership Challenge Course personnel and publicity for all organizations, except the Student Center Programs Council (SCPC).

“Just because we cut the funding doesn’t mean we don’t care about the organization. We just have to see it as a bill in the fall,” Hancock said.

The budgeting process essentially allocates a minimum projected amount of money. If the actual profits from tuition is greater than the projection, then the UHR allocates this additional money in bills throughout the academic year.

“If SAF increases, we’d get about $600,000 to allocate in bills, but we’re just not really sure if we can bank on it,” Hancock said.

To counter potential effects of future tuition hikes, the SGA has implemented a stipend policy that is selective about stipend funding, which is now based on a percentage of the state tuition instead of a set cost. This avoids the issues of fluctuating tuitions and related financial needs.