STEVENS POINT, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents today unanimously approved a System report on the Program Revenue Fund Balances managed by the campuses and institutions within the UW System.
The report, which was presented during the Board’s meeting at UW-Stevens Point, is the result of a collaborative effort between the campuses, UW System and the legislature to better define and manage the fund balances held and managed by institutions and campuses within UW System. The 250-page report identifies the fund balances using definitions provided by the Legislative Audit Bureau and provides detailed analysis of each fund by campus, including how the funds are generated, how they are being managed, and how they are planned to be spent.
“We have been responsive to what our Board of Regents, our legislators, and the public told us they wanted. The UW System has delivered, “said UW System President Ray Cross, who presented the report to the board.
“This report is a significant step forward,” said Regent President Michael J. Falbo. “We listened to the concerns expressed by the legislature and the public, we acknowledged the need to make improvements, and we have worked hard to strengthen the transparency and accountability of our budgeting and financial planning processes. There is still work to do, but we are well on our way.”
Program Revenues are funds collected at the campuses for tuition as well as for services provided, such as residence halls, food and parking. Because the funds fluctuate based on factors like enrollment, campuses must utilize long-term strategic planning to ensure these resources are being managed responsibly. The report includes guidelines and reporting requirements that will make those efforts part of each institution’s budget preparations moving forward.
“We have integrated program revenue fund balances into our budget planning process and into our financial reporting processes,” Cross said. “From now on, program revenue fund balances will not be a separate conversation, but considered a normal and regular part of our financial discussions and decisions.”
Highlights from the Program Revenue fund balance report include:
- Program Revenue fund balances are spread out among many accounts managed independently within each individual institution in the UW System, and are not held in one central account. The balances vary widely among institutions and individual funds due to the many differences between institutional programs.
- Based on definitions created by the Legislative Audit Bureau, UW System institutions have a total of $175 million in actual reserves (in Reserved and Undocumented funds). That is about 3% of the total $6 billion operating budget for all UW System institutions.
- Of the $973 million in overall Program Revenue fund balances, approximately $711 million are already obligated or planned. These are funds that are expected to be spent on institution-specific initiatives within the next few years.
- The aggregate year-end tuition fund balance dropped by $156.1 million from $551.5 million in fiscal year 2013 to $395.4 million in fiscal year 2014.
Regent Vice President Regina Millner applauded the campus leaders for their work in developing the report and implementing new policies. “As we continue to work with our partners in the legislature and the private sector to better serve the needs of our state, this report should provide increased confidence that UW System institutions are monitoring and managing our resources with accountability and transparency,” Millner said.