Examining USF’s 2024 Budget at ASUSF Senate Town Hall

From left to right, ASUSF Senate executives Nadine Tabucao, Isabelle Sholes, Chibuike Nkemere, and Leonardo Yniguez moderated the town hall’s Q&A. Photo by Kaleb Martinez/SF Foghorn.

On Apr. 10, approximately 40 members of the USF community attended a “Demystifying Tution” town hall meeting held by the Senate of the Associated Students of the University of San Francisco (ASUSF). The town hall was held primarily by the University Budget Advisory Council (UBAC). UBAC is comprised of students, faculty, administrators, and staff members. Undergraduate UBAC Representatives Isabelle Sholes and Chibuike Nkemere gave a presentation, followed by a Q&A session with faculty and the senate. 

“It was good to see the real decision makers behind the process, how they use the money, where the money goes. It was good to ask questions and dialogue with them,” said Benjamin Getchell, a junior politics major in attendance. “Of course, [transparency] could be better, but we’re a socially-active school, so I think we are pretty up-front with our faculty and our administration, so it’s good to see that come to fruition in a town hall.”

Beginning the presentation, Nkemere said, UBAC meets “once a month primarily with the mission to educate our members on [the] school’s budget and finances. This is important to ensure transparency and also obtain some well-needed feedback and advice when making decisions that directly impact our instution’s future.”

The presentation covered USF’s annual budget cycle, expenses and revenue sources, alongside a breakdown of how tuition money is spent. “Diving into our budget cycle itself for the fall semester, it begins in late August and early September when our census is completed. From that all the way down to December is when our tuition rates are deliberated upon and will finally be voted on… and announced to the student body,” said Nkemere. “This same process transfers into our spring semester when our census is finalized around February and you’re able to track our enrollment targets all the way until September.”

Sholes said, “The point of UBAC is to advise, educate, communicate, and provide transparency. And to do that to the best of our abilities, it’s really important that we understand the school’s revenue and expenses. USF is a tuition dependent school.” She further explained that 87% of USF’s 2024 fiscal revenue comes from tuition, a statistic which is provided by UBAC in their  presentation, hyperlinked in the online edition of this article. Making up the rest of the budget, 8% is from auxiliary revenue, 2.2% is meal plan revenue, 1.2% is investment returns, .7% revenue is from fees, .5% is other revenue, and .3% is from gifts and contributions. “Auxiliary revenue includes things like room and board, as well as Koret,” specified Sholes. Also noted is the approximate $50 million received as restricted gifts, wherein the donors require their donations to go to a specific cause. Most frequently, this money goes towards scholarships and endowments. The total revenue for the 2024 fiscal year is $519.8 million.

Nkemere said, “Almost 100% of our school’s revenue is spent with the exception of about 3% in savings reserves.” According to the presentation, USF has $519.8 million in total expenses for this 2024 fiscal year. 

27% of the revenue is spent on academic affairs. “This is to pay salary for staff for those specific colleges themselves,” said Nkemere.

35.8% of this revenue is spent on “other academic affairs.” “The other category is basically classified by all the money that’s spent that’s not directly in the academic schools themselves,” said Nkemere. “So, something that would be encompassed in this portion itself would be about $135 million in scholarships paid to students for this fiscal year.”

Additionally, according to the presentation, 15.1% of the operating expenses goes to business and finances, 6.8% goes to student life, 4.9% goes to ITS, 3.7% goes to athletics, 2.7% goes to institutional support, 2% goes toward development, 1% goes to the Office of Marketing Communications, .6% goes to general council, and .3% goes to the President. 

The percentages provided for both the revenue and expenses respectively add up to 99.9%.

After the presentation was complete, the ASUSF Senate opened the floor for student questions, which were answered by members of the senate, alongside some administrative members of UBAC and faculty members. 

Students and community members asked questions pertaining to the budget and financial plans for the university. Some students, however, found the answers to be somewhat underwhelming. 

“I think [the faculty members] answered the questions, but… they didn’t give any hard answers, and they didn’t really make any concrete assurances to the audience,” said Getchell. “But, walking out, I did feel much more confident in our school’s organization…It probably lowered my anxiety a little bit about raising tuition.”

For the 2024-2025 school year, USF announced that tuition will be raised by 3.9%, or $2,250 according to the presentation.

In regards to tuition increases, Sholes said,“UBAC does not have any final decision [on tuition increases]. When [UBAC members vote], their votes are recommendations that then go to the higher ups… and that’s when the final decision is made.”

After the town hall, Sholes told the Foghorn, “it was definitely nerve wracking leading up to [the town hall] because we both wanted to do a good job. It’s a bit of a difficult situation… we’re students but we also play a role in UBAC. I think overall it went well, I think a lot of the questions were really great and very thoughtful.”

She continued, saying “I was really happy with how open everything was. There’s just, overall, hope that this is something that can continue every year, which I think is really positive.”

Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor: Jordan Premmer, News Editor: Niki Sedaghat 

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