Student Senate is recognized as a 501c3 nonprofit organization by the Internal Revenue Service. 501c3 nonprofit status benefits organizations because it allows organizations to raise money through donations and grants. Donations to nonprofit organizations are tax-deductible. Grants are rarely awarded to for-profit organizations.
Since Student Senate is tax-exempt, it does not reimburse organizations or individuals for tax on purchases. If Senate approved funding for your organization, that purchase is also tax-exempt. Make sure a representative from your organization picks up a tax exemption form from the Student Senate Treasurer before the purchase is made! If a purchase reimbursement form includes tax in the total, the sales tax amount will be deducted from the total reimbursement.
Students receiving stipends as part of their organization budgets are required to comply with Internal Revenue Service codes by providing necessary information required to complete these forms. Information about this will be provided by the Student Senate Treasurer to applicable organizations near the end of each calendar year.
Receiving Your Approved Funding
Once an organization is approved for Senate funding, the organization must fill out an Encumbrance Form. This form asks for the organization name and the amount of the approved funding you are currently requesting. Please fill out an Encumbrance Form for each separate check you need. After the payment information, the form requests the organization contact’s name and signature as well as the organization advisor’s signature. Please note, however, that even if the form is filled out correctly, it cannot be processed unless adequate documentation is attached. Allow at least one week for processing by the Student Senate Treasurer.
NOTE: Any missing information will result in a delay of funding. The process cannot be completed without all of the requested information.
Check: Checks can be written either on a reimbursement basis or before the event. If a check is needed to reimburse a member of your organization for approved purchases, indicate the check be made payable to that individual and attach the original purchase receipt. Remember, sales tax cannot be reimbursed and will be deducted from the total amount if tax has been included in the request. If the organization needs the check before the event, an official invoice (pre-purchase receipt) must be received from the business for the amount of the purchase. A check can also be written directly to a visiting performer as long as a signed contract is attached to the encumbrance form.
Transfer: If money needs to be paid to another department on campus, a check is unnecessary. The encumbrance form can facilitate transfers both to another Student Senate organization and to University departments, Dining Services, Facilities Management, etc. To transfer funds to another student organization (e.g. VUTV), no account number is needed. You simply name the organization on the “transfer to” line. To transfer funds to a University department, write the department name and account number on the line. The department account number can be obtained from the department.
Purchase Order (PO): A purchase order is useful when an invoice cannot be obtained from a business. A University purchase order authorizes a purchase by the indicated organization up to an estimated dollar amount. Please indicate your purchase estimate in the “amount” blank on the encumbrance form. The business will then bill the University for the exact amount. Also, since the purchase order is generated in the University Finance Office, no tax exemption forms are needed. Many Valparaiso area businesses accept purchase orders from Valpo, but if you are hesitant please contact the Senate Treasurer. Please note that Wal-Mart no longer accepts University purchase orders.
Funding for student organizations comes from the student activities fees that every registered undergraduate contributes each year. In order to request funding from Student Senate, Student Senate must recognize the organization either as a Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 organization. Non-funded organizations are ineligible to receive funding.
All campuswide organizations recognized by Student Senate are required to submit a budget proposal in the spring for the upcoming academic year with a line-by-line description of the upcoming year’s spending. This budget is reviewed by the Finance Committee of Student Senate and then voted on by the Senate body. This budget should include all financial aspects of operation for the upcoming academic year. Organizations are required to use the budget template, which is available on the forms page. Campuswide organizations do not have a predetermined limit on the amount they may request in their budget.
Tier 1 Organizations
Tier 1 organizations must submit a budget each year in the spring for the following semester, following the same guidelines set forth for campuswide organizations. Tier 1 organizations do not have a predetermined limit on the amount they may request in their budget.
Tier 2 Organizations
Tier 2 organizations must submit a budget each year in the spring for the following semester, following the same guidelines set forth for Tier 1 organizations. Recognized Tier 2 organizations may request up to $10,000 per year.
Tier 3 Organizations
Tier 3 must submit a budget each semester (at the end of each semester) for the following semester, following the same guidelines set forth for Tier 1 organizations. Recognized organizations may request up to $500 per semester.
- Understanding numbers is an important part of the budgeting process. However, it’s not the most critical part. The most critical part is the strategic planning that goes along with the budgeting process. Getting a “numbers person” on your team will allow you to focus on the strategic planning and forget about the numbers.
- Remember that money is a tool. To properly prepare a budget, you need to know what that tool is going to do for you. If you needed to build a house, you wouldn’t select random tools to work with. Instead, you would plan for which tools you’ll need and what time. The same is true of budgeting.
- Many student executives are guilty of following a budget formula from year to year and then moving money around to cover additional expenditures later in the year. This is an inefficient way to manage money. Do some planning to know where your money will work best and hardest for you.
- At the same time, you might want to develop a list of budget goals. These are statements about how you expect your funds to work. For example, “From the $5,000 I am putting into elections, I expect returns in the form of more voters.” This helps you focus on where your financial needs are greatest.
- You should know that your budget does not exist in a vacuum. It is tied to the financial ebb and flow of the student body. In preparing your budget, you should know what the institution is experiencing financially. Talk to others and collect data from financial committee records. That information will help you prepare a budget that is in line with the rest of the institution.
- When designing a budget, build in some areas of compromise. If you need a big increase in one area, then try to find another area where you can cut some funds. The Senate has a limited amount of dollars to allocate. Do not request unnecessary funding. You don’t necessarily have to match the changes dollar for dollar, but the budgeting committee and the Senate will appreciate your effort. Senate appreciates the efficiency of organizations who search for areas where dollars might be saved.
- Don’t make budgeting a closed-door process. Invite your other colleagues as well as anyone who has an interest in the budget. Getting input from many individuals will ensure that your budget considers many parameters.
- Cover all of your activities and explain all funding requests in detail. It is also very helpful to include the numbers regarding how much funding the Senate allocated for your past similar request and how much you ended up using of what was allocated. The more information and details you can give the Finance Committee, the easier it is to go over the budget. If you have questions or concerns about the budgeting process or would like help creating a budget, do not hesitate to contact the Finance Committee chair or any member of the Finance Committee. They will be glad to assist you.