Where does Oakland’s money go?

Every year, Oakland University students can be heard complaining about tuition increases, budget decreases and why the school doesn’t do more to help students lower their tuition. But has anyone ever taken a second to ask why? To fully understand where the university’s money goes, we first have to look at how much money Oakland receives a year.

On average, Oakland has a total budget of about $300 million, but the budget for the 2017-18 academic year is $271,532,892. According to Oakland’s general fund budget, the budget is decided by the Budget and Financial Planning Office with input from various departments on campus including the Senate Planning Committee, the Senate Budget Review Committee and student leadership from Oakland University Student Congress.

Most budgets carry forward from year to year with incremental increases for certain contractual commitments and inflation,” said John W. Beaghan, the vice president for finance and administration and the treasurer to the Board of Trustees. “Some budget line items like health care, debt, financial aid, facility service agreements and software licensing are zero-based budgeted annually.”

The funding for the school’s budget comes from state-based appropriation, tuition and other means such as fundraising. The main reason student’s tuition increases every year is because the state gives the university less money every year on a percentage basis. In 1972, Michigan provided 71 percent of Oakland’s total funding and tuition provided 26 percent, but in 2017 the state appropriation base was 17 percent while tuition made up 82 percent of the school’s total funding.

To factor students into the budget, Beaghan meets with the Board of Trustees student liaisons, Oakland University Student Congress President Lena Mishack and OUSC Vice President Jousef Shoukani, before the June BOT meeting. This meeting usually determines budget usage and any tuition raises for the next academic year. 

“The meeting occurred so that if there was a big red flag we could voice our concerns,” Mishack said. “But after [Beaghan] went through the budget presentation with us, overall we kind of saw that the budget they proposed was justified. They kind of explained to us why they have to do a slight increase in tuition, though of course, at all costs we want to avoid that.”

Student representatives made sure more money would be going toward program improvements. Some of the programs include getting additional academic advisers and more program coordinators for Tutoring, CORE, Veterans Affairs, Community Service and Retention. All of this “will improve retention and graduation rates” according to the general fund documents.

“They would ask us if everything seems reasonable or that students would generally put in more money towards academic advisers,” Mishack said. “We agreed because that’s a big issue with students, staying on track for graduation and having somebody to go to for help.”

In addition, the budget and financial planning office wants to continuing focusing on student financial aid funding including the student full aid guarantee, economic hardship fund, and need-based and competitive-based scholarships.

More information on Oakland’s budget can be found on Oakland’s website.