Higher Education

Make Your Budgeting Process More Student-Centric

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What is student-centric budgeting?
Student-centric budgeting is the idea of basing your yearly capital and operating budgets around a 360-degree view of student data. This means tracking information that directly relates to students, including enrollment numbers, funding sources, and more. The majority of the projects that you will need to budget for throughout the year are related to these student-based variables, so taking this information into account will ensure accuracy and a fair distribution of funds.


Most educational institutions use incremental budgeting, meaning that this year’s budget is heavily dependant on the previous year’s budget. Student enrollment is a key variable, and the most important factor to include when creating a student-centric budget. Enrollment numbers include several variables vital to your budgeting process, which need to be monitored and considered when creating your budget for this year. These include aspects such as:


  • Projected number of enrolled students – indicating how much revenue will be generated both from tuition and other fees, and from state/provincial support based on these fees.
  • Projected tuition rate per student – indicating how much revenue will be generated from different kinds of students. International student fees vs. domestic student fees, part-time students vs. full-time students


Almost every expense for the year is covered by tuition, government funding and other grants, which are reliant on student enrollment. This funding is what covers:

  • Cost of teaching (Professors’ salaries, classroom resources, etc.)
  • Other student-based resources (technology, administration, health services, student housing and food services, bursaries and scholarships, etc.)
  • Capital expenses (new buildings, etc.)


How does the Questica Budget Suite help colleges and universities create a student-centric budget?
In September, 2019, the Association for Institutional Research (AIR), EDUCAUSE, and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) made a joint statement regarding the positive effect that data-driven analytics can have on making strategic decisions. Software like the Questica Budget Suite can help you take the data you have and identify, prioritize, analyze, and present student data, therefore making it easier to create a student-centric budget.


Below are the aspects of the Questica Budget Suite that you can utilize to make your budget more student-centric.


Questica Budget (Including our Advanced Calculation Engine)
Questica Budget for higher education keeps all your budget data in one place and integrates with your financial and student information systems. Unlimited “What-If?” scenarios allow you to plan for various situations, such as higher or lower enrollment numbers.


Questica Budget’s Advanced Calculation Engine (ACE) is a calculation system that enables users to create formulas ranging from a single formula in a cell up to large scale mathematical models to do things such as forecasting expenses and revenue from historical data.


Formulas, whether simple or complex, can be defined using templates and leveraging user defined variables to regenerate budgets the assumptions and values for the variables are modified by users with the appropriate security privileges. A simple but powerful example of how ACE can assist in student-centric budgeting would be if you had estimated enrollment in a particular program, and then discovered those numbers needed to be modified as a result of updated enrollment information.  The calculation you created previously could simply be re-run, and all financial and statistical values that were dependent on student enrollment would be regenerated.


To learn more about Questica Budget Suite’s software solutions for higher education institutions check out our website.


Questica Performance
Looking at previous budget scenarios is a perfect place to start when trying to anticipate how to respond to future and pending student budgeting increases. Questica Performance allows you to track current and historical enrollment numbers through our performance management module.


It allows you to go beyond the financials and track an unlimited number of budget and non-budget key performance indicators (KPIs) such as enrollment, applications received, and funding sources. Most importantly, it allows you to better define the relationships and dependencies at the cost level and allows you to get very granular with the data, going down to even the program or department level.


Being able to see the performance at this level allows you to make quick decisions. If you notice, for example, that applications received for a particular department is below the projected number, you can make decisions on which programs and courses can be offered, and what the specific staffing needs will be.


Visit our site for more information on Questica Performance.


Questica OpenBook
Questica OpenBook can help your college or university build transparency and trust by communicating financial and other data with visuals. How is this relevant to student centricity? Transparency helps engage current students and stakeholders by allowing them to access information about where their tuition and other payments are going.


Check out our examples of how Questica OpenBook works for Higher Education here.


To learn more about the Questica Budget Suite’s software solutions for higher education schools, read one of our blogs or white papers, sign-up for one of our free monthly informational webinars or request a personal demo.