Students in charge of funding organizations

Butler University student organizations are for the students by the students, and the process to receive funding is no different.

Any recognized student organization does not necessarily receive funding from the university, Caroline Huck-Watson, PuLSE Office director, said. It is the student organization’s responsibility to look for sources for funding.

One way student organizations can get funding is by applying for Student Government Association grants.

The SGA Finance Board and Grants Committee started looking at grant applications last week, said Derek Friederich, SGA vice president of finance. Four grants have been approved so far.

Student organizations can apply for four types of grants: general-purpose grants, event grants, R.E.A.C.H. grants and club sports grants.

“A lot of organizations really do rely on those (grants),” SGA President Mike Keller said. “The money they have at the start of the year is really not enough to do some of the things that they want to.”

Applying for grants is a multi-step process, Friederich said.

First, a student organization interested in a grant will fill out the online application and budget form on SGA’s website.

That application will be submitted to the Grants Committee and a member will add that application to a pile of applications to be considered.

The Grants Committee and Finance Board hear four grant request presentations per week, Friederich said. The organization will give a brief presentation about why they want the grant. The committee will then ask the organization questions to find out if the money will be put to good use.

“It is the students’ money,” Friederich said. “We check to make sure efforts are being made toward bettering the campus in some way.”

The 11 individuals on Grants Committee are the only people who vote on the grant applications. If a grant is awarded to an organization, the money will be in that organization’s account at the PuLSE Office the next day.

The PuLSE Office oversees the accounts of all registered student organizations. The financial transactions of an organization happen there, with the exception of club sports, which are handled through the health and recreation department.

Huck-Watson said, along with SGA grants, student organizations could get funding from their own fundraising efforts or also from grants outside the university.

A representative from a student organization can come in for a cash advance, which is money taken out ahead of time for an activity or supplies a group needs if it have the money in its account.

The representative from the organization must fill out a form with information about who they are and the amount of money they want. That form is then taken to Student Accounts, as the actual money is not kept in the PuLSE Office, Huck-Watson said.

After the money is spent, the representative must go back to the PuLSE Office with the receipts from transactions and any change  left over.

The PuLSE Office can also be used to pay organization’s invoices or reimburse students in an organization who have used their own money for something, Huck-Watson said.

On the 15th of every month, the university puts out cumulative financial reports so students can see how much they’ve been spending throughout the year, Huck-Watson said. But students are expected to keep a real-time budget to keep track of their spending.

Huck-Watson said the PuLSE office holds meetings at the beginning of each year required for all student organizations to inform them of the different policies and financial responsibilities they have as a student organization.

The PuLSE Office will work with organizations if funding issues arise, Huck-Watson said. It is handled on a case-by-case basis to figure out how the issues happened and how it can be fixed.

SGA also requires student organizations to be accountable for their grants, Friederich said.

Organizations who receive event grants must submit an accountability report to the Grants Committee showing the receipts so the committee can match it up with the budget to make sure the money was used how the organization said it was going to be used, Friederich said.

General purpose grants are subject to random audits throughout the year, Friederich said.

The entire SGA budget comes from the activity fee students are required to pay, Keller said.

Student government receives about $180 of the $288 student activity fee. The rest of the money goes to each individual class, athletics and into a pool to be divvied up between the different organizations, Keller said.

Keller said he thinks the activity fee is set at the correct amount.

“Our only mission is to be an advocate and provide programming for the students,” Keller said. “It’s a really solid investment, especially if you’re someone who takes advantage of all that SGA offers.”

Huck-Watson said she thinks the fee is doing its job.

“From my perspective, I don’t think the fee needs to be raised,” she said. “At this point, the fee is meeting the needs of the students.”

The total SGA budget is $748,409 for this year, Friederich said. There is $55,500 in the grants budget.

The grants are awarded first come, first served, so organizations should apply early, Friederich said.

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