With the fall semester underway, the budget and appropriations process has begun for some student groups. For the Senators of the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico, that means beginning the process of distributing $1 million.
For the current fiscal year, the ASUNM general fund is estimated at $981,659, according to ASUNM documents.
The fund is primarily financed by student fees, specifically the mandated $20 ASUNM fee all full-time undergraduate students pay. Part-time students pay based on their number of enrolled credits.
“Our job is to get that money back to the students,” said Chair of the ASUNM Finance Committee Francine Briones. To do so, the Finance Committee — one of three committees within the legislature — gives money to eligible campus groups through annual budget hearings and semesterly appropriations hearings.
Campus groups eligible for funding include: service entities, chartered student organizations, Student Service Agencies and ASUNM itself.
Student Service Agencies are groups within the ASUNM Executive Branch that organize events catered to the entire undergraduate student body, such as concerts, film events and homecoming.
Funds given to finance ASUNM pay for administrative costs, salaries of the president, vice president, their staff and scholarships.
Because so many students and student groups on campus apply for funding, the Senators are tasked with trimming budgets requested by groups.
“We receive above and beyond what the general fund has,” Briones said, adding that as a result, student groups are often encouraged to find separate ways to get the money they need.
The 2017 spring budget — which applies to the current fiscal year — saw nearly 150 groups funded. While $1.14 million was requested, only $689,000 was allocated — a 39 percent cut.
The spring budget was signed by former ASUNM president Kyle Biederwolf after being approved by both the Finance Committee and full Senate.
This fall, student groups will be requesting appropriations, which is money given for one-time expenses. The budget process for student groups typically occurs in the spring and is reserved for recurring expenses.
The spring budget process uses 84.5 percent of the general fund, while eight and a half percent is given to the Student Publications Board. The Board oversees the Student Publications Department and manages Conceptions Southwest, Best Student Essays and the Daily Lobo. The remaining seven percent of the fund is reserved as retainer.
The proportions allocated from the general fund are outlined in the ASUNM constitution.
Briones, who was in Senate last semester, has confidence in the budget she and her fellow legislators passed.
“We're confident this budget is student-centered and fair,” she said.
Budget and appropriations workshops designed for student groups looking to receive ASUNM funding are happening over the next few weeks.
Brendon Gray is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notgraybrendon.