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Frequently Asked Questions

NEW: Questions Related to the Current Budget Crisis

(Newest questions in blue boxes below. Last update on 12/10/09.)

1) Why does CSUSM need a University Student Union?

Student Life is one of the University’s five strategic priorities and the need for a University Student Union is critical to advancing campus life at CSUSM. Currently, there is limited space on campus for students to meet, gather, eat and study in-between classes. The new Union will be the “heart of the campus” by creating a welcoming and inclusive space for relaxation, social interaction, and educational services and opportunities.

2) Why build a Student Union when we already have the Clarke Field House / University Student Union? Can’t this money be spent on something else?

Despite the recent economic challenges it is important that we continue to making strategic investments in CSUSM’s future. The campus has outgrown The Clarke and when CSUSM students passed a fee referendum in 2000 they did so with the expectation that we would eventually build a stand-alone University Student Union. During Phase One of the University Student Union, The Clarke will serve as an extension of the USU by continuing to provide lounge space, programming and, venues events. After Phase Two has been built, we will revisit how The Clarke can best meet the needs of the campus. Funds from different sources have different restrictions as to how they may be spent. The fees collected for the Student Union since 2000 cannot be redirected to another project or student service.

3) How will the campus pay for the University Student Union?

The fees collected for the Student Union since 2000 cannot be redirected to another project or student service. The University Student Union cannot be constructed with the use of state funds. Thus, the main funding source must come from either student or private funding sources (donations). However, in order to break ground on the building, CSUSM must show a definite source of funding which is the Student Union Fee collected from students.

4) Why should current students pay for a building they may never use?

A similar situation happened before The Clarke was built. Students at that time approved an increase in their fees for a building that they would not use. Not only did those students willingly pay the extra fee, they also became alumni who donated additional funds so that the building could meet its required funding needs. As an alumnus of CSUSM, graduates will be afforded the opportunity to come back to campus and take part in the historic events surrounding the University Student Union. Students pursuing their degree are with CSUSM for only a distinct period of time but they are an alumni for life. Like the many alumni who have come before, this will be an opportunity for current students to leave a legacy for the future.

5) I understand the University is introducing a new logo. Why would CSUSM go to the expense of launching a new logo in this budget environment?

CSUSM will be introducing a new logo this fall; however, it will be done in a manner that minimizes expense.  Traditionally, when a new logo is introduced all materials with the old logo design are destroyed. To minimize expense, as we run out of materials (letterhead, business cards, etc.), orders will be placed with the new logo. This “soft rollout” of the new logo will ensure we do not incur any unnecessary expense. While this will create a longer transition period for adoption and implementation of the new logo, we believe this is the best alternative at this time. 

The new logo will be part of our 20th anniversary celebration and an integral part of our continued to efforts to increase awareness about California State University San Marcos and its many successful programs and initiatives.

6) How much do individual divisions have to cut from the $2.8 million that was left as of the last budget forum on July 28th?

Information on divisional reductions will be shared with the University Budget Committee when it reconvenes in the fall.

7) What things are being considered in divisional reductions?

Elimination of vacant positions, streamlining of management, moving expenses to non-state resources where appropriate, reassigning staff, reducing timebases or combining positions, reducing operating expenses.

8) Are externally funded programs being cut back?

Programs funded through grants, donations, or other non-state funds are generally not being cut back, although there may be some reduction, where appropriate.

9) Is the student voice being represented in this current process of cuts?

Students are represented on the University Budget Committee. The President of ASI and the VP of Finance sit on that body. Students do not participate in divisional deliberations because the majority of the university’s budget involves personnel in some way.

10) How much was spent to hold CSUSM’s University Convocation this year?

The expenses associated with holding University Convocation at the California Center for the Arts totaled $6,282.00.  There was conversation to bring University Convocation on-campus to save expenses. However, a contract with CCA had already been signed and there are no facilities large enough on campus to accommodate the anticipated attendance (based on prior years' attendance).

11) There has been much discussion amongst faculty and staff regarding the recent appointment of the Campus Climate officer—how would I find out the nature of his appointment and the cost of this current assignment?

The campus climate advocate is not a new position, is not a full-time position, and does not equate to additional compensation.   This is an extra assignment that Scott Gross is taking on, in addition to his regular duties as director of Community Engagement.    There is no additional compensation for this assignment.   Marion Reid, former Dean of the Kellogg Library, had previously served in this capacity, also as an additional assignment receiving no additional compensation.

12) What is CSUSM’s new (reduced) enrollment target for 2010-2011?

The CSU has informed Cal State San Marcos that our new target will be 6846 full-time equivalent students (roughly 8735 headcount), which represents a 6% reduction from the current 2009-2010 target of 7283.

13) How will CSUSM reduce its enrollment?

The university’s enrollment management administrators will attend a special enrollment summit at the Chancellor’s Office on August 19th to learn more about allowable options for limiting enrollment of new students. The California State University has already declared “systemwide impaction,” which authorizes universities to employ admissions criteria to selectively admit students.  For the 2009-2010 admissions cycle, first-year students from outside of CSUSM’s extended service region were required to have GPAs and test scores above a certain level.  For the 2010-2011 cycle, additional admissions criteria might be employed and/or other admissions tools deployed for local students and/or students from outside our region.  Additionally, the university will strive to help current students earn their degrees and graduate in a timely manner and may need to consider other strategies to further manage enrollment down.

14) When will the President make a decision on the Student Union Project?

Cal State San Marcos conducted an alternative consultation process during academic year 2009/10 for a University Student Union fee increase.   Multiple forums were held during February and March to ensure students, faculty and staff received information regarding this project as well as to provide a venue for the campus community to ask questions and provide their feedback on the proposed project and fees.  The Student Fee Advisory Committee reviewed the alternative consultation process and certified that the report presented a thorough and objective analysis of the findings.

President Haynes is reviewing the report and the feedback on the various fee scenarios.   She will make a decision before Fall semester and will communicate her decision to the ASI Board and campus community.

15) I’ve heard that after furloughs and the fee increase, CSUSM will still need to cut back $3.5 million dollars. When will a decision be made on what to do about these additional cuts?

After completing our last fiscal year end reporting, we are able to accurately project funds we can carry over to cover next year, and additional fee revenue we expect to receive this year for going over our enrollment target.  The campus is now trying to close an approximate $2.6 million deficit.  Cost reduction plans are due to the Chancellor’s Office by July 31st.  Conversations were held in Divisions to identify additional carry forward, reserves, operational efficiencies and other reduction strategies that could be used to close the remaining $2.6 million deficit fiscally within the parameters of the principles set by President Haynes. Those principles are:

  1. continuing to serve as many students as we can within our budget and without sacrificing quality;
  2. working to protect as many jobs as possible, and;
  3. balancing the need to address this budget crisis with the commitment to continue building for our future.

16) I’ve heard the Presidents receive benefits like community engagement expenses, vehicle allowances and housing allowances? What are these used for and why aren’t they being cut?

CSU Executives, which include CSU Presidents, are subject to the furlough, which results in an approximate 10% reduction to their base salary.

The CSU campus presidents are provided with an official CSU residence where available. If an official residence is not available, a housing allowance is provided to assist the campus president in securing a residence. Housing allowances vary by campus. President Haynes holds many events at her residence for community groups, student groups and for prospective and current donors.

The CSU campus presidents have a vehicle available for business use, and the campus provides automobile insurance, maintenance, and gasoline expenses for that vehicle.   President Haynes drives a university vehicle.   In lieu of a university vehicle, other CSU campus presidents have taken the option of electing an automobile allowance of $1000 per month.  Campus presidents receive an entertainment allowance of $300 per month from the state’s general fund to defray costs incurred in the course of conducting official business and institutional development activities. Additionally, funds are also available from the state general fund for community relations expenses; these are not used for joining country clubs etc.   At this campus, we use them for things such as Chamber of Commerce involvement or membership in national higher education policy or research organizations.  Presidents also receive other medical, dental and life insurance benefits similar to all employees of the CSU.

17) The State Treasurer has said the State will begin issuing IOUs next week, will my paycheck be impacted?

No. While the State may issue IOUs, CSU will cover its July payroll utilizing revenues from student fees.

18) What are our CSUSM’s guiding principles for moving forward through the state’s fiscal crisis? 

Throughout this crisis, CSUSM is operating with three guiding principles:

  1. We will continue to serve as many students as we can within our budget and without sacrificing quality.
  2. We will work to protect as many jobs as possible.
  3. We will balance the need to address this budget crisis with the commitment to continue building for our future.

19) Why is CSUSM spending money on new buildings and new initiatives during this fiscal crisis?

Despite the budget crisis, CSUSM must continue to make strategic, thoughtful decisions to best position the campus for the future.  We will continue to seize opportunities connected to our core mission and build a University that is fully engaged in our community, technologically sophisticated, and dedicated to teaching future generations.

In addition to making strategic investments in our future, funds from different sources have different restrictions as to how they may be spent. Currently, the campus is under construction on the following projects: 

  1. The Parking Structure – funded by parking fees.
  2. The McMahan House – funded in full with private donor support.
  3. The Social and Behavioral Sciences Building –paid for with bond funds.
  4. Temecula Campus – this initiative has been funded through private support and self-support operations from Extended Learning.

Some smaller campus projects may be suspended.

20) How bad is the budget?

This budget crisis is unprecedented. In the Governor’s May Budget Revision released May 28, 2009, the Department of Finance indicated that the California state deficit was $24 billion.

The potential reductions to the CSU are estimated to be anywhere between $400 million and $700 million in the 2009-10.  This is dependent upon the extent of the federal stimulus revenue that the system may receive and any changes to the CSU budget made by the Governor or Legislature as it winds through the legislative process.

21) When will you know how big a cut we will have to take?

Many factors have an impact on the budget discussion.  The CSU and CSUSM’s budget is based on the state budget.  We will have a clearer idea once the state has a final budget.

22) What does this mean to Cal State San Marcos?

Despite every attempt to reduce enrollment next year, including declaring impaction, applications to Cal State San Marcos were again at record highs.  To avoid shortage of classes for later-registering students, a 13-unit limit beginning with our new freshman orientation in June was instituted.

Since January 2008, there has been a hiring freeze on all but essential positions.  At this time, all MPP employees’ salaries on campus were frozen as well.  Vice Presidents are continuing to closely review all expenditures, defer or cancel non-essential purchases, curtail non-essential travel, and delay hiring where possible.

The President and Executive Council are closely monitoring communications from the Department of Finance and the Chancellor’s Office. We will continue to keep you updated as information is received.

23) Will there be a mechanism to allow staff to ask questions about the budget as new information becomes available?

Whenever you have a question about the budget and how it affects your unit, you should first direct it to your department manager, who can answer specific questions in the context of your unit's budget and priorities.

For more general questions, ideas, and comments, a mechanism for input is already in place. CSUSM’s Budget Central home page has extensive links to the latest information about the CSU and CSUSM budget situation, and there is an option for submitting comments to campus leaders. Decision-makers are very interested in feedback and suggestions on how Cal State San Marcos can be more efficient and make the most of scarce resources during these lean budget times.

General Questions About the Overall Budget Process

1) Where does CSUSM get its funding?

Sources of revenue:

  • 85% ~ Operating Fund – aka General Fund (“permanent” funds)
    • State of California Appropriation
    • State University Fees
  • 1% ~ Lottery Fund (“fiscal”, one-time funds)
    • California Lottery sales
    • CSUSM has a process for awarding/allocating Lottery Funds
  • 11% ~ Proprietary Funds (“fiscal”, one-time funds – designated for specific uses)
    • Student Fees
    • Self-support operation
    • Parking, Extended Learning, Clark Field House, etc.
  • 3% ~ Cash Trust Projects  (“fiscal”, one-time funds – designated for specific uses)
    • Miscellaneous student fees
    • Student Newspaper, Associated Students, Inc., Instructionally Related Activities, Credential Evaluation Fee, Orientation, etc.
Operating Fund / General Fund:
  • This is the Chancellor’s Office allocation based on full-time equivalent student (FTES) targets set for each CSU campus, generally negotiated annually in the fall for the next academic year by the Chancellor and the Presidents based on a variety of factors, including the “Governor’s Higher Education Compact” (see below)
    • Incremental budget allocation (new/growth funds) is calculated on new/growth FTES. For FY 2007-08, the Marginal Cost General Fund Support Allocation for the incremental budget allocation was $9,967 per new/growth FTES; however, a deduction is applied by the Chancellor’s Office as an offset for the State University Fee collected by the campus. Hence, the growth funds allocated to the campus cannot be calculated simply by multiplying the growth FTES by the Marginal Cost.
“Governor’s Higher Education Compact” (aka, “Governor’s Compact”) is an agreement between Governor Schwarzenegger, the University of California, and the California State University, for the period of FY 2005-06 through FY 2010-11. Funding commitments in the third year and beyond reflect the belief at the time the contract was negotiated (during the last economic down-turn) that the State would return to a position of fiscal health based on moderate economic growth.  It provides:
  • Basic Budget Support:  The State will provide a General Fund increase of 3% to the prior year's base in both 2005-06 and 2006-07.  Beginning in 2007-08 and through 2010-11, the State will provide a General Fund increase of 4% to the prior year's base for basic budget needs including salary increases, health benefits, maintenance, inflation, and other cost increases.
  • Core Academic Support Needs:  In 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11, the last three years of this Compact, the State will also provide an additional 1% increase to the prior year's base to address the annual budgetary shortfalls in State funding for other instruction and research support for core areas of the budget critical to maintaining the quality of the academic program—including instructional equipment, instructional technology and libraries—and for ongoing building maintenance.
  • Enrollment:  UC and CSU enrollment plans project enrollment increases of approximately 2.5% per year through the end of the decade.  This growth rate represents an increase of 5,000 students annually at UC and 8,000 students annually at CSU.  The State will provide funding for this enrollment growth at the agreed-upon marginal cost of instruction as adjusted annually.
  • Student Fees:  Consistent with the Governor’s proposed student fee policy, UC and CSU may decide that fee increases of up to 10 percent are necessary to provide sufficient funding for programs and to preserve quality.
The Compact is available at: 

2) Do the State appropriation and student fees cover CSUSM’s annual expenditures?

Unfortunately, no.  However, the campus receives fiscal (one-time) revenue from a variety of sources that enable us to meet our obligations each year (see various funding sources listed in #1 above).

During the last budget down-turn of a few years ago, to avoid workforce management measures and to distribute the expenses related to the mandated implementation of the Common Management System (CMS/PeopleSoft) the campus made a decision to create a permanent fund budget gap, which would be (and has been) covered on an annual basis with fiscal funds – we’ve ended each year fiscally sound. The campus was on an aggressive FTES growth trajectory, and a multi-year budget model was developed to plan for closing the gap over a few years’ period of time. However, with the current State budget crisis, and the increasing costs of mandated expenditures (salary increases, benefits, utilities, etc.), the plan for closing the gap has been impacted significantly.

3) If we don’t receive enough from the State and fees, how do we cover expenditures?

By sound management of our financial resources at all levels of the campus community, from faculty and staff members to managers and executives, we are able to cover the annual expenditures that exceed our State and fee revenue by a variety of ways (we do not borrow funds to cover our operating expenses). Some of these methods include:

  • Positive fiscal (one-time) year-end balances carried forward from the prior year, either via the “University Sweep” process in prior years, or at the Division/Unit level for FY 2007/08 year-end balances (see explanation in #5 below)
  • Salary savings from vacant positions
  • Use of fiscal (one-time) funds to cover permanent needs on an annual basis

4) Can you explain the difference between fiscal/permanent?

“Permanent” funds ~ Operating/General Fund allocations from State appropriations that adjust the permanent base budget (increase or decrease). All permanent faculty and staff positions require “permanent” funds. Additionally, often “permanent” funds are allocated to support on-going operating expenses, such as telephone, travel, office supplies, adjunct lecturers, student assistants, subscriptions and dues, etc. Fiscal” funds ~ One-time funding that does not increase or decrease the permanent base budget. Fiscal funds may be used on an ongoing basis to fund ongoing operating expenses (telephone, travel, adjunct lecturers, student assistants, etc.). A couple examples of fiscal funds include:
  • a one-time allocation for a designated project that will occur in a fiscal year (e.g., WASC accreditation visit, remodel of office or classroom space,
  • salary savings realized from a vacant position (unpaid salary that accrues when a position is vacant).

5) I’ve heard of something called “sweeps”; can you tell me what they are?

This is the university-wide process of identifying all unexpended Operating Fund balances at the end of a fiscal year.

In an effort to provide additional ways for Divisions and units to mitigate the FY 08/09 budget reductions, President Haynes has suspended the University Sweep of FY 2007/08 year-end balances to allow management of any remaining balances at the Division/Unit level.

In the past, these balances have been transferred to the University Fiscal Reserve and carried over into the next fiscal year to address future priorities, or used to fund specific university strategic initiatives.  This process was implemented to ensure that the overall position of the university's budget is sound.  Each division could request sweep exemptions for certain funds (typically funds legislated or mandated by CSU Executive Orders to be used only for specific purposes).

6.    What are “campus-wide activities?”

“Campus-wide activities” allocations benefit most (if not all) of the campus. At the time the budget is initially allocated, funds provided for compensation increases, employee benefits, Common Management System (PeopleSoft Implementation), Student Financial Aid and the University Fiscal Reserve are placed in “campus-wide activities”.

“Campus-wide activities” maintains two centralized employee compensation pools that provide funding for bargaining unit driven compensation increases and employee benefits. No actual expenditures are recorded in the pooled program accounts – rather, budget transfers are made appropriately throughout the fiscal year to fund actual bargaining unit driven compensation increases and benefit costs. By the end of each fiscal year, funds in the benefits pool and the compensation pool have been distributed to individual units (see explanation of each pool below in #7 and #8). The compensation pools are accounted for in “campus-wide activities” until they are allocated.  The President has financial oversight responsibilities for all campus- wide activities programs and assigns program administrative duties to appropriate divisions.

7.    What is the “benefits pool?”

The “benefits pool” might be considered as a reservoir of permanent funds from which fiscal (one-time) allocations are made to individual units on a monthly basis to correspond with the monthly benefits expenses associated with the salaries paid from the unit account (health, dental and vision insurance premiums, employer’s state and federal tax contributions, employer’s retirement contribution, etc.). These transfers do not impact the unit’s base budget – it’s a net zero sum transaction for the unit. The benefit funds associated with a unit’s payroll are not available for discretionary use by the unit. Obviously, our benefits package is critically important to each one of us, and the pool must be maintained at an appropriate level to cover the related expenses. Based on historical data of the cost of employees’ benefits, we calculate that the “benefits pool” should be maintained at a level of funding equal to 37% of permanent employees’ annual wages.  The pool is monitored by the University Budget Office, and adjustments to the funding level are made annually to ensure adequate resources are available to cover expenditures. Generally, the Chancellor’s Office allocates funds to cover projected increases in benefits pools expenditures (increases in insurance premiums, etc.). However, in FY 2008-09, the campus must bear the cost of these mandated increases without any additional new funds, in fact, from current resources that are being reduced.

8.    What is the “compensation pool?”

When collective bargaining units and the Chancellor’s Office have negotiated employee salary increases (either general salary increases, GSIs, or service salary increases, SSIs, etc.), the typical practice is for the Chancellor’s Office to allocate to each campus funds to cover the expense of the increases. This allocation is calculated based on the terms of the increases and on the prior year’s payroll. This lump sum is allocated to the “compensation pool”. Usually the allocation is inadequate to meet the need and the campus is responsible for covering the difference with existing funds since the sum of the salaries used for the calculation is  based on wages earned two years’ prior. For FY 2008/09, due to the State budget crisis, the Chancellor’s Office will not be allocating any new funds for compensation increases, and in fact, is reducing our permanent Operating Fund from the FY 2007-08 level. Therefore, the campus will be responsible for fully funding any collective bargaining unit negotiated salary increases using our current resources (after reduction).

From the compensation pool, regardless of the funding source (Chancellor’s Office or campus), the Budget Office processes permanent budget transfers to each unit to increase the salary lines for each filled permanent position per the appropriate collective bargaining agreement. Hence, by the end of each fiscal year, the funds in the compensation pool will have been completely and permanently distributed to individual units on campus.

Temporary positions receive the negotiated salary increases as well; however, the unit is responsible for funding the increase rather than the compensation pool.

9) I hear the campus has some reserves.  What are they, why do we have them, and how are they used?

The University Reserve is a contingency reserve of permanent and fiscal funds.   It is based on a target of one percent (1%) of the State Support portion of the Operating Fund, and is set aside for unforeseen needs during the fiscal year (for example, costs associated with managing the campus response to the 2007 October wildfires, etc.). The President oversees this reserve and determines which programs and items to fund. For consideration, requests for funds from the University Reserve must be submitted by the Provost or a Vice President.

In addition, the President, Provost, and Vice Presidents each maintain a very modest Division Reserve of permanent funds to meet unforeseen needs during the fiscal year.

For the most part, funding is allocated from a reserve on a fiscal year basis. All campus reserves are maintained at a very modest level, and there is a long-term goal to increase each to a level more in line with general budgeting practice

10. What is the process for deciding budget allocations each year?

The overall process – from the Governor and State Legislature to the Chancellor’s Office to receipt of the campus allocation – is a quite lengthy, complex and political process that takes about 15 months. A timeline explaining the entire process is available on the University Budget Office website.

The decision-making process for campus allocations includes the following steps:

  • (Fall) President’s Cabinet acts as a planning council and reviews planning benchmarks and  discusses and recommends to the President future directions and priorities for the campus
  • (Fall/early Spring) Each Division, under the leadership of the respective Provost/Vice President, prepares budget requests (or reductions, as is the case this year) linked to the University’s Strategic Plan
  • (Early Spring) Council of University Strategic Planning screens budget request to ensure all proposals are clearly tied to the strategic priorities of the campus
  • (Mid-Spring) University Budget Committee (UBC), an advisory body to the President, reviews, analyzes and prioritizes budget requests in support of campus strategic goals and objectives, and from a multi-year budgeting model perspective and prepares a recommendation that is submitted to the President and the President’s Executive Council
  • (Late Spring) President’s Executive Council reviews UBC’s recommendation and makes a recommendation to the President
  • (Late Spring/early Summer) President makes final decision regarding budget allocations