Viable plans for all participating Passport institutions must be submitted to WSAC by December 31, 2018. Along with the written plan, each institution must also submit a budget plan. This FAQ addresses a few common questions about this requirement – if you have additional questions not addressed here, feel free to reach out to the CSF team or to Dawn at WSAC.
5 common budgeting questions:
Is a budget plan required?
Yes. Every participating Passport institution must submit their viable plan narrative and budget plan together on or before December 31, 2018. Submission of the viable plan, which is a requirement of the Passport institutional agreement to participate, is not considered complete until both the written plan and budget are received by WSAC.
Do institutions have to use the budget plan template provided by WSAC for creating their budget plan?
No. This template is provided as an option for budget planning, but it is not required institutions use it. In fact, institutions are encouraged not to “recreate the wheel.” If your institution already uses another form or template to conduct Passport program budget planning, these can be submitted as long as they include the basic required information.
What is considered required budget information?
There are two categories of required information: program expenses and program funding. Program expenses include all “hard costs” (activities, material resources for students, program supplies, emergency student funds, etc.) and personnel costs (professional staff salary allocations, other staffing costs such as peer mentors and graduate assistants). Program funding includes current incentive grant balance, projected incentive grant funding for 2018-19, and other funding (some institutions raise additional funds they use to support Passport students – these funds should be shown where applicable).
What is the purpose of requiring budget plans?
There are two main reasons WSAC is requiring budgets to be submitted:
- Annual budget planning is essential to designing and implementing effective viable plans. It provides institutions with the opportunity to demonstrate, through budget detail, how they intend to align resources to the strategies described in their viable plans.
- At the end of the year institutions will be asked to reconcile their budgets and report findings as part of annual reporting. Certain questions will be asked at this time such as: Did you spend funding the way you thought you would? Did you have the right amount of resources to implement your plan? What did you learn? These questions are important for continuous quality improvement at every institution.
What will happen if there are variances from the budget plan?
Institutions will be asked to identify budget variances annually. It is expected that variances will occur – the responsibility of institutions is to document them and explain why they occurred, what was learned, and how that learning will guide planning for the following year. Tracking annual budget variances and identifying key trends, challenges, and opportunities will strengthen our individual and collective ability to improve program quality over time.