SA Prepares for Budget Season

As the second half of the spring semester approaches, SUNY New Paltz clubs and organizations must prepare to meet deadlines to file for funding from the Student Association (SA).

Acquiring money from SA is a process. Organizations will need to submit a budget request by March 22 for next year’s use. The SA Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) will take all requests, as well as the total sum of money available and allocate where they see fit.

Organizations that are requesting a line item – a specific amount of money only that club can have use of – need to be sure all paperwork is in order.

Vice President of Finance Yasmin El Jamal urges people to take the time to write out exactly what their club is seeking funds for and why. Clubs have to submit all previous paperwork including both proof that they are participating at events and that they are fulfilling their mission statement on campus.

“Some organizations request $100, but if their paperwork is not in order they will not get it,” El Jamal said. “While others will receive their request of $8,000 because they had all the necessary paperwork.”

SA services around 200 organizations and only 57 currently have a line item. Some SA officials suggessted that by keeping line items to a minimum, all money that is left over can go into general programming, which is available to all organizations throughout the semester.

Former BFC Vice Chair Josh Dorsi said that line items are strictly for things that are essential to the functions of the club. It’s for organizations that know they will need this money in the future.

During the semester, all organizations are welcome to request more money if needed. The Programming Board meets twice a week and those requesting over $500 must present to the board.

Lauren Brois, president of Invisible Children, a nonprofit organization with no line item, knows the difficulty that comes along with requesting money.

“If you don’t understand the paperwork then it is definitely a little bit harder,” Brois said. “It doesn’t make sense until you make an effort to understand it. Once you make that effort it is totally comprehensible.”

To make that effort, leadership of organizations or clubs must attend Council of Organizations meetings and ask questions.

“Clubs that don’t attend council miss out on a lot,” El Jamal said. “It’s really just communication. People don’t know what’s going on because they don’t always get involved.”

They suggest organizations seek out help by visiting them in Student Union room 426 if any issues arise. If they can’t give you more funding, they will redirect you to places that can.

There is no limit to how many times an organization can seek money, as long as they have a reasonable explanation as to why they need it. SA understands that clubs grow, more member’s join and new programs are added.

“I meet with a lot of organizations and the newer organizations that get charted know more about the budget and its process than older organizations. We will sit there and explain to them every single piece of paperwork needed,” El Jamal said.

When organizations request money, SA encourages them to submit paperwork up to 15 days in advance. Brois said last semester, Invisible Children had issues receiving money because they weren’t planning their events ahead of time. She suggests applying a month ahead so if they don’t approve your request you have time to change your idea or go somewhere else to seek funds.

As the semester comes to a close, the amount of money in general programming gets smaller. El Jamal suggests keeping requests realistic because of their budget. She believes most, if not all clubs, could get by with a lot less money.

“Everyone gets frustrated when they ask for a certain amount of money and don’t get as much as they want, but we do our best to allocate as fair as possible,” Dorsi said. “It is not easy, but we try to get the most use out of our money.”

This year’s “BFC weekend,” where members of the committee and others work to compile next year’s budget, will begin on April 9.