ASCSU discovers over $800,000 of student fees left unspent for years

Laura Studley

With a grand total of $825,675, the Associated Students of Colorado State University’s current administration has found a rollover budget, according to ASCSU’s controller book.

After taking money allotted to savings, the final amount available to be spent is $576,987, according to ASCSU’s controller book. The ASCSU Senate has the opportunity to spend some, if not all, of that amount. Tristan Syron, current president of ASCSU, estimates the leftover from Senate spending will range from $200,000-$300,000.

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The leftover money is allocated to the Senate General Discretionary Fund. This fund is used by the Senate to fund legislation for the student body. During last Wednesday’s ASCSU meeting, senators discussed possible uses for the rollover budget, including bills to fund an engineering study to make a safer crossing from the Lory Student Center to the Morgan library, e-bikes and solar panels.

“Honestly, (the rollover) wasn’t overlooked by Kevin and I; we found it,” Syron said. “It’s a question for Josh (Silva), Michael (Wells), Cole (Wise), Daniela (Pineda Soracá) and Jason Sydoriak. It’s the prior years; I don’t know how they overlooked it.”

ASCSU is required to save 10-20% of the funds they receive from student fees and the remainder of that money is allocated to various accounts — executive programs, payroll, University affairs, etc. If these accounts do not spend the money given, it was expected to transfer back over to the ASCSU general account, but this was not the case.

ASCSU Controller Nick Bohn said the expectation for these rollover funds from each account was that they be transferred back into ASCSU’s general account, where ASCSU’s largest contracts, like the Rocky Mountain Student Media contract, lie. Bohn explained that this was the way things had always been done, and that there was no attempt to challenge the system prior to this administration.

“This year we threw tradition kind of to the wind,” Bohn said. “We looked at everything from the ground up, not that this is always how it’s been done but why is it done this way.”

Every year, ASCSU oversees about a $57,000,000 budget in student fees, according to the organization’s official website. Those student fees are then allocated to 19 fee areas through the Student Fee Review board. As one of those fee areas, ASCSU itself earns a portion of those student fees, with a current fee of $24.45.

“What no one realizes, when those budgets from the prior year weren’t completely spent, they rolled over into themselves,” Syron said. “So, instead of rolling in over into that general account like they should … they weren’t doing that. They had their own reserve lines in each one of the accounts, so you saw a rollover.”

Bohn said a large portion of the rollover occurred due to the TransFort contract. Three years ago, the contract — which co-funded more bus routes and extended days and times to be more accessible for students — was moved from falling under ASCSU’s jurisdiction to the Alternative Transportation Fee Advisory Board.

About 10-16% of ASCSU’s budget had to be allocated to savings in order to keep up with the TransFort contact, Bohn said. When the TransFort contract was transferred to ATFAB, the built-up savings were no longer needed to pay those expenditures. 

So that an overlooked rollover doesn’t happen again, Bohn and the new financial advisor, Keith Lippwe, are working together to keep track of the accounts to ensure that the extra funds are being transferred back into the general account.

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“The sad part is you shouldn’t have rollover, because that means that in prior years they weren’t spending the money that was allocated, and that’s just bad practice,” Syron said. “You can quote me and call it mismanagement.”

Syron said he believes spending the money is the best option. If ASCSU chooses to save the money, students will not see their student fees translate into something concrete during their time at Colorado State.

“To me, it’s like you can save it all day long, but if you save it, and do something huge 10 years from now, that’s 10 years of people paying for something that they never saw,” Syron said.

Laura Studley can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @laurastudley_. Ravyn Cullor contributed to reporting on this story.