According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 4,298 degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States as of the 2017-2018 school year. Of these, 1,687 were private institutions.
While many members of the public don’t believe there is much of a difference between public and private universities, this way of thinking is false. Private and public institutions are quite different, and the main difference is that private colleges do not receive funding from state legislatures. Instead, they rely heavily on student tuition and fees, as well as private donations.
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The lack of state funding and the need for individual donations often leads private university tuition to be higher, which snowballs into tighter budgets and a strong focus on controlled expenditure. Allocation gets even more complicated if the university has multiple campuses with different types of projects or funds to manage.
This begs the question: How can private universities successfully manage all the different facets of financial operations?
The use of a spend management solution allows individual university officials to centralize financial control over multiple campuses, all while gaining budgetary visibility and effectively managing project expenditure. Let’s check out how these systems work and break down two of the benefits they offer private institutions specifically.
2. Centralized control over multiple locations
Many universities, private or public, have multiple campuses. For example, Loyola University is a private institution with campuses in Chicago, IL, and Baltimore, MD. Managing finances and expenditure across various campuses is a tricky process. Each campus has multiple programs and facilities, not to mention a unique population of donors and students. Money is flowing in and out the door quickly, and one misallocation could cause chaos.
Spend management solutions build into the back end of existing financial or procurement systems to help organizations spend smarter. For private universities specifically, this spend enablement model can create centralized control over multiple campuses.
For example, a Loyola alumnus donates $5,000 and would like for this money to go to the pre-med program at the Chicago campus, but another alumnus donates $10,000 to benefit the entire pre-med program. A spend management solution helps to differentiate these donations and ensures that each one is placed in the proper fund. Following the action, the system can produce a full audit trail of each step taken in the process to provide complete visibility to university officials.
2. Budgetary insights for proper allocation of funds
It’s essential that private university leaders maintain insight and be actively involved within budgets across a university, regardless of the campus or program. Spend management solutions help solve this potential concern by providing a real-time look at any spending within the university. These systems also produce detailed reports that can be used to forecast future budgeting or provide predictive metrics for any enrollment or fundraising campaigns.
According to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, United States universities raised a record-high $46.7 billion in 2018–a 7.2 percent increase from the previous year. These donations help keep private universities afloat, making positive donor relations vital to success.
One aspect of fostering these positive relationships is being honest about where donations are allocated and also showing proof to remain compliant. Modern spend management systems offer donor friendly dashboards that can provide insight to parties outside of the university. However, university officials can limit outside access of the system and control what insights donors have available.
Private universities are much different from public institutions, especially when it comes to how they receive funding. With budgeting and allocation of expenditure being pillars of success, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive spend management system in place to ensure compliance and reduce the risk of errors. These systems not only ease the minds of university officials but also foster healthy relationships with alumni and donors.