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Financial/Funding FAQs

Personnel & Fringe FAQ

Tuition & Fee FAQ

Sponsored Programs/Indirect Cost FAQ


Q: What do the different funds mean?


Source: Tuition, Commonwealth of Virginia General Fund appropriations and other non-tuition revenues including a level of indirect cost recovery from sponsored research activities as required by Virginia statute.
Use: Activities directly related to the institution’s educational mission including instruction, public service, scholarship and research, academic support, student services, institutional support and maintenance of physical plant.

Source: Student Fee funds and revenues generated by auxiliary operations.
Use: Auxiliary Enterprises are activities that exist to furnish goods or services to students, faculty and staff including housing and dining, intercollegiate athletics and parking among others.

Source: Funding provided by external agencies (e.g., the Federal government) or companies.
Use: Sponsored program funds are restricted in use to conducting the specific research, scholarship or contract activity supported by the funding in accordance with the sponsoring agency’s or contractual terms and conditions.

Source: Commonwealth of Virginia General Fund appropriations.
Use: Restricted funding available for undergraduate and graduate cost of attendance support as provided for by the statutes of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Source: State Appropriation, Auxiliary Enterprises funds, Revenue Bonds.
Use: Capital Outlay expenses (restricted); i.e., facilities construction.

Source: Indirect earnings on sponsored programs activities.
Use: A portion is distributed to support the E&G budget as required by Commonwealth of Virginia statute, with other portions allocated to principal investigators (faculty), colleges and the Office of the Provost to support the research enterprise and scholarly activities.

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Q: How can I gain access to viewing my financial reports over the internet?

A: Only those staff who are provided access at the fund or org level by the Office of Fiscal Services, may have viewing access to that fund or org. To obtain access to specific funds and orgs, please contact the FAST team, fast@gmu.edu  Should you require access to complete budget adjustments (journal vouchers), please contact Jieping Li at jli17@gmu.edu with the Office of Budget and Planning.

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Q: What is the difference between a Journal Voucher, Budget Transfer/Reallocation and Personnel Reallocation?

A: A journal voucher, or JV, is a request to move a specific charge from one organization to another. For example, if unit “A” purchases an item that should be charged to unit “B”, a JV would be submitted requesting the movement of that item from one organization to another. These requests should be sent to Fiscal Services. Journal voucher requests should be submitted no later than the 25th of the month in order to be credited to that month. If the journal voucher involves sponsored programs funds exclusively, please submit the request directly to the appropriate team member in the Office of Sponsored Programs.

A budget transfer is the movement of funded dollars, either on a temporary or permanent basis, from one organization to another. For example, unit “A” supports unit “B” on a joint initiative. Unit “A” requests that $500 be transferred into the direct expenditures line for one of unit “B”‘s organizations to offset any photocopying, etc. that might be involved related to this initiative. The Office of Budget and Planning notifies all affected Units of the transfer. Budget transfer requests should be submitted to the appropriate budget analyst no later than the 25th of the month in order to be processed for that given month. Budget transfers can occur only within the same source of funds. You cannot transfer funds between two different sources of funding. Please contact your budget analyst should you have any questions.

Personnel reallocations are requests to move specific personnel charges for a given individual from one organization to another. The personnel schedules may be found here: http://budget.gmu.edu/payroll-schedules-and-reallocation-deadlines/. The Office of Budget and Planning will notify the affected units when a reallocation has been completed. If any portion of the reallocation involves a sponsored programs fund, the reallocation should be submitted directly to the Office of Sponsored Programs.

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Q: Why do capital outlay projects appear in both General Fund and Non-General Fund budgets?

A: Capital outlay projects that require the University to sell bonds to finance a project are captured in the Non-General Fund budget. Capital projects that receive support from the General Assembly (such as new academic buildings, etc.) are usually captured as a General Fund budget item.

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Q: Who determines how much George Mason University is funded in General Fund money from the Commonwealth?

A: The Governor for the Commonwealth of Virginia submits a budget recommendation for approval by the General Assembly based on our requests. If specific items that we requested are not included in the recommendation, we request amendments during the legislative session. The legislature makes the final decision as to what General Fund support will be designated for George Mason University with the Governor officially signing the Budget Bills upon agreement. For more details regarding the Commonwealth of Virginia’s budget cycle, please see the Department of Planning and Budget’s website found here .

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Q: Does the Commonwealth increase our General Fund allocation when enrollment increases above budget targets?

A: No. The Commonwealth does not necessarily link additional General Fund support directly to enrollment growth.

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Q: It appears that the General Fund support from the Commonwealth only represents a portion of our total Operating Budget. Why is this the case and how do we fund the remaining budget?

A: The 2019-20 Operating budget is $1.25B. Of this, we receive $181.2M or approximately 15%, in General Fund support. The remaining is funded with tuition and fees, private funds, state financial aid, auxiliary enterprise revenue, independent operations, capital outlay and equipment trust fund.

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Q: Does George Mason University have peer institutions for tuition funding comparison purposes?

A: Yes. George Mason University has been assigned a list of peer institutions which encompasses universities across the nation. Our list includes Boston, Northeastern, Syracuse, SUNY-Albany, University of Connecticut and University of Arizona. For a complete list of peers, check out our Peer Listing.

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Q: Does the Commonwealth use a formula to determine the number of FTE (full-time equivalency) per category (i.e., instruction, student services, etc.)?

A: No. In the past there were formulas used for overall employee levels; however, this is not currently the case. The Commonwealth sets a maximum FTE level, and we determine the mix.

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Q: What are the procedures for converting wage dollars into a full-time classified position?

A: Units should work closely with their assigned budget analyst and human resource team member to accomplish this. Budget dollars will have to be shifted within the unit; again it is expected that this be covered within current budget levels. A request for FTE will need to be made via the Position Maintenance Form which may be found here.

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Q: What are the fringe rates for staff at George Mason University?

A: Current fringe rates are posted on the Budget Office website: http://budget.gmu.edu/fiscal-year-2019-2020/

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Q: If a position is vacant for a period of time, how can the salary and fringe savings be used?

A: Salary and fringe savings can be used for a number of things. Again, please work with your analyst so that budget lines can be adjusted appropriately. Savings may be shifted to various categories such as wages or direct expenditures. The responsible person for the org or fund should make this decision and inform the Office of Budget and Planning. In most cases, salary and fringe savings should be used for non recurring expenses.

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Q: Why are units responsible for leave payouts?

A: Units are responsible for leave payouts, but also are entitled to savings while the position is vacant. Often there is a gap between the time an employee leaves and a position is filled. Usually there are more than enough savings to cover both leave payout and any wages/contractual services that may have been used to fill the vacancy temporarily.

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Q: If a faculty is teaching in a different unit than they are budgeted, should part time replacement dollars be shifted?

A: Given the great importance of showing teaching effort in appropriate colleges and institutes, it is important for faculty funding assignments to be correctly shown. For example, if Professor “A” teaches in Unit “B” for a semester, a FCF (Funding Change Form) should be submitted moving his assignment to Unit “B” for that semester. In turn, budget dollars directly corresponding to that assignment would be moved from Unit “A” to Unit “B”. In turn, the Deans or Directors for those affected Units should reach an agreement as to what, if any, part time funds may be available to Unit “A” since the professor’s assignment has been moved. Often, part time replacement dollars are shifted from Unit “B” to Unit “A” for this reason. But again, it is up to the affected units to reach these decisions and notify the Office of Budget and Planning.

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Q: Why is the adjustment to the personnel encumbrance different than the payroll amount?

A: Encumbrances are estimated costs for personnel, whereas the payroll amount is the actual expense by pay period. Encumbrances are calculated based on the assignment to and funding of positions with variables such as start and end dates, salary amount and funding organization(s). Changes to any of these variables affect the encumbrances, which project personnel expenses from the current period through the end of the year, while the payroll reflects a single pay period.

For instance, if your personnel budget is $120,000 and your bi-monthly payroll is $5,000, in most cases your encumbrance adjustment would be a credit of $5,000. But let’s say you had an employee earning $24,000 a year terminate 3 months into the fiscal year; your payroll drops to $4,000 per pay period, as well as your encumbrance adjustment. In addition, the portion of the terminated employee’s salary that reflects what they would have been paid for the rest of the year ($18,000) would be a reduction to the encumbrance as well. So, the total adjustment to the personnel encumbrance for that pay period would be a credit of $22,000. Conversely, if you hired a replacement at $24,000 three months later, the encumbrance for that person’s salary for the remaining six months ($12,000) would net against the reduction for the pay period and there would be a debit of $8,000.

Upgrades, raises and leave without pay also affect the encumbrance adjustment as do funding changes. Another thing to keep in mind is the timing of the change in assignment or funding. Encumbrances are adjusted bi-monthly with the permanent payrolls. Adjustments to funding or assignments can take up to two weeks to show up in financial reports.

It is important to review the overall encumbrance, more so than the individual transactions.

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Q: Is it true that approximately 1/3 of the tuition and fees per credit hour (in-state) goes toward “student fees only”?

A: Yes. Current in-state rates can be found on the Budget Office website: http://budget.gmu.edu/fiscal-year-2019-2020/

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Q: Approximately how much of the Educational & General funding comes from student tuition?

A: For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, tuition makes up approximately 72% of the Educational & General funding.

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Q: What portion of Auxiliary Enterprises funding comes from student fees?

A: Approximately 42% of Auxiliary Enterprises funding comes from Student Fees.

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Q: How are Indirect Cost Earnings distributed?

A: Earnings are calculated after each semi-monthly payroll and are allocated twice a month. The current earning formula is as follows:


With a Sponsored Programs fund with indirect cost earnings of $100

Indirect organization receives 70% of these earnings, or $70 and 30% goes to Educational & General non-tuition revenue.

Of this $70, 50%, or $35, is given to the Provost for such activities as: faculty study leaves, summer stipends, and other research initiatives

15%, or $10.50, of the $70 goes to the Primary Investigator

10% , or $7.00, of the $70 goes to the Department Chair of the Primary Investigator

and, 25%, or $17.50, of the $70 goes to the Dean of the Primary Investigator

Occasionally, Deans/Directors/or PI’s reallocate these earnings, or a portion of them, to co-PI’s, etc. These are special agreements and the Office of Sponsored Programs needs to know about them prior to the allocations. These decisions will need to be identified when the grant award is received.

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Q: Can Foundation funds or Sponsored Programs funds be used for instructional faculty?

A: In order to accurately reflect student FTE and teaching support, all instructional faculty should be charged Educational & General funds (instructional orgs). This is important as we prepare instructional reports for the Commonwealth. It is important that we accurately reflect our teaching efforts as the Commonwealth classifies teaching efforts within Educational & General.

Check out the Office of Sponsored Programs web site for more information.

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