SA Finance manages the Student Association budget under the supervision of the SA Treasurer. In conjunction with Sub Board I and the UB Administration, the SA Finance Department enforces all of the SA and SUNY policies related to the disbursement of the Mandatory Student Activity Fee. SA Finance acts as the central point of contact for student groups and organizations, which fall under SA, to appropriate and manage their funds.
Mandatory Student Activity Fee
A version of the Student Activity Fee was first established in 1957 to provide funding for all extracurricular activity on SUNY campuses, which the university did not provide. This included but was not limited to tickets for athletic events, entertainment events, and cap and gown expenses. During the social unrest 1960s-70s, students won the right for the Student Activity Fee to be considered separate from the tuition which effectively gave students greater decision making ability outside of the administration’s direct control.
In 2001, the SUNY Chancellor formed a new task force on student activity fees. This University-wide group was put together in response to legislative interest in the University’s student activity fee program, particularly, the referendum process. The specific charge to this task force was to review the current University Board of Trustees policy on the mandatory student activity fee, which had not been reviewed since its development in the late 1970's to ensure that procedures were in place to achieve fiscal accountability and to address recent Supreme Court decisions regarding viewpoint neutrality (Southworth case). The task force, through subcommittees, studied issues relating to referenda, communication, disclosure, fiscal integrity, and operational procedures.
The task force recommendations lead to updated and refined University policies and procedures relating to the mandatory student activity fee while clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the three participants within the overall student activity fee structure: the student government, the campus president and/or designee, and the independent fiscal agent. The recommendations address a range of legal issues that have been the subject of recent court decisions. In addition, a number of recommendations seek to increase student participation in the decision-making process as well as strengthening internal control features to ensure fiscal accountability.
Now known as the Mandatory Student Activity Fee, each undergraduate student body regularly votes whether or not to participate in the fee and every SUNY student at participating universities pays into the system that makes their student government possible. Each undergraduate student at the University at Buffalo pays $94.75 per semester, which funds all extracurricular activities organized by the Undergraduate Student Association. All use of Mandatory Student Activity Fees is governed by UB policies, New York State law, and Federal law, including the SUNY Mandatory Student Activity Fee Guidelines.
Collectively, the Student Association budget is $3.6 million, which SA allocates to SA Activities and Entertainment, SA Clubs, and Campus Services. Students have direct control over the Mandatory Student Activity Fee by electing their representative in the SA Senate and SA Executive Board.
The procedure for securing funds for an SA organization takes a minimum of 2 weeks. All requests must go through the following process:
- A club logs into SAFE to encumber the funds for their event.
- Assuming all of the information is properly entered into SAFE, the request is then approved or denied by the Treasurer, and then Student Life.
- Once approved, the request heads to Sub Board I to become a Purchase Order (PO).
- Once the request is transformed into a PO, it goes through another round of approvals from the SA Treasurer and Student Life. Once authorized, a check is cut as soon as an invoice is received by the SA Finance Department.
- If denied, the club will be informed as to why, and given a chance to correct any issues.
Information regarding financial procedures and policies:
- All receipts/invoices and contracts must be original, NO SCANS/FAXES/COPIES will be accepted.
- Funds must be encumbered prior to purchases, including reimbursements. SA will not pay invoices that were not encumbered prior to the event.
- We operated under Net 30 terms, meaning that we pay all invoices 30 days after we receive them. Deposits and advance payments are not allowed.
- All contracts must be reviewed prior to event. Contracts should be submitted AT LEAST 2 weeks prior to the event.
- We are a tax exempt organization. Tax exemption forms can be obtained by contacting SA Finance.
- Contracts over $1,000 in total should be submitted for review here.
The Student Association at UB is unique from all other SUNY student governments in that we have a separate Fiscal Agent, Sub Board One, Inc., which disburses UB Student Association funding.
Sub-Board I, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation, founded by UB students in 1970 and designed to enhance the quality of student life. The corporation is owned by the seven on campus student governments, whose representatives sit on the Board of Directors. Of the 15 representatives on the Board of Directors, four officers are elected annually to preside over the corporation. Sub-Board I, Inc. provides many services that help students in a practical and educational way. All students are encouraged to participate in the corporation and to make use of its services.
As the accounting service and fiscal disbursing agent of Mandatory Student Activity Fee, Sub Board I, Inc. is required to abide by SUNY Fiscal and Accounting Procedures as well as UB guidelines and New York State and Federal law.
If you have any questions about how our finacne department operates you can download a copy of our Finance Handbook here.