USF unveils plans to reinvest surplus funds

VP and CFO Nick Trivunovich was required to present an estimated timeline and cost breakdown for the Carry Forward spending plan to the BOT. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Nick Trivunovich shared his plans for the 2020 Carry Forward spending plan to the Board of Trustees (BOT) Tuesday morning.

The purpose of the plan is to create a methodology to reuse unspent funds that have accumulated over the years.

Specifically, the funding is supposed to circulate back into university operations, which could increase financial aid, scholarships, research opportunities, IT projects, student success initiatives and facilities.

This budget has no effect on student fees.

Trivunovich was required to present an estimated timeline and cost breakdown for the funding to the BOT, according to the guidelines and reporting standards.

About $240 million was designated for the beginning state Educational and General (E&G) fund balance before encumbrances. However, after the 7 percent statutory reserve requirement, the funding was lowered to about $189 million.

“Required reserve, restricted and commitments” are the three main categories under the plan. However, those break down into the following four categories: Compliance, audit, and security; academic and student affairs; facilities, infrastructure, and IT; and UBOT approved operating requirements.

Of the $189 million, $73 million is designated for the “restricted fund” and $81 million is for the “commitments fund.”

Under the academic and student affairs category, $34.4 million is spent on funding initiatives such as faculty research startup funds and graduation research.

In an interview with The Oracle, Provost Ralph Wilcox said the faculty funding is used to start up research agendas. This could be used to support scientific equipment or it could go directly to undergraduate and graduate research.

Funding is also used for instructional and advising support, meaning faculty salaries.  Wilcox said increasing professor’s salaries will help reduce the number of students in each class.

“Students will be able to get a more personal experience which will in return create better student grades, improve retention and timely graduation,” Wilcox said. 

Student success IT platforms are also taken into account. This could range from funding contracts for retention and regression research to electronic journals in the USF Library.

According to the beginning fund balance history, the carry forward balance is projected to decrease from $267.7 million to $239.9 million by 2020. Wilcox said the $27.8 million difference is due to how the university is strategically using its funding. 

“We’re being cautious in how we invest in carry forward funds,” Wilcox said. “Our goal is to focus on important elements of our university, which would be supporting students and our professors.”