The Budgeting System enables campuses to manage the annual budgeting and activity funding of organizations and users on campus. In this article, we highlight the strategies and processes employed by Carnegie Mellon University to successfully and effectively manage organizations finances. We also discuss how Carnegie Mellon uses Budgeting in tandem with Organization Accounting to create a comprehensive and thorough process.

Carnegie Mellon University utilizes the Budgeting system for their annual budget allocation process for over 300 student organizations. The entire process is completely owned and managed by student leaders.


Carnegie Mellon emphasizes the importance of training with their students. In the Fall and Spring semesters, depending on when new leadership is elected, two students per organization that wish to have access to their organization’s financial information are required to attend financial trainings that specifically focus on the Organization Accounting module. These trainings are offered to students during their student leadership conference that occurs each semester. Students attend a Finance 101 or 102 depending on the nature of the type of spending they do, and also have options for more in depth looks at travel, sponsorship, contracts etc. via additional sessions.

In November/December, the students who work with the approval process are trained by the Student Body VP of Finance on how to utilize the Budgeting module, how to look at an organization’s spending history, how to make changes to a budget line item, and how to send a budget back to an organization for updates. Organizations have opportunities in December/January to attend a training led by the Student Body VP of Finance on how to look up their organization’s past budgets, create a new budget, and make changes along the way. They are encouraged to then meet with their assigned financial advisor in advance of actually submitting the budget at the end of January. There are office hours available for students to come in and ask questions, and they have created a homegrown PDF of instructions that is sent to all organizations, specifically outlining the request procedure.

Budget Request Workflow

In order to request funding, organizations must complete their organization registration process within Engage and indicate they intend to request annual funding. Once this process is completed, those organizations are assigned their Financial Advisor - the trained student leader that assists the organization through the request process. With guidance, a request is then submitted through the Budgeting system.

Highly intentional and specific Budget Templates are integral to this process at Carnegie Mellon. They have many options for line items, and the financial advisors are given "metrics," or internally-identified limits, regarding how much should be allotted for each line item. This ensures that organizations are granted funds in a more equitable way during the review process. They collect as much information as possible in order to get the clearest picture possible.

Submitted requests are reviewed by the Joint Funding Committee (JFC), a group of student leaders who dedicate their time to carefully processing each request. The JFC meets weekly for eight weeks after the request period is over to study and approve or deny each request based on their total budget. Organizations have the opportunity to appeal the recommendation made by the JFC before the final budget is ratified. The budgeting system allows Carnegie Mellon to set up a specific period of time during which requests can be made within a specific process. The institution has also set up fantastic resources regarding this process on their website, allowing the process to complement the existing communication the institution uses externally.


Utilizing the Organization Accounting Module

After final decisions have been made within the Budgeting system, the final approved balance is added to each organizations account through the Organization Accounting tool. Carnegie Mellon utilizes an organization accounting feature called finance transaction imports. Transaction imports allow administrators to easily import all deposits in one bulk transaction, placing the correct funds in each student organization's corresponding account. Utilizing organization accounting allows students to see their total allocated budget within their organization management tools, improving transparency between students and administrators.

If you have further questions about utilizing budgeting or organization accounting tools, check out our repository of articles on these topics, or reach out to your Consultant for additional one-on-one support.

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