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Follow the money: A look into Brandeis revenues and expenses

Published: September 23, 2010
Section: Features


A Brandeis undergraduate student paying full tuition will pay $38,994 to attend Brandeis for the 2010-2011 academic year, according to the university’s financial services website. In addition to tuition, students will pay a myriad of mandatory fees from technology to student activities to health services. Students living on campus also have to pay for housing and, depending on which dormitory they are living in, a meal plan. All in all, a student living in a double and on the all-point meal plan will fork over $51,735 this academic year.

In fiscal year 2009, tuition and fees earned the university more than $165 million, accounting for 56.9 percent of university total revenue, according to the university’s tax exemption form.

But where does that money go? And what other funds are used to pay for the university’s operations?

Statement of expenses

In fiscal year 2009, the university had $338,603,908 in expenses, the largest of which were related to employment. The university spent more than $120 million on salaries and wages, $3.5 million on compensation of administrators, $7.77 million on pension plan contributions and $11.7 million on other employee benefits, according to the tax exemption forms of that year.

Another large university expense was financial aid. Currently 75 percent of the undergraduate population receives some form of financial aid, costing the university slightly more than $66 million in fiscal year 2009.

Overall, money spent on student services, such as dining, study abroad, stipends and fellowships, and the library, respectively, constitute small percentages of university expenses. For example, $9.9 million was spent on dining services in fiscal year 2009, just 2.9 percent of the university’s total functional expenses.

The university spent relatively little on “non-employee services” in fiscal year 2009, paying $98,274 to a lobbying firm to represent the university in Washington, D.C. in order to secure grant funding and federal appropriations, university Treasurer and Vice President of Finance Chris O’Brien said. The university also spent $612,601 in legal fees, $201,920 for accounting and $1.6 million in investment management fees.

Three percent of university expenses were spent on office supplies, whcih includes all materials used in classrooms like test tubes and science equipment.

Five percent of university expenses were due to depreciation, depletion and amortization, which is a “non-cash entry” in the university tax exemption forms based on the natural wear and tear of university assets.

Statement of revenue

The $165 million from tuition and fees constitutes the largest block of university income for the $289,873,136 in revenue the university made in fiscal year 2009.

The second largest revenue source for fiscal year 2009 was from sponsored programs, with the third largest being the $39 million the university received in donations. The university also received $890,054 in royalties, which were given to it by donors from the Songwriters Guild, American Society of Composers, and Authors and Publishers.

Additionally, the university took in revenue from the Foster Biology Lab, which earned $621,500 in fiscal year 2009 from commercial and non-profit organizations for educational and scientific research.

The university also accrued revenue from various rental agreements in fiscal year 2009, earning just more than one million dollars from rents received from outside entities working on campus, such as Barnes & Nobel, which leases the university book store. Brandeis also took in $575,724 from rentals in the university park located in between South St. and the Charles River Apartments.

Financial trouble

In total, the university accrued less revenue than it spent in fiscal year 2009, leaving a loss of $48.7 million.

O’Brien wrote in an e-mail to The Hoot that this financial loss “was mostly caused from a downturn in the stock market and the ensuing financial crisis.”

Indeed, in fiscal year 2009, the university experienced a net deficit of more than $5.3 million in securities.