About the Budget

About the budget:

The University's General Fund budget is made up of four main components:

  1. State Appropriations
  2. Tuition & Instructional Receipts: includes regular term, distance education and summer tuition, graduate differential tuition and non-credit extension instructional fees
  3. Other Miscellaneous Revenues: any which cannot be deposited as Trust Funds such as miscellaneous student charges, surplus property sales, utility expense reimbursements from auxiliaries, etc.
  4. State/Federal Grants & Contracts: any allotments which must be deposited into the General Fund per the Office of State Budget Management (OSBM) such as Federal/State lab school allotments

The "base" budget reflects all prior-year State appropriations and continues to be adjusted incrementally for annual changes in recurring appropriations such as enrollment growth funding, any funding received for legislatively-mandated salary or fringe benefit increases, statewide "management flex" budget cuts, etc.

In an incremental budget environment, typically there is a consistent annual funding level provided from year to year. The base budget is the portion of the budget that is identified to fund ongoing (recurring) operating costs, rather than short-term (non-recurring) expenses. While base budgets are dependent upon the State's resource availability – as are all budgets – the intent of the base budget is to serve as an ongoing allocation which can be relied upon by an agency for planning purposes.

Additional details regarding the General Fund budget:

Definition of General Fund:
The General Fund includes all appropriations allocated by the General Assembly of North Carolina and all other monies collected by the university that cannot be deposited as Institutional Trust Funds (e.g., student fees) or Special Funds (e.g., grants, scholarships/professorships) as defined in North Carolina General Statutes and the UNC Policy Manual. 

 Revenues collected by the university which are deposited into the General Fund include, but are not limited to:

  • Tuition receipts (regular term/online/summer),
  • Non-credit extension instruction fees,
  • Miscellaneous student charges that do not qualify as Institutional Trust Funds (e.g., tuition payment plan fees),
  • Revenues generated with General Fund resources (e.g., surplus property sales), and
  • Utility service reimbursements from auxiliaries.

With the exception of a legislature-approved percentage of appropriation that is statutorily allowed to be “carried forward” to the subsequent fiscal year, General Fund budgets must be expended by the end of the fiscal year. General Fund budgets are also subject to the State Budget Act.

Additionally, with regard to the State budget, you may hear references to the "certified" and "authorized" budgets. A general definition of each is below: 

Certified Budget:
The certified budget, as defined in G.S. 143C-1-1(d)(7), is the original biennial budget enacted by the General Assembly which also includes any recurring adjustments made for:

  1. Distributions to State agencies from statewide reserves appropriated by the General Assembly,
  2. Distributions of reserves appropriated to a specific agency by the General Assembly, and
  3. Organizational or budget changes directed by the General Assembly but delegated to the State Budget Director to carry out.
    In short, the certified budget serves as our true base budget.

Authorized Budget:
The authorized budget (i.e., adjusted certified budget) is composed of the certified budget in addition to any other allowable internal or external budget adjustments (including any non-recurring appropriations, adjustments for over-realized revenues, etc.) which must be approved by OSBM. The authorized budget is considered the "working" budget and is reflected on the monthly budget report submitted to OSBM (BD 701).

Every two years in the fall preceding the beginning of the next biennium, agencies are given an opportunity to incorporate any authorized budget adjustments into the certified budget. For example, if a department had submitted a budget adjustment to move budget from a supplies account to a contracted services account, this net-zero change would be reflected in our authorized (working) budget. In order for an adjustment to be incorporated into our next biennial budget, we would have to request that OSBM include the adjustment in our certified (base) budget heading into the new biennium. For the 2021-23 biennium, those requests were made in December 2020.