FAQ – Benchmarking

What is the SACUBO Benchmarking Project all about?
SACUBO partnered with Cherry Bekaert LLP to develop a benchmarking template for collecting specific financial and demographic information from participating institutions.  SACUBO named a Benchmarking Committee representing a cross-section of SACUBO institutions from public and private, large and small institutions.  The Committee members surveyed the constituency in order to determine what benchmarks are needed for strategic analysis by business officers.  To balance the time requirements for submission with the key metric needs, the committee chose financial and demographic information that could be easily collected and submitted.  This is the second year of the SACUBO Benchmarking Project.  During the first year, data was collected for fiscal years 2010, 2011, and 2012.  This year, we will collect data for fiscal year 2013.  Newly-participating institutions are invited (but not required) to enter data for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.  However, corrections of previously-entered fiscal year 2011 or 2012 data can also be entered at this time.


What benchmarks will be available once this study is complete?

The initial year of the survey provided the following benchmarks:

  • Appropriations per student FTE (publics)
  • Net tuition and Fees per FTE Student
  • Adjusted Operating Revenues per FTE Student
  • Salary & Benefit Expense per FTE Employee, by function
  • Other Expenses per FTE Employee, by function
  • Average Total Expenses per FTE Employee, by function
  • Total Expenses per FTE Employee, by function
  • Salary & Benefit Expense per FTE Student, by function
  • Other Expense per FTE Student, by function
  • Average Total Expenses per FTE Student, by function
  • Total Expenses per FTE Student, by function
  • Total FTE Employees, by function
  • Total Number of FTE employees, by category
  • Ratio of FTE Student to FTE Employee, by category
  • Percentage of FTE Employee by function to Total FTE Employees


For this, the second year of the survey, SACUBO is collecting information on graduation and retention rates for undergraduates.


Will other benchmarking information be available?
The Benchmarking Committee was careful to develop the study initially such that data collection was not terribly onerous.  However, based upon the response of our constituent institutions, SACUBO is always prepared to expand this Benchmark Survey as needed.


How can our institution participate?
When the benchmarking study is opened for data collection, simply go to the benchmarking study page, download and then submit the benchmarking form at http://www.sacubo.org/organization/benchmarking/.  SACUBO will be sending out a number of emails advising when the study is open.


When will the study be open for data collection?

SACUBO plans to open the data collection tool on October 31, 2013


What does my institution get for this?
Your institution will have access to a free benchmarking report (basic report) showing average spending data for your type institution.  Benchmarking allows you to identify resource investment (or reduction) opportunities, performance measures for divisions within your institution and provide an overall view of best practice improvement areas.


Cherry Bekaert has offered to provide a more detailed report for $300.  That report would show how your institution stacks up to other like-kind institutions.

Additionally, Cherry Bekaert can provide information showing how your institution compares to a specific group of your peer institutions.  The cost of such reports starts at $500 and can increase depending upon the number of institutions benchmarked.


Please send requests for detailed reports to krichardson@cbh.com


How will my institution receive the report?
When institutions complete and submit their survey responses, they will specify the individuals to whom they want their reports sent.  Those persons will receive an email with directions for accessing the report for their institutional type (Community College, Small, Comprehensive, or Research & Doctoral).


When will these reports be available?
Emails will be sent to participating institutions advising that reports are available for downloading.  It is expected that reports will be available around March 2014.


What about privacy? Will my institution’s specific information be kept confidential?
Absolutely.  No identifying information for your institution will be shared with other institutions.


Is there a deadline to submit information?
Yes.  The survey collection will be open and available for input for 6 weeks only between October 31 and December 20, 2013.  When the data collection tool is closed, no further data will be accepted.

Completing the Form


How do I complete the form?

(1)   Provide the name and address of your institution, as well as contact information (phone/email address) for the person completing the form and for campus personnel desiring to receive the report.

(2)   Provide demographic information (FTEs, Appropriations, Tuition and Fee info, Operating Revenues and Total Assets for the fiscal years requested.

(3)   Provide Employee FTE Information, Salaries and Fringes, and Other Expenditure information for the fiscal years requested.

(4)   Private Institutions will be asked for the same information, but in a slightly different format.


Where do I get this information to respond to this survey?
Your budgeting or financial reporting staff should know.  Much of this information can be pulled directly from your audited financial statements.  Public institutions can obtain the Operating Expense information from the required Operating Expenses by Function Footnote.


Your institutional budget or Human Resources office can usually provide Employee FTE information per functional category.


Student FTE, Graduation and retention rates can normally be obtained from your institutional research office.


The other information should also be available from your institution’s financial statements.


Are audited financial statements required?
Audited financial statement information is preferred but not required.


My institution is part of a system and does not have audited financial statements at this time.  How do I participate?
One of the benefits of this study is that the benchmark information will be available long before many other sources.  So, in this case, you would provide the most recent information for each fiscal year from your general ledger.  The information you submit should be the same that you submit to your system for that fiscal year.


What about Employee FTE Information?  Should we include students in this count?
The most important thing to remember is to be consistent with what you report elsewhere.  If you normally exclude student employee FTE information from your Employee FTE counts, then you should also exclude them here.  Most institutions polled so far have excluded student employees, but it is not necessary.


When should we pull Student FTE Information?
The timing of our Employee count should be consistent with your institutional policies.  Many institutions traditionally use fall student census numbers for their reported student FTE count.  Consistent reporting is very important.


Can you clarify what should be reported under “Operating Revenue?”
Public institutions would follow GASB reporting requirements while Private institutions would follow FASB.


GASB requires that public institutions identify the net results from operations.  Furthermore, it prescribes that some revenues used to finance operations be classified as non-operating revenues.  State operating appropriations, investment income (except interest income on student loans), and gifts all must be reported as non-operating revenues.  As a result, all public institutions will reflect a loss from operations.


FASB, on the other hand, allows independent institutions to present an operating measure, but does not require one.  If one is presented, the institution determines which items are operating and which are non-operating.




Who do I contact for questions about the benchmark study?
Contact any member of the Benchmarking Committee.  Their email information is available on the previous page.