FAQ – Benchmarking

What is the SACUBO Benchmarking Project all about?
SACUBO has partnered with Cherry Bekaert LLP to develop a benchmarking survey for collecting specific financial and demographic information from participating institutions.  The effort is guided by a SACUBO 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 third year of the SACUBO Benchmarking Project, with data collection for fiscal year 2014.  Newly-participating institutions are invited (but not required) to enter data for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.


What benchmarks will be available once this study is complete?

A number of metrics are provided in the following areas:

  • Total Expenditures – By function and aggregate
  • Compensation and Benefit Costs per FTE
  • Other Costs per FTE
  • Total Costs per FTE
  • Academic Mission Costs per FTE
  • Administrative Support Costs per FTE
  • Allocation of FTE Employees
  • Institutional Effectiveness     


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?

The benchmarking study is open for data collection December 8, 2014 through January 31, 2015. If your institution has participated in the past, emails were distributed to users on December 8. If you have not participated previously, go to http://benchmarking.sacubo.org to create an account and get started.


What does my institution get for this?

Your institution will have access to free benchmarking reports showing average spending data for your institution compared to peer institutions that you choose.  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.


How will my institution receive the report?
Institutions will receive reports through the same platform website where data is entered.


When will these reports be available?
Reports and comparisons will be available for downloading once the data collection period has closed. We anticipate that reports will be available by March 1, 2015.


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 through January 31, 2015.  When the data collection tool is closed, no further data will be accepted.


How do I get instructions about completing the survey?

There are several helpful features to get you started with the new platform.

  • Once you login to the platform, you will find a Support page link containing a Data Collection Worksheet, a Quick Start Guide, and a Glossary of Function Definitions.
  • Within the data collection pages, you will find help text to give you more information about the type of data expected in each data field.
  • A webinar has been scheduled at 1:00 pm eastern on December 16 to walk you through the data entry and reporting features of the platform. If you are interested in attending the webinar, please request an invitation by emailing Benchmarking Committee Chair Brett Powell, at powellb@obu.edu. The webinar will be recorded and made available on demand.


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?
Inclusion or exclusion of student employees is institution-dependent. Institutions which rely on student employees as part of their regular workforce should include them in their FTE employee counts. Institutions which employ students primarily in work-study type positions should exclude them from their FTE employee counts. 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.