The budgeting process is one of the most important factors related to your independent school’s financial success, and when partnered with a carefully monitored accounting system, your school can reap rewards in finance, efficiency, and leadership.  As schools wrap up the calendar year and prepare for another, here are some general ideas to consider when looking to increase accuracy and efficiency in the finance office.

Budget Planning

  • Since budgets usually begin with tuition income, it’s best to rely on past history instead of future projections. Be conservative so that you’ll have a financial cushion if enrollment exceeds expectations.
  • Don’t include projections of future donations in order to balance the budget. This can result in a budget deficit if the projected income never materializes.
  • Detail your budget as much as possible. The more detailed your budget is, the clearer the sources of revenue and expenditures will be, which will enable your school’s leaders to make informed decisions.
  • Be prepared for potential changes due to unexpected circumstances. When these occur, be sure to communicate clearly to everyone who will be impacted by the budget alteration.

Accounting Solutions

Keep your business office running smoothly with the right accounting software.  When software runs smoothly, it doesn’t get much attention – and that’s what you want!  Accounting software should provide accurate, up-to-the-minute information to a range of stakeholders including parents, department heads and board members.  Be sure it’s robust and easy to use so that your budget stays on track.  Here are some features to keep in mind.

  • A system that has been specifically designed for the non-profit sector, yet flexible enough to adapt to the unique needs of your school, is ideal.
  • A “One School Solution” is ideal – a single database that empowers schools to manage data effectively and efficiently. You’ll be able to maintain student account data, post charges for tuition and incidentals, produce clear and readable statements for parents, and manage billing schedules, payment plans, and financial aid awards. Your solution should apply payments received to account balances, enrollment deposits, and maintain various types of debit balances as well.
  • Have automated entry of data from your transactional systems—accounts receivable, accounts payable, development/gift processing, etc. —as well as budgeting, financial reporting, and analysis.
  • Have complete integration with your student information system, general ledger, accounts payable system (for refunds and charge-backs), admissions system (for new student data) and campus store software. You’ll maintain vendor accounts, post invoices, print checks, and manage the entire purchase order process. You’ll need to handle refunds and charge backs for students and parents, print 1099s, and account for miscellaneous cash disbursements. Custom reports will help manage cash flow and access transaction history.

Not sure where to start? We can help you! Learn more.