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13 key financial questions to answer for trustees

University Business, August 2018

In its report “Navigating The New Normal: Financial Imperatives For MSI Effectiveness and Avoiding Financial Exigency,” the Southern Education Foundation suggests that trustees could better understand their institutions’ financial health with answers to these questions.

1. What is the discount rate for entering freshmen versus for continuing students?

2. What is the blended discount rate?


Link to main story: How colleges can provide finance training to trustees


3. How much institutional aid is funded or unfunded?

4.  What is the annual spend rate from the endowment?

5.  What is the Composite Financial Index score (CFI) for purposes of the Department of Education’s Financial Responsibility Test?

6.  What percentage of total revenue comes from tuition, fees, room and board, and how much comes from unrestricted, annual fundraising?

7.  What are the tenets of the bond covenants that must be met each year from annual operations?

8.  What is the debt level of the institution and how much is paid out annually toward this debt?  

9. What is the value of unrestricted net assets, net of plant and plant-related debt?

10. What is the size of the unrestricted endowment?

11. How many lines of credit are being accessed by the institution, and what are the  associated annual costs?

12 .What were the substantive issues raised by the auditors during the last audit?

13. How are such issues being addressed?


Sandra Beckwith is a western New York-based writer.