Budget & Financial Terminology


A mandatory element of a funding code that is used to classify the nature of revenue and expenditure transactions, typically a four or five-digit alpha-numeric code (e.g., F206 or E100B).

An optional funding string element that is reserved for department use for cost center purposes, typically consisting of a four to six-digit letter/number combination code (e.g., BFACOM used to track computer purchases).

The end result of the budget process to date – the original budget plus or minus any adjustments adopted during the fiscal year.

Distribution of state appropriations for a specific month and fiscal year. The allotment entries provide the authority to spend an appropriation.

The legal authority to spend a specific amount of state money for a stated purpose. Appropriations are subdivided into allotments for state agencies and uses.

Self-supporting departments that provide important services to students, faculty, or staff and are not funded by state operating or tuition revenue, although some auxiliary units receive student fee revenue.


The base is the component of a budget request or recommendation which reflects previous fiscal year appropriations.  Funds in the base budget are automatically reallocated at the start of each fiscal year and are considered the “recurring” budget. 

Cumulative recurring adjustments plus the initial recurring base budget rolls forward and becomes the starting point for the ensuing fiscal year operating budget.

This represents the net of actual resources less actual transactions in the previous fiscal year calculated for each fund.

Amounts paid by the University on behalf of the employee for social security insurance, retirement, worker's compensation, life insurance, medical insurance, dental insurance, etc.

A two-year fiscal period. The Washington state biennium runs from July 1 of an odd-numbered year to June 30 of the next odd-numbered year.

A debt instrument issued through a formal legal procedure and secured either by the pledge of specific properties or revenues or by the general credit of the state.

A financial, operating, and management plan for the University developed from the institution’s strategic plan, which includes projected  revenues and expenditures for a specific period of time, typically one year. Normally, a budget plan describes a period in the future not the past.

The activity of translating institutional plans into an itemized and authorized operational plan. The budget document monitors and controls the operating revenue and expenditures of the institution.

The series of scheduled events that must occur to develop a budget that typically begins with a call for budget proposals from departments that will be evaluated for potential internal or state funding. The universities fiscal year operating budget and state budget submission result from the budget cycle processes.

An organizational unit for management reporting that represents an area of operations or management responsibilities within the university to which changes recorded in financial accounting can be attributed (e.g. a college and related academic departments).


A tangible or intangible asset having significant value that is used in operations and has an extended useful life. Capital assets include land, land improvements, buildings, infrastructure, leasehold improvements, equipment, and construction in progress.

Capital revenue include state appropriations, revenues from the Capital Building Fee tuition component, and other sources for funding capital projects and the maintenance expenses for existing buildings.

A recurring budget maintained to address emergency needs that may arise during a given fiscal year.


Funds set up by law to receive revenue from a specific source and to be spent for a specific purpose.

A proposal to the State for an increase in funding for a specific level of funding to expand services or adjust the way services or programs are funded. A decision package is required for each change in General Fund resources.


The cost of goods received or services rendered and recognized when payment is made.


An annual accounting period with consistent and defined start and end dates; at Western the fiscal year spans July 1 through June 30.

FOAPAL is an abbreviation of Fund, Organization, Account, Program, Activity, and Location and the combination of these elements are used to describe where revenue posts or dollars are budgeted or expended. Every revenue and expense transaction at Western is required to have at least a Fund, Organization, Account, and Program code associated with it.

Full time equivalent (FTE) is a way to measure the size of the state’s workforce. One FTE is equivalent to 2,088 hours worked per year, which represents one full-time employee. Total FTE staff does not necessarily represent the total number of state employees because some staff work part-time and are thus classified as a percentage of one FTE.

A fund is a unique fiscal/accounting object (a required FOAPAL element) used to track the amount of resources allocated to different operations at the university. Each fund is comprised of a set of accounts used to monitor the use of financial resources.

A fund balance represents the available resources of the fund as of a certain point. In the context of the Financial Review, it refers to the balance at fiscal year end.


Awards of financial assistance, including cooperative agreements, received from either state, federal, or foundation sources.


Interdepartmental revenue is not “true” revenue, but reflect the redistribution the revenues received by one area and transferred to another department. 

Areas or departments with in the University that provide services to other departments. Examples include Facilities Management, Mail Services, and Print and Copier Services.


One-time (i.e. temporary) budget funding used to support one-time expenditures in a given fiscal year.


Resources budgeted from a funding source that will end during the same fiscal year used to support projects or discrete expenditures. One-time funding is not included as part of a department's recurring budget.

Ongoing costs associated with running the University or a department within the university. Overhead costs, also referred to as operating costs, and included fixed monthly expenses for salaries and benefits as well as variable costs like office supplies or printing costs.


Budget based on funding received on a recurring or annual basis, such as state appropriations and tuition, to cover ongoing operational expenses

Institutional resources set aside for unanticipated, emergency expenses and downturns in the economy.

Money received into a fund from outside the fund which, together with a beginning fund balance, forms the spendable resources for a given fiscal year.