Budget Blog: Comparing MGA to our USG Peers

Have you ever wondered if MGA spends as many dollars on instruction as other USG institutions? Do other institutions spend a greater percentage on salaries than we do? What about maintaining our facilities? How do we measure up against others in that area?
All of these questions can be answered by using the USG Annual Expenditure Report to make comparisons. This report summarizes data into standard “functions” and provides other comparison data allowing us to assess financial competiveness in a number of areas. While the tables below include a lot of data, we will focus on just two comparison points.
First, Expenditure per FTE (full time equivalent) is useful in assessing MGA’s overall financial standing and several conclusions can be drawn from this one data point. The total expenditure/FTE (blue column) in the table below shows that MGA has the lowest total expenditure per FTE of any of our peer State Universities. The logical conclusion is that MGA’s lower tuition rate provides fewer resources than at similar State Universities, but it does very strongly point to our efficient operations. MGA spends an average of 12% less per student than our peer institutions. This is testament to the dedication, creativity and flexibility of MGA’s faculty and staff as we have continually sought to do more with less.

Also shown in the table above (green columns) are total Personal Services expenditures and Personal Services/FTE. Personal Services includes all salaries, wages and benefits. While MGA’s $48.1M annual expenditure is among the lowest, when you look at the percentage spent on personal services, you see that MGA is among the highest. This is reassuring knowing that MGA invests at a similar rate as our peers in our most important asset – our people.
Another useful data comparison is ‘expenditures by function’ which summarizes data into commonly defined functions to ensure a valid comparison. As you would expect, MGA’s primary function is Instruction which makes up 49% of all expenditures – that is all costs associated with the actual teaching of academic programs.

The next highest function is OMP (Operation & Maintenance of Plant) which accounts for 15% of the total. As the only of our peers with more than two significant campuses, the fact that we can operate our multiple campuses at an expenditure level similar to the others is a point of pride.
The Academic Support function includes Libraries, Technology Support, Student Success Centers, Academic Affairs Administration, and QEP, and the comparison shows that MGA is among the lowest in this function. This is especially troubling given our new “blended” function within our university mission since many of our students will now require more academic support to help them progress and graduate. MGA has lobbied the USG for increased State Appropriations to meet the needs created by the blended function, and we are hopeful to see some additional funding in this area.
The most important and reassuring conclusion we can draw from this data is that MGA’s percentages by function are very similar to our peers. Likewise, the breakdown between Personal Services and Operating Expenses is similar to our peers. This is hard evidence that MGA is putting resources to the same functions and priorities and in similar proportions as other USG State Universities.
MGA will continue to seek additional resources to improve our overall financial standing, and we will continue to monitor our allocations to ensure that we keep instruction as our focus to enable us to better educate our students.