Your department is provided with an operating budget for each fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30. As department chair, you are the manager of this budget. Many chairs enlist the aid of their department assistant to help with regular oversight of the budget. In addition, many departments have endowed funds or gift funds available to spend. Contact Linda Thornton in the Business Office to either get access to or inquire about endowed or gift funds in your department.

Types of Budgets

The Operating Budget, which you can access with the Departmental Budget vs. Actual reports in Workday, consists of two types of funds that are not interchangeable:

  • fungible budget;
  • student work.

The Fungible Budget consists of funds for six primary categories of expenses, called Ledger Accounts:

  • professional services;
  • supplies;
  • building occupancy and equipment;
  • travel;
  • meetings & entertainment;
  • other expenses.

Each of these is further subdivided into several spend categories.  Some examples of spend categories are cleaning supplies, utilities, ground transportation, faculty entertaining students, lodging, and airfare.

This budget is called “fungible” because your department or program is free to use funds originally budgeted for one expense category for an expense in any other expense category. In essence, the total available balance is what you have to work with to cover any and all non-compensation operating expenses for your department. Here are some examples of the kinds of expenses that fall into each category.

  • Professional Services: honorariums, officials, trainers, event workers, independent contractors.
  • Supplies: office supplies, lab supplies, subscriptions, campus copying/duplicating.
  • Building Occupancy and Equipment: equipment repair, equipment purchases, equipment rental, equipment service contracts, capital purchases.
  • Travel: employee travel, student travel, professional development, speaker travel
  • Meetings & Entertainment: food and supplies for events with students.
  • Other: membership fees, services, public relations, prizes and academic awards, other.

Department operating budgets must be used to support the mission of the department and the College, so there are some expenses for which they cannot be used.  Examples of expenses for which your department cannot use its operating budget include the following.

  • Department meals or celebrations where no department business is conducted, including retirement parties, promotion parties, or an end-of-term meal for department faculty and staff.
  • Gifts.
  • Stipends to faculty or staff.
  • Distributions to faculty FDAs for no specific purpose.

Faculty Entertaining Students budgets are allocated under Meetings & Entertainment. These funds are intended to encourage and support interactions with students. They are a fungible part of your operating budget and carry over from year to year.

Each department has a budget for Student Work.  These funds may be used during academic terms or during breaks. The hourly rate during the 2024-25 fiscal year is $13.00, and work done during breaks also includes FICA (7.65%).  

Student work funds are not part of your department’s operating budget, and they do not carry over from year to year.  In addition, unused student work funds cannot be redirected to cover expenses in the fungible budget categories of your department’s operating budget.  However, if your department spends more than your allocated student work budget on student work, then funds from the fungible categories of your budget will be used to cover the overage.

Endowed funds

Endowed funds (accessed with the Carleton – Gift Spendable Balance report in Workday)  that may be allocated to your department are available via an annual draw on the endowment. Once those funds have been withdrawn and placed into a budget account for the department’s use, they are no longer being invested or earning income for the College. These funds provide the greatest benefit to the College and fulfill our fiduciary responsibility to the donor if they are regularly used. Therefore, the best way to manage these funds is to be aware of their restrictions and to spend them to the greatest extent possible. Contact Linda Thornton in the Business Office to obtain information about restrictions and balances in endowed funds that are available to your department. You should also be in contact with Laura Theobald in Stewardship to make reports to the donor, if necessary.

Gift funds

Gift funds (accessed with the Carleton – Gift Spendable Balance report in Workday) are one-time gifts or grants that may have been awarded to your department. The best way to manage these funds is to spend them according to the donor or grant agreement. Contact Linda Thornton in the Business Office to obtain information about restrictions and balances in gift or grant funds that are available to your department. You should also be in contact with Laura Theobald in Stewardship or Quinn Arnold in the Grants Office to make reports to the donor or granting agency.


A carryover system, which applies to fungible budget categories only, was established in 1998 to provide flexibility and encourage prudent management of College budgets. Under this system, positive year-end balances are carried forward into the next budget year. The Vice President and Treasurer’s division supports the principle of department/program carryovers, but does not guarantee them.

Carryover balances are generally calculated and announced after the College’s financial statements have been audited in early fall. Before carryovers are officially posted, you can estimate your department’s expected carryover by looking at the budget balance from the previous fiscal year. Be sure to exclude balances from student work when you make this estimate. Negative year-end balances are not allowed and must be repaid by other departments in our division. Such cases should be avoided.

How is the Budget Determined?

The College operating budget is constructed by the Vice President and Treasurer’s office, in consultation with the Budget Committee. Each year, the Budget Committee will make a budgetary recommendation to the College Council. Once approved by College Council, the budget is recommended to the Board of Trustees for approval in February. The College budget includes both portions of your operating budget: fungible budget and student work.

Fungible Budgets for the division are managed by Associate Provost Eric Egge.

The Faculty Entertaining Students budget is determined by the Associate Provost according to the number of eligible faculty members in each department.

Student Work Budgets are managed by the Budget Director, in consultation with the Associate Provost. In February or March, you will receive information via email from the Vice President and Treasurer’s office with instructions for submitting Student Work budget requests. 

Managing Your Budget

You should use one of your early fall department meetings to consult faculty and staff in your department about plans for the year. Consideration should be given to:

  • new equipment needs,
  • curricular changes, and
  • department recruiting.

You should periodically review your department budget during the year. By comparing the current fiscal year with previous fiscal years, you can evaluate whether your departmental spending patterns are consistent from year to year and anticipate budget shortfalls.  If you haven’t already, take a minute to review your budget in Workday.  The 2024-25 budget will be visible after July 1.

If budget pressures arise during the year, please contact Associate Provost Eric Egge for consultation or assistance.

Budget Reports Online

Department expense reports are available in Workday, through the reports Departmental Budget vs. Actual and Carleton – Gift Spendable Balance.  These reports include summary and details of actual, budgeted (by general categories), encumbrances (items ordered on a College purchase order), and available amounts. In addition, Workday allows you to schedule budget reports to be sent to you on a regular basis.  To learn more about viewing and managing your budget in Workday, consult the training materials and help articles available under Budget Management in the Workday Help Center.

If you experience problems viewing your budget reports, please contact Kara Lloyd in the Business Office.

If you have other questions about your budget(s), please contact the Associate Provost at x4301.