David Godman,, chair of the Michigan Student Assembly Budget Priorities Committee, said the BPC hoped last semester”s change in budget allocation would discourage student groups from asking for unreasonable amounts of money.

Goldman said under the new system, which allows student organizations to apply for money three times a semester instead of just once, groups have begun to meet those expectations making the allocation process easier.

The average student group request last semester was $1,583 with some groups asking for upwards of $8,000 but MSA was only able to hand out an average of $314. While some groups continue to ask for more money than MSA can provide, Goldman said the first cycle, approved on Jan. 23, was successful because the average request declined significantly.

“We had groups apply with the specific costs they wanted,” Goldman said. “They had receipts all ready, they had everything planned out perfectly, and when we see that, we say, “Wow, that”s what we like to see. That”s organization, that”s specific costs. We have no reason not to give them that money.””

Goldman held a presentation for student organizations, asking them to avoid petitioning for too much money. He said the presentation accounts for part of the more precise requests.

Due to such applications the BPC, which reviews their requests and recommends allocations before MSA votes on them, was able to grant a larger portion of the requests. Goldman said all 94 groups that applied during the first cycle received money, and 23 received full funding.

Anne Kennedy, the finance co-chair of Dance Marathon, said her group asked for the exact amount of aid they hoped to obtain from MSA. The equipment and rental costs of Dance Marathon, a charity event where participants dance for 30 consecutive hours, can run as high as $20,000, Kennedy said, but the group asked MSA for only $2,000.

“If you ask for a ridiculous amount, you”re less likely to get how much you want,” she said.

MSA Vice President Jessica Cash said because groups can apply for aid three times a semester instead of once, they will not run into problems if their budget changes throughout the semester.

“Last semester, groups were able to secure funding very early in the year, but many of their programming initiatives changed after the developments following September 11,” Cash said.

She added that new groups unfamiliar with the funding process can apply for money later in the semester.

As a result, MSA can use the money it receives from student fees to more efficiently fund students” activities. Goldman said under the old system, MSA took into account the unexpected changes in the organizations” budgets by over-allocating money.

“Last semester we had a significant amount of money that groups didn”t use because, for whatever reasons, they didn”t put on certain events or projects. That was money that was wasted that could have been given to other groups that would have used the money,” Goldman said.

He added that despite the benefits of the new system, holding three funding cycles requires more dedication from the BPC because the committee has more applications to review.

MSA President Matt Nolan said student groups have praised the new allocation system.

“We”ve gotten very positive feedback from groups regarding the new funding cycles, and hopefully it will continue to prove to be easier for student groups,” he said.

Applications for the next funding cycle are due on Feb. 7.

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