Project FAQs

Why is NDSU looking to develop and implement a new tuition incentive model and financial operations design? 

NDSU is embarking on an effort to re-envision and modernize aspects of our University budget model to align resources and strategy via a new tuition incentivization plan and operations assessment. This effort will support the goal of providing support and incentives for units to innovate and be entrepreneurial set forth in the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan. Acknowledging a challenging budget landscape and building on work already in process, such as academic program prioritization efforts, NDSU strives to continue a comprehensive and thoughtful approach to addressing our limitations and embracing opportunities to improve.

When will NDSU’s new tuition incentive and financial operating model be deployed? 

The project launched in July 2022 and will require at least 7 months for the assessment, design, and implementation planning phases to be completed. Following these phases, the University will continue to refine and test the tuition incentive model, with a goal of introducing model elements into FY2024.

Have other universities implemented an incentive-based budget (IBB) model?  

Many universities, both private and public, use some form of an IBB budget model. It was developed and has evolved over some 35 years with the University of Pennsylvania being the first higher education institution to implement IBB, in 1974. 
Example of other universities' incentive-based budget model implementation sites:

Will my job status change due to the financial operations assessment? 

No, your job status will not change due to the financial operations assessment. The intent of this initiative is not to eliminate the University's most valuable resource, its people, nor is there a cost cutting goal of the initiative. For roles with financial activities, some of your work tasks may look different. Individuals may see their work evolve and challenge them to learn new ways of doing things. Everyone should see some benefit from these changes, whether it is from improved financial related services, tasks done more efficiently, or seeing entire business processes transform into a new and more easily accessed service.

How is this information from the Activity Study being used by the financial operations assessment? 

The Activity Study information has informed the data gathering and analysis process and provided information on the:

  • The scale of financial work (how much financial work is NDSU completing?).
  • The distribution of financial work (where is the work occurring?).
  • The fragmentation of financial work (how many different financial tasks are individuals responsible for on a weekly basis?).
  • The consistency of financial work (is someone in a similar role completing similar work?).


Will individual job duties or job performance be assessed as part of the financial operations assessment? 

Data provided by the University, including the survey data and information from interviews, focus groups, and committee meetings, will be used to support system-wide recommendations. No individual job recommendations will be made.

Will the Tuition Incentive Model increase or decrease total funding allocated to colleges in future years? 

Tuition revenues are impacted by recruitment and retention of students; the Tuition Incentive Model does not change the amount of revenue generated by NDSU. The model will serve as a tool utilized by the Budget Office to support strategic budgeting, focusing on developing new resources and investing in initiatives aligned with NDSU’s strategic plan. The Tuition Incentive Model will increase transparency and understanding of the allocation of resources due to clearer connections between programmatic decisions and revenues attributed to the colleges.

Does the scope of the operations assessment extend beyond financial activities? 

No, the Financial Operations Assessment is focused solely on financial operations. Engagement recommendations will be focused on how a new financial operating model can lead towards business process improvements and support the implementation of the Tuition Incentive Model.

Financial Operating Model Questions

How will the new operating model increase cohesiveness across departments while empowering college leadership? How will dual reporting lines be employed in this process? 

  1. Business partners will have solid line reporting relationship to the Provost Budget Office and a dotted line to the Dean. What this means:
    1. There will be direct and formalized communication channels between the Provost Budget Office and College-level financial management. This will create greater consistency and functional support.
    2. In collaboration with Deans, the Provost Budget Office will support hiring and performance feedback.
    3. Deans will maintain day-to-day engagement with business partners, and business partners will not physically move due to changes in reporting lines.
  2. Dual reporting lines between Deans and the Provost Budget Office or Central Budget Office are common. At smaller institutions, more central oversight is common.

How will the new operating model address the need for staff across the university to “wear multiple hats” as part of their regular duties?

  1. The Financial Operating Model will allow certain employees across the university to specialize in various functions. Position descriptions for roles within the Financial Operating Model have been designed to allow employees to become experts in certain functions while also providing clear paths for professional advancement.
  2. This structure will also alleviate current concerns regarding coverage for planned and unplanned time away. By increasing specialization, employees across the university will have easier coverage for their responsibilities in the case of absence or high transaction volume.

What is the Transaction Center? What tasks will be completed by individuals staffed within this Center?

  1. The Transaction Center provide support for financial activities such as purchasing (including funding line allocation), preparing travel & expense reports, and general accounting.
  2. The Transaction Center will be organized into teams that provide transactional support to specific groups of colleges or departments.

Where will the individuals in the Transaction Center be located?

  1. NDSU’s Transaction Center staff will remain distributed across the university and is not anticipated to be located within a centralized physical space. Staffing decisions while filling transaction center roles may impact where an employee is physically located.

What is the projected timeline for the transition to new roles?

  1. We are currently working with HR to finalize position descriptions for the new service delivery structure.
  2. Following finalization of position descriptions, we will publicize details of new roles and begin recruiting to fill the new positions through the spring.

Will this model affect the size and scope of the central accounting department?

  1. The Financial Operating Model will not have an impact on the functions or staffing levels within the central accounting department.

How many people will be directly impacted by this the new financial operating model?

  1. We anticipate about 100 positions being transitioned to the financial operating model, with approximately 40% shifting to the Transaction Center and 60% remaining aligned with colleges and administrative divisions.
  2. In addition, an anticipated 200 employees who currently have some finance responsibilities will remain with colleges and divisions, potentially with additional non- financial responsibilities as some of their financial responsibilities are realigned.

How will turnover and morale be monitored and addressed as we transition to this operating model?

  1. NDSU will establish a Recruiting and Staffing Strategy team to determine specifics regarding how employees will be selected for the transition and a Training and Development team to design and determine what support will be provided throughout the transition process.

What aspects of the Financial Operating Model remain to be decided?

  1. Over the next several weeks, NDSU will convene multiple stakeholder and subject matter expert committees from across the university to continue development of the Financial Operating Model. Some key areas of focus include:
    1. Finalization of detailed position descriptions
    2. Development of workforce transition strategy and timeline
    3. Drafting and communication of new standard operating procedures, service level agreements, and business process maps
    4. Evaluation of physical space needs and constraints
  2. NDSU staff will be given opportunity to provide feedback and be regularly updated on progression in these key areas.
  3. If you would like to provide feedback, reach us at email here:

What processes, procedures, and technology systems will change as part of this process?

  1. Select business processes will follow new routing for workflow and approvals (i.e., purchasing, travel and expense reimbursement, and payroll)
  2. Standardized accountability measures and service expectations will also be established to ensure quality service delivery
  3. PeopleSoft is maintained by the North Dakota University System. We will not be reconfiguring or modifying core system functionality.
Tuition Incentive Model  - General Questions

What are differences between the net tuition revenue calculated for colleges in the Academic Prioritization Report of 2022 and the tuition revenue allocation for colleges in the new Tuition Incentive Model?

  1. The Tuition Incentive Model and Cost to Educate model are intended for different decision support purposes and may reflect different margins owing to differences in methodology. The Tuition Incentive Model is intended to align undergraduate and graduate tuition with major cost drivers, in order to inform the development of college- level budgets. A central holdback of a share of tuition is used to support strategic investment in academic programs and core infrastructure.

The Cost to Educate model is intended to calculate program-level margins to help prioritize resource investments by academic leadership. The Cost to Educate model does not necessarily account for all resource allocation needs of the institution and does not inform the annual budget setting process.

How will various merit financial awards – such as presidential scholarships – be funded?

  1. NDSU’s aid to students includes two forms of aid: waivers and scholarships. Budgeting and funding of scholarships which are backed by gift balances in the Foundation or funded with local department funds will not change. Institutional waivers (which include the NDSU Presidential Waivers, Presidential Honors Waivers, Cultural Diversity Waivers) are charged against undergraduate tuition prior to allocation.
  2. Graduate waivers are allocated to the colleges in which recipients are enrolled to ensure that waiver costs and tuition allocations are aligned.


Will allocation of tuition revenue under the Tuition Incentive Model be enough to cover the Cost to Educate? What is the intention for these Tuition Incentive funds to balance in terms of costs?

  1. The true cost to educate varies from college to college as program costs are differentiated. Some programs may not be self-sustaining, but are mission-critical to the University, or are a feeder to other programs who drive efficiency or fulfill mission-critical activities. Tuition revenue in an Incentivized model is aligned to college by credit hours which are driven by enrollment. In conjunction with tuition dollars, strategic and subvention funds may be available to cover the cost to educate for colleges. Funds are distributed in the Tuition Incentive Model down to the college-level and not the program level.
  2. The intention of a Tuition Incentive Model is to align revenues with their respective costs to reflect a more accurate financial picture, and to illustrate the resources needed to deliver programming.

How will this model improve the ability of college leadership to measure financial performance?

  1. The Tuition Incentive Model provides college leadership with transparency into the true margin for delivering programs. Financial insights will aid in resource management and decisions for resource allocations within the college. Resources may be evaluated and aligned based on need, priority, strategic investment, and/or growth strategies.

How will funding be allocated for courses that students take outside of their home college?

  1. For undergraduate students, funding will be allocated based on credit hour production with 75% being directed to the college of instruction and 25% being directed to the student’s college of record. For graduate students, funding will be entirely assigned to the student’s college of record.

Will the five-college model have any impact on the tuition incentive model?

  1. The financial impact in the Tuition Incentive Model will be reflective of the consolidation of metrics and dollars for those colleges impacted. It will not change the amount of dollars being allocated, or the base denominator of the metrics being used. The merger of colleges will concentrate credit hour production, driven by enrollment, for general ed and pre-requisites into a single college. Any additional financial impacts such as operational efficiencies are still being assessed.

What is the reasoning for tuition waivers being used to fund non-academic services?

  1. Tuition waiver usage should follow pre-existing policies and procedures and be monitored periodically for usage. A typical reason for waivers being used to fund non-academic services include experiential employment for the benefit of a student’s curriculum and practical experience. Simultaneously, departments reciprocally receive the benefit of lower cost to employ and deliver on co-curricular experiences.

Will personal and dependent waivers for faculty and staff tuition costs within a college be billed to that college?

  1. Currently, personnel and dependent waivers will follow the same methodology as the undergraduate and graduate waiver distributions noted above in question 2.
Tuition Incentive Model  - Graduate Students

How will graduate waivers be structured and administered under the new budget model? Will multiple departments be able to provide waivers to the same graduate student? Who will be paying these waivers?

  1. The administration of graduate waivers will not change and will follow current practice.
  2. Departments outside of a student’s college of record may award graduate waivers to students in accordance with institutional policy.
  3. As a part of the recommendations from the Graduate Waiver Working Group, colleges will have greater authority and accountability over the use of graduate waivers. As such, graduate waiver funding will align with the corresponding graduate tuition allocations, distributed to the student’s college or record.

Are graduate students at risk of losing waivers as a result of this model?

  1. Current practices for awarding Graduate students’ waivers will be unchanged. Waivers should be allotted in accordance with institutional policy.

How will tuition waivers be administered for interdisciplinary programs within the graduate school?

    1. Graduate waivers will follow the student’s college of record in alignment with receipt of tuition. The Tuition Incentive model will not change current institutional policy.

How should departments advise graduate students interested in an assistantship if the department does not have adequate funding for the associated stipend/ waiver? Will this vary between academic and non-academic services?

  1. Assistantships should not be hindered by the Tuition Incentive Model. Departments who are concerned with funding constraints for assistantships should escalate any concerns to the college’s respective dean for resource management decisions.

Additional Information

President's Steering Committee on Budget and Finance Operations Enhancement
This is the homepage for the President's Steering Committee on Budget and Finance Operations Enhancement website and includes information about the tuition incentive model, operations assement and provides project updates.

Project Sponsors
This page contains information on the various teams and working groups that are responsible for the implementation of the new financial operating model.

Team Membership
This page contains information on the various teams and working groups that are responsible for the implementation of the new financial operating model.

Operations Assessment: Business Process Focus Groups
This page contains information regarding the foocus group departments represented.

Project Updates
This page includes most recent project updates.

Project Reports
This page includes presentations, survey data and project reports.

Frequently Asked Questions
This page includes answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Accounting Service Center Home 
This is the homepage for the Accounting Service Center and includes information about the project background and financial impact to NDSU.

NDSU Transform
This is the homepage for the President's NDSU Transform website and includes information about the project initiation, communication, background data and impact to NDSU.

Contact Us
This page includes information to contact a member of the NDSU Transform team.

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