Union’s budget, clarified

How your Activity Fee is used to improve RPI

Hi RPI! Since many clubs are beginning to construct their budgets for next school year, I thought I would provide some info on what the Rensselaer Union’s expenses are and how its income is spent. All of this information and more is available to you in the Fiscal Year 2017 Union Annual Report found at

So where does the Union get its money? The majority of it (79 percent) comes from the Student Activity Fee. Last year, the Union brought in approximately $2 million from that Activity Fee. The other 21 percent of Union funds are from vendors inside of the Rensselaer Union building. These vendors include the Collegiate Store, auxiliary business like Ben & Jerry’s and the Campus Unisex hair salon, and food services like Sodexo in the Rathskeller and McNeil room as well as Father’s marketplace. Last year, the Union made approximately $500,000 from these sources. Our projected income this year is around $3 million from all of these sources.

Where does that money go after it’s collected? Well, most people think of clubs and student organizations when they think of the Union but, only 25 percent of Union income goes to directly to clubs each year. There are many other programs that the Union subsidizes on campus. For instance, 16 percent of the Union’s budget will go toward campus recreation this year. Campus recreation includes services housed in the Mueller Center, programs hosted by the Wellness Center, intramural sports programs, and more. Intramurals alone has around 4,000 active participants each year. Around 5 percent of the Union’s funds goes toward the upkeep up facilities mainly the Rensselaer Union building which is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week for any student to use. Three percent goes toward services available to all students and clubs (i.e. Student Legal Services, McNeil emergency loan, club support funds).

The largest chunk of Union expenses is actually called “Union General Expenses” and makes up around 43 percent of this year’s budget. These are all expenses needed to support the Union and its programs. It includes things like administrative staff salaries, wages for over 300 student workers, student activities special events money, performing arts programs subsidies, funding for multicultural and diversity programming, Union marketing funds, and much more.

Next time you are thinking about where your Activity Fee is going and what you are supporting across campus, remember that it supports much more than just Union funded clubs. There are a wide range of services, facilities, and programs available to everyone on campus that are funded through the Union Activity Fee. I encourage the whole campus to investigate everything the Union has to offer and take advantage of the resources available to you whether that is in clubs, intramurals, the Mueller Center, student legal services, etc. As always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to reach out to me at