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Activities Based Costing in the University of California

Summary: Higher education institutions must report costs by function. The functional categories have a common definition across the higher education industry and include broad categories such as instruction, research, and student services. Although accounting systems are set up to broadly categorize costs, institutions rarely assign costs to activities that comprise the function or break down the function into smaller units within the institution to allow internal decision makers to easily see how resources are used. As an example, spending on instruction is reported as a whole, by departments. Activities Based Costing provides a method for allocating resources more efficiently, and can help colleges determine the best way to meet their goals around student success by monitoring the use of resources in particular activities.

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