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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Accounting Standards

History and Overview

  • The Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) was incorporated in 1972 and its general purpose is to advance the education of the public, investors, creditors, reporting entities, and certified public accountants with regard to standards of financial accounting and reporting.
  • The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) was created in 1973 as part of the FAF and an independent standard setting body. FASB establishes accounting and financial reporting standards for all private sector commercial and not-for-profit entities.
  • The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) was created in 1984 by the FAF to establish Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for state and local governments and their component units, which include government controlled organizations such as colleges and universities. GASB establishes accounting and financial reporting standards for all state and local governmental entities including governmentally controlled not-for-profit organizations.
  • In recent years, standards that affect higher education institutions have been passed by both FASB and GASB, and these standards are markedly different.

GAAP Hierarchy

There are separate hierarchies of authoritative accounting literature for FASB (nongovernmental) constituencies and GASB (state and local government) constituencies, however both hierarchies contain four levels.

  1. Officially established accounting principles such as FASB and GASB Statements.
  2. Pronouncements of bodies composed of expert accountants such as FASB or GASB Technical Bulletins.
  3. Pronouncements of bodies organized by the FASB or GASB or AICPA .
  4. Prevalent practice or knowledge application such as FASB or GASB Q&A Guides and Industry Guidance such as NACUBO APC Advisory Reports and the NACUBO Financial Accounting and Reporting Manual (FARM).