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Essentials of College and University Accounting

Learn basic accounting and reporting principles and practices



During this online course, you will learn the basic principles and practices involved in accounting and reporting for the financial activities of a college or university. The approach will be to begin by examining the underlying theory and financial principles involved. Please note - the workbook is only available online through the platform. No print versions are available. PDF reader required.

  • The introduction is followed by a Module on Current Operations, which looks at the activities which form the core of the institution’s mission: instruction, research, and public service. 
  • The next Module, Financial Aid and Lending Activities, addresses accounting and reporting for student financial aid, including loans, and other lending activities. 
  • Endowment and Similar Activities takes us into the realm of institutional investments, gifts, endowments, and similar vehicles invested by the institution to generate a return that can be used as a source of perpetual revenue over the long term. 
  • The next Module, Capital Activities, addresses accounting and reporting for the Plant Fund, which houses the transactions for new construction, renovations, and purchases that meet the criteria for a capital asset. We also discuss depreciation issues in this section. 
  • Following this, we will cover the financial statements of either public or private institutions. Because the financial statements have some major differences, we will go through the financial statement display. 
  • Finally, we spend some time in comparing the accounting and reporting differences between public and independent institutions. 
This course is aimed at a mixed audience of public and independent college and university staff. There are more similarities than differences between the two types of institutions when it comes to accounting and reporting, but there are some major differences.

Materials Provided

Module One: Introduction

  • Audio & PowerPoint
  • Full Workbook

Module Two: Current Operations

  • Audio & PowerPoint
  • Chapter Two of Workbook
  • Chapter Two Problems
  • Chapter Two Solutions
  • Glossary of Terms

Module Three: Student Financial Aid and Lending Activities

  • Audio & PowerPoint
  • Chapter Three of Workbook
  • Chapter Three Problems
  • Chapter Three Solutions
  • Glossary of Terms

Module Four: Endowment and Similar Activities

  • Audio & PowerPoint
  • Chapter Four of Workbook
  • Chapter Four Problems
  • Chapter Four Solutions
  • Glossary of Terms

Module Five: Capital Activities

  • Audio & PowerPoint
  • Chapter Five of Workbook
  • Chapter Five Problems
  • Chapter Five Solutions
  • Glossary of Terms

Module Six: FASB Financial Statements

  • Audio & PowerPoint
  • Chapter Six: Financial Statements (FASB/GASB)
  • Glossary of Terms

Module Seven: GASB Financial Statements

  • Audio& PowerPoint
  • Chapter Six Financial Statements (FASB/GASB)
  • Glossary of Terms

Module Eight: FASB/GASB Differences Financial Statements

  • Audio& PowerPoint
  • Chapter Seven: Differences Between FASB & GASB
  • Glossary of Terms


NACUBO thanks Sue Menditto, director, accounting policy, NACUBO for leading the charge to update the course and Karen Craig, project specialist, NACUBO, for her tireless efforts in compiling and editing the material. In addition, NACUBO extends its sincere appreciation to the review committee for their time, dedication and thoughtfulness in developing this comprehensive tool for the higher education community:
  • Dale Larson, vice president business and finance and chief financial officer, Dallas Theological Seminary
  • Jeffrey West, associate vice president, financial and business services, University of Utah 
  • Ken Wilson, director, Case Western University

How to Access the Course

After you register, you will navigate to your NACUBO classroom to access the course. 

Strategic Finance Leadership Organizational Effectiveness Analytics Planning and Budgeting Distance Learning

What You Will Learn

NACUBO’s professional development programs are designed to deliver the skills, concepts, and best practices for success to individuals in the business of higher education. After participating in this program, you will be able to:

  • Compare accounting concepts of institutions to those in the commercial sector
  • Understand fund accounting and the activity groups
  • Describe the financial statements and their relationship to institutional accounting

Course Information

  • Prerequisites: None
  • Level: Basic
  • Type: Self-study
  • Length:4 hours


Technical Requirements

  • Microsoft Office
  • PDF Reader

CPE Information

CPE credit is not available for this program.

NACUBO is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website

Registration Rates

Registration assistance: 800.462.4916 or

Cancellation Policies

Member Standard


Non-Member Standard