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Financial Guide

In this guide, you will learn about Cornell University’s financial statements and what measurements are important to us.

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A Message from the Executive Vice President and CFO, Christopher J. Cowen

Cornell University produces annual audited financial statements containing vital information for constituencies including the Board of Trustees, governmental funding agencies, the State of New York, credit rating agencies, alumni, donors, students, and the public. To help the community understand the terms and data that are critical to managing Cornell’s finances, this companion guide to the financial statements presents information in an accessible format and non-technical language. Cornell will continue to promote transparency and understanding in its fiscal reporting.

We hope you find this guide valuable. If you have questions, please contact University Controller Karen Mahalo.

Christopher J. Cowen
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

The Two Ways We Report

Cornell University reports its finances in two ways:

Operating Budget or Sources and Uses 

Reports operating-unit financial performance versus the board-approved budget for Cornell’s day-to-day operating revenues and expenses. It reflects how resources and needs are balanced over the fiscal year.

Audited Financial Statements

Contain audited reports on the university’s financial performance over the fiscal year and Cornell’s financial position at the end of the fiscal year.

The Three Parts of the Audited Financial Statements

Statement of Financial Position​​

Provides a snapshot of a Cornell's assets and liabilities at a point in time.

Statement of Activities

Summarizes the current-year performance of total revenues, expenses, non-operating revenues and expenses, and changes in net assets over time compared to prior-year performance.

Statement of Cash Flows

Summarizes the amount of cash and cash equivalents that flowed in and out of the university during the year. It is segregated into operating, investing, and financing sections. We will not address this statement in this financial guide.​