Disclaimer: These answers aren’t meant to be all-inclusive. Many situations are unique and have nuances that may be open to interpretation. Please consult the University Budget Office with specific questions or concerns.

  • General

    Q: What are Chartfields?

    A: See "Understanding Cardinal Financial Chartfields" for more information.

    Q: If I have a question related to a budget under my purview, what do I do?

    A: If you’re in an academic school or department, contact the Academic Budget Office (ABO). If you’re in a non-academic department, you can contact the University Budget Office (UBO) directly. All questions to either the ABO or UBO must include current, relative nVision reports.

    Q: How do I get access to data and financial reports for my unit?

    A: New users will need to fill out a Cardinal Financials Access Request Form, get a supervisor’s signature and email to Tech Services. Existing users can request expanded access through General Accounting. Please see the "Reporting" section for more detailed information.

    Q: If an expense best fits into a certain deptid, but there is no budget in that deptid, should I charge it elsewhere?

    A: No. General Accounting requirements dictate that transactions be classified into their appropriate categories (funds, accounts, deptids) for accurate reporting purposes. The budget deficit must be fixed with a budget adjustment or funds transfer before the transaction can be processed.

    Q: If my department had meant to use last fiscal year’s budget for a purchase, but we either didn’t receive the goods before May 1 or we didn’t submit the invoice to AP before May 1 (and also neglected to ask GA to accrue the expense), but we don’t have the budget for the item this fiscal year, can I just not pay the bill?

    A: No. The department is obligated to pay all outstanding invoices no matter what timeframe they are from. Budgets must be made available from another funding source, using uncommitted funds.

  • Capital

    Q: Do capital budgets carry-over from fiscal year to fiscal year?

    A: No. Multi-year capital projects must also be part of each fiscal year’s planning process and unused capital budgets from one fiscal year do not automatically carry forward to the next fiscal year, even if they are for the same project and have been previously approved. Example(s): A $100,000 project has been approved and included in the FY20 University capital plan, but a Project Approval Form (PAF) is never submitted. If the department wishes to start the project in FY21 instead, it must resubmit the project during the budget planning process. If a PAF is submitted in FY20, and funds are transferred to a project org, but no expenses are charged to the project org in FY20, the department will still need to request FY21 budget to cover the cash spend.

    Q: How do I know if my equipment purchase that is not part of a bigger, approved capital project, needs capital budget or operating budget?

    A: Often, equipment expenses over $5,000 can be capitalized, and if so, require capital plan budget. However, $5,000 is not the sole threshold for expense capitalization. Because every funding source has different rules for cash and budget, and because capital plan budget is another category entirely, please consult with either the Academic or the University Budget Office before entering a requisition. When you inquire about a large-scale purchase, please include a copy of the estimate or invoice, as well as a current nVision report of the funding (cash) source.

    Q: Will the University cover the costs of my classroom/office/building maintenance?

    A: In most cases, repairs and maintenance are funded centrally, and undertaken on emergency, priority, and regular, rotating timeframes. Repair costs that don't qualify for central funding are usually not capitalized expenses and will affect your operating budget. Facilities will usually be able to provide appropriate funding source information, but any plans involving enhancements or new infrastructure/equipment should be presented to the appropriate budget office concurrently with your consultation with Facilities.

    Q: I’d like to buy equipment over $5,000. Where do I start?

    A: If it is technology related, contact Tech Services. For any other capital item, contact Facilities. Both of these units know the appropriate process for procuring capital equipment. However, you will need both a funding source (usually a designated fund with cash) and a budget.

    Q: It’s March and I have unspent cash in my Annual Fund. Isn’t this a perfect occasion to buy some capital equipment for my department’s research needs?

    A: We hope so! However, it’s important to keep in mind the following:

    • Fund 20s were designed and implemented in order to assist departments with current fiscal year operating needs.
    • You must be certain that goods and equipment will be delivered IN FULL by April 30th. Delivery timetables for capital equipment are often much longer than you might expect, particularly this year, when supply chains are under a great deal of pressure.
    • Under no circumstances can an item be marked as “received” in Cardinal Financials before it is physically/completely received on campus.
    • Fund 20 balances generally do not carry-forward into next fiscal year, with a few exceptions. Your equipment purchase must be listed as an expense in the year it was received. If the equipment is received after April 30th, the expense will affect your new fiscal year cash and budget, and it’s possible that your Annual Fund will not be able to support your purchase.
  • Cash vs Budgets

    Q: What is spend authority?

    A: Spend authority is another way of saying “budget” when discussing certain designated (18, 19) and payout (31) funds at the university. Like a budget, it is the amount you can spend in the current fiscal year. For designated funds, spend authority is backed by cash, but having cash does not automatically provide spend authority.

    Q: Are cash and budget the same thing?

    A: No. Operating funds (11) generally work on a budget basis only and any revenue reported in these orgs is actually centrally collected and counted. Expense budgets in these orgs are set based on the aggregate operating revenue expected for the whole university and not by school or department. This is necessary to fund non-revenue-generating areas like facilities or human resources. There is no cash in these funds that carries over from one fiscal year to the next.

    New program (12), auxiliary (15) and annual funds (20) budgets may be increased with additional revenue collected above the already budgeted projection. Please consult the UBO with specific questions. There is no cash in these funds that carries over from one fiscal year to the next. In fund 20, unspent new gifts received after April 1 of a prior fiscal year may be spent in the next fiscal year. The UBO completes calculations at year-end close to determine this amount and adds it as an expense budget (not carryforward cash) to the next fiscal year.

    Designated (18, 19, 59) funds and endowed funds (31, 51) have both a cash and budget component. Unspent cash carries forward, while budgets must be (re)set each fiscal year. The existence of cash does not automatically generate the existence of a budget, nor vice-versa.

    Q: Does cash carry-over from fiscal year to fiscal year?

    A: In many cases, yes. Designated (18, 19, 59) funds and endowed funds (31, 51) can accumulate unspent cash from gifts, fundraising or endowment payout. If unspent in one fiscal year, this is available in the following fiscal year. However, a budget is needed to spend this, whether as operating (spend authority) or capital (part of an approved capital project).

    Q: If my department collects more revenue for a particular program than previously anticipated, can we also spend more in expenses?

    A: Not necessarily. A more complete answer generally depends on the fund type.

  • Compensation

    Q: I have a vacancy in my department where the position has been unfilled for several months. Can I use the savings from that position to give a pay raise to someone else within my department?

    A: No. Vacancy savings are temporary. They are also centrally factored into the university’s overall budget. Any use of vacancy savings must be pre-approved by the UBO but it is generally not allowed for permanent compensation increases nor for rebudgeting to general expenses. In rare cases, vacancy savings may be approved for consulting work or temporary staffing, both of which are part of general expenses.

    Q: Can I rebudget compensation to general expenses during the fiscal year?

    A: It depends on the fund type. Operating funds (11, 16) cannot by university policy comingle or substitute compensation budgets with general expense or discounting budgets, or vice-versa. In other budgeted funds, however, like designated (18, 19, 59) or endowed (31, 51), the umbrella (“Z-level”) category of expenses isn’t relevant.

    Q: If I know that historically 20% of summer courses have been cancelled, can I submit part-time lecturer contracts for $10K when my org budget is only $8K?

    A: No. The ABO, UBO and HR make approval decisions based on the status quo and cannot factor in “what-ifs.” Please verify that an equal amount of budget is available to cover requested part time compensation before submitting EDFs or Lecturer contracts. If savings are eventually realized, then those unspent budgets may be reallocated later.

    Q: Is the cost of work study students free for departments?

    A: No. The department must pay 25% of a Federal Work Study (FWS) student’s pay, while the FWS programs pays for 75%. The expected cost to the department must be budgeted accordingly.

  • Planning

    Q: Do non-capital budgets carry-over from fiscal year to fiscal year?

    A: No. Budgets for each fund that requires it (11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 31, 51, 59) must be set each year during the planning process. Annual funds (20) may be allowed a starting fiscal year budget if they meet certain criteria for unspent funds from the prior year, but departments can only budget expenses above this for the new fiscal year once additional revenue has been received.

    Q: How do I set a budget for an endowed fund?

    A: Endowment budgets are loaded by the UBO at their allocated payout value (determined by the Treasury Office) for the current fiscal year. Processes to increase endowment budgets differ based on fund. Requests to increase endowed budgets must be supported by existing rollover cash. Please coordinate with your VP’s office if you wish to increase an endowed budget.

    Q: Does the UBO set my budgets?

    A: No. The University Budget Committee sets the overall revenue expectations and the corresponding, organization-wide expense limits for a fiscal year. Each division (led by the President, a VP or the Provost) has a proportional part of this expense budget, based on historical use and future plans. Departmental expense limits are set by the division heads.

    Q: When I submit a new fiscal year budget request, do I need to send any supporting documentation?

    A: Yes. The UBO will need all corresponding salary spreadsheets with each permanent full-time position budgeted at the full salary, which matches the account-level totals in the budget. Any funding changes at the time of budget submission will also need accompanying EDFs because those changes do not happen automatically with the budget submission.

  • Procurement

    Q: How do I purchase goods and services for my departments?

    A: Submit a requisition with a valid budget status. In certain cases, a University Procurement Card or direct pay may be more appropriate. For more information visit Procurement and Payment Services' website.

    Please do not requisition for goods or services that are meant to be a part of a larger capital project, regardless of the account code, prior to the project being approved through the separate Project Approval Form (PAF) process. If you have any questions or concerns, see the FAQs above regarding "Capital" or you may contact the University Budget Office.

    Q: If my requisition isn’t passing budget check, what do I do?

    A: Email the UBO with the REQ number, a current nVision report, and the reason you think the budget check is failing along with why you believe an override is necessary (i.e., Funds Transfer or PBR is forthcoming, etc.)

    Q: Can't we just get rid of the budget checks to make the process easier?

    A: No. Budget checks, which are built into the system at various points in the process including the requisition, PO generation, and payment release stages, are necessary safeguards created to make sure that a department has both the adequate resources to pay for an item/service and that the accounting data (including fiscal year/dates, fund and deptid combinations, and account codes) has been entered correctly. Errors generated by the budget check process cannot be simply ignored or overridden. Any mitigating action must either provide a fix or answer to why the error occurred. The university office responsible for follow-up will depend on the reason for the Error, and although the "Budget Check" process is responsible for generating the Error, that does not necessarily mean that the UBO is responsible for the fix, nor that it is a "budget error."

    If budget checks were eliminated, the university would risk spending money it didn't have. Additionally, General Accounting would not be able to reconcile its ledgers due to date and chart of accounts mismatches.

    Q: Why are some of my regular deptids not available for Pcard coding?

    A: If a funding source that is associated with an active procurement credit card in cash and/or budget deficit, that deptid is temporarily made inactive in the SunTrust Enterprise system. It is the cardholder’s responsibility to work with their department to rectify the deficit and request reactivation of the funding source.

  • Reporting

    Q: How do I access Cardinal Financials?

    A: Visit the Cardinal Financials log-in page.
    Access to the system must be applied for and granted. Learn how to request access.

    Q: How do I view my financial reports?

    A: Reports are accessible in Cardinal Financials.

    Visit the Resources page and locate Training Module 2: Running Reports to learn more.

    Q: How do I know which financial report to run?

    A: View a list of our core financial reports and their usage.

    Q: How do I set up a new department?

    A: Visit Requesting a New Department ID to learn more.

  • Training

    Q: How do I obtain training in managing my budgets?

    A: Training materials are available online.

    The Budget Office also holds in-person group training sessions periodically.
    Visit the Budget User Group page to learn more.