Finance Office

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why do we have to fill out a form for everything?

  • Believe it or not, we actually try to limit the amount of paperwork and bureaucracy involved with our services. However, properly completed forms serve two vital purposes. First, the form and supporting paperwork provide documentation that a transaction is proper (i.e., complies with applicable laws, University policies, etc.). Second, the form provides documentation that the transaction was properly approved by someone with the appropriate authority. Requiring this documentation enables the Finance Office to meet its obligation as a steward of University assets.

Accounts Payable

How often are checks issued?

  • It depends on the type of check. Checks to vendors and employees are generated twice each week, on Tuesday and Friday. Properly approved payment vouchers received before 1:00 on Monday afternoons will be issued on Tuesday; vouchers received before 1:00 on Thursday afternoons will be issued on Friday. Refund checks to students will be available according to the schedule given on the Business Office website

  What information do I need to get a check issued?

  • In general, to get a check issued, you need a properly completed and approved payment voucher  and appropriate supporting documentation. Documentation may include, but not necessarily be limited to, original invoices from vendors, original vendor receipts and receiving copies of purchase orders. Certain types of disbursements require a specific form instead of the general payment voucher. These include travel and entertainment expenses, purchasing card purchases, and employee moving expenses. These forms may be obtained at the Forms link on the left hand column of this page.

Accounting

What does "FOAPAL" stand for?

  • "FOAPAL" is an acronym for the accounting codes required by the Banner Finance module: (F)und, (O)rganization, (A)ccount, (P)rogram, (A)ctivity, (L)ocation. A Banner fund is a self-balancing set of accounts created for a specific purpose (educational & general operations, building and construction, endowments, etc.). The fund code basically tells you the source of funds for an expenditure and where related income is recorded.

    The organization code generally provides information about which University department incurred an expense or received income. In addition, approved capital improvements, other equipment, and ETC purchases each year are identified by organization code, because all approved purchases for the year are accounted for in a single fund.

    The account code tells you what type of goods or services were purchased, such as travel or books, and what type of revenue was received, such as tuition or sales taxes. In order to accumulate expenses by functional area (instruction, academic support, etc.), we use the program code. These four components, FOAP, are required for virtually all transactions. Transactions from agency accounts only require the fund code (which is 800000) and account code.

    Activity codes are optional, and are assigned at the request of a department. These codes can serve any purpose the department desires, but are typically used to capture revenues and/or expenses associated with a specific event or type of event. For example, the Academic Affairs office may purchase many different goods and services in connection with commencement. The FOAP structure doesn't give enough information for the office to accumulate commencement expenses without going through transactions in detail. By assigning a specific activity code to all commencement-related expenses, Academic Affairs can determine total commencement expenses with a simple Banner query.

    The last element of a FOAPAL is a location code. This code is optional, and is generally used only by Facilities Services and the Banner fixed asset module. You can, however, use location codes if you wish, in order to identify what building or room a particular expense applies to.

What's the difference between a "FOAPAL" and an "account"?

  • As discussed above, a FOAPAL is Banner's accounting code. One part of that code is the account segment (the first "A" in "FOAPAL"). The account in this case identifies the type of goods or services purchased, or the type of revenue received. In non-Banner systems, the term "account" can have a multitude of meanings. It might indicate a specific capital improvement project (the equivalent of a Banner fund), an object code describing goods or services purchased (the equivalent of Banner's account code), or a specific event (the equivalent of a Banner activity code).

    When Finance Office staff refer to "an account", we are referring to the Banner account. We try to take on the responsibility for clarifying what other University employees mean when they refer to "an account", in order to get the accounting right the first time.

Why do we have to know so many numbers for a FOAPAL?

  • The short answer to this is that it gives users much greater power and flexibility when querying transactions. Each FOAPAL element can be used as a query criterion, while an accounting code consisting of only one or two elements limits how much of a query can be done without having to review transactions and/or balances in detail and manually accumulate totals. In setting up the FOAPAL structure, we tried to strike a balance between having too many codes and not enough, given the fact that no two departments typically need to use an identical set of codes.

What's the difference between an agency account, a restricted fund and a designated fund?

  • Although the term "agency account" was used in the legacy system as a general way to distinguish between general fund money and other available money, there are significant differences among them. For purposes of departmental money management, we consider restricted and designated funds to be the same thing. An agency account is an account held by the University for an organization that is affiliated with, but not a part of, the University. Examples are fraternities and sororities, other campus student organizations, faculty/staff organizations, etc.

    In certain situations, the University may use an agency account as a "pass-through" account for a department or class section. For example, if the Art department has students pay into a "central pot" in order to be able to purchase supplies at lower prices, rather than requiring the students to purchase supplies individually, the money collected is placed in an agency account. The supplies are then purchased from the agency account. The distinguishing characteristic of an agency account is that the University has no control over how the money in the account is used (as long as the use is legal). It simply serves as a custodian of the organization's money, basically acting like a bank account.

    A restricted fund is a source of money available to the University on which there is a donor-specified restriction. Generally, donor-specified restrictions may not be changed without the donor's consent. Restrictions may relate to who is allowed to use the money in the fund, what the money is allowed to be used for, when the money can be used, or some combination of these. A designated fund is basically the same as a restricted fund, except the restriction is University-specified, and may be changed at the University's discretion.

How do I find out how much money is in my agency account/restricted fund/designated fund?

  • Unfortunately, the self-service Banner Finance interface (accessible via MyWashburn) does not allow balance queries. This leaves you with two options for finding out a balance. First, you can contact the Accounting office to request a balance and/or account statement. This will get you the balance as of that day. Second, you can log into Banner Forms and use the FGITBAL form.

Payroll

How often do employees get paid?

  • Classified staff and students are paid bi-weekly, usually on a Friday. Student timesheets for a given pay date are generally due on Monday of the week prior to the pay date. Classified staff timesheets for a pay date are generally due on Monday of the week of the pay date. See the pay calendar for specific information about pay dates and timesheet due dates.

What's the difference between an "incidental" and a "supplemental"?

  • An "incidental" timesheet is used when a person is not a regular University employee, and is performing infrequent services that are generally non-recurring. For example, a person who is hired to come in for a week to help with enrollment would be paid via an incidental. Other examples of incidental employees are ushers at athletic events, someone hired to perform office filing for two or three days, etc. As a rule of thumb, if an employee will be working on a recurring basis for a period of time of three or four weeks, that employee cannot be paid via an incidental. Rather, the employee should be placed on a temporary, benefit-ineligible contract. Contact the Human Resources department for additional guidance.

    A "supplemental" is a request to pay a current regular University employee (including both faculty and staff) an amount in addition to the employee's normal pay. For example, if an employee is asked to serve as an acting or interim department head, s/he may receive additional compensation for the additional duties and responsibilities taken on. The amount of this additional compensation is submitted via an classified staff supplemental payroll form  or a faculty and administrative staff supplemental form.

What happens if I miss a timesheet deadline?

  • If you are a classified or student employee, and you miss the deadline for submitting your timesheet for approval, you will have to complete a paper timesheet and submit it to your supervisor for approval. When the approved timesheet is received in Payroll, it usually will be processed after the "normal" payroll. Depending on how late your timesheet arrives in Payroll, your pay check may not be available on the regularly-scheduled pay date.

    If you are an administrative employee, you do not have to submit a paper timesheet, unless you took personal leave or sick leave during the month. You will be paid your normal monthly pay on the scheduled pay date. However, if you take any personal leave or sick leave after you submit your timesheet, you will have to contact Human Resources and request them to correct your leave balances.

    If you are a timesheet approver and you miss the deadline for approving web timesheets, the Payroll Office will perform an "override" approval so that employees' pay can be processed with the normal payroll. Note, however, that these overrides bypass a very important review function; unless you contact Payroll before processing begins, the employee will be paid for the hours they report and your budget will be charged accordingly. It is critical that you review and approve (or disapprove) timesheets before the applicable deadline. Under the University's interpretation of Kansas law, if an employee has turned in a timesheet on time, but the approver has not approved it, we must pay the employee for the time reported.

    It is the approver's responsibility to review and approve timesheets on a timely basis. Because the override approvals are basically required by law (see above), Payroll will not contact "delinquent" approvers prior to processing, and Payroll is not responsible for any time reporting errors.

    When the Payroll Office has to perform override approvals multiple times for an approver over a relatively short period of time, the approver will receive an e-mail reminder from Payroll. If the problem continues, a second e-mail will be sent to the approver, with a copy to the approver's administrative supervisor.

Should I pay someone on an incidental or on a 1099?

  • This can be one of the most difficult questions to answer relating to both accounts payable and payroll. The answer depends on the specific situation and revolves around whether the person is considered to be an employee under IRS guidelines.

    If the individual is determined to be an employee, payments must be processed using an incidental. Because the payment is thus considered to be wages, the payment is subject to tax withholding, and the individual will receive a W-2 at the end of the year. If the individual is determined to be an independent contractor, the payment is processed through Accounts Payable. If total payments to the individual during a calendar year are $600 or more, s/he will receive a Form 1099-MISC from the University.