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 Thursday. Payments are processed in the order they are
      received. Depending on volume of payments to process, it may take up
      to five working days to process a check after the proper forms and
      documents have been received by Accounts Payable and approved for
    • Refund checks to students are 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.


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.


Should I pay someone through payroll 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 through payroll. 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.
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