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Petty Cash Change Fund and Disbursement Fund Procedures

Petty Cash Funds

Petty cash funds are requested by departments for use as a change fund (used to make change for business sales transactions) or as a disbursement fund (for payments to participants in research projects) or as a purchase fund (to purchase items that are not available through normal purchase channels). Petty cash funds are established through the Office of the University Bursar (OUB) by completing a petty cash request form.

The person requesting the petty cash fund is referred to as the fund custodian and must be a Virginia Tech faculty member, classified staff employee, or a graduate assistant participating in a research project. Both the fund custodian and the department head are responsible for the proper use of the fund and for the repayment of the fund.

Request forms should be submitted to The Office of the University Bursar (OUB) 7 -10 days prior to the date the fund is needed. OUB reserves the right to deny requests based on the purpose/justification for the request, unauthorized department approval, the amount of the fund, the planned safeguarding of the fund, or any past due, outstanding petty cash balances owed in the fund custodians name, or any past due balances owed the University by the fund custodian. If a request is denied for any reason, a representative from the Office of the University Bursar will notify the individual requesting the fund.

Once the University Bursar approves the request, it is sent to the University Controller's Office for a check to be issued to the fund custodian. The check may be picked up at the Customer Service Windows of the Office of the University Bursar. Petty cash checks must be picked up by the fund custodian. The fund custodian must present pictured identification to the customer service representative.

The Customer Service area in OUB is not authorized to cash checks of any type. Therefore, the fund custodian must cash the petty cash check at a bank. The fund custodian is responsible for the safeguarding of the funds. If the amount requested exceeds $500, the Funds Handling Guidelines and Procedures require the funds be kept in a departmental locked safe. Petty cash disbursement funds $2,000 and more require that a checking account be established by OUB to safeguard the funds. If a checking account is required and has been opened, the custodian will be notified by an OUB staff member that the funds have been deposited in the bank account and are available to disburse.

Funds are subject for review or audit by authorized University Officials at anytime.

Fund Custodians must agree to the following terms and conditions when requesting petty cash funds:

  • This petty cash fund will be recorded in an account in my name with the Bursar's Office.
  • I am responsible for full compliance with all University policy and procedures relating to petty cash. See Petty Cash Change and Disbursement Procedures and the Funds Handling Guidelines and Procedures at http://www.bursar.vt.edu.
  • For disbursement petty cash funds, it is my responsibility to complete the petty cash reimbursement request every 120 days in order to reimburse the petty cash fund promptly and in full by the due date.
  • I authorize this disbursement fund amount to be deducted in full from my paycheck should repayment not be made within 60 days of the due date indicated on the statement sent from the Bursar's Office.
  • If this disbursement fund is not reimbursed prior to my leaving employment with Virginia Tech, I agree to have the amount of the funds withheld from my final paycheck or leave check.
  • If my account becomes delinquent and is turned over to a collection agency, I agree to pay collection costs, attorney's fees, and court costs associated with the collection of the fund.
  • If I am no longer affiliated with the University as a graduate student, faculty, or staff member, I will return the fund to the university immediately.
  • Any fund amount deducted from my paycheck could result in forfeiture of my privilege to use petty cash funds in the future.

A departmental person is required to approve and sign the petty cash form. The approver must have signature authority on the Banner fund or grant in order to approve the request.

When a department has a fund custodian leave or change responsibilities, the petty cash funds must be transferred to a new custodian. The department must complete and return to the University Bursar a Petty Cash Fund Change of Custodian Form found at http://www.bursar.vt.edu/forms/petty_cash_cust.pdf. The approver on this form must have signature authority on the Banner fund or grant in order to approve this form.

It is often necessary for the department to request an increase in the amount of the funds held for the change fund and for disbursement funds, additional funds are often needed to continue to pay subjects. These additional funds must be requested by completing the Petty Cash Form found at http://www.bursar.vt.edu/forms/pettycash.pdf and the custodian must note that the amount requested is an additional amount to increase the current funds held.

Change Funds

  • Petty cash change funds are used for the purpose of making change during a business cash transaction.
  • Prior to requesting a change fund, a Funds Handling Plan must be submitted and approved by the Bursar's Office.
  • The Funds Handling Policy (Policy No. 3600) must be followed at all times.
  • Discrepancies in the account will be the sole responsibility of the department.
  • Accounts Receivable confirmation letters will be mailed to the fund custodian annually to verify the fund custodian and the balance of petty cash change funds.
  • Funds must be kept in secure locations. See Acceptable Safeguards in the Funds Handling Policy.

Disbursement Funds

  • Disbursement funds can be funded by grants or departmental Banner Finance funds
  • For projects funded by grants, the project must have funds available and approved Institutional Review Board protocols for human subjects.
  • Contact the Controller's Office for guidance if questions arise related to making the payment or the eligibility of the subject to participant.
  • When the confidentiality of participants is required, the department must provide an internal control plan to account for and audit disbursement records. The plan must be approved by the Manager of Accounts Payable prior to use. Please refer to the Controller's Office Procedure 23715c for additional information.
  • Petty cash requests should be for the expected payments to participants within 120 days.
  • Disbursement funds must be obtained to purchase gift cards that will be used to pay participants
  • The inventory of gift cards must be adequately controlled, issued and accounted for.
  • Gift cards that are purchased with the disbursement funds must be safeguarded and accounted for the same as cash.
  • As funds or gift cards are disbursed to individuals, these individuals must sign and date proper receipt documents signifying receipt of funds. The custodian will use these receipts to request reimbursement through their department every 120 days or when the project is completed, whichever comes first.
  • If gift cards are mailed to participants, a log must be maintained under dual control documenting to whom the cards were mailed.
  • The department should verify funds, gift cards and/or receipts on hand periodically. The total of the documented receipts plus cash and gift cards on hand must always equal the original disbursement fund amount.
  • Discrepancies in the account will be the sole responsibility of the department.
  • The custodian will be sent an electronic notification to their VT email address to view the Accounts Receivable statement from the Office of the University Bursar 1-30 days after the due date of the petty cash fund or approximately 120 days of when the funds were initially requested. The funds must be reimbursed by the due date on the statement.
  • If a participant is paid $100 or more, payment must be made to the participant by check.
  • All human subject payments are potentially taxable to the recipient so tax reporting information is required. Gift cards are viewed as a cash equivalent.
  • If payments to an individual participant exceed $75, it is the department's responsibility to obtain a W-9 (must include the person's social security number) for US tax residents, W-8BEN form for non-US tax residents, Foreign National Data Form for all non-resident aliens. Please refer to the Controller's Office Procedure 23715c for additional information to ensure compliance with the IRS reporting requirements.


For disbursement funds, if a request for petty cash is greater than $500 but less than $2,000, the custodian must store the cash in a departmental safe or open a checking account in the custodian's name by project. If the request for petty cash is $2,000 or more or the cumulative amount of the petty cash assigned to the fund custodian for a project is greater than $2,000, a checking account is required to be opened in the fund custodian's name for the specific project. The account is established using the university's tax ID#. Please contact Pat Oliver or Janet Moran to establish a checking account. If you wish to have other individuals be able to sign a check on the bank account, all of the individuals will be required to sign the checking account signature card. You can have the fund custodian's signature plus an additional of 5 others on the signature card for a maximum of 6 signers. Any subsequent petty cash request for that project should always be in the fund custodian's name (not in one of the other signer's names). When requesting petty cash of $2,000 or more, please make sure to use the correct mailing address on the request form because that is the address where the bank will send monthly bank statements to. If you plan to pay the participants by check, please tell the OUB staff person to order you checks. Checks take about 2 weeks to order and receive in the mail. A charge for the checks will appear on your bank statement when ordered, however the bank is suppose to move that charge to the university's account. Please notify Janet Moran if this charge is not removed by the following month that it appeared.

The monthly maintenance fee for the petty cash checking accounts are not charged to the project or to the department. These fees are paid by the university; however, the cost of overdrafts, if they occur, is the responsibility of the custodian and/or the department. The department has the discretion to pay the fee(s) or to require the custodian to pay the fee(s). A monthly reconciliation of the checking account is required by a departmental staff member who does not handle funds related to the project in order to maintain separation of duties. The Office of Capital Assets and Financial Management may perform an annual audit of checking accounts. Petty cash funds may be used for legal, allowable purchases only. If you have questions about a proposed expenditure, please check with Accounting Services or Purchasing to avoid problems.

OUB reserves the right to deny requests based on the purpose/justification for the request, unauthorized department approval, the amount of the fund, the planned safeguarding of the fund, or any past due, outstanding petty cash balances owed in the fund custodians name, or any past due balances owed the University by the fund custodian. If a request is denied for any reason, a representative from the Office of the University Bursar will notify the individual requesting the fund. It is important to only request the amount of funds that you can use and reimburse in 120 days. If you do not reimburse the amount of petty cash owed back to the university prior to the 120 days, you can be denied additional funds for your project. OUB recommends that the department perform the reimbursement function every month once the checking account has been reconciled. This ensures there will always be money flowing in and out of your petty cash account. Should a petty cash due date need to be extended, the departmental person who has signature authority on the Banner fund or grant should send a written request to Janet Moran stating briefly the reason for the request and the anticipated new date for which the project will end.

Once the University Bursar approves the petty cash request, it is sent to the University Controller's Office for a check to be issued to the fund custodian for amounts less than $2,000. A check may be picked up at the Customer Service Windows of the Office of the University Bursar 5 - 7 days after the request form is submitted. For requests in the amount of $2,000 or greater, once the checking account has been opened, the custodian will be notified by a OUB staff member that the funds have been deposited in the bank account and are available to disburse.

Once the project is complete and the checking account is no longer needed, the custodian must wait until the account balance is zero and then notify Janet Moran by email to close the account. If the project has finished but there are still outstanding uncashed checks, these checks are considered unclaimed property and must be reported as such.

If the project is ongoing and a participant check has not been cashed within 180 days, and the participant cannot be contacted for disposition, the funds must be reported as unclaimed. Contact Susan Edwards for more information regarding the reporting of unclaimed funds.

Petty Cash Disbursement Checking Accounts

  • Checking accounts are required if the amount of funds requested is $2,000 or greater per project. Either as a single request of $2,000 or as a cumulative amount of multiple requests totally $2,000.
  • Checking accounts may be requested for petty cash funds of less than $2,000 if necessary for safeguarding of the funds or if the participant payment is $100 or more
  • Checking accounts can only be established by the Office of the University Bursar
  • When a checking account is required, the fund custodian must sign the bank signature card. OUB staff will ask for a pictured ID to verify the identity of the fund custodian when opening an account. If there is need, other individuals can be authorized to checks on the bank account. These individuals will be required to sign the checking account signature card and to provide a valid pictured ID. You can have the fund custodian's signature plus an additional of 5 others on the signature card for a maximum of 6 signers.
  • Checking accounts are opened with the University's federal tax ID, not with the fund custodian's social security number.
  • If you plan to disburse the participant funds by check, please let OUB staff know to order checks when you open the account. In order to reduce printing costs, personal sized, duplicate checks are the standard order with several colors to pick from.
  • When checks need to be reordered, notify OUB. Please provide the last 4 or 5 digits of the checking account, the custodian's name, the project (grant or fund) number and the starting check number you wish for the new order to begin with.
  • The University will cover the printing charges of checks. The charge will appear on your monthly bank statement; however the charge should be removed the following month. If the charge is not removed, please notify OUB.
  • The University pays the monthly maintenance fee associated with the bank account.
  • The University will not pay for overdraft fees that are the result of the fund custodian's mishandling of the account. The fund custodian is responsible to pay these fees or in some cases the department may pay them.
  • If a check that is issued to a participant is lost, stolen or destroyed, please contact Janet Moran at Janet Moran or Pat Oliver to request a stop-payment be placed on that check. Please be prepared to provide: payee, date of the check, check number, amount, last 4 digits of the checking account, fund custodian name.
  • Safeguard checks and the checking account number to reduce the risk of fraud.
  • Checks should be completed, signed and issued at the time of disbursement. Never sign blank checks and leave them to be completed and disbursed at a later date and time.
  • Never email a full checking account number. When corresponding with the OUB staff, only provide the last 4 or 5 digits, the custodians name and the project (grant or fund) number.
  • The checking account should be reconciled each month.

Purchase Funds

  • Petty cash funds are used to purchase items that are not available through normal purchase channels (P Card or HokieMart). Receipts for purchased items must be submitted monthly to the Controller's Office for reimbursement.
  • The department should verify funds and/or receipts on hand weekly to insure that the amount of the petty cash fund is properly accounted for in its entirety.

Reimbursement of Petty Cash Funds

Disbursement funds should be reimbursed at least every 120 days. However it is recommended that monthly reimbursement be completed for ongoing projects with checking accounts. The checking account reconcilement must be done monthly.

  • If change funds are no longer needed, or if the department wishes to decrease the amount of cash held, the unused funds must be returned the Customer Service Windows of the Office of the University Bursar to reimburse the accounts receivable account in the fund custodian's name. Do NOT deposit the unused funds using a university deposit ticket. Please pay the funds to the accounts receivable account fund under the fund custodian's name.
  • Any unused disbursement funds must be paid back to accounts receivable in the fund custodian's name. Funds can be returned to the Customer Service Windows of the Office of the University Bursar to reimburse the accounts receivable account in the fund custodian's name. Do NOT deposit the unused funds using a university deposit ticket.
  • To reimburse petty cash disbursement funds, departments should complete an internal funding transfer (an ISR) through HokieMart using 905787668 "VT Bursar AR payments" as the vendor. The HokieMart entry must be addressed to the "fund custodian name or Treasurer of Virginia Tech". Documentation supporting the disbursements must be attached to the HokieMart entry. Personal indentifying information (PII) or other sensitive information should not be included (see Standard for Storing and Transmitting Personally Identifying Information).
  • Please refer to the Controller's Office Procedure 23715c for complete instructions.
  • The HokieMart entry records the project expense and initiates the transfer of funds to pay off the Accounts Receivable balance in the custodian's name. Custodians will receive an electronic statement of outstanding accounts receivable balances due and payment recorded.

  • If at any time a cash shortage or discrepancy is noted by the department, contact should be made with the Director of Internal Audit.