GSG Finance Policies
(Updated as of July 2017)
Completing Campus Activities’ campus recognition process is MANDATORY for organizations to receive GSG funding.
Completing the Online GSG Finance Orientation is MANDATORY for organizations to receive GSG funding. All applicants from Recognized Student Organizations MUST complete the orientation.
Sometimes new USC policies require us to add, remove, or change our GSG Finance Policies. Any changes to GSG Finance Policies are supported by GSG and Campus Activities, and are communicated directly to Senators and through all available media streams. Organizations are responsible for following said media streams, as recommended by GSG, and for holding Senators responsible for conveying vital information. Keep in mind that not all events are guaranteed funding if they have been funded in the past. Policies change over time, so only applications for events that adhere to the current Finance Policies will be considered.
Recognized Student Organization (RSO): status obtained by completing the Recognition process through Campus Activities. ALL organizations must have this status to request funding.
Umbrella Organization: overarching organization representing the majority graduate student population within a school/department. Umbrellas have direct access to Organizational Funding.
Sub-Umbrella Organization: smaller organizations within the same school/department with more specific interests than the general Umbrella Organization. Sub-Umbrellas are organized under their respective Umbrellas and have access to Organizational Funding through their Umbrellas.
Independent Organization: an organization which is not associated with an individual school/department, and which therefore does not fall under an Umbrella Organization. Independent Organizations do not have access to Organizational Funding. (Ex. religious groups, cultural groups, common interest groups).
Internal Requisition (IR): payment process used within USC (USC Transportation, USC Express Catering, The Lab, USC departments, etc.). IRs are available any time before an event, so early application is encouraged. An IR is a physical, signed piece of paper to be picked up from the GSG office within two weeks of notification. These physical IRs hold monetary value and act as your payment. All IRs will be marked as “not to exceed” (NTE), which prevents USC vendors from charging over the approved amount.
Purchase Order (PO): payment process to external businesses in contract with USC. POs are only accepted by approved vendors in contract with USC. Vendors are managed by the USC Purchasing Office, which may be contacted for information. POs are electronic transactions for which a PO# is generated in either an email or through fax directly to the vendor. Organizations are also provided with the PO# through email for confirmation.
Purchase Card (P-Card): Credit card used for Smart and Final purchases only, managed by Finance Interns.
Organizational Fund Distribution Program (OFDP) Agreement: A form to be submitted by Umbrella Organizations which enrolls them into the GSG OFDP Program. Through this program, GSG provides pre-approved Umbrella Organizations with their designated Organizational Funds, via a lump sum disbursement to the advising department, at the beginning of the fall semester.
Intent to Use Form: A form available on the GSG website for Umbrella Organizations to complete expressing the intent to use organizational funds. This form must be submitted in the first two weeks of the spring semester or the funds will be forfeit. This form does not apply to other organization types or funding sources.
Budget Application: an online form to be submitted 6 weeks in advance to request funding for an event. It must include amount requested, event description, line items with costs, in addition to other details. One Budget Proposal must be submitted for EACH proposed event.
Expense Request: an online form to be submitted after approval of the Budget Application and 3 weeks in advance of the event. One Expense Request per each vendor is required.
Post-Event Form: an online form to be submitted within 5 business days after the event to document event attendance and success, and to provide all receipts, invoices, and memos.
Vendor Quote: a formal statement from a vendor to supply goods or services at a specified price within a given period. A quote must be submitted with an Expense Request for any vendor, summarizing the items and expected costs in advance of purchase. Sometimes a quote will be issued as an initial Invoice, which should be submitted with the Expense Request as a quote and afterwards submitted as a final Invoice if nothing changed.
Receipt: Proof of payment listing items purchased, item costs and total cost. Traditional receipts are required for Smart&Final purchases, and purchases made through departments to non-approved vendors to justify use of an IR to the department. Budget Application ID# must be written in a visible place. It is recommended that you keep all original receipts.
Invoice: an itemized bill for goods sold or services provided, containing individual prices, the total charge, and the terms. An invoice must be submitted according to Purchasing Office criteria for the exact amount requested from GSG or less. The Invoice must include the following information: “Invoice” as the heading; invoice#; invoice date; vendor’s name, address, phone#, and logo; Payable to USC; your budget application#; your PO#; itemized with a final total. An initial invoice may be provided as a quote, but a final invoice is required to finalize payments.
Student Affairs VP Approval Form: a form to be submitted with the Budget Application for any entertainment related purchases (ex. USC Ticket Office) and for any speaker gift or prize over $75.
Prize/Gift Memo: a form to be submitted within 5 business days after the event with recipient names and USC student ID#s if available.
Department Approval Memo: a written letter from the respective department(s) to be provided with the Budget Application for any events taking place during finals week, stating that the events will not interfere with exam days.
Discretionary Fund: calculated at $4 per student per year. This Fund is open to all organizations for events and is available on a first-come-first-served basis. Events must be advertised through GSG as open to all USC graduate students, and include the GSG logo on promotional material.
Organization (Umbrella) Fund: calculated at $16 per student per year, based on reported enrollment numbers from the previous Academic Year. Only fee-paying graduate students count toward enrollment numbers, only for the programs represented by an Umbrella Organization (there may be multiple Umbrella Organizations in one school). This Fund can be used for “closed” events exclusive to the Umbrella Organization’s student population. Sub-Umbrellas may only access this Fund by requesting an allocation from their respective Umbrellas.
Joint Fund: calculated at $2 per student per year. This Fund is open to all events organized by two or more organizations from two or more distinct schools/departments, and is available on a first-come-first-served basis. (Ex. approved, Chemistry Org partners with History Org; Ex. denied, two Law sub-Umbrella Orgs partner). Joint events with other institutions (Ex. UCLA) are also considered, but are funded based on USC graduate student attendance only. Events must be advertised through GSG as open to all interested USC graduate students, and include the GSG logo on promotional material.
Volunteer Fund: calculated at $2 per student per year. This Fund is open to all organizations for volunteer or community service events, and is available on a first-come-first-served basis. Events funded by this funding source must be advertised through GSG as open to all interested USC graduate students, and include the GSG logo on promotional material.
Social Justice Fund: calculated at $2 per student per year. This Fund is open to all organizations for social justice related events, and is available on a first-come-first-served basis. This Fund is meant for advocacy on behalf of underrepresented/marginalized groups. Events funded by this funding source must be advertised through GSG as open to all interested USC graduate students, and include the GSG logo on promotional material.
Sustainability Fund: calculated at $2 per student per year. This Fund is primarily used for a Green Fund at USC in conjunction with Undergraduate Student Government and University Administration (who contribute funds). Each group has representation on a committee that approves sustainability-related proposals. Apply directly to the Sustainability Office.
Blue Probationary List: if all receipts, Invoices, Honorarium or prize recipient information are not provided within 5 business days after an event takes place, the organization is placed on this list, barring any immediate funding.
Black Probationary List: if the abovementioned documents are not provided within 10 business days after an event takes place, the organization moves to the Black List, prohibiting all funding to that organization for the semester following the offense (if Black Listed spring semester, the organization is barred from funding for the following fall semester).
Fiscal Year: a defined 12 month period for budgeting, accounting, and tax purposes. USC’s Fiscal Year runs from July 1 to June 30. GSG Funding runs by the same period, so funding is available starting July 1 and ending June 30. Funding resets at the start of a new Fiscal Year, so previous Fiscal Year balances are not transferable to the new Fiscal Year balances.
General Application Policies
- All organizations must be recognized by the USC. Refer to Campus Activities for Recognition requirements.
- All applicants MUST complete the Finance Orientation to apply for funding.
- Umbrella Organization Senators MUST attend all Senate Meetings or provide a proxy when needed. Umbrella Organizations will receive a warning if a Senator is not fulfilling his or her duties, and Organizational Funding may be withheld due to multiple offenses.
- A Sub-Umbrella may access Organizational Funds through its respective Umbrella: if the Umbrella is part of OFDP, allocation is handled directly by the Umbrella’s department; otherwise, the Umbrella must apply on behalf of the Sub-Umbrella. A Sub-Umbrella cannot apply for Organizational Funds directly.
- Organizations may request IRs to their respective departments to cover payments for FMS, speaker fees, and other expenses. Such requests must abide by general funding policies, the application deadlines and Post-event requirements.
- FMS charges can only be paid through IR to an organization’s advising department. Invoices must be submitted when available.
- For an Honorarium request covering a speaker fee (defining travel/lodging/service fees), GSG will only accept an IR to the respective USC department as payment. The department is responsible for conferring proper payment to the speaker. GSG is not responsible for Kuali entries or direct payments to speakers. All deadlines and post-event requirements apply.
- An organization may apply for an Open IR, which is an IR that pertains to events that take place over multiple dates. Open IR’s are ideal for recurring meetings, or multi-day events such as conferences or symposiums. Budget applications should reflect the number of events and dates. One expense request per vendor is required, but must be marked as an Open IR. A post-event form must be submitted after EACH event.
- All Budget Applications and Expense Requests must be submitted in completion, without significant errors. Erroneous/incomplete applications will automatically be rejected. Email notification will be sent for all approved and rejected applications.
- All funding applications must be submitted as per the Funding Deadlines:
Budget Proposals AT LEAST 6 weeks in advance of the event;
Expense Requests AT LEAST 3 weeks in advance of the event;
Post-Event Form within 5 business days after the event.
- Once per week, the Finance Committee reviews Budget Applications under $1000 and the GSG Administrative Team reviews Budget Applications over $1000. Expect a decision one week, no more than two weeks, after submission.
- Budget Applications and Expense Requests are not processed during University holidays, winter break, spring break, study days or final exam days.
- Budget Applications which do not satisfy deadlines will be denied.
- Expense Requests which do not satisfy deadlines will be rejected and the approved funding forfeited.
- Post-Event Forms which do not satisfy deadlines will result in delayed or rejected payments, and/or probation.
- An organization with a rejected application may resubmit a revised application or request to present its case. The request must be submitted to the Director of Finance – Education and Approvals (firstname.lastname@example.org) within 5 business days from the time the organization is informed of the rejection.
- Smart and Final appointments must be scheduled with Finance Interns 7 business days in advance with reference to the Student Organization, Budget Application ID# and Expense Request ID#.
- Interns will not allow overspending or purchase of inappropriate items.
- Missed appointments will result in forfeit of the approved funding. Multiple offenses may result in probation from future use of the P-card.
- Physical IRs must be picked up from the GSG office within two weeks of notification or the funding may be forfeit.
- Within the first two weeks of the spring semester, Umbrella Organizations must submit an Intent to Use form to utilize any remaining Organizational Funds.
- For events taking place during study days or final exams, a statement from a department administrator must be provided with the Budget Application indicating that exams will not be interrupted.
- Budget Applications for summer events taking place through June 30th must be submitted by April 8th. Expense Requests must be submitted by April 27th.
- All payments must be finalized (final receipts and paperwork turned in) by June 1st to be processed before the fiscal year ends on June 30th. This may require pre-payment for any summer events that take place after June 1st.
- Events that take place after June 30th occur in the new fiscal year. As of now, GSG funding for events taking place between June 30th and the first day of the fall semester is not available.
- A Post-Event form must be submitted within 5 business days. If all required information is not provided within the deadline, the organization will be placed on the Blue Probationary List. Failure to turn in required documents within 10 business days will put the organization on the Black Probationary List.
- Deadlines are absolute, based on time required for the Finance Directors and Interns to correct any errors or provide additional information that the Financial and Business Services Office requests.
If an organization fails to adhere to deadlines or application requirements, GSG is not responsible for premature or personal payments by the organization to vendors. GSG does not honor reimbursements or cover late fees, cancellation fees, or overages.
Appropriate Use of Funds
- Events funded by GSG, except by Organizational Funds, must: be open to all graduate students; be advertised on the GSG calendar; have the GSG logo on all promotional materials.
- Events funded by GSG, including by Organizational Funds, must: abide by allocation rules; use funds for services, venues, and perishable/non-permanent items only (food is perishable and is permitted).
Note: Organizations cannot purchase raw food items for “homemade” meals. University policy dictates that food items must be prepared in certified kitchens.
- No Funds, including Organizational Funds, may be used for: hotel accommodations; retreats; refundable deposits; printing costs (except student publications, ex. magazine); school-related supplies (ex. ink, laptops, etc.); clothing or other permanent items (ex. sweatshirts, mugs, graduation gifts, etc.); gift cards; executive meetings; alcohol.
- GSG funding cannot be used for events at private residences. Only institutional or public venues are appropriate.
- If an event requires an entrance or additional fee, said fee cannot bar graduate students from accessing the items or services funded by GSG. This also applies to venue space.
- Use of external venues or services may require contracts, which must be signed by a Campus Activities administrator and submitted along the Expense Request.
- GSG has the right to attend/audit any event using GSG funds.
- Violation of GSG or University policies will result in probation or other consequence deemed appropriate by the Finance Committee. Note that GSG is a body under the office of Student Affairs, which may deliver further disciplinary action for policy violations.
General Funding Allocations
- The Finance Committee will only consider the expected number of program fee-paying graduate student attendees when allocating funds. The only exceptions are the Volunteer and Social Justice Funds, which fund all attendees.
- An organization can receive a maximum amount of $2,500 per semester from each funding source, except Organizational Funds.
- An organization cannot reallocate funds from one semester to the other (ex. use the $2500 from fall towards the spring semester for an event worth $5000), unless the Director of Finance – Education and Approvals receives notification at the start of the fall semester that such reallocation is necessary for large-scale events. This prevents overuse of funding sources during any one semester.
- Organizational Funds are available to Umbrella Organizations only at $16 per enrolled student per year for the respective degree programs they represent (numbers are based on previous year’s enrollment for convenience).
- Umbrella Organizations may allocate Organization Funds to Sub-Umbrella Organizations either by the OFDP or by directly applying on behalf of the Sub-Umbrellas.
- GSG Finance expects organizations to track their own funding responsibly throughout the year. Organizations can request their balances from the Directors of Finance, but will only receive notification directly from GSG Finance once balances have been maxed.
- Unused Funds must be returned to the University at the end of each of the Spring Semester. To ensure that GSG Funding is allocated fairly and efficiently, all Umbrella Organizations must submit an Intent to Use form by the second week of the Spring Semester or their Organizational Funds will be forfeit. This ensures that our budget more accurately reflects used and available funds in anticipation of the end of the Fiscal Year.
- Meal Allocation Maximums:
- Breakfast (8am – 11am): $8/person
- Lunch (11am – 4pm): $16/person
- Dinner (4pm – 8pm): $16/person
- Snacks (ex. Coffee/Tea/Pastries): $5/person
- Multiple meals may be requested for events that extend across mealtimes (ex. symposium runs from 9am-4pm, may request breakfast and lunch)
- Snacks may be requested in addition to a meal.
- Prize Allocation Maximums:
- Up to $150 per event
- Any one prize over $75 requires a VP Approval Memo
- Honorarium Allocation Maximums:
- $1000 cap per year for speaker fees/gifts
- Can only be used for student-run events, NOT department events (cannot be used to supplement department speaker series)
- Thank-you gifts from the USC Bookstore are most common and fastest
- Speaker fees may only be paid for by IR to department (the department is responsible for paying the speaker)
- Transportation Maximums:
- Buses: $25 per person (Must be USC Transportation or Approved Vendor)
- USC Parking passes: minimum $50, maximum $300
- Other transportation, such as air fare, Uber, etc., is not supported.
- Other Maximums:
- Ex. Venue, Rentals, Services
- No more than $16 per person
- All defined allocations are subject to evaluation. The overall cost of the event, if multiple funding sources or line items are requested, is taken into consideration to prevent overfunding. A simple “rule of thumb” to follow is to request funding for no more than $30 per person per event in accumulative costs.