Carnegie Mellon University

Student Organization Financial Management

As a Carnegie Mellon student organization (org), you have an obligation to manage your finances in order to grow and to maintain the health of your organization. Whether you're a finance whiz or new to the process, the Office Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement (SLICE) has guided resources to support your organization's success.

Contact SLICEfinance@andrew.cmu.edu with specific finance questions for your student organization.


Quick Facts to Get Started

  1. Each student organization has a unique university account referred to as an Oracle account with its own unique Oracle string.
  2. There are several types of accounts that organizations can manage depending on their status within the University, type of allocation, donation, or sponsorship.
  3. Money can only be spent from the organization’s oracle account with an Authorized Signer’s permission.
  4. Each organization is recommended to keep track of all expenditures, reimbursements, and revenue (dues, fundraising, ticket sales, etc.) no matter what account and how the organization is funded.

Understand Your Account Type

Org Accounts

All student organizations have an "Org" account. This is the primary account for most organizations, where JFC allocations, fundraisers and membership dues are deposited. The org account is considered an agency account, and is not included in Carnegie Mellon University’s Financial Statements. Org accounts are still expected to comply with some University policies. However, there are some exceptions. 

JFC allocations come from the student activities fee. It is imperative that student organizations make ethical and responsible choices with how they spend their org funds. These funds are paid for by other CMU students, and the expenses should be reflective of activities that all students would reasonably agree to contribute to the student experience.

Gift Accounts

All student organizations have a gift account. It is important to note that while donations are made to a specific student organization, the funds are included in the Carnegie Mellon Financial Statements, therefore they are subject to Carnegie Mellon University Gift policies and procedures. Gift accounts are where donated funds are deposited. These donations do not require anything in return.

Gift account funds can be spent on items that are in line with the mission of the organization and of Carnegie Mellon. Some restrictions apply including, but not limited to: no transfers to another account; no donations; no housing payments (Greek organizations); no refunds of any sort; no alcohol (unless the Director of SLICE grants an exception); membership dues cannot be made to a gift account, only to an org account.

Other Accounts

Some organizations may have crowdfunding accounts. Crowdfunding is coordinated through the Annual Giving office, and there is a Crowdfunding Annual Application process to have a crowdfunding project and crowdfunding account. Crowdfunding is a way to obtain external donations for projects that benefit the CMU community.

There are restrictions for what can be purchased from a crowdfunding account. Organizations must adhere to the restrictions in their crowdfunding agreement. For more information email Christa Papcunik or call 412-268-2021.

An endowment is a donation of money that is invested, where resulting investment income—“the pay out”—can be spent for a specific purpose. Some organizations have endowed accounts with special restrictions on what can be spent. Each year, SLICE will meet with the Authorized Signers for these organizations to go over the balance and restrictions for these accounts. Any organization that has questions about their endowed account can email SLICE to schedule a Zoom meeting or to ask a question.
Per the Student Government Fiscal Policy, Greek organizations are the only organizations permitted to have external bank accounts. Greek organizations can have these accounts because of their 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Status, at the national level.

The JFC Capital Account is a separate account that holds all organization's capital allocations. Capital expenses are items that will be used over the course of multiple fiscal years. Students will not be able to see the JFC Capital Account on the Bridge. In order to see what money has been approved for capital purchases, students must check their budget to see what was approved for capital purchases. 

Authorized signers will need to submit a JFC Capital Request Form to get approval to use JFC Capital Funds. Attach the approved JFC Capital Form (need link) to the form submitted to SLICE.  

The Carnegie Mellon University threshold for a capital item is $5,000. Depending on the type of expense, students may see an item labeled “capital” on the Bridge.

To protect the interests of student organizations and the university, no student government recognized student organization is permitted to hold an off-campus bank account or an organizational Paypal or Venmo account. Also, students are not allowed to use any application that requires money to be processed through a bank account.

As they maintain external recognition through the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Greek chapters are considered exempt from this policy.

A sponsorship involves obtaining funding or other forms of support for a specific event, project or activity. Sponsors can be considered either qualified or non-qualified. A qualified sponsorship is when the sponsor is not receiving a substantial benefit in return. A non-qualified sponsorship is when the sponsor is receiving advertising and/or a  substantial benefit in return. 

All Sponsorships over $5,000 require a sponsorship agreement because they are usually more complex. SLICE will work with Annual Giving to assist with getting an agreement. Some organizations have sponsorships with restrictions that require a separate account to ensure the funds are specifically spent in accordance with the sponsorship agreement. SLICE can assist with getting a sponsorship account created and making sure the restrictions for these accounts are followed.


Tracking Your Finances

Each organization is recommended to keep track of all expenditures, reimbursements, and revenue (dues, fundraising, ticket sales, etc.) no matter what account and how the organization is funded.

Each organization has a Finance Accounts page on their organization's Bridge webpage. It shows your balance and all your financial transactions for each account.

  • The Bridge Accounts page will be updated approximately three times a month and Authorized Signer will receive an email notification from The Bridge.
  • The Authorized Signer should review the transactions and compare them to their own records. For questions about a particular transaction, email SLICE.

The Authorized Signer should be keeping track of actual vs budgeted expenses and revenue. Using an excel spreadsheet is a helpful tool in tracking financial transactions. Here is an example of a tracking spreadsheet. To use this tracking spreadsheet, be sure to download it as a Microsoft Excel document. 

It is important for the Authorized Signer and Program Planner to work together on event spending and revenue needed in order to stay within budget and spend according to the JFC line items allocated.

While it’s normal for your budget to change and shift throughout the year, as the Authorized Signer, you will have to adjust to cover additional costs or resolve a deficit. Please contact the SBVPF if line items need to be changed.

Purchasing, Spending & Revenue

Once you have a basic understanding of managing your student organization's finances, you can focus your efforts on bringing in revenue, purchasing and spending. 

Training & Materials

At the beginning of the fall or spring semester, student organization leaders wishing to become one of the two members of their organization who are able to sign for their CMU bank accounts (Authorized Signers) can attend SLICE's REACH Training Program. This training must be completed annually. 

Whether you're looking for training or need a finance refresher, the Office of SLICE has official training modules, videos and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs ) to help manage your organization's financial needs. 

View the Finance management FAQ 

Introduction to budgets

introduction to transactions

Traveling & Making Appointments

We want to help you get to where you're going. You can utilize various SLICE services or meet with a staff member to help you navigate your organization's finances.

Making Travel Arrangements

The Office of SLICE has the ability to assist organizations through a scheduled travel appointment with their travel arrangements and to arrange direct payment from your student organization's financial account for automotive transportation, air travel and/or lodging reservations.

IMPORTANT NOTE: SLICE is not taking new reservations at this time. Get more information on COVID-19 University policies and updates.