University of Minnesota  Administrative Policy

Cash Advances

Policy Statement

The University issues cash advances to employees in support of official University business for a very limited number of business activities. Cash advances should be rare and only issued for the following reasons:

  • Travel
    • Cash advances are limited to $50 per day, plus $100 per trip, per person while in travel status and must meet one or more of the following requirements:
    • Travel will extend longer than fourteen days without returning to employee's University location.
    • Meal and incidental expenses for student group travel. Destination is such that service providers (food, lodging, transportation, supplies) do not accept credit cards for payment (example, cash based economy).
    • The University does NOT provide cash advances for airfare.
  • Non-Travel
    • Cash for research participant payments.
    • Occasional hosting of prospective students, up to $40 per day per student (Chief Financial Managers for each campus or college may set lower limits).

There may be other unique circumstances that a cash advance may be appropriate.  These requests must be submitted to Purchasing Services for review and approval.

The University has other options for payment that should be considered before requesting a cash advance. Some payment options include:

  • University Travel Card
  • University Procurement Card (PCard)
  • Prepaid Debit Card Program
  • Direct payment by the University to a supplier

The following apply if a cash advance is requested.

  • All expenditures must be in compliance with applicable rules, regulations and University policies,
  • As, external research sponsors may have more or less restrictive rules than the University, cash advance requests on sponsored funds must follow the most restrictive applicable policy (University policy or sponsor rules). However, if the sponsor has given prior written approval, expenses generally not allowed on non-sponsored funds may be allowed on sponsored funds.
  • Units or departments must have in place local procedures for secure handling of cash and reconciliation of the cash advance.
  • Cash advance requests should be received by Purchasing Services no earlier than 30 days prior the activity start date.
  • Approved requests will be paid to the employee no earlier than 10 days prior to the activity start date.
  • Cash advances are not issued for $100 or less (Purchasing Services has other options for smaller dollar amounts).
  • Cash advances are limited to a six-month period of time (such as trip or study start/end dates).
    • For trips or activity of longer duration, employees must complete a new cash advance request once the original request has been reconciled and approved.


The employee receiving the cash advance must provide adequate documentation to substantiate the activity in accordance with Administrative Policy: Processing, Documenting, and Approving Financial and Accounting Transactions, and must reconcile and return unused cash within 60 days of the end date of the activity or before the end date of the grant, for sponsored funds, depending on which deadline is sooner. Activity related to cash advances that occurs near the end of the fiscal year should be reconciled in accordance with the year-end accounting calendar to ensure reporting in the correct accounting period.

If expenditures are not properly substantiated or any unspent monies are not returned within the time limits, approvers may choose to deny all or any portion of the expenses submitted and request that the cash advance be paid back to the University by the employee who received the cash advance, either through payroll deduction or the billing process. If for any reason repayment cannot be arranged, the amount(s) in question will be recorded as taxable income to the employee by the department.

Reason for Policy

This policy provides the circumstances where the University will advance cash to employees. This policy establishes controls, accountability, compliance with applicable federal and state laws, and administrative efficiency. This policy is designed to comply with the accountable plan rules of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Treasury Department.


Primary ContactFinancial Helpline612-624-1617[email protected]
Travel Using Sponsored FundsOffice of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA)612-624-5599 612-624-4843
Financial Policy and ProceduresFinancial Helpline612-624-1617[email protected]
Responsible Individuals
Responsible Officer Policy Owner Primary Contact
  • Controller
  • Director of Purchasing Services
  • Beth Tapp
    Director of Purchasing Services


Accountable Plan

An accountable plan is where reimbursements and/or other expense allowance arrangements must meet certain IRS requirements related to business-connection and substantiation, and requires that amounts in excess of substantiated expenses be returned in a timely manner. Amounts paid under an accountable plan are excluded from the individual's income. Reimbursements made that do not meet the requirements of the accountable plan are taxable. A statement regarding your employer's accountable plan is available, should the IRS ask you for such a statement.

Cash Advance

Cash provided to an employee for travel purposes, for human participant payments or other unique circumstances with approval from Purchasing Services.

Expense Report

Document required to account for cash advances.

Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA)

Unit responsible for administering sponsored funds and monitoring compliance with the terms of the grant or contract.

Sponsored Funds

Money received by the University from an external party to fund a sponsored project. Sponsored projects are governed by specific terms and conditions, and are separately budgeted and accounted for in accordance with OMB Uniform Guidance, University policies governing sponsored projects, and/or the terms of the sponsoring entity. Sponsored funds may include money received to fund grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements for research, training, and other public service activities.

Travel Authorization

Document must be prepared and approved prior to processing a cash advance request. The Travel Authorization encumbers funds and is referenced on the Cash Advance and subsequent Expense Reports.

Travel Status

An employee is in travel status when they are on business travel that requires an overnight stay. Travel begins when the employee leaves their home or office for their trip destination.


Certified Approver

For expenses on sponsored funds; reviews travel authorizations and expense reports for accuracy (including accounts being charged), appropriateness and compliance to applicable policies, procedures and Sponsor agreement. Takes action to approve, return, or deny travel authorizations and expense reports based on the review.

Department Approver

Reviews travel authorizations and expense reports related to cash advances for accuracy (including accounts being charged), appropriateness and compliance with applicable policies and procedures. Takes action to approve, return, or deny travel authorizations and expense reports based on the review.


Complies with policy and procedures. Submits request for cash advance and completes expense reports accounting for cash advances. Provides documentation, which includes original receipts, forms and business justifications.


Follows procedures for creating Travel Authorizations, Cash Advances and Expense Reports in the financial system.

Purchasing Services Travel Services Manager

Manages University’s cash advance and travel payment process. Review and approve cash advance requests. Administers University travel programs, negotiates with travel suppliers to ensure the best travel values, and keeps University employees and travel arrangers informed about policies, procedures, contracts, and industry conditions, as necessary. Maintains and updates travel policy, procedures, and communication.



February 2021 - Comprehensive Review:

  • Simplified policy by bringing similar language together and applying it to the entire policy
    • Example: timeframe for a cash advance for travel was six months and that timeframe now applies to all cash advances
  • Added a new section for documentation/reconciliation of cash advances
  • Moved some language about the timeframe to request a cash advance from the procedure to the policy
  • Added new policy language promoting more other payment options that should be considered before requesting a cash advance
  • Added new policy language describing how to request approval for a cash advance that does not meet the general requirements


March 2015 - Extends the deadline from 30 to 60 days to account for a cash advance, to align with Administrative Policy: Traveling on University Business.


December 2014 - Reference to A-21 changed to OMB Uniform Guidance in Definitions.


April 2013 - Minor Revision, Comprehensive Review. Increased cash advances for athletic recruiting from $30.00 to $40.00 per day. Other minor clarifications (without changing meaning) made to policy statement.


September 2011 - Takes cash advance policy provisions from the Traveling on University Business policy and combines it with other cash advance information in this standalone policy. Addresses the five situations in which a cash advance would be allowed. Extends the deadline from 15 to 30 days to account for a cash advance, to provide the individual with more time to submit the required paperwork/documentation.