Petty cash is a small amount of discretionary funds in the form of cash used for expenditures when it is not feasible to make the disbursement by check or electronic funds transfer. The University requires each petty cash fund to have an approved Custodian, who documents expenditures, keeps receipts, and safeguards the funds. Wherever possible, units should use other disbursement methods (i.e., ePayment, GEMS, BuySite, etc.) instead of petty cash. If petty cash is to be used for human subject testing fees on an on-going research project, a separate human subject petty cash account should be established. If the research subject-testing project is a “one-time” event, the Principal Investigator should request a Cash Advance.
Understand appropriate uses of petty cash. Petty cash funds are for non-routine, extraordinary expenditures that cannot be paid through another means. Whenever possible, office supplies or office related expenditures should be processed through ePayment, GEMS, BuySite. Petty cash should not be used as an operating fund, i.e., to pay invoices for goods or services, to pay salaries or wages, or to make advances or loans.
In accordance with Policy 1505, the petty cash fund cannot be used to:
- Purchase goods currently covered by a university negotiated contract.
- Pay travel expenditures, except for local travel under $50.
- Pay personnel services (i.e., typing, photography, entertainers, caterers) that would be considered either wages (Payroll) or Independent Contractor payments (DPV).
- Pay personal loans or salary advances.
- Cash personal or business checks.
- Reimburse an expenditure greater than fifty ($50) dollars ($100 limit for human subject petty cash disbursements).
To learn more about how to request a petty cash, please contact SSD Local Business Center at SSD-LBC@uchicago.edu and the LBC Grant Specialist assigned to your accounts will get in touch with you within two business days.