Finance Guide

Welcome to the Student Organization Finance Guide. Please use the options below to determine the appropriate process(es) to follow when navigating the university finance system.

All student organizations must follow University policies. Included in these policies is the requirement for student organizations to utilize the university financial systems. Student organizations are not permitted to maintain an off-campus account. Each student organization is eligible to open a university account through the university controller that will be managed by the Office of Campus Activities (OCA). This ensures that the University is following all of the appropriate laws regarding non-profit institutions and tax procedures. For information on how to establish a university account, contact OCA at or 202-319-6003.

Expense Procedures

  • Paying for Services

    Paying for Services (Rentals, Speaker Payments, and more)

    If the vendor has their own contract that they provide to you:

    In some cases a vendor will have their own contract that they provide to you. Depending on the nature of their contract the University may agree to use their contract or they may require a University created contract instead of or in addition to the vendor created contract. We can coordinate this information directly with the vendor if this is the case. Please note that these contract negotiations can often take longer than a month to complete so please plan accordingly.

    1. If they have never been paid by the university before, have them also complete the Vendor Application Form for external vendors.
    2. Attach both the vendor application (if applicable) and the vendor provided contract to a completed purchase request in the Nest.

    If the vendor does not have their own contract that they provide to you:

    1. Complete the Standard Performance Contract (for any performances like a dj, band, lecturer, singer, etc.) or the Independent Contractor Agreement (all other services). There are several fields that you must fill out including date and time of performance, how much you are paying them, and how late either party can cancel. Make sure all fields are completed.
    2. Send completed agreement to the performer or speaker and have them sign and return it to you.
    3. If they have never been paid by the university before, have them also complete the Vendor Application Form for external vendors.
    4. Submit a purchase request on the Nest from the account you would like to use to pay the vendor. Make sure to attach the vendor application (if applicable) and whichever contract applies. If the vendor also provides you with an invoice, include that as well. 
    Please Note:
    • Individual or groups contracted by the University through this process are only able to be paid via check, which can take up to a month from the time of submission. Please plan accordingly for this time period.
    • Any contracts submitted after the services have been provided cannot be paid by the University.
    • Students and Advisors MAY NOT under any circumstances sig a contract on behalf of the University. 

    If you are renting equipment or supplies that will be returned to the vendor:

    1. Reach out to the vendor of your choice and ask for a quote for the items/equipment you plan to rent. Make sure the quote includes any rental terms and conditions. Ask if the vendor accepts credit card payment (If the total amount is over $2500 credit card payments are not permitted and you will be required to acquire 2 additional quotes from other vendors to compare). 
    2. Submit a purchase request on the Nest from the account you would like to use to pay the vendor. Attach all quotes received from the selected vendor and any additional quotes from other vendors. 
    Please note:
    • All rental agreements will take approximately 2 weeks to be signed and approved and an additional 2 weeks for payment to be processed. Be sure to plan accordingly based on whether the vendor requires payment in advance or just a signed rental agreement in advance. 

    If the vendor is a University student or employee:

    Any services provided by a student or employee must be paid via payroll. Non-monetary gifts and gift cards are never permitted to be used as a payment for service provided. In order to compensate a student or employee that provides a service to a student organization, submit a purchase request with the information about the student/staff member and contact information for them and OCA will coordinate further with you.

  • Non Service Invoices

    Occassionally you will have an invoice or quote from a company that is not related to a specific service provided. Typically this is for custom goods ordered, but can be for other things like membership dues as well. Please see the information below to determine if this is an appropriate section to use

    • If the vendor provides you both an invoice/quote AND a contract, you must treat this as a service and go through the contract process.
    • If the invoice/quote seems like it might be for a service email to be sure whether this needs to be a contract or not. 
    • If you are able to pay the quote/invoice online, follow the steps for Online Orders below
    • If you are able to pay the quote/invoice over the phone, follow the steps for Phone Orders below
    • If the quote/invoice is over $2500.00 it doesn't matter if the vendor can accept credit card online or over the phone, we will need to follow the steps outlined below.

    Submitting an Invoice/Quote for Payment:

    1. Complete a Purchase Request on the Nest being sure to attach all documentation that you have from the vendor including quotes, invoices, etc. If the cost is over $2500.00 you will also need to provide 2 additional quotes from other vendors for comparison. 
    2. If they have never been paid by the university before, have them also complete the Vendor Application Form for external vendors.
    3. Please note that some vendors require only an authorized purchase order in place before providing the goods, others require payment. A Purchase Order can typically be provided in 1-2 weeks but payment will not be released until approximately 2 weeks after a Purchase Order has been completed. Please plan accordingly for this time delay.
  • In-Person Shopping

    1. Complete a Purchase Request on the Nest indicating the date that you would like to pickup the University credit card to go shopping. Cards will only be provided for the date of purchase and will be expected to be returned to OCA by Noon on the following business day. 
    2. Once you receive confirmation that your purchase request has been approved, you can pickup your credit card on the day that you requested. 

    Some things to note:

    • You will receive an email when your purchase request has been "Approved" which lets you know that a credit card will be available for you on the date that you requested
    • All original receipts from your purchases must be turned in at the same time when you return the card to teh office. If you did not receive a receipt for a purchase, please tell the OCA Consultant where you shopped and approximately how much you spent at that vendor when you return the card.
    • Be as accurate as possible in the purchase request about what you plan to purchase, where you plan to shop, and how much you plan to spend. While that information is still flexible after submission, there may be specific regulations that we will tell you about when you pickup the card based on the information you provide.
    • Remember to use the tax exempt certificate that will be given to you when you pickup the card from OCA. If you do not get a tax exempt certificate, ask upon checkout if you can give them the tax exempt number. The numbers for VA, MD, and DC are all printed on the card itself.
  • Online Orders

    When purchasing supplies and goods for your organization, you may want to place an order online. If this is the case, doing this through OCA instead of with your own credit card will allow for your order to be tax exempt. 

    Option 1 (OCA Purchases For You):

    If you are just ordering a few items from a retailer such as Amazon, or your order is otherwise easily explainable in a purchase request, simply submit a purchase request with all relevant instructions. This can include links to the items you want, a detailed list of what you want, or step by step instructions on how to login to a shopping cart or what customization options you want, etc. Please allow 2-3 business days for OCA to place the order and then of course calculate additional time for shipping as you plan your request.

    Option 2 (You Purchase in OCA):

    If your order is too complex to explain in a purchase request, or you will be required to customize your order during the purchase you or OCA may prefer that you place the order directly using one of our credit cards. Submit a purchase request and include as much detail about what you want to purchase and from where. In addition mention in the comments that you would like to come to OCA to make the purchase yourself. A staff member will contact you to schedule a time for you to come make your purchase with our assistance.

  • Phone Orders

    For Invoices (or other already placed orders):

    Place your order with the vendor ahead of time and explain that a Catholic University staff member will call to pay with a credit card at a later time. Submit a purchase request including any order numbers, invoices, contact information, or anything else needed for us to call and pay and reference your specific order

    For Food Delivery:

    Place your order with the vendor ahead of time. Explain that a Catholic University staff member will call to pay with a credit card at a later time. Submit a purchase request including any order numbers or contact information to reference the existing order. Include the phone number to the company you ordered from and include the details you provided to the vendor regarding delivery location/time. OCA staff will call on the day that delivery is scheduled to complete payment. 

    Your organization will be responsible for collecing the receipt (including writing in tip if applicable) from the delivery driver and are expected to bring the receipt to the OCA office the following business day.

  • Dining Services Catering (Aramark)

    If you are planning an event on campus and would like to use Cardinal Catering, contact the Dining Services office directly to coordinate a quote based on your event needs. Please be sure to communicate with Dining Services if/when you would like to confirm your quote. Upon confirming they will send you an invoice for the order. Please submit a purchase request on the Nest and attach the invoice.

    You do not need to pay Dining Services directly. Submission of the invoice via the Nest will allow for OCA to initiate an internal transfer of funds to pay for your order directly from your organizational account. 

    It is important to keep in mind that if anything changes on your order to communicate with Cardinal Catering staff as soon as possible. 

  • Reimbursements

    Under limited circumstances your organization may have a member pay out of pocket for an expense that you would like to reimburse them for. The University is under no legal obligation to reimburse any student organization member for any purchases made so please use this option only as a last resort. 

    Original Receipts: If your reimbursement includes any original receipts (cash register, receipt book, etc.) please note that in addition to including a scanned/photo copy of them on your Nest purchase request, you will be required to turn those in directly to OCA before your reimbursement can be processed.

    Fiscal Year: The University has strict guidelines on reimbursements across fiscal years. The University fiscal year ends every year on April 30th. In order to be reimbursed for any purchases made in one fiscal year the request must be submitted in a timely fashion. There is a very small grace period in early May for reimbursements to be submitted and those deadlines will be communicated to student organizations throughout April, but once that grace period has finished there will be no exceptions made.

    • If you would like to forward electronic receipts to OCA in lieu of or in addition to attaching them to your purchase request you can send them to and note the purchase request number in your email.
    • If you have never received a reimbursement from the University, please also submit a Vendor Application Form
    • If the reimbursement is for a group activity or meal, please include in your purchase request, a list of all people in attendance

    Travel Reimbursements:

    • Take note of all bullet points above as well as additional points related just to travel reimbursements below
    • In addition to receipts you will also need to complete a Travel Expense Report, print it out, sign it, and then attach a scan/photo of it to your purchase request. 
    • Gas Reimbursement
      • University Owned or Rented Vehicle - You should include gas paid for these types of vehicles in the "Rental Auto" section
      • Personal Vehicle - The University does not reimburse specifically for gas in a personal vehicle. Instead they reimburse up to a mileage rate. Please use the "Personal Auto" spread sheet to calculate the maximum reimbursement the owner of the vehicle is eligible to receive. You may choose to use a smaller amount in the final spreadsheet if you'd like to only reimburse a partial amount. 
  • Gift Cards

    The University does not allow the purchase of gift cards or gift certificates directly from an outside vendor to be used as prizes, giveaways, or compenstation except in very rare circumstances. We do however have an internal process that allows student groups to distribute Visa Gift Cards as prizes for events or gifts for individuals. 


    • Gift Cards on hand only come in increments of $10, $25, and $50. Other increments may be available, but would likely require advance notice of at least 2 weeks. Multiple gift cards can however be combined to meet your desired amount.
    • Gift Cards can neverbe provided as compenstation for employment or service providing of any kind. They can be offered as awards for outstanding service, prizes for an event, or another accomplishment.
    • Gift Cards will not be available at the event as they must be distributed directly from the Office of Campus Activities to the person receiving the gift card. Recipients must be informed that they will be notified by OCA with instructions for picking up their gift cards.

    If you would like to request gift cards for a purpose that meets the above stipulations, please submit a purchase request on the Nest. If you already know who you would like to give the gift cards to, please include that information in the purchase request. If you are requesting gift cards to be used as prizes for a future event, you will need to email OCA after the event to notify them of the final receipient list. 

  • Donations

    The Student Activity Fee cannot under any circumstances be used as a donation. In order to donate money from your student organization to a charitable cause, you must raise the money through sources external from Treasury Board (ex. Fundraising, Benefit Events, etc.)

    • Retain records of fundraising deposits to your student organization account. In order to make a donation, you must have enough money in your fundraised account on the Nest equal to or exceeding what you wish to donate. If you do not have copies of your deposit receipts, can assist.
    • Complete a Purchase Request using whichever payment method is necessary for the donation (online, over the phone, invoice, etc.) and include in the purchase request all applicable documents, notes, instructions, etc. If a check needs to be mailed please include a Vendor Application Form completed by the organization.
  • Interdepartmental Transfers

    If you ever need to pay a campus department or another student organization for services, items purchased on your organization's behalf, or to support a co-sponsored event, you can pay them via an interdepartmental transfer. For any transfers from your organization account into another Catholic University account, please complete a Purchase Request on the Nest. Include in the comments section any details about the transfer to department including relevant account information and/or contact information for the department.

Travel Procedures

  • Air, Bus, or Train Travel

    When air travel is the best option for your team or group leaders to travel to a competition or conference, please follow one of the following options (based on the number of people traveling). Contact OCA if you have any questions throughout this process.

    Online Reservations - For an individual traveling alone or a small group of individuals traveling together, your organization is more than welcome to use the OCA university travel credit cards on websites or airline websites to book air travel. If you are interested in using this method be sure to note the details below:

    • Submit a purchase request detailing how many flights you wish to reserve, including dates, airports, flight numbers, and airlines as well as full names and birthdates of all travelers. OCA will approve your purchase request and reserve the flights within 3 business days. Please be aware that flight prices may fluctuate in this time.
    • If you prefer to choose flights and book them based on current prices and availability, submit your purchase request with all details and specify a time/date you are available to come into OCA to reserve the flights with a university travel credit card.
    • Forward all flight reservation receipts to

    Group Airline Reservations - Many airlines provide special rates to groups of 10 or more. Research flight prices as you would normally for individual flights to select the flights that work for your times and locations. Then contact the Group Sales division of the airline. They will provide you with a quote that will expire after a determined time period. Submit that as a purchase request immediately to ensure that OCA can book the travel before it expires.

    If you are interested in using this process note the following:

    • You MUST tell them that in addition to you making changes that Megan Reilly must also be listed as a person who is authorized make changes and get information about the group agreement.
    • Once you receive the group travel information from the airline, review the trip itinerary and prices IMMEDIATELY. Often times group travel agreements have deadlines that leave very little time for processing and require immediate review.
    • Please note that same day booking is often not possible with group airline reservations, and 2-3 weeks is requested, but OCA will be flexible and work hard to meet the airline's deadline, as long as you submit the paperwork immediately.

    Train Travel

    If you are traveling within a distance that can be reached by train, follow the same process as the Online Reservations process for air travel.

    Bus Travel

    If you are traveling within a distance that can be reached by bus, follow the same process as the Online Reservations process for air or train travel.

    If your team or organization would like to rent an entire bus for a tournament, competition, or other student organization related travel, please complete the Transportation Request Form.

  • Car Rentals and Traffic Violations

    CU has coordinated discounted rates and rental agreements with NextCar rental company in Wheaton, MD. These must be requested through the Nest form (link at the bottom of this page) and booked by an OCA staff member. Please provide at least 3 business days prior to the rental for review and booking, although earlier is better to ensure availability.

    Enterprise is no longer an option for rentals as they have changed their policies and do not allow for drivers under 25

    NextCar of Wheaton
    10915 Georgia Avenue
    Wheaton, MD 20902

    Please be aware of the following policies for each of these locations:

    • All drivers must complete the CU Vehicle Certification Process
    • All drivers must be at least 18 to drive the vehicles
    • Nextcar does allow for after hours return, so you do not need to pay for an additional day if you need to return it late
    • Payment will be coordinated directly with OCA and the company, and you will see it reflected in your Nest account within 2-3 business days

    The following approximate DAILY rates are available for student organizations: (does not include rental fees)

    Compact Car $30.00
    Standard Size Car $33.00
    Full Size Car $40.00
    Regular SUV (eg. Traverse - Seats 7) $65.00
    XL SUV (eg. Suburban - Seats 8)
    **Only available to drivers over 21
    Minivan $60.00
    12 Passenger Van $115.00
    Pickup Truck $45.00
    Cargo Van $55.00

    Traffic Violations in Rental Vehicles

    If you are driving a rented vehicle and you get pulled over for a traffic violation or caught on a speeding or red light camera, the driver will be held individually responsible. However, since the university credit card on file with a rental vehicle is automatically charged in the case of camera tickets, these funds will automatically be taken from the organization's fundraised account. If this happens, the leaders of the organization and the driver whose name is on the reservation will be given the choice to allow the use of money from the organization's fundraised account to pay the fee or make you pay individually for your ticket. If an individual decides to pay the ticket, the amount of the ticket must be paid to OCA and it will be deposited into the fundraised account to cover the prior loss. If you have any questions about tickets incurred on student organization travel, please contact to set up a time to discuss.

  • Hotel Reservations

    Direct Hotel Reservation

    Most hotels will allow you to book rooms with them directly allowing you to cancel the reservation up until a day or two before check-in. When making direct hotel reservations, please consider the following:

    • If you call the hotel directly to setup your reservation, you can use the Phone Orders instructions above. Please note that if you do this you will need to provide a credit card to hold the reservation. Confirm with the hotel that they will not charge the card until check out to be sure you will not be charged for the room.
    • If you setup the reservation through the hotel's direct website, you can use the Online Orders instructions above.
    • Once the reservation is set up either over the phone by your organization or by OCA, the OCA staff will contact the hotel and provide them with a University Credit Card to replace the one that was used to hold the room.
    • Your group is responsible for collecting the receipt from the hotel upon checkout and returning it to OCA as soon as possible (within 1 business day). You can also email (or ask the hotel to email) an electronic copy of the receipt to
    • This method is not the best method to use if you are reserving a room for an outside guest like a performer or lecturer due to possible complications with the credit card being held on file.

    Travel Website (Orbitz,, Expedia, etc.)

    If you would prefer to use a travel website to book your room(s) because you have found a better rate or other reasons, you can simply follow the steps in the Online Orders instructions above. There are a few things to consider when using this process:

    • This method is generally non-refundable and reservations are generally unable to be canceled. However, some websites like Expedia will note when a room has free cancellation and when the last day to cancel may be (usually 24 or 48 hours before check-in).
    • This is the preferred method to use if you are reserving a room for an outside guest like a performer or lecturer as the reservation is confirmed and paid in advance.
    • This may be the best option for traveling with a group to a conference or event out of town as it can be confirmed and paid in advance.

How to Complete Forms

  • Purchase Request

    • Log in to The Nest and go to your organization's page.
    • Select "Manage Organization," and click on the "Finance" tab under the left toolbar menu. If you do not have access to this menu, contact your organization president or primary contact on the Nest to give you access.
    • Click on the blue button that says "Create Purchase Request" and complete the request. If you need assistance with any of the fields, follow the instructions in blue or contact one of the Campus Activities Consultants in our office.

    Complete a Purchase Request in The Nest instructions

    Complete a Purchase Request in The Nest instructions

    Complete a Purchase Request in The Nest instructions

    Complete a Purchase Request in The Nest instructions

  • Travel Expense Report

    Please follow these steps to complete the Travel Expense Report for all travel related reimbursements. To assist with completing this form please refer to Student Organization Online Finance Guide.

    Travel Dates: Include all dates of travel, even if nothing was purchased on those dates.

    Traveler's Name: Include the person's full legal name.

    Campus Address: If the traveler does not live on campus, write their off-campus mailing address instead. If they live on campus, include residence hall and room number.

    Chartfield: Leave this part blank. OCA will complete it with your organization's account number.

    Business Purpose of Travel: Reason for travel - if this was a tournament, conference, or competition, include the name of the event and the organization who sponsored it.

    Attached Organized Receipts: Fill in the chart with applicable charges by date across the top of the table. Do not change any of the totals in the yellow "Total" boxes as these will autopopulate.

    Personal Auto: The University does not reimburse specifically for gas in a personal vehicle. Instead they reimburse up to a mileage rate. Please use the "Personal Auto" spread sheet to calculate the maximum reimbursement the owner of the vehicle is eliglble to receive. You may choose to use a smaller amount in the final spreadsheet if you'd like to only reimburse a partial amount. 

    Meals: If you are being reimbursed for travel meals, fill out the table under "Personal Travel Meals" and complete the "Date" and "Cost" columns. In the "Meal" column, write Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner to categorize each meal. These are based on per person rates, so if you are reimbursing meals, please also include an attendance list.

    Signature: Have the traveler sign and date the form (can be typed) and save and attach the form to your purchase request.

Deposit Procedures

  • Cashbox Distribution

    • Submit Cashbox Request Form (at least 2 business days prior to first needed date).
    • Once approved, your organization may pick up the cashbox from OCA on the day requested.
    • Return Cashbox and all money (including any starting balance provided by OCA) to OCA each day. If your organization is pausing sales, but will be selling later in the same day, OCA will hold the cashbox for you until the next sales time.

    If you are depositing after OCA is closed, follow instructions inside the lid of the cashbox or ask someone at the Pryzbyla Center Info Desk to help you return a cashbox to OCA.

  • Other Deposits

    Please note if you would like to deposit ANY donations you MUST also submit the donor's name and address. For checks, this should be pre-printed on the check or handwritten on an envelope. Donations cannot be processed without this information. If cash is donated and donor would like a donation receipt for tax purposes, we will need the name and address of the donor.

    • Bring all cash, checks, and credit card forms to the OCA office immediately. Do not hold onto deposits for more than 1 day.
    • OCA will process the deposit for you. You may request a copy of the receipt, which can be emailed after it is cleared with the Cashier's Office.
    • You should see the balance of deposits reflected in the Nest in your Fundraised account within 3-business days of dropoff as well (unless the funds were specifically designated to be deposited into a different account).

Undergraduate Funding Opportunities

  • Treasury Board Funding Request

    Requesting Funds from Treasury Board

    The Treasury Board of Directors meets once a week throughout the academic year to hear requests from student organizations and groups of students looking for funding. It is the job of the board to hear presentations on these requests, discuss as a group, then vote on how much to fund for each particular request from the overall Student Activity Fee.

    If you would like to request funds for your organization or event, follow the following steps:

    • Log in to The Nest, go to your organization's page, select "Manage Organization," and click on the "Finance" tab under the left toolbar menu. If you do not have access to this menu, contact your organization president or primary contact on the Nest to give you access.
    • Click on the blue button labeled "Create Funding Request."
    • Fill out the following information. The sections in blue are instructions for how to complete the request.
    • Once you have completed the form, go to SGA website to schedule a presentation with the Treasury Board. Your request will not be reviewed unless you present to the Board. You must make this appointment and submit your request at least 5 days before your presentation time (i.e. the board meets on Monday nights, so your request must be submitted no later than Wednesday night).

    Create Funding Request instructions

    Create Funding Request instructions

    Create Funding Request instructions

    Create Funding Request instructions

  • Fundraising Ideas

    Alumni Connections, Friends, and Family: Alumni who were involved in your organization during their time at CU is a great source of fundraising, especially if you have a goal that will grow the organization or make someone proud to donate. Many CU alumni, parents, families, and friends already donate to the university, but if you ask, they can make their normal donations and specify that your organization receives those funds. If you have an alumni or parent newsletter that you already send, include a blurb about donating to the school and designating their gift to your organization. If you don't have a newsletter or even the contact information of alumni, it may make sense to start reaching out and building that list. Start with the most recent graduating class and ask if they can invite members they knew in years ahead of them.

    Local Restaurants: The local Potbelly and Chipotle, as well as other nearby restaurants often do fundraisers on behalf of student organizations, especially service organizations. If you aren't sure if a restaurant does fundraisers, a good rule of thumb is: it doesn't hurt to ask.

    Other Organizations on Campus: Do you see another organization on campus doing a great job with fundraising? Ask them about their best methods and what they suggest for an organization just starting out.

    Sales: Bake sales! Tshirt sales! Holiday gift sales! Krispy Kreme donut sales! You name it. Think back to your childhood school fundraisers and see what you can come up with.

    Tell us yours!

    Does your organization have a great fundraising idea that has been successful? Tell us about it and we'll post it here for other orgs to utilize! Email your ideas at

    Need Seed Money?

    If your organization has an idea for a fundraiser, but needs to purchase something in order to hold the fundraiser (i.e. you want to sell something, but have to buy them upfront), present to the Treasury Board for a seed money loan. You will be responsible for returning whatever you borrow, but anything you make beyond that amount is yours to keep. For example, if you borrow $100 to buy mugs to sell and make $300 selling them, you must return the $100 but you can keep the remaining $200.