Paying Student Organization Expenses

Purchasing basics for student groups

Handling payments within the university financial environment requires preparation. There are standardized processes and timelines that must be followed, so it’s important to plan ahead for group expenses:

  • Most purchases will require an approval signature. Are your group’s approval records current? Whenever your advisor or group officers change, you’ll need to send an updated Student Organization Expenditure Authorization to Accounts Payable. If you’re unsure who should be approving your expenses, contact Accounts Payable to confirm.
  • And while we’re on the subject of signatures…please be aware that students are not permitted to sign contracts with performers, sound/light companies, photographers, DJs, speakers or any other provider. Even verbal agreements can often be binding. Contract assistance is available through the Office of Student Engagement. For more information about student organizations and vendor contracts, visit this page.

  • Your funding source may determine how much you’re able to spend. SBAC and the Student Activity Fee have guidelines for the types of purchases allowed and the amounts that can be spent on certain types of expenses. Consult with your advisor or Student Government representative if you’re unsure if your purchase will be permitted.
  • What payment method do you plan to use? What will your vendor accept? Many expenses can be easily paid using the Declining Balance Card program (detailed below); however the DB card program requires a training course in order to request use of a card. Group members who plan to make purchases should complete the training course early in the semester.
  • Whatever payment method your vendor requests, it’s always better to avoid spending your personal funds. Reimbursement is the most time-consuming and least convenient method available.
  • Being a good steward of your group’s budget means shopping around for the best price and avoiding last-minute purchases that could result in rush fees or additional shipping.

The Declining Balance Card Program

The easiest and quickest method of paying student organization expenses is the Declining Balance Card (DB card). Students should use this method to make payments whenever possible.

To become a user of the DB Card program, students must login to Sakai to complete a 20-30 minute online training and assessment. If you have questions about DB card training, contact

Once trained, students are able to submit a funding request related to their SAF or DCF allocation.

The advantages of using the DB card include:

  • Easy payment process at local retailers
  • Ability to purchase supplies and make payments online
  • Decreased paperwork related to making payments
  • No use of students personal funds for event expenses

For more information about the DB card, contact

Paying by Invoice

Many vendors provide an invoice as a means of requesting payment. Any invoices received by your student organization should be prepared for payment by adding a complete business purpose, the appropriate budget codes and your advisor and/or officers’ approval signatures.

Payees who have never been paid by WFU or who haven’t been paid in the past year will probably need to submit a W-9 form along with the invoice. You can learn more about W-9 forms in the green sidebar called “Forms”.

Please note that it can take over 45 days for payment of an invoice after we’ve sent it to WFU Financial Services; therefore invoices should be turned in for payment as soon as possible after you receive them.

Elements of an Acceptable Invoice

An acceptable invoice must display the word “INVOICE” somewhere on the document.

In addition, an invoice will typically include elements such as:

  • Business name and address
  • Invoice date
  • Invoice number
  • Details about the service provided or items purchased
  • Service dates
  • Amounts charged for sales tax or other fees, such as shipping
  • Total amount due
  • Payment terms

View a larger example

When submitting an invoice or Expenditure Voucher for payment to Accounts Payable, you will need to include the appropriate codes to categorize your expense. Good coding will usually need to include the:

  • Fund (usually 111111 or an Agency fund number, if applicable)
  • Department (or Organization) code (for most student groups, this is your SBAC number beginning with 129xxx)
  • Account (a five digit code showing the type of expense)

Learn More about Account Codes

Requesting a Check for a Payment or Reimbursement

To request payment by check for performers and speakers; vendors providing a written agreement instead of an invoice; or a student or staff member in need of reimbursement, please submit an Expenditure Voucher Form (example and instructions pictured to the right) with appropriate backup documentation, which could include one or more of the following:

  • Contract or other written agreement
  • Email confirmation detailing terms of engagement
  • W-9 form, if needed
  • For reimbursements, original, detailed receipts

Prepare your Expenditure voucher (check request) for payment by filling in all the payment details in the pictured example, including budget codes and a complete business purpose, then send via campus mail to Accounts Payable.

Common questions about using the Expenditure Voucher Form:

Who can be paid through this form?
WFU employees, students and external payees that do not have a standard invoice, such as one-time speakers.

When should I use this form?

  • To request reimbursement for non-travel related expenses, such as event supplies.
  • To submit a request for payment to an outside entity when there is no invoice available, such as speaker fees, performers, contract and honorarium payments.

What should NOT go on this form?

  • Travel and entertainment expense reimbursements
  • Payment requests for which we have an invoice

What if my vendor agreement includes delivering a check in person at the time services are rendered?
In this case you’ll need to check “Hold for Pickup” on the Expenditure Voucher. Also include a name and email address for the person who should be contacted when the check is ready. If all required documentation has been provided, AP staff will make the check available by the service date specified in your contract. Checks can be picked up at the Cashier’s Window in Reynolda Hall 107.

View a larger example

Download an Expenditure Voucher (check request/reimbursement request form) XLS
Download a W-9 (statement of business payment info and tax ID) PDF
Visit the Financial Services website for access to other forms


Reimbursements for amounts under $50 are not paid by check. Instead, once you’ve completed your Expenditure Voucher and obtained the needed approval signatures, you’ll be able to visit Student Financial Services, in the basement of Reynolda Hall (Rooms B07 and B09) to receive a cash reimbursement.

Form W-9

This is a federal form that is required for all external payees in the WFU payment system. It collects information such as the business/proprietor’s name, business address, type of business, tax ID numbers and immigration status. If your payee has never been paid by WFU, download this form and have them complete and email or fax it back to you. Even if the payee has been paid by WFU before, enough time may have elapsed that an updated form may be required. It’s best to observe the rule “when in doubt, ask for it!”

Expenditure Voucher

Its name is mysterious but it has many purposes! This form is used to request a payment by check whenever your payee does not provide an invoice. A good example would be when you’re paying a performer or speaker. Another common use is to request a reimbursement in those rare instances when you might spend personal funds. The Expenditure voucher must always be accompanied by “backup” documentation that details the terms of payment as well as a W-9, if needed, and any other applicable forms.

Expenditure Authorization

All university expenditures require an approval signature. For expenses under $100, 2 student organization officers may sign, but for higher amounts, your advisor will need to provide an approval signature or email approval, along with an approval from one of your officers. This form documents who is allowed to provide financial approval for your group. It should be updated anytime your group changes advisor or officers. If you’re not sure who is authorized to approve expenses for your group, contact

The “Backup” (otherwise known as “acceptable documentation”)

When paying expenses with a Declining Balance card or by submitting a check request, you must include backup documentation such as original receipts, contracts or email confirmations, as well as a W-9, when applicable.

To be accepted by Accounts Payable, your backup should detail the items or services being purchased and show the amounts paid for sales tax, tips, and other fees. Contracts should specify terms such as the engagement date, location, and payment terms.

Not all receipts given by vendors meet the requirements for an acceptable receipt. If you submit a receipt that doesn’t include required elements, you’ll be asked to follow up with the vendor until acceptable documentation has been provided. You can save yourself a lot of time and energy by reviewing your receipts at the point of purchase to make sure they include all needed details.

For more information about the elements of an acceptable receipt, refer to the DB Card Online Training Course. For help with contracts, contact the Office of Student Engagement.

Payment Documentation Checklist
  • Invoice or Expenditure Voucher Form
  • Business purpose recorded on invoice or Expenditure Voucher, including event name, if applicable
  • Instructions included for AP staff: Hold for pickup? If so, who is the contact?
  • W-9 Form, if needed
  • If Expenditure Voucher, documentation such as signed contract, email detailing terms of agreement, or email confirmation
  • If reimbursement, original receipts, email confirmation, or other proof of payment.

Paying University Groups and Departments

Some student organizations may need to make payments to university groups and departments such as:

  • University Police
  • Wait Chapel/Brendle Recital Hall
  • Facilities & Campus Services
  • Wake Radio
  • Campus Programs & Services (Barn and Benson)
  • Benson Copy Center

To charge these these types of expenses to your SBAC or Agency fund, the appropriate budget code must be provided to the department when you submit your work orders or reservation requests. For assistance with work orders, please contact the Office of Student Engagement.