Funding and Reimbursement
A. Securing Funding
LSA has an annual budget of approximately $63,000 to fund major events and the many student organizations. Student organization budgets are determined during the summer for the following academic year. In addition, LSA maintains a contingency fund in order to be able to fund specific events. That money is generally available during the year in small amounts. It is critical that you do not spend money in excess of your budget.
LSA student group accounts zero out at the end of each academic year. This means that money that your organization does not spend during the academic year does not roll over to the following academic year.
Any student organization that has not held at least one event by the end of the first quarter will lose one-third of its annual budget. This policy ensures that Law School student organization funding is used, as all unused funding will go back across the Midway at the end of the academic year. Additionally, the Office of the Dean of Students will not provide funding for any organization event that is not open to all students. An organization’s history of event frequency will be taken into consideration.
2. University Student Government
Student organizations that are RSOs are encouraged to request additional funding from the University’s Student Government (SG), since all University of Chicago students pay a Student Activity Fee, which is the primary source of revenue from which the SG funds RSOs. The SG uses this money to fund groups that have University-wide appeal and to provide services to the University community as a whole. For information about requesting funding from the SG, please review the Student Government Finance Committee’s Guide for Applying for Funding at http://sg.uchicago.edu/student-government-finance-committee/.
If you are interested in receiving funding from the University Student Government, your group needs to become an RSO if it has not already done so.
Any RSO can apply for funding from the Community Service Fund, administered by the University Community Service Center. This funding is limited to community service-related projects and can go to any RSO, even if the organization is not a Community Service focused RSO. Allocations are made on annual and quarterly bases. The funding body meets twice a quarter, during the 3rd and the 7th weeks. For more information about the funding deadlines and guidelines, please see https://ucsc.sites.uchicago.edu/page/csf-community-service-fund or contact Crystal Coats, Assistant Director of the University Community Service Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-795-6451.
4. Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA)
The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs offers a variety of resources to student organizations whose activities help support the University’s students of color. This includes, among other resources, programming support and funding through OMSA’s Allocation Board. The Allocation Board reviews proposals submitted for OMSA funding. The Board generally consists of eight students actively involved in cultural RSOs. Student organizations interested in applying for funding from OMSA should review the funding guidelines and application materials available at http://omsa.uchicago.edu/page/omsa-grants-and-funding-opportunities.
5. Fundraising Activities
The Law School’s External Affairs Office manages fundraising activities at the Law School, including soliciting money from law firms, alumni, and corporations. As a general rule, law students and LSSOs are not authorized to solicit funds from law firms. LSSOs, however, can accept law firm contributions if the law firm contacts the LSSO. LSSOs receiving law firm funding must follow the University and Law School’s budget rules and reimbursement policies when inviting guest speakers and planning events. LSSO may never sign receipts or other paperwork indicating that a donation is tax deductible. Such paperwork is provided by the Office of External Affairs, when appropriate.
Before pursuing donations (event sponsorship, auction items, etc.) from law firms, alumni, or corporations, student organizations must contact the Office of the Dean of Students. Following this procedure ensures that the Law School maintains good relationships with the many entities and individuals that support the Law School. Student organizations that do not abide by this policy risk losing Law School funding.
1. Reimbursement Process
If your student organization places a food order directly with the Law School, the Law School will handle reimbursing the vendor, so long as your organization has adequate LSA funding. Please Note: student organizations must still promptly submit the invoice for every lunch order so that payment can be processed in a timely fashion.
Please be sure you have adequate funds in your LSA account to pay for all food orders. Due to past issues with receipt of payment from RSO accounts, all invoices will be paid from LSA accounts only. If you do not have sufficient funds in your LSA account to cover expenses, you may make a transfer from your RSO account to your LSA account in advance of the event. Invoices submitted for student reimbursement or orders through the Law School’s room reservation website will be paid from your LSA account only.
If members of your organization incur out-of-pocket expenses, they need to complete and submit a Student Organization Reimbursement Request form. Copies of these forms are available in the mail folder of the LSA Treasurer or at the desk of the Student Affairs Administrator. Reimbursement requests must be submitted to the LSA Treasurer within 2 weeks of the expense being incurred. Tape the original receipt to a sheet of paper and paper clip it to the request form. Place the completed form and the original receipt in the LSA Treasurer’s mail folder. Retain a photocopy of the receipt for your records. The LSA Treasurer will review the expense and, if approved, submit it to the Student Affairs Administrator for reimbursement. The reimbursement process can take up to 8 weeks after the request leaves the Law School and is transmitted to the Bursar’s Office.
If your organization will be incurring a large expense, please discuss the expense with the Student Affairs Administrator before incurring the expense; doing so will avoid incurring a non-reimbursable expense or having a lengthy wait before reimbursement.
All expense receipts are due no later than 5:00 p.m. May 4, 2015 for the 2014-2015 school year.
2. Examples of Reimbursable Expenses
As a general rule, goods and services are reimbursable. If you are not sure whether your expense is reimbursable, please contact the Student Affairs Administrator before incurring the expense. Most of these restrictions are University-wide restrictions, and the Law School is prohibited from allowing exceptions.
Examples of goods and services that may be reimbursable are:
Goods. Meals, office supplies, stamps, photocopying, art supplies, films, and fabric.
Services. Catering, engraving, screen printing, printing, bus charter, DJ services, and rentals.
3. Examples of Expenses that Are Not Reimbursable
Not all goods and services are eligible for reimbursement. Several categories of non-reimbursable expenses have caused problems for student organizations in the past. This includes:
Gifts are not reimbursable. This means that your organization cannot be reimbursed for gifts given to speakers, outgoing leaders, or others. If you have a VIP speaker for whom a gift may be appropriate, please contact the Dean of Students or the Associate Director of Student Affairs.
Events lacking a programmatic aspect. LSA funds cannot be used for study breaks, transition dinners, end-of-the-year dinners, or any other events that lack any specific programming.
Personal services are not reimbursable unless accompanied by appropriate documentation. For example, if your organization pays a cellist $50 to play at a reception, the cellist must submit an invoice rather than a receipt. For details about what satisfies this requirement, please contact Cherie Tomlinson, the Law School’s Administrative Manager, before incurring the expense. Cherie’s email address is email@example.com and her phone number is 773-834-2005.
The Law School does not pay speaker honoraria. The rationale for not paying honoraria is that speakers are honored to be asked to speak at the Law School. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Individual travel expenses for speakers traveling from outside of the Chicago metropolitan area are not reimbursable. Instead, LSSOs may provide invited speakers with a travel stipend for a set amount. (See below for additional information.) LSSOs may, however, reimburse a speaker’s travel expenses for cab fare, mileage, etc., if the speaker is traveling to the Law School from within the Chicago metropolitan area.
Students will not be reimbursed for purchasing insurance on rental cars. Any student who rents a car for official University business (including student organization business) must rent the vehicle from Enterprise locally or National Car Rental. Students do not need to purchase the rental company’s insurance policy because the vehicle will be covered under the University’s insurance policy as long as all appropriate paperwork is completed. Contact the Associate Director of Student Affairs for the appropriate paperwork. Please note that it takes a minimum of two weeks to process a request for University insurance, so make sure that paperwork is submitted well in advance of your anticipated travel date.
Travel arrangements purchased with miles or points are not reimbursable. The University can only reimburse for travel arrangements (plane tickets, hotel, etc.) purchased with actual funds (whether via cash or credit card). The University cannot reimburse for travel arrangements made using frequent flier miles or points.
4. Travel Stipends
Rather than reimbursing speakers for their itemized travel expenses, LSSOs may pay a speaker a travel stipend. The stipend process reduces the administrative burden on student organizations. Domestic speakers from outside the Chicago metro area may receive a stipend of up to $750 (depending on the event’s budget) to cover airline tickets and any incidentals (cab fare, meals, etc.).
Hotel arrangements (excluding incidentals) at select hotels will be separate from, and in addition to, the stipend. For information on hotels with University rates, please go to http://visit.uchicago.edu/accommodations.shtml. See the Student Affairs Administrator for more information.
Please keep in mind that the stipend and hotel costs come from the sponsoring LSSO’s budget. There is no separate Law School funding for travel stipends.
The stipend process applies to all student organization events funded by the Law School. If you have any questions about the stipend process, please speak with the Student Affairs Administrator. If you need guidance in the appropriate amount of travel expenses to offer to a speaker, please consult the Dean of Students or the Associate Director of Student Affairs.