Travel costs are routinely incurred by staff members, faculty, and students on behalf of the university. Travel advances are funds occasionally issued to those eligible to receive them – in order to cover travel costs. Prepaid travel represents money already spent (e.g., flights, hotel expenses, etc.) in advance of expected travel. For accounting purposes, these funds are recorded as assets on the university’s balance sheet until they are depleted. For more information about advances, see University Policy 3.21, Advances, Petty Cash, and Accounts Receivable.
On this page: Clearing Advances | Administering Advances
- Cornell may advance funds in special circumstances, namely for travel, site projects, and participant fees.
- Generally, advances are limited to Cornell faculty, staff, and students.
- Units should charge operating accounts directly for visitor-related expenses.
Travel advances are processed and recovered through Concur. See Advances on the Travel website.
The procedures for clearing a site project advance are the same as those for clearing travel advances (see above), with one exception:
- Upon completion of the project, the responsible unit must provide documentation accounting for all project expenses. This accounting certifies that all project payments are complete. It also reduces the risk of duplicate pay for projects that include multiple individuals, numerous sources of support, etc.
Generally, a final accounting should include the following:
- Name of each individual involved in the project
- Individual's relationship to the project (instructor, student, etc.)
- Dates and location of travel for participant
- Type of expense for each individual (e.g., transportation, meals, lodging, auto rental, miscellaneous, etc.)
- How each expense was paid (e.g., paid by another institution, by air requisition, by previous payment request, etc.)
These advances provide cash for the purpose of paying a number of small-dollar amounts to human subjects involved in research projects.
- Use a Payment Request to clear the advance, even if no money is due the payee
- Attach documentation supporting the amount paid to each participant. The documentation should include the participant's name, dollar amount, date paid, and if possible, the participant's signature
Note: If you cannot include the participant's name due to confidentiality, indicate that the information is confidential and that it is available from the "principal investigator" upon request.
Units that have advance accounts should do the following:
- Design procedures based on separation of duties
- Submit appropriate advance forms with original signatures
- Debit a balance sheet account for the advance - not an operating account
- Review advance accounts throughout the year
- Follow up on any advance not cleared in a timely manner
- Prepare a fiscal year-end account reconciliation to document that the year-end balance is accurate