Finance Frequently Asked Questions
NOTE: These FAQs are provided as a general resource; they are not comprehensive.
Updated requirements are provided in the Universal Funding Application form and funding decision letters. Application and award requirements supersede any conflict with these FAQs.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with further questions.
What does GAPSA Finance do? . . .
The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) Finance Committee manages all funding for GAPSA. Please see our Finance Committee page for more information or contact email@example.com with any questions.
How is GAPSA Finance structured? . . .
- Discretionary Fund
- Student Group Event Fund (SGEF)
- Synergy Fund
- Interschool Partnership Fund (IPF, formerly the GAP Fund)
- G12 Accountability Program (GAP, accounting and reporting)
- Budget Management (accounting and reporting)
- Revenue Management (tickets and sponsorship)
- GAS-GAPSA Advisory Services (consulting and auditing)
- Sustainability & Development (strategic planning)
What is the Sunshine Policy? . . .
The Sunshine Policy is a budget mandate established by the General Assembly and GAPSA Finance to promote financial transparency and accountability, including:
- Consolidated Statement of Accounts reported monthly
- All direct or indirect support by GAPSA requires disclosure of budgeted and actual expenses and revenue, including funding sources
- GAPSA Advisory Services (GAS) to certify compliance with funding guidelines
- All support promotes open community and inclusion, representative form of governance
- Discretionary Fund application sponsorship from GA members
What is the Environmental Policy? . . .
GAPSA supports and encourages all funding recipients to embrace environmentally sustainable practices in all events. Please see “Green Event Guide” link for suggestions on Penn specific ways to reduce your event waste and environmental impact. https://www.sustainability.upenn.edu/resources/guides-manuals/green-event-guide
What is the Anti-Harassment Policy? . . .
GAPSA is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all participants, free from harassment based on age, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, disability, health conditions, socioeconomic status, marital status, domestic status, or parental status (hereafter, simply harassment). “Participants” in GAPSA’s Anti-Harassment Standards refers to anyone present at GAPSA events, including students, staff, faculty, vendors, and other attendees.
- Expected Behavior: All participants at GAPSA meetings and events are expected to abide by these Anti-Harassment Standards in all venues including ancillary events as well as official and unofficial social gatherings. Exercise respectful behavior that is necessary to promote the conditions for free academic interchange. If you witness potential harm to a participant, be proactive in helping to mitigate or avoid that harm. Alert GAPSA organizers or Penn Police if you see a situation in which someone might be in imminent physical danger.
- Unacceptable Behavior: Harassment consists of a single intense and sever act or of multiple persistence or pervasive acts which are demeaning, abusive, offensive, or create a hostile professional or workplace environment. Harassment may include sexual solicitation, physical advance, or verbal or non-verbal conduct that is sexual in nature; it may also include threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; circulation of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility toward an individual or group; epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping based on group identity.
When is group/event funding available? . . .
GAPSA Finance manages funding rounds throughout the academic year. During the rounds, eligible applicants may apply for all group/event funds (AEF, Discretionary, SGEF, Synergy, GAP) via the Universal Funding Application. Decisions are typically announced 2-4 weeks after each round closes.
- Fall 2019 Round 1 application opens 9/15/19-10/14/19
- Fall 2019 Round 2 application opens 11/1/19-12/1/19
- Spring 2020 Round 3 application opens 1/15/20-2/14/20
- Spring 2020 Round 4 application opens 3/1/20-3/31/20
In between funding rounds, rolling applications are accepted for AEF and IPF. (SGEF and Synergy applications are not accepted in between funding rounds.)
What are the requirements to apply for group/event fund awards? . . .
Each fund has specific requirements. Refer to our Group/Event Funding page for application details. Generally, the following applies:
- Groups must be registered, on an annual basis, with the Office of Student Affairs. Please register online at http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/osa/gopenn.html.
- Proposals must be geared towards the graduate and professional student population. Undergraduate organizations generally are ineligible for GAPSA funding.
- Priority will be given to groups whose proposals are designed to benefit students from multiple G12 schools and programs.
- The funding process is very competitive. You may receive full, partial, or no funding at all for your proposal from GAPSA. Funding is NOT guaranteed.
- All applicants are required to advertise their events and programs with GAPSA.
- If your event or program receives GAPSA funding, then GAPSA must be acknowledged as a funding source on your organizational and promotional material.
- All GAPSA funded programs and organizations must support open community, inclusion, and representative governance. All funding must comply with GAPSA's Sunshine Policy, Environmental Policy, Anti-Harassment Policy, and all other policies.
- A member of your group must complete and upload the certification for a Finance 101 course before applying for funding in each funding round.
What is the Universal Funding Application and Auto-Referral? . . .
In order to promote greater equity and access to funding, several GAPSA group/event fund applications are consolidated into a universal application. This includes the Academic Event Fund (AEF), Discretionary Fund, Student Group Event Fund (SGEF), and Synergy Fund. Applications will be automatically referred to the appropriate fund(s) for consideration based on the information provided in the application. Applicants may opt-out of the automatic referral process in the application. Please contact your school government officers to inquire about Interschool Partnership Fund eligibility.
What are Umbrella Student Organizations? . . .
In order to assist student groups collaborate and coordinate activities and programs around shared interests, GAPSA Finance encourages student groups to associate in Umbrella Student Organizations (USOs). USOs provide co-investment strategies as well as support for programming and funding initiatives. The following USOs are organizing:
- Community Service
- Performing Arts
- Peer Education and Support
- G12 Student Government
What is the Green Leaf program? . . .
Green Leaf is a funding start-up program to help new groups form. A group may be eligible to seek Green Leaf funding in its first year of operation.
- Register at GO@Penn http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/osa/gopenn.html
- Apply for Student Group Event Funding (SGEF) http://www.gapsa.upenn.edu/groupevent-funding/
- In the application under Supplementary Information, tell us: "New group seeking Green Leaf funding"
What is the Heritage program? . . .
The Heritage program helps legacy student organizations coordinate funding packages across GAPSA funds for university-wide programming. For more info, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. A group may be eligible to seek Heritage funding if:
- The group has been operating for at least three years;
- The program budget is at least $10,000;
- Estimated program attendance is at least 200 graduate and/or professional students;
- The program is university-wide, involving multiple G12 schools.
What is the Lending Vehicle program? . . .
The Lending Vehicle is a limited GAPSA Finance pre-approved loan program for IDEAL, SGEF, and G12 organizations to help accelerate cash-flow early in the school year for programming and recruitment. For more info, email: email@example.com.
- IDEAL: borrow the greater of $1,000 or up to 50% of prior year Empowerment Fund base grant; must be participating in Empowerment Fund; secured by this year's Empowerment Fund awards and any carryover.
- SGEF: borrow up to 50% of prior year revenue; must be participating in Cash In-Kind program; secured by this year's GAPSA awards and any carryover.
- G12: borrow up to 50% of prior year GAP investment; must be participating in GAP; secured by this year's GAPSA contribution and any carryover; outsanding balances are due by conclusion of fiscal year.
- Note: loan limits are subject to change.
Who makes the funding award decisions? . . .
The GAPSA General Assembly (GA) authorizes GAPSA's budget each year. Funding awards are decided based on fund. Discretionary funding is decided by the GA. Academic Event funding (AEF) is decided by the Research Council. SGEF and Synergy are decided by GAPSA Finance. IPF is decided by the presidents and treasurers of the respective G12 school student governments. Empowerment funding is decided by the IDEAL Council.
Note that any application requesting funding for more than $2,000 must present their six slide presentation before the General Assembly in order to be eligible for funding.
Can a group/event funding decision be appealed? . . .
Eligible graduate and professional student groups with standing may appeal a funding recommendation or decision of the GAPSA Finance Committee to the General Assembly (GA). This applies to applications for the GAPSA Discretionary Fund, Student Group Event Fund, and Synergy Fund. The appeal must be filed in the fiscal year (7/1-6/30) of the application while the GA is in session. (Note: the GA does not meet in the summer.) The appeal will be considered as an application to the GAPSA Discretionary Fund. In order to seek an appeal to the GA, the appellant must obtain the endorsement of two-thirds of the appellant's school (G12) delegation of GAPSA GA representatives. To initiate an appeal, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How are applicants notified of award decisions? . . .
Applicants are notified of decisions by email. Awards are also posted on the GAPSA website on the Group/Event Fund Awards page. Each applicant will subsequently receive an award letter or decline letter with related instructions.
What are the conditions for receiving group/event fund awards? . . .
Requirements and instructions are provided with the award letter for each fund. Generally, the following applies:
- Deadlines: You must request reimbursement within two weeks of the final date of your event, or your receipt of the award letter, (whichever is later). Failure to meet these deadlines will result in your funding being forfeited. An extension may be granted in extenuating circumstances upon request and explanation. Contact email@example.com for more information.
- Ensure that your student group is registered in the University-wide student group database, G.O. Penn at: http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/osa/gopenn.html
- You must attach the award letter to the receipts verifying that you received funding from GAPSA.
- We prefer not to reimburse gift cards. You must contact OSA if you need gift cards for your event.
- If you are awarded $2,000 or more by GAPSA (in total), you must sign up for GAPSA Advsiory Services prior to the event, which will allow a member of that committee to visit your event and provide support (if needed).
- You are required to advertise your event with GAPSA. Please visit the GAPSA homepage at http://www.gapsa.upenn.edu/ and click on the "Publicize with the GAPSA Weekly Newsletter" link in the lower left-hand corner at leats two weeks prior to your event to advertise in our weekly email.
- GAPSA must be acknowledged as a funding source on your organizational and promotional material. Refer to the branding link for updated GAPSA logos.
- You must display GAPSA banners at your event (wherever practical) and submit photos. Please visit the Graduate Student Center, 3615 Locust Walk, to pick up a GAPSA Banner (a sign-in system may be required) to hang visibly during your event. You must submit event photos to GAPSA Finance in which the banner is visile as a requirement of your award.
- Acceptance of an award constitutes your approval for GAPSA to use your event, group, photos, and other collateral in publicity, reporting, and related disclosures.
- Budgeted and actual revenues and expenses of the event/program and organization must be reported to GAPSA Finance.
- You must submit an After-Action Review (AAR) of your event(s)/program(s) to GAPSA Finance to claim an award.
- All GAPSA funded events/programs and organizations must support open community, inclusion, and representative governance. All funding must comply with GAPSA's Sunshine Policy, Environmental Policy, Anti-Harassment Policy, and all other policies.
- You must abide by the University's alcohol policies here: http://www.gsc.upenn.edu/resources/alcohol.php. Your school may have additional special policies regarding alcohol purchases.
- Please see the OSA website a http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/osa/policies.php for further details on University reimbursement policies and practices.
- Upload required materials to the AAR Jotform. If you need assistance, please contact GAPSA Finance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I use my awarded funds? . . .
Search the Penn Approved vendors list and have your school's business office create a purchase order using your funds. If your school's business office is otherwise able to pay for your event, have them contact the Office of Student Affairs with your award letter for a budget transfer to their department.
Another way is to submit a reimbursement claim. Submit your funding claim via the University's Travel and Expense Management (TEM) system, Concur. Further instructions are below. Refer to the OSA website for related reimbursement questions.
- Normally, the group pays for expenses out-of-pocket and is reimbursed after the event. However, this does NOT apply to services performed by an individual (DJ, speaker, logo design, etc.). If you have to pay an individual for any service, come in to OSA and speak to a Financial Services Center (FSC) advisor for instructions. If the person you want to pay is on University payroll, you must request approval BEFORE they perform their service. All payments must go through University payroll. You will not be reimbursed for any money paid to an individual.
- OSA FSA staff have University MasterCards (called PCards) which they can use to order items for you if they can be paid online or over the phone. See any member of the FSC.
- For everything you or your members purchase, be sure to get an ITEMIZED receipt. Credit card receipts showing the total spent are NOT acceptable; the receipt must show all the items purchased. OSA must reimburse the individual whose name is on the eligible receipt.
- If you want to purchase gift cards for prizes, etc., please see Angela Reason in OSA. Gift cards are considered 'cash equivalents' and so must be reported as income. For small dollar amounts, this is generally not an issue.
- All alcohol must be purchased from a Pennsylvania supplier.
- All reimbursements are now submitted through Concur, a new electronic Travel and Expense Managements system. However, before you can submit an expense report in Concur, you will need to submit an OSA TEM form to OSA. (Attach your funding approval email.) The TEM form can be found in the OSA office or on the OSA website: http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/osa/policies.php. After OSA enters you into the Concur system, you will be directed to go into Concur and enter your report.
- It is possible to transfer your funding to another University department if this is more expedient. Obtain the department's 26-digit account number and send Angela Reason an email with the information. No other forms are required for the transfer.
- A more complete explanation of financial procedures can be found at http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/osa/policies.php.
- Reimbursement takes approximiately one to two weeks. You can check on the status of your reimbursement through Concur.
When is the deadline to claim group/event fund awards? . . .
Funding awards must be claimed within two weeks of the final date of the funded event, or your receipt of the award letter, (whichever is later). An extension may be granted such that reimbursements must be claimed by January 15, 2020, (for events occurring in the fall semester) or June 15, 2020, (for events occurring in the spring semester). These deadlines may not be further extended and any funding that has not been claimed by then will be forfeited.
GFAC Finance 101: How can I learn more about GAPSA funding and budgeting? . . .
GAPSA Finance sponsors recurring advisory sessions of the GAPSA Finance Associations Council (GFAC). As part of GAPSA's outreach initiatives, we discuss GAPSA funding, navigating Concur, planning fundraisers, and making a budget. Learn more about GAPSA's academic event, student group event, Synergy, IPF, and discretionary funds.
How do I get involved with GAPSA? . . .
To learn more about how to get involved with GAPSA and the university, click here.