What if I can't make a purchase and then get reimbursed?

We know that getting reimbursed for expenses later is often not an ideal situation for students for many reasons. However, SOFC operates on a reimbursement basis. As a general rule, if we do not have sufficient proof that you have already paid for something, we cannot transfer the money to your SOAS account. We also don't make direct payments, so we can't award you money and then pay your vendors directly.

But that doesn't mean you don't have options. Here are some things you might consider.


Wolverine Consulting Group

For new organizations (chartered in the last 12 months), our other student organization funding body, CSG's Wolverine Consulting Group, offers funding on an upfront basis. Your organization will still receive the money directly from us into your SOAS account. If you qualify, visit WCG at this link. Wolverine Consulting Group | CSG (umich.edu)


For SSOs: Your sponsoring department's P-Card

If you are a Sponsored Student Organization (SSO), you may be able to make the purchase on your sponsoring department's purchasing card (known as a P-Card). It's a credit card owned by the University that deducts funds directly from the account specified, meaning that no one has to pay the charge upfront. Each department has different processes, rules, and staff members that hold a P-Card, so you will have to contact your advisor or the full-time staff member who usually helps with your organization's finances.


Direct charge to your shortcode

Many vendors near the University accept our shortcodes, including Panera, Pizza House, Domino's, Knight's Steakhouse, Zingerman's, UPS, FedEx Office, and many event supply vendors. You can find a full list of vendors at U-M Procurement's website. Each listing will specify whether the vendor accepts shortcode, and if so, how to use it. Search U-M’s Strategic Suppliers to Find Products & Services | U of M Procurement (umich.edu)

While you may not have planned to use a vendor who accepts shortcode for your event, you might want to consider it for a few reasons: 1) The University has vetted these vendors and has an contract with them, and we have a contact if something goes wrong; 2) There are often discounts for U-M people that you can only get if you pay with shortcode; and 3) even if it is not cheaper (or even slightly more expensive), you are ensuring you have everything you need for proof of payment and are receiving high quality services.


Vendor or services rendered payment through SOAS

SOAS offers direct payments to vendors, and individuals/companies for services, from your SOAS account if the vendor/individual or company is willing to give you an invoice, W-9 if it is a new vendor, and accept a check as payment. You can also send a wire transfer if needed (usually not necessary). SOAS requires the use of this process to pay individuals, make donations, and pay out awards/prizes.

Check out this webpage for information on this process. Purchase Requests | Student Organization Accounts Services (umich.edu)


Getting creative

Sometimes options are slim--your author of this article has been there many times, if it makes you feel better! Here's some things you could try:

  • Partner with another organization. There might be an organization that shares some goals with you and that would be willing to help out financially with an event. If that organization has more money in their SOAS account, you could work something out for them to front the expenses. While we only reimburse to the PG number and shortcode that you provided on your funding application, you can do as you please with that money after we send it to your account (within SOAS's rules, of course), so you could have them transfer money to your account or you could accept the money and transfer it to them,
  • Ask another member of your organization (or a friend)! It can be a financial hardship for some to front the money and get reimbursed, but others may have a credit card that they like to use to get rewards, or one that has a zero interest promotion, or they might have some wiggle room in their budget to wait to get the money back. It's a common misconception that you have to be an authorized signer or part of the leadership of an org to pay for an expense and get reimbursed. An authorized signer has to put through the request for reimbursement, but they do not have to be the one making the purchase. So you could have someone who trusts you make the purchase and then they can submit the receipt and get paid back themselves.


SOFC's advance payments process

SOFC has a process to advance money to your organization for specific expenses if you are financially unable to pay upfront and get reimbursed.


To be eligible for this process, your organization must have received more than $250 for an expense that will be paid directly out of your SOAS account (whether that's direct billing to your shortcode, a vendor payment, or a services rendered payment). Expenses that you will not pay directly through your SOAS account are ineligible. You must also demonstrate the financial inability to make the payment from your SOAS account, since this process is time consuming and logistically challenging for our all-student team and we do not have the resources to do this simply for your convenience without financial need.


You can begin a request for an advance payment by adding a comment to your ticket making a request. The SOC Director will then evaluate your financial information and make a determination on your eligibility. Please be sure to respond to requests for additional information if you receive them.

If approved for this process, we'll reach out with an agreement for you to sign specifying how much we are advancing and for what, and we will agree on a deadline for final proof of payment. We'll collect the project grant number and shortcode to which you'd like us to send the money.

After we get your signature on an agreement, we will advance the funds that we have awarded for that specific expense by putting it directly into your SOAS account, you will make the payment as agreed, and then you will submit standard proof of payment to us to reconcile the expense, and return any funds you didn't use.

Failure to comply

If you don't submit proof of payment to us by the deadline we agreed upon, and you don't return the money, we will take action against your organization, and we will take back the funding.

Advance payments questions?

If you aren't sure whether you are eligible, just ask! Add a comment to your ticket and we will get back to you as soon as we can, or if you haven't yet put in a funding request, email csg.studentorgs@umich.edu. If you want additional information on this process, please review the section of the CSG Compiled Code relating to this process, which you can find linked here in Article VII. Governing Documents | CSG (umich.edu) We have attached a PDF of that page for your convenience. 


Important final notes

Please keep in mind that these tips are mostly so that you can get proof of payment for us. While we try our best to align the two when we can, SOAS has different review standards, largely set by the offices that oversee the University's internal controls, and we are unable to change those (though we can assist you in understanding what you need to do, and we can possibly advocate on your behalf).

Also, never make donations, services rendered payments, awards, prizes, or payments over $10,000 individually, expecting a reimbursement later! SOAS will not reimburse these payments. You must make the payment through them. If you have insufficient funds to make the payment through them, see the previous section on our advance payments process. You can make one of those payments yourself, or from an outside bank account, and submit it to us, and then use the money in your account for some other expense. SOFC does not have a policy against reimbursing for those. You must be aware, though, that you will not be reimbursed by SOAS for those. We don't recommend you do this in most cases.


Above all: Please ask us for help.

We never want finances to be a barrier to your organization's success if we can at all help it. We take our commitment to equity and inclusion very seriously. If you need to pay for something but don't know how, please reach out to us at csg.studentorgs@umich.edu and explain the situation. We will do everything in our power to make it happen. We have some tools we can use in unusual circumstances as a last resort.


We hope this was helpful. Please contact us with any feedback, or with anything you think we could add.

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Article ID: 6540
Tue 10/5/21 11:11 PM
Tue 7/26/22 12:54 PM