Funding & Budget Management
A wide variety of student organizations and activities are funded through the Dean of Students Office. Funding decisions are made by the Student Funding Board and the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office makes every effort to ensure that the limited funds are allocated in an equitable manner and that the organizations and activities funded will adequately represent the interests, needs, and concerns of the HLS community.
Funding is intended to promote students’ efforts to further their legal education outside the classroom, to provide opportunities for intellectual discourse and social interaction among students with varied interests and perspectives, and to assist students in making satisfying career choices. Funding is also intended to enable students to share common cultural and life experiences and to provide opportunities for students to serve others within the HLS community or society at large. Funding is intended to benefit the HLS community.
All student organizations must appoint or elect one person who is responsible for all financial matters. This person must be registered with the Dean of Students Office before the organization may access its budget. The treasurer must hold the position through June 1 due to the financial reporting schedule at Harvard University.
Each organization’s treasurer is responsible for overseeing the budget and submitting budget requests to the Dean of Students Office. The treasurer is also responsible for assuring that the organization stays within budget. Treasurers are required to keep accurate records and should keep copies of all documents relating to financial affairs. All requests for payment must be processed by the Dean of Students Office. Any group that receives income from any source other than the Dean of Students Office (e.g., dues, admission fees, fundraising activities) must deposit these funds through the Dean of Students Office.
The fiscal year at Harvard University and HLS runs from July 1 to June 30. At the end of the fiscal year, all unexpended funds revert to the University, all outstanding bills are billed to the next year’s budget, and all errors in billing or accounting are irrevocable. These policies are enforced by the University. The Dean of Students Office is not able to affect this process.
At the end of the academic year, treasurers are responsible for notifying the Dean of Students Office about any pending expenses or reimbursements that will affect their organization’s account. To avoid problems, every effort should be made to submit bills and reimbursements by the end of the Spring Exam Period. The end of the academic and fiscal year is a busy time in the University and payments will often lag several weeks after reimbursements are submitted.
Before beginning any fundraising effort, you must meet with the Dean of Students Office and review our Alumni Office Procedures. We will place you in contact with the Development Office and review the guidelines for reporting the funds. Funds raised through outside sources must be used for the specific event for which they were raised.
HLS and Harvard University limit solicitation of alumni for funds. Any request for funds from HLS or Harvard alumni, or from law firms requires the advance approval of the Law School Development Office. Please contact Sara Bell with questions. You can also apply for funding for a symposia through the Milbank Tweed Student Conference Fund. The Milbank Tweed Student Conference Fund is available for all student organizations and journals planning conferences or symposia.
The treasurer must keep a record of all expenditures, broken down by expenditure category (e.g. airfare, meals, lodging, copying, etc.). This information will be crucial to completion of the Funding Application.
The Dean of Students Office will provide each student organization Treasurer a monthly budgetary update. Each organization will receive an email with the organization’s current fiscal standing the first Friday of each academic month (October through April).
In the spring, each student organization has the opportunity to request funding from the Student Funding Board.
33 Digit Billing Code
All student organizations are assigned a unique 33 digit billing code. Student organization treasurers are responsible for knowing their code and should regulate internally who has access to this code to ensure proper use. Many services at the Law School, including Restaurant Associates (HLS Food Services), UIS (phone bills), Media Services (audio/visual), Harvard Printing and Publications Services (photocopying), etc. and all Harvard University departments use this coding system for billing. Treasurers should track these internal charges to ensure that the organization does not overspend its budget. If you have questions about any of these charges, please contact the Dean of Students Office.
Reimbursement for Authorized Expenses
- The University’s reimbursement system is used for any organization related expense that cannot be handled internally. Only expenses that fall within the University’s guidelines can be reimbursed. Allowable expenses include any reasonable expense associated with the mission of the organization. Please visit vpf-web.harvard.edu for the University’s complete list of disallowable expenses. If you are not sure whether an expense is allowed, please contact the Dean of Students Office before making a purchase. Reimbursements should be submitted promptly to ensure expedited payment.To be reimbursed for expenses, you must submit:
- the original receipt
- a completed Universal Expense Form (reimbursement form) including:
- the name of the person receiving the reimbursement. This must be the individual that incurred the expense;
- the local address and phone number of the person receiving the reimbursement;
- the legal address of the person receiving the reimbursement (the address put on tax forms);
- the Harvard I.D. number, if applicable, of the person receiving the reimbursement;
- the social security number (or federal tax ID) of the person receiving the reimbursement;
- the date(s) and description of expense;
- the signature of the person receiving the reimbursement
- the signature of the organization’s financial officer.
- Travel related reimbursements (particularly airfare, lodging, car rentals) have very specific requirements in terms of the receipts required. These reimbursements will also require a signed missing receipt affidavit and a copy of a credit card statement showing the travel related charge.
The Harvard University financial system requires original receipts for reimbursement. If a receipt is lost or missing, the person who incurred the expense will need to complete a Missing Receipt Affidavit to be submitted with the reimbursement form. In no case should another receipt of a similar amount be substituted for a lost receipt. Students who knowingly submit false or altered receipts may be subject to disciplinary action.
- Reimbursing speakers
If the student organization has sufficient funding to cover expenses for a speaker, the speaker may be reimbursed directly. As with all reimbursements, the speaker must submit original receipts and a completed reimbursement form. It is beneficial to complete this form while the speaker is on campus. The treasurer should complete as much of the form as possible and get any additional information, including a signature, while the speaker is on campus. The speaker can then send original receipts after the trip is complete. The treasurer may also want to have the speaker sign a Missing Receipt Affidavit in the event that a receipt is lost. If you have questions regarding reimbursing a speaker, please contact the Dean of Students Office before the event.
If your organization has a bill that needs to be paid directly, please submit the original bill to the Dean of Students Office. If you wish to have a bill sent directly to the Dean of Students Office for payment, you should notify the office in advance. The bill should include the name of the student organization.
- Service Providers (DJs, Caterers, Referees, Coaches, etc.)
You should not pay service providers directly. Ask the provider to submit an invoice to the organization and bring the invoice to the Dean of Students Office for direct payment. To pay a disc jockey, referee, or other service provider, the invoice must include the following information:
- her/his social security number (or federal tax ID number if an incorporated company)
- her/his legal address and contact information
- her/his signature
*All vendors will also need to sign a contract with the University. Please contact Darris Saylors in the Dean of Students Office for more information. This should be done well in advance of the event.
Student organizations are strongly encouraged to work together to plan events. For any co-sponsored event, the treasurer from one of the participating student organizations should be responsible for accounting for all expenses relating to the event and providing this information to the Dean of Students Office. In addition, the treasurer from each of the participating organizations must confirm their contribution by sending an email to the Dean of Students Office.
As soon as possible after the event has taken place, all relevant receipts from the event and a completed reimbursement form should be submitted to the Dean of Students Office. All funding for internal expenses (e.g. Restaurant Associates, Media Services, HPPS, etc.) will be transferred electronically.
Please note that funding for all groups at Harvard, including many within HLS, comes from a wide array of sources. Due to IRS rules, the sources of each of these funds must be kept separate and accounted for independently.
Harvard University’s financial system is designed to be compliant with the increasingly stringent regulatory environment in the United States. To this end, compliance with IRS regulations prohibits certain activities because of Harvard University’s status as a non-profit institution. The University will not process reimbursement or payment for activities which are not allowable (see Reimbursement for Authorized Spending for information on allowable expenses).
In a practical sense, this means that the following student organization activities are either limited or not allowed:
- Donations to charitable organizations: Student organizations may not use funds granted to them by the Law School to contribute or donate to charitable organizations, either inside or outside of HLS.
Bank Accounts and Taxes
The Dean of Students Office does not encourage student organizations to keep their own bank accounts, and most organizations find no need for an outside bank account. Organizations with outside funding and an outside bank accounts are solely responsible for fulfilling IRS requirements, including obtaining a federal tax ID number from the IRS and filing income tax forms.
Student organizations with outside bank account(s) must obtain a federal tax ID number. You may not use Harvard’s tax I.D. number or tax exempt number, and you should not use an individual’s social security number since it will make that individual liable to pay taxes. The federal tax ID number is the equivalent of an individual’s Social Security number and is used to identify bank accounts and for tax purposes. To obtain a federal tax ID number, contact the Internal Revenue Service directly. Student organization officers should make sure their organization’s bank account and federal tax ID number is written down and transmitted to new officers; the Dean of Students Office does not have this information on file.
The treasurer or the organization itself (not Harvard University) is liable for noncompliance with IRS regulations.
If you have questions, please contact the Dean of Students Office.