The University of Chicago

Financial Services


Petty Cash

Petty cash is a small amount of discretionary funds in the form of cash used for expenditures where it is not sensible to make the disbursement by check.

Employee reimbursements should be submitted via the GEMS system.

Petty Cash is used to provide units with ready cash for the payment of various small expeditures, such as cab fare, postage, highway tolls, parking fees, etc. and should not be used as a method of bypassing the University’s Accounts Payable System. Petty cash funds should be mainly used for reimbursements to students and visitors. Employees should seek reimbursement through the GEMS system.

Opening a Petty Cash Fund

Establishing a Fund

The department administrator should complete the Request of Petty Cash Fund form. The completed form must be submitted to Accounting Services for approval. Upon approval, a check will be issued to the petty cash custodian.

Restrictions on Use

The petty cash fund cannot be used to:

1. Purchase goods currently covered by a University negotiated contract.
2. Pay personnel services (i.e., typing, photography, entertainers, caterers) that would be considered either wages (Payroll) or Independent Contractor payments (DPV). A unique petty cash fund can be established and used to reimburse individuals for certain human subject testing fees
3. Reimburse an expenditure greater than fifty ($50) dollars.

Maintaining The Fund

Controlling the Fund

  • The cash should be kept in a locked drawer or cabinet with the key in the custodian’s possession.
  • A Petty Cash Receipt, Form 47R should be used to document the disbursement of cash. Every petty cash receipt must be signed by the recipient and supported with original receipts according to the Supporting Documentation Standards.
  • The receipts, plus cash on hand, should equal the total amount of the fund at all times.
  • The fund is subject to audit at any time without prior notice.
  • To change the custodian of the fund, submit a Petty Cash Change of Custodian Form.

Replenishment of the Fund

  • ePayment Request
  • Request for Reimbursement of Petty Cash Fund (Form 41R).    (use only if ePayment is not yet available to your Unit)
    • Send Request for Reimbursement to Purchasing and Payment Services.

Changing the Balance of your Fund

Theft of Funds

  1. Inform the University Police Department of the theft.
  2. Obtain a copy of the police report.
  3. Forward to Accounting Services a memo and copy of the police report. Accounting Services will create an entry charging the departmental guarantee account.

Out-of-Balance Funds