Policy 1505: Imprest Balance Accounts: Petty Cash

Subject Area: Cash
Responsible Office: Financial Services
Sponsor: Chief Financial Officer
Originally Issued: March 1990
Revised: October 1992, January 2010
Refer Questions To: James Ribikawskis, 773-702-3690

Purpose: Petty cash funds are expressly limited to areas where necessary. The funds are to be used for expenditures in connection with approved University activities, the amount and significance of which preclude requesting disbursement by check.


Financial Services is responsible for approving the establishment of all petty cash funds. Accountability for a petty cash fund should be assigned to one employee who is designated as the fund custodian. The fund custodian is responsible for safeguarding of the fund. The amount of the fund should be limited to four weeks’ expenditures from such funds.

Petty cash funds are to be maintained on an imprest basis, which means that the amount of the petty cash fund should remain constant. The amount of currency and coin plus the petty cash receipts in the fund should equal the authorized amount of the fund.

Original receipts must accompany all reimbursement requests. Petty cash may not be used for the following:

  1. Expenditures in excess of $50.00;
  2. Travel expenditures, except for local travel under $50.00;
  3. Personnel services (i.e., typing, photography, entertainers, caterers, etc.) that would be considered either wages or Independent Contractor payments. Payments for certain human subject fees are allowable;
  4. Goods covered by a University negotiated contract;
  5. Personal loans or salary advances;
  6. Cashing personal or other checks from petty cash funds;

The operation and administration of petty cash funds must adhere to Financial Services “Petty Cash Guidelines and Procedures”. Copies are available from Financial Services.