Frequently Asked Questions

Building

While we can’t solve the last of those problems, if you have a building-related problem, please make a service request through Physical Plant. If that does not work, and your office is located in Arnold House, you can contact the building coordinator at bcoord@schoolph.umass.edu. Be aware that, for security reasons, you cannot request a key for yourself; another authorized person, such as your supervisor or the building coordinator, must do it for you.

Finance

Assuming that your grad student is not also an employee, the only way to do this is through a Disbursement Voucher. Fill out the voucher, an Invoice form, and include the student’s expense receipts. If the student has never been paid/reimbursed by the University before, you will need to submit to us the student’s legal name, off-campus address, student id number, and purpose for payment so that he/she can be added as a vendor into the system. (All forms are available on the Controller’s website.)

In order to get paid, individuals and/or companies first must be added as vendors to the system. In most cases, this requires a UMW-9 form. You may notice that the UMass form (UMW-9) is slightly modified from the standard IRS form (W-9), such that it includes a blank for an e-mail address. This is the preferred form because either an e-mail or fax number is required in order to add a vendor into Buyways; without this piece of information, the vendor will not show up in a Buyways search, and consequently cannot be paid via a purchase order. Once a vendor has been added, s/he does not need to be re-added with every subsequent payment, unless they have been inactive for an extended period of time or their contact information has changed.

Information on a variety of University purchasing policies is located here. Some policies are also specific to the school, particularly computer equipment. Computers need to be purchased in conjunction with the SPHHS Information Technology Manager to ensure that the equipment is compatible with our current systems and also so that it can be catalogued upon arrival for maintenance and security purposes.

For employees, it takes approximately two weeks for the Controller’s Office to process the payment from the time our office submits the paperwork (usually within a day or two of receiving it). Employee reimbursements will be added to the employee’s paycheck. Non-employee reimbursements can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the nature and amount of the reimbursement.

Human subject compensation is a complicated issue; please see our Human Subjects Compensation page for more information.

Like the title suggests, a Non-Payroll Cost Transfer (NPCT) is a way to transfer non-payroll expenses from one speedtype to another. The form is available at the Controller’s website

  • In Section A of the form, people often get confused by the words “Credit” and “Debit”, so just ignore those words and instead focus on where the expense that you want to transfer is located right now (right-hand column) and where you want it to go (left-hand column).  You do not have to transfer an entire expense (for instance, you may transfer $500 of a $1000 expense), but you do have to pick one or more specific expenses to be transferred (not just any random amount of money). 
  • Fill in Sections B, C, and D as indicated (do not skip the justification section), and make sure to attach a 7062 report or a Summit report showing that the expense is where you say it is. (This should match Section A, right-hand column.) Please highlight the entire line of the expense on the report so it is easy to locate visually. More specific instructions are located on the back of the NPCT form.

It depends on what the product is and how fast you need it. With a few exceptions, there are five basic ways to pay for things: through a purchase order using the Buyways system, via a Procard, out-of-pocket (followed by a reimbursement), via a Travel Card, or with a cash advance disbursement. Each method has its advantages, disadvantages, and restrictions. 

  • Buyways is the largest and most predominant method and is the general default for most purchasing. It is the required method for blanket orders, contracts for services, purchasing most major items such as equipment, and/or for purchasing items from our contract vendors (such as Office Max). For a Purchase Order Request form, see Downloads.
  • The fastest methods are with a Procard or out of pocket; these are best used with small-ticket items from non-contract vendors, or in situations where the prices are unpredictable (e.g. retail stores where the cost of items may be unknown ahead of time or are unexpectedly discounted). The drawbacks to a Procard include the credit limit (generally $1,000 per vendor per day and $5,000 per month) and a fairly extensive list of restrictions on items you are allowed to purchase using the card. The drawbacks to the out-of-pocket method are that you have to have the money up-front and that reimbursements can sometimes be delayed or even rejected in whole or in part if your purchases are not subsequently approved by the Controller’s Office, the funding account manager, and/or your supervisor. 
  • Travel cards provide an immediate method of payment, which is useful when purchasing things like airline tickets online. However, these can only be used for travel-related expenses, and delayed reimbursement can impact an individual’s personal credit history.  
  • Cash advances most often are used in human subject compensation situations (if a Principal Investigator wishes to pay her/his subjects directly for participating in a study) or to reimburse non-employee students for work-related expenses. 

For more information on any of these subjects, see the Procurement website.

Travel cards are used only for travel-related expenses, and payment (or lack thereof) impacts an individual’s personal credit history. Payment is through the travel reimbursement process, so turning in trip expense forms promptly should be a priority. Procards are used for a variety of expenses other than travel, and are paid by default by the University, except in case of dispute. Note that there are a number of other restrictions on Procard purchasing, so when in doubt, please check the Procard Manual before making a purchase. 

For more information on Travel Cards.

For more information on Procards.

The Controller’s Office and the University determine the requirements for Sole Source documentation. For updated information, please see the Procurement website.

A Business Expense form is needed to document business meeting/entertaining expenses (such as a meal) when one or more employees are present. Generally speaking, however, that is the only time it is needed. Proper documentation of these business meeting expenses is an IRS requirement, and includes naming all individuals present, as well as the why, where, and when of the meeting. Please see the Business Expense Policy for more information. 

The BE-ER form itself can be found on the Controller’s website.

A “vendor” is any individual or company who is paid by UMass. All new non-UMass vendors, with the exception of resident non-employees who are requesting expense reimbursements, need to submit a UMW-9. (To learn how to add a vendor, see the FAQ section entitled “How do I add a vendor to the system?”; to learn about resident non-employee expense reimbursements, see the header "Travel and Expense Reimbursements" on our Forms and Information page.) Current students and employees who are being paid for human subject compensation do not need to submit this form, as the University already has their information. (They do, however, need to provide their legal name, ID #, a valid, off-campus address, and a reason for payment.)

Travel cards work just like any other credit card – they have due dates that need to be met. The University, understandably, is reluctant to pay late fees (unless the responsibility is on their end), so make sure to submit your paperwork as soon as reasonably possible after the expense – preferably at least two weeks before the card payment is due, to allow for processing time. 

You do not need to wait for your statement to come out before submitting your Travel and Expense Reimbursement request. Make sure to indicate on the request form that the expense was on your Travel Card; if you select “Out of pocket”, the payment will get sent to you personally, and the card will not be paid. Because late fees negatively impact your personal credit score, you should strive to avoid this situation as much as possible.

There are a number of common reasons why trip expense reimbursements get returned. The most common reasons are:

  • Per diem. Please be aware that in October 2016 the per diem policy changed.  (See the travel manual.) You may now receive 75% of your regular per diem rate on the first and last calendar days of travel, and 100% of your per diem rate on any days in the middle. The per diem rate also changes periodically and is dependent on where you travel; please be sure to check the GSA site before submitting your reimbursement to make sure you are using the current rate.
  • Mileage. For reimbursement purposes, you must pick the shortest distance from your home or office to your destination and back again, and prove it with a Google map (or similar) printout. It doesn’t matter if the shortest way is also slower or whether or not it is the way you actually went – it is the only amount that the university will reimburse.
  • Receipts. You should keep all of your receipts, and, if you have small receipts, make sure to tape all four sides securely to a blank 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper. You may include more than one receipt per page. If you are missing receipts over $25, fill out a Missing Receipt Affidavit form.
  • Incomplete submission. Your submission should contain the Travel and Expense Reimbursement Form, the travel registry number, all receipts, and proof of mileage as indicated above. It should also be signed in the correct locations, as well as initialed by your department’s administrator, indicating that s/he has reviewed it prior to submission to reduce to possibility of rejection or other delays.

This is probably for one of two reasons: 

  • Your trip was ½ day or less (See the University’s Travel Manual) or
  • Your documentation was submitted to the Controller’s Office more than 120 days after your return date. (This is a University-wide policy designed to comply with IRS regulations on taxable income.) To avoid this problem, please submit your paperwork as soon as possible, bearing in mind that processing delays for any reason, including lost or erroneous paperwork, are included in the 120-day timeframe.

Personnel

There are many on-campus training opportunities. Both Workplace Learning and Development and the Labor Management Workplace Education Program offer ongoing workshops and certificate programs in a variety of categories.

The answer to this question varies significantly, depending on the type of position you are seeking to fill. Please contact your department administrator or the Dean’s Business Center for assistance. Please be aware that the hiring process is often complicated and is governed by many regulations; the process is even more prolonged if you are seeking to either create a new position or change an old one. Because the hiring process often takes so long, please alert the Business Center promptly so that we can get your paperwork started as soon as possible. 

Student employees, staff, and calendar-year faculty should either turn in timesheets to their department’s administrator or be trained in self-reporting by that administrator. Academic-year faculty and anyone needing assistance with extended leave (sabbaticals, FMLA, etc.) should contact the Dean’s Business Center.

If you have missed the pay period deadline for timesheets, you will need to turn in a Time and Labor Late Pay Form.

When you want to claim an exception (i.e., personal, vacation, or sick time), you must account for the entire day. For instance, if you normally work 7.5 hours during the day, but are taking 2 hours of personal time for an appointment, you would report 5.5 hours REG + 2 hours PER. If you work for 4 hours but you’re leaving early for your vacation, you would report 4 hours REG and 3.5 hours VAC.

If you have missed the deadline for that pay period, you will need to turn in a Time and Labor Correction form. Remember that if you missed part of a day, be sure to account for the entire day by also entering “REG” for the hours you did work. (See “I am a self-reporting exception employee. How do I claim an exception on my timesheet?”, for a more detailed explanation.)

Benefits vary according the bargaining agreements of your union (if you are in a union) and University policies. For details, see the Benefits page in Human Resources.

Positive reporters are those who must report their time every week in order to be paid. Generally speaking, this category includes undergraduate and graduate hourly employees, temporary employees (03s), departmental assistants, etc. Exception employees (including most regular, permanent, full-time, non-student employees) are assumed to be working a set schedule and need to report “exceptions” to that schedule (such as sick time or vacation). Job aids for reporting time can be found here.

For the most current information on the pay process and schedule, please see Human Resources.

Check the Holidays and Campus Closure calendar for a schedule of days the campus is closed. The Emergency Closing Status will be updated on days the campus closes due to inclement weather or other emergencies.

Your Bargaining Unit (Union) contract can be found here.

Non-unit employee handbooks can be found here.

General information about Labor Relations can be found here.

Other

Please submit your paperwork to 118 Arnold House, 715 N. Pleasant St. If appropriate, you may also submit it via e-mail to bctr@schoolph.umass.edu.