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Cash Advances and Petty Cash Funds
Because the university offers payment options that are more secure, less expensive and easier to administer (i.e., USC's corporate cards), cash advances and petty cash funds are only issued with Senior Business Officer approval. Refer to the SBO Table for a list of Senior Business Officers authorized to approve cash advances and petty cash.
What is a Cash Advance?
A cash advance is money issued in the name of an individual and in the form of a university check or via direct deposit. Cash advances are intended to cover anticipated expenses associated with the following business functions:
- University business trips
- University-sponsored events
- University relocations
- Sponsored project human subject fees
Employees, USC students on payroll status and non-employees are eligible for cash advances.
What is a Petty Cash Fund?
Petty cash is money advanced to a department in the form of a university check from the petty cash account, issued in the name of an employee who is to be the custodian. Petty cash is intended to cover small-dollar university purchases and expenses; the custodian is responsible for keeping the funds in a locked drawer or safe.
Restrictions to Cash Advances and Petty Cash Funds
The following restrictions apply to both petty cash funds and cash advances.
- Personal Use Restrictions: Under no circumstances may petty cash funds or cash advances be used to pay for personal expenses, including expenses that are part business and part personal.
- Lost or Stolen Funds: Replenishment of a petty cash fund or settlement of a cash advance due to theft must be accompanied by a copy of the police report and approved by the applicable Senior Vice President.
- Equipment Restrictions: Neither petty cash funds nor cash advances may be used to purchase equipment. Reference the university's Equipment Procurement policy for equipment definition and purchasing requirements.
- Human Subject Fees: Funds required for human subject fees should be requested in the form of a cash advance request. Petty cash may not be used to pay for human subject fees.
- Airfare Restrictions: Neither petty cash funds nor cash advances may be used to purchase airline tickets. This practice is not allowed, principally for insurance reasons. Travelers who need the university to direct-pay airline tickets should use the services of a Contract Travel Agency.
- Third Party Payment Restrictions: Neither petty cash funds nor cash advances may be used to pay a third party for services rendered (i.e., independent contractors, caterers, photographers, etc.). This practice is not allowed, principally for tax reporting and insurance reasons.
- Promotional and Print Restrictions: When petty cash funds or funds from a cash advance are used to purchase promotional items or printed material that bear the university's name, logo or seal, the purchase must be made in compliance with policies governing proper use of the university's trademarks (Supplier Usage Guidelines).
- Agreement Signing Restrictions: When petty cash funds or funds from a cash advance are used to purchase items or services subject to a written procurement agreement, the agreement must be executed by an authorized procurement agreement signer (Procurement Agreements).
- Tax Requirements: If transactions subject to California sales tax were paid for with petty cash funds or cash advances and sales tax was not charged for the transaction, Disbursement Control will assess the tax using the USC account number on the expense report associated with the transaction(s). The tax will post on journal entry (XX-025R).
- Insurance and License Requirements: Certain suppliers, such as caterers, equipment repairers, etc., are required to carry specific types of insurances and industry licenses, given the high-risk nature of their services. Departments using petty cash funds or cash advances for such services are responsible for ensuring that suppliers performing work for the university have the required licenses and insurances (USC Purchase Order Terms and Conditions).