Financial Policies

A list of Financial policies listed alphabetically under SEAS-Specific Policies and University Policies.

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SEAS Policies

SEAS Computer Purchasing Guidelines 
This reference outlines device types, funding source and approval requirements. The link will bring you to the SEAS Computing website, where you will find the guidelines posted at the bottom of the page.

SEAS Faculty Startup Funds Spending Policy
List of allowable and un-allowable expenses on Faculty Startup Funds.

SEAS Noise-Canceling Headphones Policy
Link to policy stating the unallowable nature of this expense along with the few allowable exceptions.

SEAS Per Diem Guidance

If seeking reimbursement via per diem, SEAS travelers must follow this guidance.

SEAS PCard Process Guidance
Guidance for the responsibilities of cardholder, reviewer and administrator.

SEAS Standard Operating Procedures for Contracts Commitments and Agreements


University Policies

Business Expense Reimbursement Policy

This policy establishes when Harvard will pay for non-travel business expenses of any individuals conducting business on the University’s behalf. Harvard will reimburse for allowable, reasonable, properly substantiated expenses that are necessary and appropriate in the conduct of University business.

Fellowship Payments and Reimbursements for Students and Non-employee Postdocs/Fellows
At Harvard, we use the term “fellowships” to refer to a host of payments: awards, stipends, grants, and allowances. Fellowships are generally gross income to the recipient, unless they are qualified payments for required tuition and fees for a degree program. This policy and a Fellowships Toolkit can assist in classifying fellowship payments and reimbursements correctly.

Financial Management of Property, Plant and Equipment (Capital Assets and Equipment)

This policy establishes the proper methods to account for facilities and equipment, including capitalization, depreciation, disposals and impairments, and various funding sources.

Gifts and Celebratory Events for Employees and Nonemployees
Harvard units may occasionally spend modest amounts from appropriate funding sources to recognize employees or non employees under certain circumstances. 

Harvard Records Retention Schedule and Guidance

Honoraria and Reimbursements for Foreign Nationals
This policy outlines the circumstances in which the University can provide compensation to or pay for the travel expenses of guest speakers who are foreign nationals, and describes the associated tax implications.

Human Subject Payments
This policy establishes the tax reporting requirements and data-security protocols related to the payment of human subjects at Harvard. 

Independent Contractor Policy
It is Harvard’s policy that an individual who is paid to provide services to Harvard must be hired as an employee unless the engagement satisfies the three part Independent Contractor test. Please review the policy and talk to your HR Business Partner if you have any questions or need clarification.

This policy is intended to ensure that Harvard University resources are used properly in purchasing activities.

Purchasing Card
Harvard Purchasing Cards (PCards) are University-liability credit cards issued in the names of authorized, trained individuals to purchase certain eligible goods and services in support of Harvard University. 

Receipt Requirements/Definition of Receipts

Even with the implementation of the electronic Concur Reimbursement System, Harvard must follow specific rules that comply with the IRS Accountable Plan to ensure reimbursements are not taxable to the recipient/reimbursee. One requirement is that a reimbursement request must be substantiated with receipts showing evidence of payment. Detailed in this document are the minimum requirements for a receipt to be acceptable as proof of purchase for reimbursement.

Responsibilities of Purchasers, Preparers and Approvers (ROPPA)
This policy defines and codifies the responsibilities of individuals who spend Harvard funds and who prepare and approve transactions.

Restricted Fund Spending Compliance
All Harvard University schools and units are required to establish sound procedures to manage spending on donor restricted funds to comply with terms and conditions. This policy establishes key controls that each school must include in its local procedures.

Short-Term Operating Advances
Harvard only permits a short-term operating advance (STOA) account for human subject payments or short-term projects where use of other payment methods is not feasible.

Sponsored Travel Policy

There are specific rules relating to travel charged to Federal Awards; please review the University Travel Policy (Appendix G) and the Sponsored Expenditures Guidelines.

Summary of all Financial Policies
Click here to access a University list of each of the policies by title, with a short description of the policy and the system(s) it relates to.

Travel Policy

This policy establishes how Harvard University will reimburse individuals for travel expenses incurred conducting University business. While no policy can address every scenario, this document is intended to cover the most common travel-related situations; where unusual circumstances arise, the spirit of this policy – along with good judgment – should prevail.