Student Unions & Activities : University of Minnesota

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Financial Management

Strong financial management is vital to student group success. Student Unions & Activities provides financial training for student groups. The Student Group Financial Management session focuses on budgeting; tracking expenses and income; and other tips and resources will be reviewed for your group’s financial success. Student Unions & Activities provides templates for general ledgers, annual budgets and event budgets - documents that are used if your group goes through an audit process. We also outline successful officer transition documentation, as you prepare for incoming leadership or a change in leader responsibilities. For training in this area, set up an appointment with a Student Activities Advisor by emailing or calling (612)626-6919.

The following resources are recommended best practices regarding student group financial management and discussed in greater detail as part of our training session:

In accordance with the University of Minnesota’s co-curricular educational philosophy, the University of Minnesota has an educational interest in promoting the sound financial operations of student groups. For registered student groups classified as Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), this interest does not provide supervision over or responsibility for these groups. Student Unions & Activities provides financial training, consultation, and other services supporting the operation of student groups. Compliance with basic financial policies and procedures designed to promote responsible financial management is a requirement for student group registration with the University.

Financial Policies for Campus Life Programs (CLPs)

  1. Registered student groups classified as Campus Life Programs (CLPs) must comply with all University financial policies and procedures.
  2. All CLP funds shall be reflected on the University ledger system and all major equipment shall be registered on University inventory.
  3. CLPs shall not maintain financial accounts (including checkbooks) outside of the University and/or University of Minnesota Foundation.
  4. CLP funds and financial operations shall be subject to the oversight of the host academic or administrative department.
  1. Student group funds should remain separate from other departmental funds.
  2. All documents relating to the CLP should be signed by a registered officer of the student group and the departmental financial officer.

Financial Policies for Registered Student Organizations (RSOs)

  1. Registered student groups classified as Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) must comply with all University student group financial policies and procedures.
  2. RSOs shall maintain independent financial accounts (including checkbooks) outside of the University. RSOs shall not operate their finances via the University’s financial system.
  3. RSOs do not have access to the University’s tax-exempt status and may not use the University tax identification number. Student groups seeking tax-exempt status must file on their own behalf with the state of Minnesota and/or the Internal Revenue Service.
  4. Although the University of Minnesota asks all RSOs to operate as nonprofit entities, these groups do not have nonprofit status with the state of Minnesota.
  5. RSOs are encouraged to apply for a Tax ID number (also known as EIN-Employee ID Number) to be used for any financial accounts on the group’s behalf. Groups apply for a Tax ID number through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Additional information on applying for a Tax ID number.

Basic Financial Policies

The financial operations of student groups must be conducted in accordance with all applicable local, state, federal laws and regulations, and the student group’s respective constitutions.

Registered officers of the student group shall have personal responsibility and accountability for the finances and operations of the group, in accordance with the Policy on Registration and Classification of Student Groups, and as specified in the student group’s constitution.

Registered Student Organizations shall independently secure and maintain banking services through a service provider of their choice. All accounts should be opened and maintained under a Tax ID Number (or EIN-Employee ID Number) specific to the group. Campus Life Programs may not have a checkbook or separate banking account, as they are required to use the University’s financial management system for all transactions.

Student groups shall be responsible for all applicable taxes; including, but not limited to, collection and payment of sales taxes and filing and payment of income taxes.

Upon dissolution of a student group, the group’s officers shall be responsible for the distribution of remaining funds, in accordance with the group’s constitution.

Use of Funds

All use of student group funds shall be in accordance with the group’s constitution. Student groups may pay its officers and employee’s salaries, wages, stipends, or other lawful incentives for services rendered. Student groups may also make financial awards/prizes to individuals, including officers or members, as a result of individual participation in a student group activity. Other payments, including gifts, distribution of residual assets or profits, dividends, and so on, to officers, members, or other individuals are prohibited. Where appropriate, organizations that qualify as charitable, educational, social, or benevolent organizations may make payments to other affiliated organizations outside the University. Check with SUA staff if you have questions about use of funds.

Independent auditing is an important element of the ongoing financial solvency and accountability of student groups’ accounts. Please see Maintenance & Records for additional information regarding best practices. Student Unions & Activities reserves the right to require audit information from a qualified independent auditor.

Partisan Political Activity and Finances

Partisan political student groups and student fees funding

Partisan political student groups are not eligible to apply and/or receive general student services fees. “Partisan political student groups” are organizations affiliated with and in support of a registered political party or candidates for election. Such groups may seek funding for their nonpartisan political activities (e.g., candidate forums available to all qualified candidates, nonpartisan educational programs, etc.) through other University grant and student funding programs.

Limits on use of University funds for all student groups

No registered student group may use University funds on behalf of a candidate for public office in a political campaign.