Five College Consortium

Guide to Planning Use of Allocated Funds

The Guide to Planning Use of Funds is organized by three types of Frequently Asked Questions regarding planning for use of allocated funds.

General information for planning:
Uses of Five College program or project funds requiring special care and pre-planning:
Arranging processing of Five College program or project expenses:

General information for planning:

Where does Five College funding come from?

Five Colleges, Incorporated allocates funds under the authority of the Five College Board of Directors, whose members are the presidents of the four colleges, the Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the President of the University of Massachusetts, and the Executive Director of Five Colleges, Incorporated.  The Board approves an annual budget for the consortium based on recommendations from the Five College Deans Council (composed of Deans of Faculty from all five campuses) and the Principal Business Officers of the five campuses.  Funds allocated are contributed from various campus budgets, grants awarded the Consortium by external funders, and endowment income.  Responsibility for administering these funds in accordance with all legal requirements, agreements among the campuses and with external funders, and good business practice are delegated by the Board to the Executive Director of Five Colleges, Incorporated and  the Treasurer.

Fund raising and grant applications by Five College programs are permitted only with the approval of the Executive Director of Five Colleges, Incorporated. Program committees and councils are encouraged to consult with program liaisons regarding ambitions and plans for grant applications or other external fundraising. Academic Programs staff members work closely with the Five College Director for Development Nancy Goff to investigate funding opportunities that would suit the needs of Five College academic programs and to develop grant proposals for grants to fund consortial projects.  Five College central staff members consult with their counterparts in campus offices before submitting such proposals.

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How is funding awarded by Five Colleges, Incorporated for collaborative projects?

Funding is allocated each year to Five College programs and committees for the following fiscal year through the consortium budget.  This budget is drafted by Five College staff members in fall, based on their review of requests submitted by Five College programs in September and agreements among the campuses.  (Requests from programs generally include clear indication of how funds will be used.)  The draft FCI budget is then reviewed by the Deans of Faculty and Principal Business Officers, revised based on these reviews, then reviewed by the Board of Directors, which may require additional revisions before final approval, normally in late spring.   

In addition to funds allocated to programs and committees through the annual budget, during the year, Five College staff members allocate funding for other projects—in some cases in consultation with the Deans or Principal Business Officers.  Most of these are awarded as the result of proposals submitted in response to requests for proposals (RFPs) for particular purposes. Some RFPs indicate deadlines for submitting proposals; in other cases, proposals are received and reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year.  Finally, Five Colleges reserves some funds for allocation at the discretion of the Executive Director and his staff.

It should be noted that Five Colleges occasionally agrees to allocate funds to programs or projects for reallocation by those programs, sometimes as part of the annual budget, sometimes under the terms of a grant awarded to Five Colleges. Five Colleges approves procedures for these reallocations and its policies govern how such funds will be accessed and expended. 

Occasionally Five Colleges allocates funds directly to one of the campuses for support of a Five College project.  In such cases, the receiving campus will administer funds directly, following agreements with Five Colleges and in accordance with that campus’s own policies.

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How do I know what the program or project budget is?

After the consortium budget is finalized (usually in June), fiscal-year award amounts are communicated in several ways.  Administrative programs and committees with designated Chairs receive a letter or email from the FCI Business Office, usually in July, describing allocated funds. Academic Programs with a designated Chair or Co-Chairs receive either a letter or email describing allocated funds from the business office, or receive communications from the FCI program liaison during July or August of the same fiscal year the funding is awarded. Committees or councils overseeing programs without designated Chairs will be collectively briefed by the FCI program liaison.

Budgets for other Five College projects, including those funded through grants to Five Colleges, will be included in an award letter or in subsequent correspondence from a designated member of the Five College staff.

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What are my responsibilities for managing the budget of the Five College program or project that I am leading?

Working with Five College staff members charged with supporting the program or project, it is the responsibility of each program leader (such as the committee or council Chair, or project PI) to keep track of funds provided by Five Colleges for the program and/or project (including those awarded to fund a proposal submitted in response to an RFP); to ensure expenditures are within the budget and are expended for the purposes intended, as outlined in the approved budget or award letter; to monitor the budget balance; to submit requests for payments to the Five College business office, following defined policies; and to provide an annual program report including a summary of how the allocated funds were used. A list of Five College staff persons acting as primary liaisons for various programs and projects is available here. Please also see the "Request for Proposals" page for more information about Five College staff member(s) to be consulted regarding administration of funds for projects resulting from an RFP.

Leaders of Five College academic programs and projects may also contact their program liaison. It is a good idea to consult with the program liaison at least once each semester to ensure that your program records and FCI accounting accurately reflect the program's budget activities.

Using program funds other than as stipulated in the program budget or grant award notification must be approved in advance by your program liaison in consultation with other FCI personnel. When in doubt, for academic programs and projects, consult your program liaison, or Nate Therien, Director for Academic Programs. For administrative programs, contact the program’s Five College liaison.

Some expenditures requiring special care and planning before commitments are made or orders are placed are addressed in the following sections, such as planning for purchase of software or equipment, making a request to pay to an individual or vendor over $1500, hiring a graduate or undergraduate student.

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How do I keep track of expenditures for the program or project budget?

The business office produces quarterly reports of spending against each program or project budget, usually within 30 days of the end of each quarter.  These reports may not include the most recent expenditures.  It is therefore a good idea for program leaders to track spending requests and expenditures made from the allocated program budget. Your program liaison can provide a worksheet that will allow you to enter payment requests submitted to the Five College business office and calculate the balance remaining in your budget, assuming payment of those requests. She can also help you acquire a quarterly report, or a current expense report at any time from the Five College business office. 

See the Guide to Making Payments for more information about how to arrange for specific payments from a program or project budget.

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Uses of Five College program or project funds requiring special care and pre-planning:

My program or project would like to plan for purchasing software or equipment. What should I do before making any purchase arrangements?

Any purchases of IT equipment or software over $500 will need to be reviewed and pre-approved by FCI’s Director of IT Maria Toyofuku

Other types of equipment purchases over $5,000 (inclusive of purchases with maintenance cost implications) will need pre-approval via the program's FCI staff liaison and the FCI business office.  Purchased equipment will almost always become the property of FCI unless different arrangements have been specifically made in advance of the purchase, and in consultation with the program liaison. 

Normally, paying for materials or equipment for a course offered by any of the campuses is the responsibility of that campus and not that of a Five College program or FCI.

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My program or project would like to make an arrangement that would require payment in excess of $1500 to a visitor or vendor.  What do I need to do?

Since any payment to an individual by Five Colleges for an amount over $1500 requires a contract be executed between the individual and Five Colleges, Incorporated, you must first prepare and submit an outline of scope of services and deliverables to be included in the contract to your program liaison well in advance of any such plans, and prior to making any payment offer.

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My program or project would like to make an arrangement to pay a stipend to an individual (not a student). What do I need to do?

Any payment of a stipend to an individual by Five Colleges requires thoughtful review.  It is normal Five College policy that no Five College money is used to pay stipends to employees of any of the Five Colleges or of Five Colleges, Incorporated.  Some exceptions do apply.  If you think you have one of those exceptions, contact your program liaison to discuss requesting approval before making a commitment to pay a stipend.

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My program or project would like to hire a graduate student to assist with a project.  What are the steps I would to follow to do that? 

In almost all cases if a graduate student is doing work for a Five College program or project (or projects funded through a Five College grant) the student needs to be hired through the University, which then bills Five Colleges. This requires following procedures and policies agreed to by the University, the Graduate Student Union, the colleges, and Five Colleges.  Based on the nature of the work, its relationship to the student’s course of study, and the hours required, compensation paid to the student will vary, as will other costs of the position (since under different conditions, various supplemental fees may be charged to Five Colleges).  The Graduate School makes these determinations.  The Graduate School also determines whether the work in question will qualify the student for a tuition waiver and other benefits.

The process for reaching this determination involves submitting a job description to the Graduate School and completing a form supplied by the School. Normally this paperwork is supplied to the Graduate School by a Five College staff member on behalf of a Five College program. The School will then determine the terms of employment and the cost of the position to Five Colleges, requesting Five Colleges agree to reimburse at that level. See more at the University Graduate School website.  No promise should be made to a graduate student regarding employment until this process has been completed.

Normally we recommend starting the process with drafting a job description (including anticipated hours, duration and nature of the work), and contacting your program’s Five College liaison. For planning purposes, we can develop an estimate of the actual cost of a position. 

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My program or project would like to hire an undergraduate student to assist with a project.  What are the steps I would to follow to do that? 

A Five College program or project may hire an undergraduate student in several ways if the program or project budget has adequate funding for this purpose.

In most cases, arrangements for hiring an undergraduate student should conform to the guidelines of the student’s home campus. The student’s home campus can be consulted to determine if there would be any impact on the student’s financial aid package, or otherwise.

  • To hire a student as a work study student employee via the student’s home campus:

A student’s home campus financial aid office will determine if a student is eligible for the federal work study program which provides subsidy for wages of certain on-campus and off-campus student employment.

If you are hiring a student eligible for this program, consult with the student’s home campus employment office for policies and procedures. Provide your program or project liaison at FCI with an estimate of the total cost to your program or project, copies of all paperwork submitted to the student’s home campus, as well as and copies of all timesheets.

  • To hire a student as an hourly employee not eligible for federal work study:

If the student will be hired as an hourly employee by Five Colleges, Incorporated, contact Toby Hall at the Five College Business Office. If the student will be hired as an employee of the student’s home campus, contact the campus.

  • To pay a student a stipend for work on an education-related project that provides a learning opportunity for the student:

Before hiring a student, be sure the program or project allocation is sufficient to cover the cost. Stipends are payments made for which no specific services are rendered or required. Student participation in the program must be predominantly for the benefit of the student and not FCI and/or project. The student will receive a Form 1099 for payments totaling $600 or more.  Contact your FCI liaison if you have questions on whether or not the participation of a student in your project qualifies for a stipend.

In the case of academic programs or projects planning to pay a stipend to an undergraduate student, please contact your program liaison well in advance. We will require a brief project description, estimated number of hours, as well as start and end date of the work, in order to draft a Student Stipend Agreement form. Stipend payments to foreign students will require special arrangements, please contact your program liaison for more information. In addition to approporate tax forms, students will be required to submit a signed FCI Student Stipend Agreement form, liability form, and emergency contact form (these forms are provided on request from your program or project liaison and will vary depending on the circumstances).

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My program or project would like to arrange payment to a foreign-national. What do I need to do?

If feasible, we recommend processing payments to foreign individuals through one of the campuses and ask the campus to submit a reimbursement of payment request to FCI (see instructions for payments to a Program or department at a Five College campus). If this method is not an option, complete the Five College Foreign National Visitor Information form and obtain copies of the requested information, such as I-9 form, Visa, and Passport to start the process of processing payments.  Submit all documentation to the FCI business office for review before promising any payments. Payments made to Foreign Nationals require additional paperwork and ample processing time. In some instances, FCI may not be able to make payments to Foreign Nationals because of visa restrictions. See below for links to forms and documents.

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How do I arrange for expenses to be paid from funds allocated to a program or project?
The first step is to ensure that your budget balance will accommodate the expense you are planning and that the expense is allowable given the terms of your allocation from Five Colleges and the policies of Five Colleges. Some kinds of expenditures require special care, as outlined above (e.g. hiring an undergraduate or graduate student; contracting for the services of a visitor or vendor if the payment is over $1500; paying a stipend to an international visitor or reimbursing the expenses of an international visitor; purchasing equipment or software; purchasing supplies or equipment for a course taught at one of the campuses.) No commitments for payment should be made before all planning and arrangements have been made, particularly where pre-approval from FCI and/or contracts are required.

In most cases, arranging for payment of any expense requires submitting a Five College Check Request Form.  This form is used to gather the information required to process payments by Five Colleges. The form asks for basic information about the requester, the program or project funds to be used for the payment, and the payee. Instructions for filling in each item on the form are available on page 2 of the FCI Check Request Form. Please contact Toby Hall, staff accountant, if you have any questions.

Depending on the type of payment requested and who is being paid, you may need to include additional forms and documents, as outlined in The Guide to Processing Payments

Please note that requests for payment from a program’s budget must come from the program Chair, project PI, or a designated member of a Five College Council or Committee. Requests for payment cannot be submitted by the payee (unless the payee is a Chair, PI, or otherwise explicitly designated by the person(s) responsible for the program or project budget).


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