This section contains fundamental information about your student group's spending account, how to locate your chartstring and how to keep track of your group's funds.
Your student group spending account has a unique number called a chartstring. You will need your chartstring for all financial transactions, similar to how you need your bank account number for banking transactions.
How do I find my chartstring?
Your adviser will provide you with your chartstring when you have completed Club Refuel. You can also find your chartstring in LionLink under the "Finance" tab. Keep your group’s chartstring in a convenient place since you will refer to it often and need it to complete all financial forms and requests for spending. Please note that if your student group is in possession of a gift account, the gift account chartstring is distinct from your group's general operating account (similar to how a checking account and savings account have different account numbers).
Allocation and Revenue
At Columbia, recognized student groups receive two types of funding: Allocation and revenue.
Allocation is provided to your group by your governing board, given as a lump sum at the beginning of each year. To obtain allocation, your student group must put together an allocation request (the format of which will differ depending on your governing board) usually at the end of each academic year to request funds for the upcoming year. Your governing board decides the final amount given and makes these numbers available to all groups at the beginning of each fall semester. Any allocation funds that remain in your account are reclaimed by your governing boards at the end of each academic year. In your chartstring, "41965" identifies funds spent from allocation. Refer to your governing board for additional guidelines on the use of allocation funds.
Revenue is money raised by your group through approved fundraising methods to help offset the cost of group programming and events. Revenue that is not spent in one academic year rolls over to the next academic year for use. Student groups should be mindful not to carry large balances in their accounts, as we are a non-profit institution. In your chartstring, "41966" identifies funds spent from revenue. Refer to your governing board for additional guidelines on the use of revenue funds.
Account Balance Reports
It is expected that student groups maintain a record of all deposits and expenses for their student group account. To track your group’s budget, you may download this tracking sheet template or use a similar spreadsheet.
Fund Balance-Overdraft Reports: During the academic year, governing boards, councils and advisers receive a weekly account balance report, called an Fund Balance-Overdraft Report, that shows the available remaining balance for all student groups. The balances reflect only the transactions that have cleared Columbia’s financial system. Please consider any recent and/or pending transactions that may not appear on the report. Learn how to read a fund balance report.
Trial Balance Reports: To see all transactions and account activity for your student group you can request an account balance report, also called a trial balance report. We recommend you request a report at least quarterly and compare it to your budget tracking sheet to take note of any discrepancies. You must notify your adviser immediately if you find incorrect charges on your report.
LionLink Balances: Student groups should not rely on the balances shown in LionLink. LionLink does not connect to the Columbia accounting system, and the balances on the “Finance” tab are not up to date. Fund Balance-Overdraft and account balance reports come directly from Columbia’s accounting system and contain accurate balances.
Governing boards and advisers are notified weekly of groups in overdraft. If your group is in overdraft, you will not be permitted to continue spending, and your financial access in LionLink will be suspended until the account is in good standing. Additionally, your adviser will not approve space requests until the overdraft has been cleared. Groups should speak with their advisers about possible options to bring their account back into good standing.
Off-Campus Bank Accounts and Fundraising Platforms
Recognized student groups may not hold or use off-campus bank accounts to conduct business related to their student group. Under no circumstance may student groups establish bank accounts in the University’s name or with the University’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) and/or Tax Identification Number (TIN). If your group is separately incorporated, please see your adviser for more information.
Student groups may not collect funds via mobile payment services. These services include but are not limited to: Venmo, Paypal, Cash App, GoFundMe or any similar platform used for collecting funds or making financial transactions. Under special circumstances, student groups may use an Eventbrite account managed by Undergraduate Student Life for ticket sales and to collect suggested donations. Please see your adviser for assistance with this process.
If a recognized student group has an active off-campus account or mobile payment app account in use for Columbia-related activities and/or collecting funds, it will need to be closed immediately. In these circumstances, Undergraduate Student Life will work with student groups and their adviser to get off-campus funds transferred into your Columbia account. If you have or are using one of these accounts, please contact your adviser to assist you with the funds-transfer process.