This section contains essential information for how to use your group's funds, how to submit a financial transaction form (FTF) on LionLink and important information to be aware of as you make purchases for events and activities.
What is LionLink?
Every recognized student group can establish a virtual presence through LionLink, Undergraduate Student Life's online hub for student group activity. With LionLink, student group leaders can manage their finances and purchasing needs, as well as update membership rosters, publicize events and more. To create an account on LionLink, use your Columbia or Barnard email address to sign up.
How to Make a Purchase
All student group purchases require a designated member (usually the treasurer or equivalent role) to first complete a purchase request. To complete a purchase request, you must submit a financial transaction form (FTF) electronically through LionLink. Your adviser needs to approve your FTF before you make a purchase, so please review your event/purchase details with your adviser before you confirm or promise payment to any individual or vendor. Refer to your governing board guidelines for additional approval requirements. During Club Refuel, your group will identify two individuals who will have access to submit FTFs.
How to Submit an FTF
- Log in to LionLink
- On your organization’s page, click “Manage Organization”
- Click “Finance”
- Click “Create New Request”
- Complete required sections and submit
Purchase requests are not automatically routed to your adviser. We recommend you email your adviser and/or governing board representative with the purchase request number to notify them of your pending request so they may approve it.
Each approved FTF may only be used once. If you wish to change the details of your FTF, you must cancel the existing request and fill out a new one for your adviser to approve.
Note: Your purchase cost may never exceed the amount indicated on your approved purchase request. Please anticipate fees and tip amounts in your purchase request before you submit your FTF for approval.
Cash and Check Deposits
Has your group or program earned funds through a fundraiser or ticket sales? Please complete a cash deposit form or check deposit form with your adviser's signature and bring the form along with the required documentation (listed on the deposit form) to Administration and Planning within two business days of your fundraiser or event. If you have questions on what required documentation is needed for your deposit, please email USLadmin@columbia.edu.
You may not collect cash for gift accounts. If someone would like to receive a tax benefit for their contribution to your student group, you must consult with your adviser before accepting the funds to understand if your group is eligible to collect this type of donation.
All checks must be written out to "The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York." We cannot accept checks written out to your student group or to an individual member of your group.
Remember that students may not collect funds through Venmo, PayPal, GoFundMe or other third-party apps or platforms. To keep funds secure until you drop them off in our office, you can request a cash bag before your event. If you require additional guidance on how to keep funds secure, please contact your adviser.
Promotional Product Purchases
Promotional products must, without exception, be purchased from a vendor off of the approved promotional product vendors list.
What is a promotional item?
Promotional items include products either branded with Columbia’s logo or non-branded without the logo that are given out as a promotion or sold for revenue. These items are generally purchased in bulk. Examples include trophies, t-shirts or other apparel, uniforms, banners, water bottles, drawstring bags, wristbands, pens, phone cases and accessories. Please note that what defines a promotional item is not the type of item but rather how it will be used. If you are unsure as to whether an item counts as a promotional product, please reach out to your adviser to discuss further.
There are maximum limits to different types of transactions. Most purchases allowable on your adviser's P-Card may not exceed $2,500, and transactions of this type larger than $2,500 require a Purchase Order (PO) instead. Most other types of purchases which are not allowable on your adviser's P-Card may not exceed $500, and transactions of these types larger than $500 require a Purchase Order instead. Speak with your adviser to confirm what documentation is required before you attempt any purchase over $500.
Columbia University is exempt from paying sales tax in certain states, including New York, due to its 501(c)(3) status. Please see the University sales tax policy for a complete list of these states.
When you coordinate with a vendor to make a purchase, your group should ensure the vendor will accept Columbia University’s sales tax exemption certificate. If a vendor does not wish to honor the exemption form, reach out to your adviser who will help your student group navigate the conversation or have the vendor contact Administration and Planning directly to validate the certificate.
Most payment methods require your group to set up a payee as a vendor in our accounting system if the vendor has not previously done business with the University. To check if a vendor exists in our system, you can search the vendor's information.
If a vendor does not appear in the search results, you must complete the vendor setup request form at least four weeks prior to the event date. Without exception, the vendor must submit a recent tax form (usually a W-8 or W-9), as well as a signed acknowledgment letter per the instructions on the form. You can upload these documents directly with your request.
Please note that completion of this form does not automatically approve the new vendor; rather, this form initiates the process by which a vendor profile will be created. Successful setup requires that the vendor follow the directions indicated in the acknowledgment letter.
Please allow up to four weeks for the completion of the vendor setup process. Keep in touch with the vendor and your adviser during this time to ensure that the process goes smoothly. The vendor may not, under any circumstance, perform any services or provide any goods before they have been approved through this vendor setup process.