Prepaid Vouchers and Petty Cash

Learn about the prepaid voucher and petty cash reconciliation process for sponsored projects at Columbia University.


In the course of conducting business on sponsored projects, Principal Investigators (PIs) and Departmental Administrators (DAs) sometimes make use of prepaid vouchers (e.g., travel advances) and petty cash to meet the objectives of the project. Both mechanisms represent prospective outlays of expenses that are yet to be realized, and must be reconciled in order for them to be considered reportable and reimbursable on a sponsored project.

All prepaid vouchers and petty cash transactions must be reconciled or cancelled as part of the expenditure finalization and validation procedure.

Prepaid Vouchers / Travel Advances

Departments must maintain documentation of all travel advances and must perform a travel advance reconciliation by completing a Travel and Business Expense report in Concur as required by the University’s Travel Expense Policy. Any unallowable travel expenses (as defined by sponsor regulations, University policy or grant/contract terms) must be segregated from allowable travel expenses, and may not be charged to the sponsored project. All travel advances must be cleared before project closeout. Questions about the reconciliation of other types of prepaid vouchers should be directed to Accounts Payable.

Petty Cash

Petty cash is a vehicle for payment/reimbursement of small dollar transactions when other payment options are not feasible. Petty cash funds must be closely monitored and reconciled throughout the life of the project and during project closeout. See the Petty Cash section of the Accounting Operations finance topic for further guidance on maintaining and reconciling petty cash funds, and use the Petty Cash Reconciliation Form to close a petty cash fund.



Contact your Sponsored Projects Finance (SPF) Finance and Compliance Manager for information about prepaid voucher and petty cash reconciliations.

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