For Student Organizations
In addition to planning events for your organization, balancing the finances of your group is similar to that of running a small non-profit. Student Services is always here and willing to help guide you through this process. Below we have detailed important information on obtaining and maintaining your student organization account as well as some of the most common processes for payment at the university. Be sure to read through this section carefully. If you have any questions, email Student Services or visit us on the fifth floor of William and June Warren Hall.
Letters of Credit
Some local vendors will invoice Columbia Law School directly for purchases that are authorized for a student organization by Student Services. You can pay for goods and services at participating vendors by using a letter of credit, a document that functions as a check from the Law School. If you are making a purchase in person, give the vendor the letter of credit. If you purchase items over the phone, be sure to tell the vendor that you will be paying by letter of credit from the Law School.
Students can obtain a letter of credit by presenting their identification at the Student Services desk, Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Letters of credit are signed and issued to the student organization representative to take to the vendor. The student organization representative can then take the letter of credit directly to the vendor, and use it like a check to make the purchase. If the payment of a tip is included, please note the tip cost separately on the letter of credit at the time of delivery. If you would like to add a vendor to our letter of credit list, please talk to a Student Services representative for more information.
Click here to download the LOC vendor list.
Though we welcome all new vendor relationships, specific information must be understood and received by both parties before commencing any business transactions. All new vendors must submit the following information below to Student Services in order to start the new vendor registration process, further outlined by the Business Office here.
1. Name (as it appears on tax documents such as W9)
2. Address (as it appears on tax documents such as W9)
3. e-mail Address (of an actual person working at the business or organization)
4. Telephone Number (of an actual person working at the business or organization)
5. Nature of Payment (Reimbursement, Honorarium, Goods/Services)
6. PASSWORD PROTECTED IRS Tax Forms as PDF*
a. W8BEN and Bank Wire Template signed and dated for ALL non-US Residents
b. W9 for US Citizens and US Residents EXCEPT for reimbursements
* PASSWORD PROTECTION: Universal Password NEW_VENDOR (See step-by-step instructions for password protection here.)
Once this information is received, the University will contact the vendor directly to complete her/his registration online. It takes approximately five business days from the time all information is completed and received by the vendor for all new vendors to be entered into the system. New vendors should be made aware of our billing procedures and time constraints in payment that are listed in the following sections below before engaging them for your event.
Travel and Business Reimbursement Requests
Under very rare circumstances students will find that they have to pay for travel or business expenses out of their own pockets. Because the reimbursement process takes quite a long time—between six and eight weeks—we require that all students seek prior approval from Student Services. Certain expenses such as paying a DJ, band/artist, website hosting services, graphic designer, and the like, are never reimbursable. We strongly urge you to use check requests or letters of credit or to ask the vendor to provide an invoice for future payment instead. All reimbursement requests require strict documentation to verify that your organization, the Student Senate, or Student Services has authorized the transaction for which you are being reimbursed.
A completed Reimbursement Request should contain the following:
- Completed Travel & Business Reimbursement Form (on the Forms page)
- Original receipts of all expenses
- Detailed travel itinerary showing payment of expense
- Proof of event (any form of advertisement for an event such as a flyer or email exchange)
For all lost receipts, a lost receipt form (obtainable from Student Services), a copy of a credit card statement, and a memo explaining the reason for lost receipts must be submitted with your Travel and Business Expense Reports to Student Services.