Institutional Definitions

Institutional definitions are agreed upon as the definitions of record used when developing enterprise reports. All UW personnel responsible for producing enterprise reports should strive to incorporate the institutional definitions into those reports, and document when reports use definitions that are not aligned.

Faculty Definitions                                             Back to Top

Actual Distribution

Actual distribution is a table that contains the results of the semi-monthly payroll calculation. It represents actual gross payments or negative payments (in the case of overpayments) to appointees in the payroll system. Payments are the result of projected distributions for appointments applied in the payroll system, followed by modifications from the Exception Time Reporting (ETR) and Positive Time Reporting (PTR) systems. As a general rule, projected distributions without an amount do not appear in Actual Distributions.

Entries in the Actual Distribution have two time dimensions, Earned Date and Pay Cycle End Date.

  • Pay Cycle End Date indicates the last day of the pay cycle for which the payment was actually calculated and paid.
  • Earned Date indicates the last day of the pay cycle for which the payment was earned or should have been earned.

The different values allow the isolation of retroactive payments and overpayments.


  • If an individual receives a payment of $500 (based on a monthly rate of $1000) on 4/30 for work completed in the pay cycle ending on 4/30, then both the Pay Cycle End Date and the Earned Date will be 4/30, and the Earnings Amount will be $500.
  • If an individual then receives a retroactive salary increase to a monthly rate of $1200 (effective 4/16, entered into the system on 5/15), the following will occur: The individual will receive a payment of $600 (half of other $1200 rate) on 5/15. In addition, the individual will receive an additional payment of $100 (half the difference in rates) during the payroll calculation for the pay cycle ending 5/15 for work completed during the pay cycle ending on 4/30, the Earned Date will be 4/30, the Pay Cycle End Date will be 5/15, and the Earnings Amount will be $100.
  • Overpayments or decreases in salary rates are treated the same way, with the exception that the distribution amount is negative.

All Earnings Amounts for a given combination of Earned Dates and Pay Cycle End Dates can be summed to arrive at a total Earned Amount.


An appointment is a unique combination of a person, a job classification, and an organizational unit. It has beginning and ending dates, and a salary.

Appointment Begin Date      

The Appointment Begin Date is the first day of an individual's appointment. Generally, the beginning of the appointment corresponds to the beginning of payment for the appointee's responsibilities in the appointing unit; however, an individual may be appointed and not paid.

Appointment End Date         

The Appointment End Date is the last day of an individual's appointment. If the end date of an appointment is unknown, such as the case of faculty members with indefinite appointments, the Appointment End Date may be equal to 12/31/9999. Generally, the Appointment End Date corresponds to the end of payment for the appointee's responsibilities in the appointing unit; however, an individual may be appointed and not paid.

Appointment Status

Appointment Status indicates whether an appointment is currently active. The status codes are:

  • A - Active - The appointment is active.
  • L - Leave - The appointment is in a leave state, but still active.
  • N - Inactive - The appointment is inactive and should be ignored. Ignore this rule in the summer,

Census Date

Census date is a quarterly date that is used for representing, reporting, and querying data about payroll and personnel. It occurs a few weeks into each quarter, to allow most quarterly personnel change processing to have been completed.

Census dates coincide with the last day of a pay cycle for the given quarters in an academic or fiscal year. The census dates are:

  • July 31 - Summer Quarter
  • October 31 - Autumn Quarter (generally used for annual reporting)
  • January 31 - Winter Quarter
  • April 30 - Spring Quarter


Faculty members are persons paid for instructional, research, and service activities. They are identified by an ECS Code (also known as Employee Type) of F and a Job Classification Code that indicates participation in one or more of the above-mentioned activities.

Job Classification Code

Job Classification Code (aka Job Class Code) is a 4-digit code assigned to each appointment. It describes the conditions of an appointment with the University, including, but not limited to, conditions of employment, qualifications, benefits, pay scales, employment programs, and responsibilities.

Organization Code      

Organization Code (also known as Org Code) represents the University organizational structure in a view that is primarily financially oriented. When referenced on the Budget Index (the 02 Index), Organization Code relates a Budget Number to an organizational unit.

  • 2-00-00-00-00-0 - President
  • 2-10-00-00-00-0 - Dean /VP
  • 2-10-01-00-00-0 - Major Level
  • 2-10-01-01-00-0 - Department
  • 2-10-01-01-01-0 - Division
  • 2-10-01-01-01-1 - Subdivision

One Organization Code may have many budgets associated with it; however one budget may be related to only one Organization Code at a time. Over time, one budget may be related to different Organization Codes, but only one at a time.

There are major issues with the Financial Org Code.

  • It is a multi-characteristic attribute.
  • Even though embedded in the code, the hierarchy is not applied consistently throughout campus.
  • It does not always represent organizational areas; it can also represent financial holding areas, such as tuition.

Regular Equivalent Earnings         

Regular Equivalent Earnings are a collection of Earnings Types that represent Regular Earnings or their equivalent. They are used to calculate FTE or earnings that are based on a faculty member's FTE.  Supplements are excluded because they do not have an FTE associated with them.

  • REG - Regular Earnings
  • PLP - Paid Professional Leave
  • S/L - Sick Leave
  • MLP - Military Paid Leave
  • TFA - Regular Earnings for Retirees

Student Definitions                                             Back to Top

Cross-Unit Major

A cross-unit a major is one that is shared by more than one school, college, or campus. This does not include multiple majors within a school, college, or campus. Cross-unit is defined here for administrative purposes. The term interdisciplinary still has application for academic purposes.

Duplicated Headcount

Duplicated headcount is counting the student in each unit (school, college, campus, or department) that sponsors the major.

Formal, Dual-Degree Major

A formal, dual-degree major means that the student has more than one major and is participating in a program that has been set up and approved through formal University channels. Previously, dual-degree majors were called concurrent majors. Contrast with Informal, Dual-Degree Major.

Informal, Dual-Degree Major

An informal, dual-degree major means the student has more than one major and is participating in a program that has not been set up and approved through formal University channels. Contrast with Formal, Dual-Degree Major.

Intended Major

Intended majors are the majors indicated by students at registration, including students who intend to apply for competitive majors such as Engineering or Nursing. Previously, intended majors were referred to as pre-majors.

Non-Matriculated Student

A non-matriculated student is one who has not been admitted to the UW to pursue a degree program.

On-Leave Student

An on-leave student is one who was enrolled in a previous quarter then chooses not to enroll in one or more subsequent quarters.

Unduplicated, Distributed Headcount

Unduplicated, distributed headcount allocates a percentage of the student to each unit (school, college, campus, or department) that sponsors the major, as agreed by all involved. 


Finance Definitions                                             Back to Top


Distribution of adjustments (both positive and negative) to units, colleges and offices, the total of which equals the UW's allotment.


The spending plan that divides the appropriation into amounts by fund, program, and object of expenditure. The state must approve the spending plan.


Funds voted by the state legislature for use by the University of Washington. Generally, a lump sum spending authorization for specific purposes and for use during a specified time period.

Beginning Balance

The term, beginning balance, applies to Grants & Contracts, Gifts, Endowment-Operating, Other Operating Funds, Royalty Budgets, Auxiliary and Self-sustaining Operations, and Endowment Principal. For these areas, beginning balance is the value of account code 9788, the ending balance of the prior fiscal period. Beginning balance does not apply to GOF and DOF budgets.


Two year budgeting period. Begins July 1st in odd-numbered years and ends June 30th of odd-numbered years.


A plan for spending. In the case of state (non-self-sustaining) budgets, it is also the authority to spend.

Budget Number

A six digit control number (xx-xxxx) assigned to a particular college, department or entity in order to keep track of revenue and expenditures.

Budget Types/Classes

Budget Type and Budget Class provide a general category/subcategory classification of budget numbers based roughly on type of funding.

Budget Type is a 2-digit code that facilitates monitoring and reporting of University budget and funding levels. Budget Class is a 2-digit extension of Budget Type. It adds subcategories within the Budget Type groupings. Budget Class designations are meaningful only within the context of a Budget Type; they are not used by themselves.


Carry-forward indicates that portion of a permanent (on-going) commitment that is not funded in the current biennium. Do not confuse carry-forward with carryover.


Carryover is the unexpended budget balances in Local Fund Allocation (LFA), Research Cost Recovery (RCR), and General Operating Fund (GOF) budgets. It can carryover as temporary allocations in the new biennium. For GOF budgets, the practice has been to allow up to a 1% carryover.  The LFA and GOF carryovers return to the unit, school, college or campus as LFA funds. RCR is returned as RCR funds.


A setting aside or earmarking of funds for known future expenses or capital expenditures by a department. Commitments are different from encumbrances in that they are generated by a department and exist currently outside of the UW's centralized financial accounting system, and encumbrances are generated by the systems themselves.

Cross-Unit Accounting

Cross-unit accounting refers to the business processes used to manage and report the financial operations of the University across schools, colleges, campuses, departments, and units. Previously, cross-unit was referred to as interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary.

Designated Operating Funds

Designated operating funds (DOF) are provided from local fund sources within the University of Washington, such as indirect costs (or overhead) charged to self-sustaining budgets and grants, interest income, summer quarter revenue, hospital revenue, administrative overhead, and miscellaneous fees.  The University has unlimited discretion as to the use of such funds, though, as a matter of internal policy, may have restricted their use.

Direct costs

Direct costs are those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project.

Discretionary Gifts

Discretionary gifts are voluntary provisions of external support from a donor. They are designated as non-public funds and, therefore, provide University officials greater flexibility in achieving the missions of their units.


This is an outstanding commitment on a budget.

An encumbrance places a hold by deducting the amount encumbered from the budget balance until the item has been paid (vendor invoice processed through Accounts Payable and posted). Obligations in the form of purchase orders, contracts, or salary commitments. They cease to be encumbrances when paid. Once an encumbrance is liquidated it is removed.


An endowment is a permanent fund established for the purpose specified by the donor.

Auxiliary Enterprises

Revenue and expenses associated with auxiliary activities of an enterprise nature such as parking, housing, and food services. These activities are not essential to the mission of the University but are necessary to the efficient conduct of the mission. Also called Service Funds.


A charge or debit against a UW budget.

Expenditures may include salaries, services, supplies, equipment acquisition, travel expenditures, or any other activity which can be assigned a dollar value. Expenditures are recorded in the Financial Accounting System under the budget number being charged for the activity.

Facilities and Administrative Costs

See Indirect Costs.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is funding available to assist undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students with the cost of tuition, books, and housing or living expenses.

Fiscal Note

A statement of the estimated fiscal impact of proposed legislation.

Fiscal Year

The period of time utilized for maintaining university financial records. It commences on July 1 in one calendar year and ends on June 30 in the next calendar year.

Since the June 30/July 1 date occurs in the middle of Summer Academic Quarter, Fiscal Year and Academic Year are not perfectly aligned. Tuition revenue is, as a result, handled in two different ways:

  • For reporting financial information for financial accounting purposes, the date on which a student pays summer tuition determines the fiscal year in which it is considered to be revenue. As an example, if a student pays tuition for the Summer 2013 quarter before June 30, 2013, it will be recorded as revenue in the 2012-13 fiscal year. If paid on July 1 or later, it will be recorded as revenue in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
  • However, for reporting financial information for academic purposes (for example, when attributing tuition revenue to academic units when developing unit budgets), Summer Quarter is attributed exclusively to the following fiscal year. This special alignment between Academic Quarters and the Fiscal Year is referred to as the Academic Fiscal Year.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE)

As a unit of measure of State employees, it refers to the equivalent of one person working full-time for one year (approximately 2,080 hours of paid staff time). However, two people working half-time also count as one FTE.


A fiscal and accounting entity with a self-balancing set of accounts recording cash and other financial resources together with all related liabilities and residual balances and revenues and expenditures.

Funds are segregated for the purpose of attaining certain objectives in accordance with special regulations, restrictions or limitations. A collection of budgets and General Ledger Account Codes that make up a complete accounting entity, with a Balance Sheet and Income Statement. Funds are established by the State of Washington and/or the UW to separately account for transactions that belong to separate accounting entities within the UW, for example: State General Appropriation, UW Medical Center, and Motor Pool.

General Fund Allocation

State and appropriated local funds for unrestricted use and support of the University, generally intended to support the instructional mission and administrative and support functions.

General Operating Fund

General Operating Funds (GOF) are funds over which the University has significant discretion. They are composed of State appropriations (tax support) and operating fee revenue (a portion of tuition). GOF expenditures are subject to State of Washington and internal University of Washington polices and procedures.

Gifts and Discretionary

A gift is a voluntary provision of external support by a donor to the University. It does not require the recipient to provide the donor with any economic or other tangible benefit in return. There are three types of gifts: restricted, unrestricted, and discretionary.

Grants, Contracts, and Cooperative Agreements

Grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements are monetary amounts awarded to the University by State or Federal Agencies, philanthropic organizations, or private industry. They are used for specific purposes under defined terms and conditions.

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs are those costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives, and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity.

Indirect costs were formerly referred to as Facilities and Administrative Costs.

For more information about Indirect Costs, see Grants Information Memorandum 22.

Local Funds

Local funds are a general category used as a group term that includes both local fund allocations (LFA) and research cost recovery (RCR) funds. Local funds are supported revenues over which there are no externally imposed restrictions. Local funds are a subset of DOF.

Local Fund Allocation

Local fund allocation is a sub-category of DOF.  Local fund allocation is supported by locally generated revenues over which there are no externally imposed restrictions on spending.

Medical Center Clearing Accounts

See Medical Centers.

Operating Budget Request

Prepared by the Budget Office on a biennial basis to request funds from the state. Based on current budgeted levels.

Org Code Levels

The code that represents the University organizational structure. The code that represents the University organizational structure. When referenced on the Budget Index (the 02 Index), Organization Code relates a Budget number to an Organizational Unit.

This field is routinely sub-defined as follows:

  • X(1) President's Level (organ_pres) - A broad grouping of units according to top administrative areas of responsibility or major class of programs.C39 X(2) Dean/Vice President's Level (organ_dean) - Major organizational divisions usually headed by an officer reporting to the President (colleges, schools, vice president divisions).
  • X(2) Major Level (organ_major_area) - Programmatic or organizational partitioning of major organizational divisions (organizational dependent).
  • X(2) Department Level (organ_dept) - Primary operating unit of the University, usually designated as a department in academic units and as an office in administrative units. Department level units as defined by section 12-26 of the University Handbook, interdisciplinary centers, and comparable level administrative service organizations are included.
  • X(2) Division Level (organ_division) - Academic sub-disciplines or sub-specialties contained within a department and functional/organizational division of large administrative/service units.
  • X(1) Sub-Division Level (organ_sub_division) - Specialized research, teaching or service activities, e.g., the research activities of a single Principal Investigator; the training/research/patient care activities conducted at affiliated hospitals.

Permanent Budgeted Funds

Funds which can be used once each biennium. Unused portions roll over as a part of the permanent base.


Language in budget bills that places a condition on the use of appropriations.

Research Cost Recovery

Research Cost Recovery (RCR) represents return of indirect administrative costs to schools, colleges, and campuses. RCR is a sub-category of DOF.

Restricted Gifts

Restricted gifts are voluntary provisions of external support from a donor. The gift funds are subject to State of Washington policies, internal University of Washington policies and procedures, and any restrictions imposed by the donor. Examples of donor restrictions are contributions for a specific use, such as library support, scholarships, or cancer research.

Restricted Operating Funds

Restricted operating funds (ROF) are funds over whose use the University has little or no discretion.


Outside income, credit or reverse expenditures to a UW budget.

Revenue is defined as funds received from sales and services. Revenue and funding is recorded in the University of Washington current operating fund, which is the economic resource of the University available for the purpose of performing the primary and supporting missions of the institution. The major sources of REVENUE funding for the University are state allocations, grants, contracts, gifts, rents, royalties, and interest and dividends from investments. All revenues are included in the University's biennial budget request and are subject to State accounting and budgeting requirements.

Expired Salary Allocation

The variance in state budgets, when the budgeted amount for salaries in object codes 01-10, 01-60, or 01-70, does not exactly match the actual salary paid.

The variance in state budgets, when the budgeted amount for salaries in object codes 01-10, 01-60, or 01-70, does not exactly match the actual salary paid. An Expired Salary Allocation can be the result of a difference between the monthly budgeted amount and the actual salary paid, or it may occur due to position vacancies, faculty sabbaticals, or faculty releasing position funds while being compensated from other funding sources.

It is also referred to as "Salary Savings."

Salary savings

See Expired salary allocations.

Self-Sustaining Funds

Self-sustaining funds are funds that are typically generated by auxiliary activities, such as Housing and Food Services, University Stores, and Student Publications to name a few. The decision whether to budget or not is at the unit's discretion.

With self-sustaining funds, revenue is the authority to spend. Expenditures are generally limited to support the purpose for which the activity was established. Self-sustaining funds are subject to State of Washington and University of Washington policies and procedures.

Service Funds

See Auxiliary Enterprises.

Shadow Systems

Shadow systems are locally developed applications that are used primarily by the units for budget projection and management reporting.

State Clearing Accounts

Budgets used for allocating and adjusting State allocations and salaries.

State Funds

Generally, the term, State Funds, refers to General Operating Funds (GOF). For purposes of standardization, this will be the accepted use of the term.  However, technically there are other funds received from the State that are restricted, such as the Medical Aid Fund and the Accident Fund.

State Special Allocations

See Provisos.

Student Facility Fees

The student facility fee funds student activities and programs, such as ASUW and GPSS activities, student publications, student loan fund, Hall Health Primary Care Center, recreational sports programs, childcare, student legal services, Ethnic Cultural Center, Student Union facilities, and UW CARES.

Student Tech Fee Funds

The Student Technology Fee provides funds for the improvement of technology used by the students at the University of Washington campuses. The Student Technology Fee Committee determines the expenditure of this fee. Students of the UW lead the committee, which allocates money for technology resources for general student use pursuant to RCW 28B.15.051 and the agreement between the ASUW, Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and the Board of Regents.

For the current academic year (2008), the technology fee for full-time students at the Seattle campus is $41 per quarter. This cost is prorated for part-time students.

Supplemental Budget

Any legislative change to the original budget appropriations.

Suspense Accounts

Repositories in which unidentified transaction items are stored while awaiting reclassification.

Temporary Budgeted Funds

Funds that can be used only one time.

Unrestricted Gifts

Unrestricted gifts are voluntary provisions of external support from a donor. The gift funds are subject to State of Washington policies and internal University of Washington policies and procedures.


Catalog of Data Definitions                               Back to Top


In order to effectively use the information in our enterprise systems, data analysts and programmers must share with university managers and leaders a common understanding of what our data means. Metadata, or data about data, facilitates the understanding of our information infrastructure.


The goal of the Data Definitions Initiative, led by the Data Management Committee, is to develop and provide access to a central, official repository of definitions about enterprise data and parameters for enterprise reporting, as well as a query library for use by analysts both centrally and in academic units. These definitions are the foundation of enterprise reports and data sets.

This initiative is founded on the use of templates to provide accurate, consistent, and reusable resources for analysts, developers, and other individuals providing access to enterprise data and reports.

Core Data Definitions and Sources

This is a collection of metadata resources as they currently exist at the University of Washington. This list is not exhaustive.

Financial Metadata
  • Financial Desktop Initiative Glossary
  • Best for individual field definitions
  • Universal Access
Student Metadata
Human Resources/Payroll Metadata
  • Technical table/field definitions and related business definitions
  • Limited UWNetID access

Other metadata sources:

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