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Study Abroad Field Advances

UW Study Abroad Finance and Administration (SAFA) will supply you with a field advance for expenses you can only pay in the field. A field advance is a loan from the University of Washington general funds made to a UW employee (the custodian) to provide a temporary source of funds for conducting official UW business. All field advances issued are subject to federal, state and university purchasing rules and guidelines. We work with the UW Field Advance office to procure funds for you and to help you submit documentation of your field advance spending within 30 days of your program end date.

Allowable Expenses

Field advance funds are only to be used to pay expenses that can not be paid in advance or directly by SAFA. The following is a basic list of allowable and unallowable field advance purchases.

See the Field Advance office’s website for more information on authorized and unauthorized uses of field advance funds.

US Bank Debit Cards

Field advance funds are distributed to Program Directors via a US Bank branded VISA. The maximum card balance is $15,000. The cards now have microchips. The following daily limits apply:

  • ATM WITHDRAWAL: 3 transactions at $1,025 per transaction; daily maximum limit of $1,220
  • PURCHASES: 20 transactions at $5,050
  • OVERALL LIMIT: 20 transactions at $7,500

The Study Abroad F&A team will contact you about ordering a card or cards for your program. If the US Bank card will not work for your program, we will work with you to find a solution that fits your needs. Email with questions.

Your Field Advance Timeline

The following table details your responsibilities as a field advance custodian before, during, and after your program. See below the table for detailed instructions.

Pre-departure Schedule a meeting with Study Abroad F&A several weeks prior to your program start date. You will pick up your US Bank card(s) at this meeting and confirm the amount and distribution of your field advance.
In the Field Track all debit and cash expenses and retain all receipts for purchases made with field advance funds.
Post Program Prepare your field advance report and submit it and your US Bank card(s) to Study Abroad Finance within 30 days of your program’s end date.

Pre-departure Instructions

Your SAFA contact will be in touch with you about ordering US Bank cards for your program. Typically we like to order a minimum of two cards per program.

We will determine the amount of your field advance from your final spending plan by totaling all expenses you have indicated will be paid with your field advance. To this we automatically add half of your 5% program reserve so that you will have additional funds available in the case of an emergency or unexpected costs. You should avoid spending these reserve funds if you don’t need to.

UW Study Abroad offers two methods of tracking your field advance expenses: the standard paper method and using the Expensify app on your phone. Notify your SAFA contact which method you prefer.

If you choose to use the Expensify app, you will need to do the following before you leave:

  • Set up an account in Expensify using your uw email (
  • Download the Expensify app to your phone
  • Click the link sent to you by your SAFA contact to connect your Expensify account with the policy they have created for you

Schedule a meeting with your SAFA contact several weeks before you leave to run your program. During this meeting you will:

  • Review your final spending plan and confirm the amount of field advance funds you will need
  • Pick up your US Bank field advance cards and decide the amount to be deposited to each card – you should activate your cards as soon as possible
  • Review instructions for tracking your expenses in the field

Your SAFA contact will load your cards and send you a confirmation email.

Tracking Your Expenses in the Field

For instructions on using the Expensify app to track your field advance expenses, please see our online training.

Track Your Payments

As you make payments for goods or services with your field advance funds (using your US Bank debit card or cash withdrawn from the card), record them in the Field Advance Expenditure Tracking Sheet. You will need to include the following information:

  • Vendor/Payee Name
  • Short description of goods/services purchased
  • Payment Type – debit or cash
  • Expenditure Type – choose from dropdown list
  • Transaction Date
  • Transaction Currency – e.g. Euros, U.S. Dollars
  • Transaction Amount

Retain All Receipts

Save all your receipts. You will be taping them to 8 1/2″ x 11″ pieces of paper to turn them in. See the section on “Preparing and Submitting Your Field Advance Report” below for more specific instructions on preparing your receipts.

SAFA will also provide you with various forms for specialized types of payments such as student cash allowances, honoraria, and payments for which you do not receive receipts. See the section below for links to and descriptions of these forms.

When you receive your field advance confirmation email from your SAFA contact, the following forms will be attached in an excel document. Each form will be on a different tab.

Field Advance Expenditure Tracking Sheet (not needed if using Expensify to track expenses) Use this form to track your field advance expenditures (cash and debit). If you are using the Expensify app, you do not need to use this form
ATM Withdrawal Tracking Sheet Use this form to track your cash withdrawals throughout the program; turn this in at the end of your program
Perjury Statement Use this form to track any payments for which you do not have a receipt. At the close of your program, sign and submit the completed form
Student Meal/Activity Allowance Form If you would like to provide your students with a set amount of cash to pay for a meal or an activity, use this form.

  1. Write the date and purpose of this cash allowance at the top of the form
  2. List the names of your students in the first two columns
  3. List the amount of cash given to each student in the next column
  4. Have your students sign next to their names on the sheet, attesting that they have received the cash; you do not need to collect receipts from the students for their purchases
  5. Total the amount of cash provided to all students and write the sum at the bottom of the page; include the total as one expenditure in your field advance tracking
  6. Use the completed form as a receipt for the expenditure
Field Advance Cash Payment Form This form is meant to be used to record cash payments such as honoraria or substantial tips to individuals for services rendered. Note that individuals provided any longer term services (more than one day or event) must be paid as Independent Contractors. See the Payment Guidelines for instructions. 

  1. Fill out the top of the form with details about the payment including the amount paid, date, and name of the payee
  2. Add a short description of the services provided
  3. Have the individual sign the form in the area provided, attesting that they will be responsible for any necessary income taxes
  4. Sign the form
  5. Include the expenditure in your field advance tracking
  6. Use the completed form as a receipt for the expenditure
Personal Expense Reimbursement Form We hope that you won’t have to spend any of your own money during in your program, but if you do, include those purchases on this form and submit it with the receipts to your SAFA contact. Be sure to keep these expenses and receipts separate from your field advance expenses and receipts

Preparing and Submitting Your Field Advance Report

Once you have recorded all of your expenses in the Expensify app, go to the Reports section and submit your expenses. Your SAFA contact will then be able to run a report showing all of your expenses and the receipts you uploaded.

Make sure to also return your Western Union cards to UW Study Abroad.

When you return from your program, please send the following materials to UW Study Abroad F&A within 30 days of the end date of your program.

Field Advance Expenditure Spreadsheet List all of your expenses on the Expenditure Spreadsheet supplied to you by Study Abroad F&A before your departure. Send an electronic copy to
Receipts Tape all of your receipts to 8 ½ x 11” paper in the order they are listed in your Expenditure Spreadsheet. Number them accordingly. See below for more instructions on preparing your receipts.
Signed Perjury Statement Enter each expense for which you have no receipt on to the Perjury Statement with their line item number from the Expenditure Spreadsheet. Be sure to sign it.
US Bank Card(s) UW Study Abroad F&A will hold on to your card(s) until the next time you lead a program.

Receipt Preparation

Please keep the following in mind when you are preparing your receipts.

  • You may tape as many receipts as fit on one side of a piece of paper, but all of each receipt must be visible.
  • Please do not tape over any text on your receipts. Many receipts are printed on thermal paper with ink that disappears when it is taped over.
  • If you have multiple copies of one receipt, e.g. a museum admission ticket, tape one receipt to your paper and add a note that stipulates how many were purchased.

What Happens Next?

When we receive your field advance packet after your program has concluded, we take the following steps:

  1. Export records of all account activity on your US Bank to compare with your expenditure spreadsheet
  2. Enter actual USD amounts charged for point of sale purchases to the appropriate line items.
  3. Audit receipts and line items entered on your expenditure spreadsheet
  4. Enter the total amount charged as ATM and exchange fees on your US Bank card as a line item on your expenditure spreadsheet
  5. Assign exchange rates to cash expenditures based on actual exchange rates received when cash was withdrawn
  6. Compare total amount of cash withdrawn and total amount of cash expenses. Any significant difference will be reported to you.
  7. Scan all receipts
  8. Send copies of field advance accounting and receipts to the UW Field Advance Office to close out your field advance.

Please note that any unused field advance funds left on your US Bank cards at the end of your program are returned to UW Central. They are not applied to your program budget.