format_list_bulleted Topic Overview

Purpose and Use of Object Codes

The general ledger (GL) is a set of alpha and/or numbered account segments used to keep track of all financial transactions and to prepare Stanford University annual financial reports. Within the GL account structure, object codes are used to track assets, liabilities, revenue and expense. This page describes object code categories, their standard numeric format and how they are used at Stanford. For help identifying specific object codes, refer to Find Existing Object Codes.

Assets are classified in the GL using 1XXXX object codes and liabilities are classified using 2XXXX object codes. The university’s Statement of Financial Position, also known as the Balance Sheet, is a financial statement that reports the balance of the university’s assets, liabilities and net assets at a particular point in time.

Assets include:

  • Cash
  • Receivables
  • Prepaid expenses
  • Inventory
  • Investments
  • Plant facilities 

Liabilities include:

  • Accounts payable
  • Accrued expenses
  • Accrued pension and post-retirement benefit obligations
  • Liabilities associated with investments
  • Notes and bonds payable

University departments with asset or liability account balances are responsible for reconciling and reviewing the account balances on a quarterly basis. Refer to Balance Sheet Account Balance Reconciliation and Balance Sheet Account Balance Reconciliation Attestation for more information. 

University operating revenues are derived from a variety of sources, with sponsored research support, health care services, endowment and other investment income being the most significant. Additional sources of revenue include student income, gifts and other income. Revenue is classified in the GL using 4XXXX object codes. 

The table below describes sources of revenue, descriptions and links to additional information.

Revenue Source Description
Sponsored Research Support

The majority of the university’s sponsored support is received directly or indirectly from the federal government. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are the two largest federal sponsors.

The Office of Research Administration (ORA) provides sponsored projects administration products and services.

Health Care Services Stanford Medicine, composed of the university’s School of Medicine (SOM), Stanford Health Care (SHC) and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (LPCH), is an academic medical center that integrates a research university with a network of care facilities. SOM faculty serve as physicians for SHC and LPCH. Hospital operations and financials are managed independently and are included in Stanford University Annual Financial Reports.
Endowment Investment Income

The university endowment provides an ongoing source of income to support the university's teaching and research mission. Investment income from the university endowment is distributed through a monthly payout calculation to help fund university operations.

Refer to Topic Overview: Endowment Payout Process.

Student Income Student income comes from tuition managed by Student Affairs and room and board managed by Residential & Dining Enterprises.
Donor Gifts

Gifts from university donors are an important source of funding for the university's current operations. The majority of the university’s gifts and pledges are restricted by donors for specific programs and purposes, such as student aid, academic programs that support teaching and research, and new facilities for research, clinical care and housing. 

Refer to Topic Overview: Donor Gifts

Other sources of income

Schools and departments may generate income by selling products or services, provided the product or service is related to the primary research and educational mission of the university.

Refer to Topic Overview: Selling Goods & Services

Common revenue codes used by school and department users include 46XXX Revenue Object Codes. 49XXX Transfer Object Codes are used to transfer funds from one PTA to another. Refer to Topic Overview: Find Existing Object Codes.

Salary and non-salary expenditure transaction details are recorded in the Oracle Grants Accounting (GA) module and roll up into expenditure categories that map to Objects in the GL module. Because of the rollup and mapping, there is a greater level of expenditure detail in GA than in GL. Expenses are classified in the GL using 5XXXX object codes. 

For the most part GA expenditure categories map to the same number GL object code; however, there are some differences. Most notably, 5XXXX capital equipment expenditure categories in the GA module map to 1XXXX asset object codes in the GL module, which may result in report users seeing slightly different totals in GA versus GL. 

Refer to Topic Overview: Find Existing Object Codes for more information.

For information about revenue and fund management reporting from the GL, including detail on fund statement, journals and transfers use, refer to:

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2024