format_list_bulleted Topic Overview

Fund Types

A fund is a separate accounting entity with its own assets, liabilities and fund balance (equity). Individual funds are used to record the financial activity, such as receipts and expenses, associated with a specific source of money. At Stanford, the words “fund” and “award” are used interchangeably, but fund is the term used in the Oracle Financials General Ledger (GL) module while award is the term used in the Grants Accounting (GA) module.

The university receives money from a variety of sources such as individual or corporate donors, government agencies, non-government sponsors and tuition. Many of these sources put restrictions on how the money is spent. To ensure that monies are spent for their intended purpose, over 30,000 funds were created to record financial activity. These funds:

  • Hold money received from or used for a specific activity.
  • Allow us to track the source and use of money, ensuring monies are directed toward their intended purpose.
  • Enable the university to manage and report on the use of these monies, ensuring that we have fulfilled our fiduciary responsibilities and managed the resources as intended.

When a fund is established, its source and use is identified in order to facilitate management and reporting of the different types of funds and restrictions. 

Award types (or fund types) is a term used to describe the source of the monies. Each fund is tagged with an award type, which is an abbreviated descriptive label. Award types are used for reporting purposes, and to help identify the different restrictions and implications for managing the funds. Following are some of the more common fund types and associated award types (for a complete list of award types and definitions, refer to the Award Types table).

  • Operating Budgets (Award Type starts with GEN_OB) – Record accounting transactions for the university's core academic programs and support services. Operating budgets primarily receive money from university unrestricted funds (such as tuition and interest) and from appropriate departmentally designated gifts and endowment funds. 
  • Designated Funds (Award Type starts with DES) – Unrestricted funds that the university (rather than a donor or sponsoring agency) has decided to use for a specific purpose. 
  • Grants and Contracts (Award Type starts with SPO) – Money received from an agency sponsoring research, instruction or other sponsored activity. Grants and contracts are often restricted to a specific body of work. Refer to Policy: Revenue Recognition – Sponsored Research for more information.
  • Cost Sharing (Award Type is SPO_UNIVERSITY_FUNDED_AWARD) – The portion of the costs of a sponsored project (i.e., grants and contracts) paid by the university. 
  • Gifts (see Donor Gifts)
    • Expendable Gift (Award Type starts with GIF) – A gift to the university that can and often is intended to be used immediately. Gift terms often stipulate how the money may be spent. 
    • Endowment Gift (Award Type starts with END) – An endowment is established by a donor gift that has additional restrictions requiring that the initial funding may not be spent directly but instead must be placed in a principal fund and invested in perpetuity with a goal of producing income.  The endowment payout as determined by the Board of Trustees is transferred each year to an income fund where it can be spent. The payout is maintained in an Endowment Income Fund, which is maintained separately from the endowment principal. For details, refer to Topic Overview: Endowment Payout Process.
  • Service Center (Award Type starts with SER.) – An organizational unit that provides a specific service, group of services or products to users principally within the university. Large Service Centers include Facilities Operations and Information Technology Services (ITS). Refer to Policy: Revenue Recognition – Auxiliaries and Service Centers for more information.
  • Auxiliary (Award Type starts with AUX) – Self-contained financial entities that use their own income to support their operating expenses. Examples of large auxiliary units are Athletics, and Residential Housing & Dining. Refer to Policy: Revenue Recognition – Auxiliaries and Service Centers for more information.
  • Capital Projects (Award Type starts with PPE) – Money used to support a capital project (i.e., capital equipment or construction projects). Sources of these funds include gifts and debt.
  • Receivables (Award Type starts with REC) – Used by university departments that administer programs such as a conference or professional journal sponsored by an organization outside of the university to account for expenses incurred on campus and the related reimbursements. 
  • Clearing (Expense Clearing) (Award Type starts with CLR) – Used to accumulate specific costs. These costs are then allocated monthly to specific users or beneficiaries of the expense. 

For a table listing ranges of five-letter award numbers applicable to different classifications of awards (e.g., GENERAL FUNDS AAAAA-ABZZZ and COST SHARING WAAAA-WBZZZ), covering both non-sponsored and sponsored awards, refer to the Award Range tables.

The award purpose describes the restriction on the use of money, or how the money may be used, and is usually determined by the source of the funds. Each fund is tagged with a three-character award purpose to facilitate reporting. Common high-level award purposes are described below (for a complete list of award purposes and definitions, refer to the Award Purposes table). 

  • UNR – Unrestricted
  • INR – Instruction and Research
  • FAC – Faculty Related
  • LIR – Library Related
  • STA – Student Aid
  • PPE – Property Plant and Equipment

Understanding why funds are set up in general, and the sources and restrictions on the specific funds for which you are responsible, is the first step toward managing these funds. The following additional resources are available to help you manage your fund:

Last Updated: Aug 2, 2023