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Most grant awards and all public funds are limited by state and federal regulations and cannot be spent on discretionary items (e.g. recruiting expenses, first class travel, entertainment, alcohol, etc.).

Gift money (or discretionary funds) may be received by a department from a donor who does not place specific limitations on how that money should be spent.

The donor might tender a gift which specifies unrestricted use, such as "for such purposes as the Board of Regents (President, Dean, etc.) deems to be in the best interest of the University" or "to be used at the discretion of the Board of Regents (President, Dean, etc.)." This type of gift money is set aside for "discretionary" purposes.

Gift funds used to support programs or specific individuals (e.g. PIs) are narrower in scope and so require that a "restricted" gift budget (65-XXXX) be established through Advancement Services Gift Processing.

A discretionary sub budget (64-XXXX) to a "restricted" gift parent or grant budget may be established if alcohol or other discretionary purchases are specifically approved by the donor/sponsor and are appropriate for the purpose stated on the donor form or grant agreement. Note that a discretionary sub budget is required even if the discretionary expenses are for research purposes, such as alcohol for a study on the effects of drinking.

Learn more about the Operating Policy Used to Administer Discretionary Funds.

Discretionary budgets are established one of two ways: 

  1. A discretionary sub budget to a parent grant or gift budget can be established to house discretionary funds where the donor or grantor has provided specific written approval for expenditures considered discretionary under university policy. 
  2. A stand-alone discretionary budget can be established for gift funds where the entire gift is discretionary in nature.
  • Sub budgets on stand-alone discretionary budgets are normally not allowed.
  • Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Director of Grant and Contract Accounting or their designee.

Requesting a Discretionary Sub Budget for a Gift or Grant

  1. Submit a Transpasu form via Grant Tracker using the Transpasu topic.
  2. Add a note to the Grant Tracker to confirm that the donor/grantor has provided specific written approval for purchases restricted to discretionary funds.
  3. Attach the approval documentation from the donor/grantor.

Grant & Contract Accounting will review these requests and if appropriate will establish the discretionary sub budget.

A notice is sent to the department via Grant Tracker when the budget is established, usually within 1-3 business days.

Note that GCA does NOT set up sub budgets for stand-alone discretionary funds—i.e. a discretionary budget should not be a parent budget. Because discretionary budgets are not restricted to support a specific activity, person or function, and because expenditure approval is granted at the highest level of the organization, segregating a portion in a sub budget is inappropriate.  Establishing such a sub budget implies a restricted use or purpose incompatible with discretionary provisions. 

If a department wishes to monitor their discretionary funds by PI, purpose, or source, we recommend that they use Project Cost Accounting (PCA) codes.

Requesting a Stand-Alone Discretionary Fund

  1. Review the Operating Policy Used to Administer Discretionary Fund Budgets
  2. Fill out a Request to Establish a Discretionary Fund form.
  3. State the source of the funds and the purpose as specified by the donor on the form.
  4. Have the form signed by the Vice President or Dean of the department, and:
  • Attach documentation from the donor or sponsor.
  • Email scanned copies to Grant and Contract Accounting (GCA) via

and send a copy to:

  • Gift Policy and Administration at Gift Processing at Box 359505

Grant & Contract Accounting;

  • reviews, signs, and processes the request.
  • Sets up a a discretionary fund budget (64-XXXX)
  • Notifies the fund administrator, form preparer, and Gift Policy Administration that the account has been established.

Gift Policy and Administration:

  • Will set up an allocation in the ADVANCE Database.

Submitting gifts or charitable donations to stand alone discretionary funds:

Once the allocation is established by Gift Policy Administration:

  • Send any gifts or charitable contributions (in the form of checks or credit cards) along with a Gift Transmittal Form to: Gift Processing, Box 359505
  • Refer to the second page for instructions on filling out the form.
  • Funds are applied to your discretionary budget.
  • Turnaround time: 1-14 days

Information on the ADVANCE system

  • The ADVANCE database interfaces with the Financial Accounting System.
  • Financial transactions related to your discretionary budget are visible In My Financial Desktop (MyFD) or on your Budget Activity Report.
  • To get access to the ADVANCE system, send an email requesting an account to