Beginning in mid-August 2016, FFRA website content will be moving to the Northwestern IT site's new section for Administrative Systems.

NUFinancials Tips

We are rebuilding our NUFinancials Tips archive! Each month we will add new tips and share a selection of them with you via email.


Want to get Tips emails? Subscribe to our mailing list.
Got a Tip to share? Email

Expense Reports

Accounting Date Change (for employees/submitters/proxies)

To locate and change the accounting date on expense transactions in workflow when the period is closed:

  1. Navigate to: NU Workflow > Approval Inbox
  2. Use the Overview or Expense Reports or Travel Authorization drop down to select transactions
  3. Click Search; then select the desired transaction
  4. Once you are in the transaction, you can review the document for accuracy and validity
  5. Upon clicking Approve, you may get a message and the Accounting Date will highlight
  6. Click the OK button and change the highlighted Accounting Date to one in the open period
  7. Now click the Approve button again and the transaction will be approved.

For illustrated steps, see our Job Aid: Change Accounting Date for Expense Reports

Accounting Date Change (for approvers)

Approvers may change the accounting date in order to approve, send back, or hold Expense Reports after the accounting period has been closed. The process is slightly different than for employees/submitters/proxies.

  1. Navigate to: NU Workflow > Approval Inbox
  2. Review and select an approval option.
  3. Change the accounting date.
  4. Take appropriate action (Approve, Send Back, Hold)

For additional detail and illustrated steps, see our Job Aid: Change Accounting Date for Expense Report (Approvers)

Approval Shortcut

Do you need to certify an Expense Report that was entered for you? Or, are you a new Expense Report Supervisor?

If you misplace the approval email, there is an easy way to see what approvals are waiting for you:

  1. Log into the NUPortal with your NetID.
  2. Click Financial in the left column.
  3. Look under Approval Inbox at the right side of the page.
  4. Next to Expense Report, click the number link, which indicates the number of transactions awaiting your approval.

The link takes you into the page where you can indicate your approval for each item.

More information (including screenshots): Expenses Supervisor Approval Instructions (see "Alternate Navigation to NUFinancials Approval Inbox")

Copying an Expense Report

Do you frequently submit similar Expense Reports, either for yourself or for someone else?
There's a quick shortcut to save you the need to re-enter all the details.

  1. Log in and navigate to the Create Expense Report/Expense Report Entry screen.
  2. In the Quick Start menu dropdown (where it says "A Blank Report"), select An Existing Report.
  3. You'll be taken to the Copy from an Existing Report screen. Here you can find Expense Reports you've entered for yourself or as a proxy for the current employee id, and can use one of these as the basis for a brand new report.
  4. Select the report you'd like to copy and proceed as usual, updating any information that has changed.

Expenses Entry Quick Reference

Expense Reimbursement Direct Deposit Account

Expense Reimbursements are paid in the same way that you receive your paycheck. If you have direct deposit set up, they are deposited into your Balance account as defined in FASIS Self Service.

  • The Balance account is noted as such under "Deposit Type."
  • You may have more than one account designated, but you must have a Balance account.
  • The Balance account can be checking, savings, or a CD account.
  • If you only have one account set up, that is where your expense reimbursement will go.
  • Expense Reimbursements cannot be split among multiple accounts the way a paycheck can.
  • Please note that not all employees have a direct deposit account set up.

My Wallet: Approval Emails

  • Remember: Expense report approval emails are also generated for My Wallet expense reports used to reconcile Procurement Card transactions.
  • Although the approval notification email mentions payments and deposits, the reimbursement amount shown at the bottom will be $0.
  • This is similar to expense reports created to reconcile cash advances when no money is due to the employee.

My Wallet: Changing Expense Type

For My Wallet expense reports, the expense type cannot be changed once a transaction is brought into an expense report.


Instead, update the account code in the chart string (click the magnifying glass to see accounting details).


Alternatively, the expense type can be changed directly in My Wallet before being brought into an expense report (click the link under Expense Type).

Show and View Expense Report Exceptions (90-day or other exceptions)

  • When entering an Expense Report over 90 days old, missing receipts, etc., you can check a box to indicate that there's an exception.
  • Approvers can also check a box to indicate an exception before approving (no need to send back).
  • Once an exception box has been checked by either an enterer or an approver before submitting, the exception(s) will then be searchable in the Approval Inbox.
  • Note that paper exception forms will still need to be scanned and attached to the Expense Report.

More information: See Exceptions in Expense Reports



  • Disable your popup blocker
  • Clear your temporary files (only use if this does not conflict with other sites' requirements)

List of System Supported Browsers

Chart of Accounts

  • The Chart of Accounts represents the accounting structure for how Northwestern gathers, stores, combines, and uses financial information.
  • It is used to trace the flow of revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities, and equity.

For information or assistance regarding requested changes to the Chart, please contact the ChartField Maintenance Unit in the
Controller’s Office:

Job Aid: Chart of Accounts Quick Reference pdf


As long as a budget is NOT needed but a level of granularity for reporting or analysis is needed, you have the option of requesting either of two ChartFields: ChartField1 or Program Code.

Job Aid: Review Activity on ChartField1 and Program Code pdf

Department Code List

Find your department code for the DPR, Visitor's Expense Form, and Contracted Services Form on the Financial Operations web site:

Department Code Lookup for NUFinancials Forms pdf icon

Exporting to Excel

To export search results to Excel look for excel.


In addition to bookmarking system login pages in your browser, you can create Favorites in various systems, such as iBuyNU and NUFinancials, to save time...but make sure you keep your Favorites straight!



  • Some punchout vendors in iBuyNU have Favorites functionality specific to their web site.
  • iBuyNU has Favorites specific to the hosted catalogs.


  • Non-catalog items you purchase regularly can also be set up as Favorites in NUFinancials.
    However, prices don't update dynamically the way they do for iBuyNU and punchout vendor favorites, so you may need to update prices in NUFinancials.
  • Clicking Favorites from the top menu in NUFinancials will show you your Recently Used items as well as options for adding and editing Favorites.

Listservs/Mailing Lists

Subscribe informational email lists focused on specific systems to stay in the loop. NUFinancials

NUFinancials users with specific system roles will automatically receive certain types of notifications.

IT Administrative Systems Email Options

Payroll Posting Timing

Payroll and encumbrances post to NUFinancials and Cognos BI reports after every payroll run (not nightly).

  • If changes are made to funding, they will not be reflected in encumbrances in NUFinancials or Cognos BI reports until the next payroll
  • As a general rule, NUFinancials receives the payroll files on Friday evening and they are typically posted by the following Tuesday. However, if there
    are any errors in the file, that schedule is delayed.


PC Business Unit

  • You may receive an error message indicating that Project ID is invalid.
  • If the Project ID is correct yet still giving an error, confirm that PC Business Unit (also abbreviated as PC Bus Unit) is filled in correctly.
  • The only valid choice for this ChartField is NWUNV.
  • For Expense Reports, PC Business Unit can be located via the Accounting Defaults link.


Personalization Options: Autocomplete and Tab over Lookup Button

Here are two of the useful features you can turn on and off in NUFinancials' Personalizations options.



Have you noticed that NUFinancials sometimes seems to know what you're going to type?

  • When you begin filling a field in NUFinancials, the system will suggest a list of options based on values already in the system.
  • This option is turned on automatically, but you can choose to turn it off if you prefer not to use it.


Tab over Lookup Button

Looking for a way to speed up data entry in NUFinancials?

  • Use the tab key to move to the next field without using the mouse.
  • By default, the cursor will stop on each field and the magnifying glass (lookup).
  • With the Tab over Lookup Button option turned on, the cursor will skip the magnifying glass and allow for even faster data entry!

Find both options at: Main Menu > My Personalizations > Personalize Navigation Personalizations > Autocomplete


For each item, select Yes or No based on your preferences:

Preferred Phone Numbers

If a requester's personal phone number appears where it should not (e.g, on packing slips), he or she needs to change the "preferred number" in FASIS.

NUFinancials uses the preferred number.

Navigation in FASIS: > Self-service > Personal Information > Phone Numbers

Project Name (search by)

If you only know the name of your project but not the number, you can find the chart string through the NUPortal:

  1. Log into the NUPortal > Financial section
  2. Under Financial Related Links, click Budget Details
  3. Select a Ledger Group (if no group selected, you will get an error message)
  4. At Project, click the magnifying glass to the right (do not type anything)
  5. Change the Description pulldown to "contains"
  6. Enter name/keyword(s) in name of project
  7. Click the Look Up button
  8. You will see a list of Project numbers and descriptions that include the name/keyword(s) you entered.

Today's Date

In NUFinancials, type "T" or "today" (upper or lower case) and tab out of the date field for today's date.

Wildcard Searches

The percent sign (%) is a wildcard and can be used when searching for information in Cognos BI reports and NUFinancials.

The asterisk (*) is a wildcard in InfoEd.

Grants/Sponsored Projects

Grants Account Tree

Grants Budget and Expense Account Tree excel (last updated by ASRSP: 10/2014)


View the most updated grants tree in NUFinancials.

Navigation: Tree Manager > Tree Viewer > Advanced Search > type "Grants" in Category (begins
with) > Select Grants KK Budget Tree

  • Click on the "+" to expand the tree.
  • The nodes with the folder icons (such as 60010=Academic Personnel) correspond to budget categories where OSR budgets the sponsored funds.
  • The nodes with "leaves" underneath (such as 60011= Faculty Salary, Regular) are the expense accounts that departments will enter in expense chart strings (replacing object codes)

Sponsored Project Balances

Current Balance

To determine how much money is left on your award or project, use the resources shown in the chart below. The key differences between methods are timing and the F&A encumbrance calculation. 

To determine your full real time balance:

  1. Start with the Sponsored Project Budget Statement (GM045).
  2. Next, use the Budget Overview in NUFinancials to find today's posts.
  3. Calculate F&A on encumbrances and actuals for today's posts.
  4. Add results of steps 1-3 to find full real-time balance.




F&A Encumbrance

Sponsored Project Budget Statement


End of Previous Business Day

Calculated on actual encumbrances

Commitment Control Budget Overview Pages


Real time
(updated each time a transaction is budget checked)

Does not include F&A calculation for encumbrances



Journal Approvals: Double Totals

When approving a journal, you may notice what appears to be an extra line. These self-balancing lines will appear to double the total. For more information, see the Job Aid: Actuals Journal Approval Tip.

Journal IDs

Find the Original Journal ID

Do you need to complete a Correction Journal or a Correction Agency Journal? Do you need to locate the Original Journal ID that NUFinancials requires? It all starts on the GL008 Revenue and Expense Activity Report!

  • Run the GL008 for the chart string that contains the transaction that was incorrectly posted to the General Ledger.
  • If the Transaction Type on the GL008 is Journal, then the GL008 Transaction ID is the Original Journal ID. Look no further!
  • If the Transaction Type on the GL008 is not Journal, you must either drill to detail on the GL008 or use NUFinancials inquiries (either Accounting Entries or Lifecycle Viewer). Affected Transaction Types are expense report, cash advance, and voucher.

For more information, see our Job Aid: Find the Original Journal ID

Journal Types

Budget vs. Transfer Journals

Budget journals allow users to move spending authority from one chart string to another within the same fund group - current funds unrestricted (funds that begin with 1). Budget journals can also be used to increase or decrease budgets, but such journals must be balanced.

Transfer journals move dollars from gifts or endowments to unrestricted or designated chart strings - movement of funds across fund groups. If the funds numbers begin with a different digit, then use a transfer journal.


For more about journal types, see: Which Actuals Journal Should I Use?

Online Vouchers

Deletion of Online Vouchers

Automatic Deletion

On the day before Accounting period is closed (typically the 3rd business day of the month), Online Vouchers are automatically deleted if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Approval Status = Denied and the date of the denial is 60+ days ago.
  • Approval Status = Pending (i.e. Voucher is not in approval workflow) and the last update is 30+ days ago.

Note: Online Vouchers that are in workflow awaiting approval do not get deleted automatically, except at the end of the fiscal year.


Requesting Deletion

  • Users cannot delete online vouchers.
  • To request deletion, contact Accounts Payable: 847-491-7339


Finding a Deleted Online Voucher

Once a voucher has been deleted, it can’t be retrieved on the Online Voucher entry page, but there are other ways to look it up.

  • Option 1: Voucher Inquiry (NUFinancials menu navigation: Accounts Payable > Review Accounts Payable Info > Vouchers > Voucher). 
    - Use the various search criteria – such as vendor, invoice number, date – then click Search to find the voucher. 
    - Note: the deleted voucher ID is not valid in the search field, but you can use a range of voucher ID’s.

  • Option 2: Lifecycle Viewer (NUFinancials menu navigation: Accounts Payable > Review Accounts Payable Info > Lifecycle Viewer)
    Note: Lifecycle Viewer can only be used with the ESR version of Firefox, Internet Explorer or Chrome browsers.

Help for using these and other inquiry methods is available in a job aid: View Payments to Vendors and Non-Employees.


Run Controls for NUFinancials reports

To help run frequently used reports quickly, use Run Controls.

  • "Run Controls" (like favorites or a template to be re-used) for NUFinancials reports are attached to individual IDs, so users can establish them for exact types of reports that they will run over and over.
  • For the Budget Status Report, for example, a user can create more than one run control for that report. So, if so sometimes you need to have a report that rolls everything up to the Fund-Dept, you can create and save a run control for that report.
  • If you also need to report on Dept-Project, you can create and save an additional run control for those parameters.
  • This will help you run the NUFinancials reports that you need very quickly – you don't have to establish the parameters every time you want to run them.
  • Users cannot delete run controls.


Automatically Add a Vendor to Multiple Lines

When creating a multi-line, non-catalog requisition for the same vendor, use the Line Defaults to ensure that the same vendor and location is entered on each line automatically.



  • When you enter your vendor in the Line Defaults section, the Vendor Location auto-populates for each line based on your Vendor selection.
  • Using Line Defaults avoids a common issue with requisitions being sourced into multiple Purchase Orders based on different vendor locations.
  • The issue occurs because many vendors have multiple locations. If you copy-and-paste or enter location manually to each line, the system will only use the first location it has listed behind the scenes, which may not be the one you selected.

Display Requisition Header Comments for Approvers

To ensure that Approvers can see your Requisition's header comments, be sure to check the Approval Justification box


After you save and submit the Requisition, verify that the comments appear:

Are the comments missing? To go back to the Requisition, click Edit Requisition (above)




Approver's view:

Hazardous Material Account Codes

The item category "LAB_HAZARDOUS_GAS" automatically defaults in the Account Code 73370 (Hazardous Gas). This account code will automatically route a requisition to the Office for Research Safety (ORS) and, for grant accounts, to ASRSP. See table below for all account codes that route to ORS.

Hazardous Material Accounts that Route to Office for Research Safety
Account Description
Select Agents
73350 Radioactive
73370 Hazardous Gas
used in conjunction with Item category: LAB_HAZARDOUS_GAS


  • Invoices for regularly scheduled University purchases (e.g., waste removal from labs, etc.) are created using a blanket non-catalog requisition in NUFinancials.
  • Requisitions and Purchase Orders (REQs/POs) need invoices for the matching and payment process, but invoices SHOULD NOT be attached to REQs/POs because Accounts Payable (AP) can't see attachments to REQs/POs.
  • Invoices must be sent to AP via campus mail or email (below) so that they can enter them into NUFinancials for the matching and payment process (include PUR#):

Receiving on Requisitions

Requesters should enter a receipt on all requisitions except for the following. Requesters can enter receipts on behalf of other Requesters if necessary.

NO receipt is needed for:

  • All catalog requisitions (items from iBuyNU).
  • Non-catalog requisitions with a total value of less than $500 (receipt optional)
  • Non-catalog requisitions with the following categories:



A credit may be issued by a vendor for several reasons: return of an item, wrong item sent, damaged item, etc. Credits from vendors in iBuyNU are handled differently from credits for non-catalog requisitions.

Job Aid: Credits from Vendors PDF icon

Refax Requests (Purchase Orders)

  • In an effort to eliminate the risk of duplicate Purchase Order (PO) processing, POs will not be refaxed unless it’s been 48 hours since the original fax was dispatched.
  • Refax requests must be submitted via email to
  • All written requests must include the PO#, Vendor Name, and supplier fax number.



  • Please send all refund checks received from vendors to Accounts Payable at 2020 Ridge to be deposited.
  • Please include the original PO number and/or Voucher number and chart string (including the account used on the original PO or Voucher) on documentation sent with the check so that the refund amount can be credited correctly.
  • This is important because refunds should be used to reduce the amount of expense on the chart string used. If refund checks are deposited as revenue, it gives a false picture of the actual revenue earned by the chart string.


More Administrative Systems Tips


InfoEd Proposal Development Tips

NUPlans Tips