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Funding Guidelines

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Adopted by GPSA on Monday, 19 October 2009. Amended Monday, 18 April 2011; Monday, 9 April 2012; Monday, 15 October 2012.

I. Eligibility Criteria for Applying for GPSAFC Funding

  1. An organization must register with the Student Activities Office (SAO) for the current year. If an organization has not registered with the SAO, it cannot access any funds, even if such funds have already been allocated.
  2. An organization’s President and Treasurer must sign the GPSAFC “Statement on Ethical Conduct”.
  3. An organization’s Treasurer must be familiar with these Funding Guidelines and sign a statement to this effect. The GPSAFC will not be responsible for costs that it cannot reimburse due to violation of provisions set forth in these Funding Guidelines.
  4. An organization must have an advisor who is a full-time member of the faculty or staff of Cornell University. Graduate students do not qualify.
  5. An organization must have more than 40% graduate membership.
  6. The president or treasurer of an organization must be registered as a graduate or professional student at Cornell University for the current academic year.
  7. GPSAFC-funded organizations must provide a valuable service to the Cornell community.

II. General Funding Parameters

  1. The membership criteria and selection processes of an organization should enable any student to join and participate if he/she has sufficient interest and ability.
  2. To obtain funding for a Program event, an organization is strongly encouraged to submit the event details (i.e. time, location, program speakers and topic descriptions) to University Events Calendar and provide a link to the GPSAFC Event Calendar two (2) weeks before the event.
  3. The organization must be open to the entire graduate and professional student community. All advertising must include the statements “Funded by the GPSAFC” and “Open to the Graduate Community.” The sole exception to this rule is detailed in Field Category.
  4. Groups applying for GPSAFC funding for the first time will have allocations in their annual budgets restricted to amounts set annually by the Appropriations Committee in the Funding Maximums Funding Maximums. Once funded, these groups may apply for Special Project Requests.
  5. The GPSAFC will treat organizations that have previously applied for GPSA funding, but that have not applied for further funding after a two-year time lapse, as “first time applicants”.
  6. In order to receive allocated funding, an organization must turn in receipts for expenses exceeding $50 to the GPSAFC accounts representative in the Office of the Dean of Students within one month of expenditure.
  7. Events funded through annual budget allocations or special project requests must occur during the academic year, defined for GPSAFC purposes as starting the first day of graduate student orientation in August and ending the day of commencement in May, to ensure that the Cornell community has the opportunity to participate (see Article VI below for the sole exception). For events during the summer, an organization must submit a summer funding application by the advertised deadline preceding the annual budget day, which should contain detailed information on location, time, program descriptions, and financial breakdown for all planned events. In order to receive the awarded funding, the organization must submit receipts within the first full month of the fall semester. The total sum of allocations to events during the summer may not exceed 20% of the GPSAFC’s annual budget (with the exception provided in Field Category).
  8. Program events must occur on the Cornell campus to ensure that the Cornell community has the opportunity to participate. The GPSAFC may grant exceptions under special circumstances, such as a lecture series in a downtown science centre or community centre. An organization must submit a special project request with detailed explanations of why the event must be held off campus. The organization must provide transportation for off-campus events. Reimbursement for off-campus events will be furnished only if the GPSAFC has approved, in writing, the event location prior to the event.
  9. An organization must offer compelling reasons for holding Social, Club Sports, or Field events outside of Tompkins county or Geneva Station. The GPSAFC must approve, in writing, any location outside of Tompkins County or Geneva Station used for a social, club sports, or field event.
  10. Student organizations are encouraged to consult with their specific school or department’s financial affairs office, if applicable, in submitting funding requests.

III. Organizations and Activities Ineligible for GPSAFC Funding

  1. Per University policy, the GPSAFC cannot fund:
    1. Partisan political organizations and activities: The University defines partisan political organizations as those that are affiliated with a registered political party or candidate, or that are formed for the purpose of supporting or opposing any particular legislation. Activities used to support or oppose any particular legislation also fall under this definition. The GPSAFC may fund non-partisan activities sponsored by partisan organizations. Funded groups may “not participate in or intervene in (including the publication or distribution of statements), and campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” (Internal Revenue Code - Section 501 (C{3}))
    2. Any religious activities: The GPSAFC relies on the University definition of religious activities: “A practice or observance that includes moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong that is sincerely held, with the strength of traditional religious views, even if no religious group espouses such beliefs, or the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not accept such belief.” The GPSAFC may fund activities comparing religious systems of belief and activities examining the intersection of religion with one or more non-theological academic disciplines. Activities that a religious organization organizes to achieve research, educational, or public service goals are not considered religious activities and are eligible for GPSAFC funding.
    3. Charitable organizations: The University prohibits any direct allocation to charitable organizations; it does allow, however, for the funding of “recruiting, administration, and travel expense, which would be necessary to make it possible for Cornell students to participate in service projects.” The essential difference is between making an outright financial gift and aiding Cornell students in a promising and valuable project. For fund raising event rules, refer to Additional Funding.
  2. The GPSAFC will not fund activities for which any organization member receives academic credit.
  3. In keeping with the University’s policy on non-discrimination, no organization or activity funded by GPSAFC shall discriminate in its membership policies based on race, religion, age, gender, sexual preference, or ethnic background, except where gender and age are bona fide qualifications for membership. Any group that violates this policy may have its remaining funding suspended or revoked.
  4. The GPSAFC avoids funding activities that duplicate the activities of other campus organizations. In allocating funds, the GPSAFC considers whether an organization provides a unique service or event for the Cornell community. The GPSAFC may make organizations aware of other groups providing similar services to the University community in an effort to encourage collaboration.

IV. Additional Funding Requirements and Restrictions

  1. To be eligible for funds, an organization must make full disclosure of its income and expenses. If additional funding is obtained from other University sources and/or external sources during a school year, a report of this funding should be furnished to the GPSAFC. In a Special Project Request, an organization must detail whether it intends to use funds for the project that come from its annual budget allocation from the GPSAFC.
  2. No faculty or staff salaried by Cornell University within the last six months can receive payment for services with GPSAFC funds. No enrolled graduate student may receive payment for services with GPSAFC funds.
  3. The GPSAFC will not make fund transfers to Student Assembly Finance Commission (SAFC) funded organizations; events may be co-sponsored.
  4. Student organizations shall take full advantage of income-producing opportunities and alternate funding sources, and the GSPAFC shall consider their capacity and willingness to do so when making allocations.
  5. In making funding allocations, the GPSAFC considers the extent to which graduate and professional students determine and direct an organization and its programs.
  6. The GPSAFC may partially support fund raising events. The organization must show effort of finding co-sponsorship and charge admission to cover (part of) the event production cost.
  7. Organizations must submit an original, itemized receipt that includes the name of the member to be reimbursed within one month of the expense being incurred.

V. Specific Expenditures Ineligible for GPSAFC Funding

  • Office supplies or equipment
  • Organization stationery, certificates, membership or business cards
  • Resume books, directories, or other materials for professional/career development
  • Phone equipment, toll call or fax expenses
  • Postage
  • Office space or secretarial expenses
  • Conference expenses or membership fees (except for some Club Sports as detailed in Funding Categories
  • Admission fees for performances, films, museums or sporting events
  • Container deposits
  • Gifts (except for speakers) or trophies
  • Publication of academic journals
  • Purchase of books, magazines, or academic journals
  • Newsletters
  • Web design and web-hosting unless for an online publication
  • Honorariums, travel expenses, and accommodation for alumni whose last degree from Cornell University was received within the last 5 years. Exceptions may be granted with the inclusion of a letter of support from the organization’s advisor.
  • Speaker or performance expenses for University employed graduate students.
  • Purchase of T-shirts and other clothing (except for some Club Sports)
  • Items that will be retained by individual members of the organization.

VI. Funding Categories and Line Items

  1. Student organization budgets are divided into specific funding categories, which are classified by subject: Program, Social, Club Sports, Publication, and Field. The GPSAFC will only fund expenses that can be included within the given categories. There is no “Miscellaneous” category.
  2. For the purposes of these Funding Guidelines, the GPSAFC defines two types of student organizations: (1) interest organizations and (2) field organizations. Interest organizations are groups that represent an extracurricular pursuit, broadly including any social or academic activity that is not directly linked to the interests of a specific Cornell University-defined academic field. Field organizations are groups whose goals and objectives are to foster the academic and social interests of a particular University-recognized academic field, with specific attention to fostering interaction and communication amongst field members. The graduate school keeps an online record of the graduate fields; each professional school is also considered a field. Interest organizations may apply for Program, Club Sports, Publication, or Social funding, subject to the appropriate maximums detailed in Article VI(D). Field organizations may apply for funding in the aforementioned categories as well as from the Field category.
  3. Organizations can use funds allocated to “Program”, “Club Sports”, and “Publication” only to fund items within those categories. Organizations also cannot transfer funds into the Social category from other categories. However, they may use funds designated as “Social” to finance any part of an event funded by the GPSAFC.
  4. The categories available to student organizations break down as follows:
    1. Program: Funds allocated to this category may be applied to any of the following items. The annual budget maximum for this category is 1500 USD.
      1. Speaker: For expenses of bringing a speaker or performer to campus, including:
        1. Honoraria or gifts.
        2. Personal vehicle travel, including toll fares and parking fees.
        3. Rental vehicles for transportation from outside of Ithaca to Cornell, including rental fee, gas, toll fares, and parking fees.
        4. Airline, train, boat, Zeppelin, or bus travel.
        5. Lodging (not including bar, video, valet, phone or other personal charges).
        6. Meals eaten at a restaurant (not including grocery purchases).
      2. Event Production: For expenses of producing a cultural, educational, or theatrical event on campus, including:
        1. Rental of equipment: any equipment necessary for an event to be successful, including Audio-Visual equipment, VCRs, slide or film projectors, and table space.
        2. Services: additional services provided by the university required for an event, such as Public and/or Life Safety, lighting or sound experts, or security fees to protect an exhibit.
        3. Room rental: for on-campus (or GPSAFC-approved off-campus) facilities that charge a fee. Whenever possible, organizations should find and use facilities with no charge.
        4. Purchase of equipment: equipment needed to conduct an event that is part of the main focus of an organization may be purchased. The GPSAFC will consider whether it is more economical and practical for the organization to rent or purchase this equipment.
        5. Films: for expenses of showing a film on campus.
      3. Reception: For food served during or following a cultural, educational, or theatrical event on campus.
        1. Receptions must be open to the graduate and professional student community.
        2. Organizations cannot fund welcome reception and end-of-year events out of this line item (see the Social category).
      4. Publicity: For advertising of GPSAFC funded events, such as:
        1. Poster copying
        2. Banners (for specific events)
        3. Advertisements
        4. Printing programs
        5. The GPSAFC encourages organizations to be sustainable by reducing the quantity of paper advertisements and using electronic forms of communication where possible.
    2. Club Sports: This category funds practice and playing of organised sports. The annual budget maximum for this category is 500 USD. The following expenses may be funded:
      1. Equipment: organizations may purchase or rent equipment necessary for practices or competitions, provided it is not for personal use. Organization members must leave equipment on campus at the end of the academic year so the club may continue to use it in future years.
        1. The GPSAFC does not fund personalised clothing. The GPSAFC can fund jerseys and pennies that are not personalised provided they remain with the club for use in future years.
        2. The organization must keep a file listing all current equipment and clothing initially purchased with GPSAFC funds. A copy of this file shall be included in the organization’s annual budget application. If the GPSAFC finds an organization deficient in keeping and listing its equipment, the commission will deny future equipment and clothing purchase requests.
      2. Facilities rental: organizations can apply for funds to rent space for practices or competitions within Tompkins County and Geneva Station.
      3. Tournaments: expenses for competitions or tournaments hosted by the organization within Tompkins county or Geneva Station may be funded using the Event Production and Reception line items. The GPSAFC does not fund competitions or tournaments outside of Tompkins County and Geneva Station.
    3. Publication: This category funds the publication of a non-professional journal or magazine. The GPSAFC can fund costs related to printing or copying of issues or costs related to the production of an online journal. Organizations must indicate number of pages per issue, number of issues printed, and how and where they intend to distribute their issues. The GPSAFC does not fund publications made solely for an organization’s membership. The annual budget maximum for this category is 500 USD.
    4. Social: For social gatherings and organizational meetings, including welcome receptions and end-of-year events. Funding will be allocated based on 5 USD per member, with an annual budget maximum of 300 USD.
    5. Field: Only one organization per academic field can apply for this funding, and such an organization must represent all the students in a given field. If necessary, the field’s Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Director of M.Eng. Program, or the professional school’s Director of Student Affairs, will make the final determination on which organization represents the graduate or professional students of a given field. While only one organization per field can apply for this funding, if several fields are represented in the aforementioned manner by one organization, that organization can apply for funding (the total membership of all the fields involved will determine the funding allocation for such an organization).
      1. All organizations that wish to receive “field” funding must apply for “field” funding in their annual budget applications. To receive field funding an organization must
      2. To apply for field funding, at least one seat on the GPSA (voting member or field representative) must be filled by a member from that field. This requirement must be satisfied at the time of annual budget submission. If this member misses more than two consecutive meetings in a given semester and does not send a replacement, the Executive Vice President shall notify the Chair of the Finance Commission, so that any funding allocated in the “field” category to that organization can be frozen. The funds will be restored when the member attends two consecutive GPSA meetings.
      3. Each eligible field organization that applies for funding will receive a base allocation of 200 USD, with an additional two (2) USD for each student in that field. The GPSAFC bases field membership numbers on official data from the Fall Census conducted by the graduate school and on official statistics from the data management officials at each of the professional schools. Funding allocations for a given academic year are based on the field membership numbers from the previous academic year’s Fall Semester.
      4. Organizations can use field funding for events occurring during the academic year for which the funds were allocated. Events funded by field funding (and not relying on any other GPSAFC funding) can, at the organization’s discretion, be open exclusively to members of that field. Organizations must advertise all events using field funding to all field members, whether via a list-serve or some other appropriate means.

VII. First Time Applicants for GPSAFC Funding

  1. First time applicants for GPSAFC funding cannot apply for more than $150 in the Social category and $300 for Program, Club Sports, and Publication categories combined. First time applicants may apply for additional funding through Special Project Requests.

VIII. Appeals

  1. An organization that feels that an inadequate allocation was made by the GPSAFC, either to its annual budget or a special project request (SPR), should submit a new SPR requesting additional funding. The SPR will be reviewed by the GPSAFC at its monthly meeting.
  2. An organization that feels treated unfairly by a GPSAFC funding decision has the right to appeal. An organization may submit an appeal to contest the GPSAFC’s interpretation of the Funding Guidelines (but not an allocation).
  3. The following procedure applies to all appeals:
    1. The organization is advised to reach a resolution with the GPSAFC chairperson on an informal basis, initiating contact by email to the commission.
    2. If the matter cannot be resolved on an informal basis, the GPSAFC chairperson will provide the organization with an Appeal Form. The organization must fill out and submit the Appeal Form with proper signatures.
    3. The GPSAFC will discuss the appeal at its next regular meeting. A representative of the organization submitting the appeal is welcome and encouraged to attend this meeting to present the group’s case and further clarify the appeal.
    4. The GPSAFC will notify the organization of its decision within three days of its meeting. If the organization wishes to further appeal the GPSAFC’s decision, its officers must contact the GPSAFC chairperson by e-mail at gpsafc@cornell.edu within one week of this notification.
    5. If an organization makes this second appeal, the GPSAFC chairperson will refer the matter to the Appropriations Committee (GPSA-AC), which can uphold the GPSAFC’s decision, advise the GPSAFC to reconsider, or refer the matter to the GPSA.
    6. If an organization has appealed to the GPSAFC and the GPSA-AC and wishes to appeal further, the GPSAFC and GPSA-AC Chairpersons will take the matter to the GPSA for a final decision.

IX. Special Project Requests

  1. Groups that have submitted an Annual Budget Application and need additional funds for specific events may submit Special Project Requests. An organization can use Special Project Requests to accommodate programming needs that were either not anticipated in the annual budget application or whose total cost exceeds what can be reasonably financed out of an annual budget.
  2. Special Project Requests should include as much detail as possible, including informed estimates of all major costs, specific dates and times for events, event location, names of speakers, expected attendance, and other funding sources for the event. If an organization holds an event year after year with little change, such that the organization can produce sufficient detail to warrant GPSAFC funding at the time of the Annual Budget application, then the organization may submit a Special Project Request for such an event together with the Annual Budget application.
  3. Organizations must submit Special Project Requests at least three business days before the last GPSAFC meeting prior to the event date to ensure enough time for GPSAFC review. The GPSAFC does not grant funding for events that already have happened. The GPSAFC will base its allocation on funds available at the time of the Request.
  4. Special Project Requests are not subject to the funding limits. However, the GPSAFC requires detailed event descriptions that demonstrate the event’s appeal to graduate and professional students and responsible planning. The GPSAFC rarely allocates more than $1400 for a single event; to obtain even this much the event must demonstrate strong appeal to graduate and professional students; the organization seeking funding must show evidence of substantial efforts to secure co-sponsorship.

X. Co-Sponsorship

  1. If two or more GPSAFC funded organizations wish to combine their efforts to produce a single event, they can apply for co-sponsorship from the GPSAFC. GPSAFC organizations cannot transfer funding from one group to another, but they can jointly submit a Special Project Request for a single event. Organizations must use Special Project Requests (and not annual budgets) to apply for funding for a co-sponsored event. Organizations must detail what expenses (by category or line item) each group will use for the event. One organization can apply for all the funding for the event, with the other organization(s) merely providing dispositions of support for and involvement in the event. Alternatively, each organization can apply for funds for particular non-overlapping costs of producing the event.

XI. Enforcement

  1. If, at any point, the GPSAFC finds that an organization has not adhered to these Funding Guidelines, has used funds improperly, or has provided false information in an application or correspondence of any kind with the GPSAFC, the commission reserves the right to take one or more of the following actions:
    1. Provide the organization with a written warning noting the violation and asking the organization to change its practices so that it is no longer in violation.
    2. Impose a defined probationary period (e.g., one semester or one year) during which the organization cannot apply for GPSAFC funding.
    3. Withdraw part or all of any annual budget and/or special project request funds remaining from previous allocations.

XII. Amendments

  1. These Funding Guidelines may be amended by a majority vote of seated GPSA members.
  2. The GPSAFC Chairperson will review these Funding Guidelines each year and suggest appropriate alterations to the Chairperson of the GPSA Appropriations Committee.
  3. The GPSA can raise Funding Maximums at any time; any lowering of maximums will not take effect until the next budget cycle. The GPSA Appropriations Committee shall recommend changes for the next budget cycle before the end of February of the current academic year.
  4. The Appropriations Committee must recommend changes to these Funding Guidelines necessitated by changes in University policies and procedures.
  5. Amendments to the Funding Guidelines must be presented to the GPSA for discussion at least one meeting in advance of the meeting in which the final vote will take place.

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Contact GPSAFC

Willard Straight Hall Main Lobby
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

ph. (607) 255–9610
fx. (607) 255–1116

gpsafc@cornell.edu