Risks: Misappropriation, unrecorded receipts, fraud
Strong internal controls are necessary to prevent mishandling of funds and safeguard assets. They protect both the university and the employees handling the cash.
- Restrictively endorse checks immediately upon receipt stating “For Deposit Only – Syracuse University”.
- Keep cash/checks in a locked and secure area until they can be deposited. Access to the area should be restricted to only designated individuals. If a person with custody responsibilities leaves their position, any keys should be collected or combinations changed. Remember that while cash or checks are in your custody you are responsible for it.
- Make timely deposits. The sooner cash/checks can be deposited the less exposure to theft or loss of funds. Ideally deposits should be made within 24 hours. If amounts are insignificant (less than $100) then deposits can be made weekly.
Recording Cash Receipts
- All cash receipts should be recorded immediately by use of a cash register, data entry into a computing system, pre-numbered receipt book, or handwritten log. Receipts can be in manual or electronic format and should contain the amount received, the name of the payer, purpose of the payment, and its form (cash/ check/credit card).
- Provide a receipt. Ideally receipts should be pre-numbered and two-part. One copy should be provided to the payer while the other copy is kept on file. Total deposits can be verified independently by another person by accounting for each sequentially numbered receipt.
- Cash receipts should not be used for petty cash disbursements, check cashing, making change, or for any personal reasons.
- Verify the deposit by agreeing Cash Operations deposit slip to the general ledger on a monthly basis.
- Cash registers and credit card machines should be balanced daily. Over/short amounts should be monitored.
- A dated and signed record of the reconciliation should be maintained.
Segregation of Duties
No one person should be allowed to collect, handle or transport and deposit checks/currency without some additional control feature to ensure that all funds are accounted for. Examples of such controls are as follows:
- The person collecting and recording the receipt should not be the same as that making the deposit. Additionally, a person independent of recorder and depositor responsibilities should reconcile the deposit to the general ledger. If there are only one or two people in the department, a review by management of the reconciliation can provide a compensating control.
- When cash or checks are received regularly in the mail, if feasible, two persons should be present when the mail is opened. One person should total and record the remittances (log). The other, should prepare the deposit slip and forward it with the cash/checks to Cash Operations. The deposit slips should be reconciled by a third person to the general ledger.
- Keep transfers of cash from person to person to a minimum. Accountability is lost when several people handle cash before it is deposited. If transfers must take place be sure to document it. If you are the transferor you should get a receipt, if you are the transferee you should verify what you are receiving before you provide a receipt. Use of a drop-off/pick-up log can be beneficial when transporting deposits.
- If external gifts directed to the University are received, they should be forwarded to Advancement and External Affairs immediately for processing.
- Personal checks should not be cashed.
Related SU policy: Gift Acceptance Policy
Fees and other Revenues
Use an accounts receivable account to process billing and collection for routine revenue activities. If you are unsure if a cash receipt should be recorded as revenue or an offset to an expense, contact General Accounting in the Comptroller’s Office for assistance. Internal controls surrounding this type of activity include:
- Maintain a subsidiary ledger of customer accounts, including all invoices and payments.
- Invoices should be pre-numbered.
- The total of all payments should be agreed to the associated revenue accounts at least monthly.
- The accounts receivable should be aged and reviewed monthly for past due revenues.
- All delinquent accounts should be followed up for collection.
- The subsidiary ledger should be agreed to the associated accounts receivable account monthly.
- All credits, adjustments, refunds should be properly documented and authorized by management prior to entry into the receivable records.
- Accounts to be written off should be properly approved by management.
- Duties should be segregated, in that the person responsible for billing does not also collect the receipts.
Related SU policy: Revenue from Transactions with External Parties
The opening of any University bank account requires proper approval.
- No individual school, college or department bank accounts are permitted. Bank accounts are centrally authorized and monitored. They require approval by the Board of Trustees.
- Bank accounts for outside clubs or organizations cannot use the University’s tax ID number.
Related SU policy: Bank Accounts