/ Business Services

Expense and Resource Stewardship Policy

Guiding Principles

As trusted stewards of Hope's institutional assets, we use the College’s financial resources to further the mission of the College drawing on our strategic priorities as a guide. We are mindful that the primary sources of revenue come from students, their families, and friends of the College.

We use the College’s resources with integrity, in a manner that is wise, fair, honest, transparent, and ethical. We seek to achieve the highest overall value per dollar, considering financial and nonfinancial aspects of each transaction.

While the policy was developed in the spirit of good practice and good stewardship, we recognize not every situation employees face in regards to spending will be covered in detail in this policy. If you encounter decisions or questions around spending or approvals that are not covered directly in this document, please contact Business Services. We are committed to operating within the guidelines of this policy, IRS regulations, and the law.

Purpose of the Policy

To guide employees, the stewards of Hope College’s resources, to appropriate resource-related behaviors that support the College’s mission through relevant Guiding Principles, Policies, and Procedures.



  • “User” — Individual making a purchase on behalf of the College
  • “Approver” — Individual approving an expense (see “Approvals” section)
  • “Friend of the College” — Individual that is not an employee nor a student
  • “Covered” — Reimbursed or paid for on a College credit card
  • “Publically Solicited” — Posted on the College website for vendors to bid on.
  • “Labor Surplus Area” — A civil jurisdiction that has a civilian average annual unemployment rate during the previous two calendar years of 20% or more above the average annual civilian unemployment rate for all states during the same period.
  • “Fund Managers” — The employee responsible for a particular budget and the Primary Approver for the fund.
  • “Capital Purchase” — Investments in goods or services costing more than $5,000 that provide long term value to the college.

Additional Information

For additional clarification or further information, please contact Business Services.

Expense Decision Making

When making a purchasing decision, the spender should consider the following regarding the potential expense:

  • Does this purchase support the mission of the College?
  • Do I have the authority to make this purchase?
  • Are there enough funds in the designated budget to cover the cost?
  • Is the expense necessary and ethically appropriate?
  • Could the cost be defended under public scrutiny?
  • Would I be comfortable explaining to a student that their payment, or to a donor that their donation, was used this way?
  • Can appropriate documentation be provided to support this expense in the case of an audit?
  • Am I planning far enough in advance to avoid additional costs (e.g., rush shipping, increased travel costs)?
  • Have I communicated well with my fund manager to understand the types of expenses that will be approved or disapproved?

Tax Exempt Status

The College holds tax exempt status in several states. Please check the Business Services website and obtain the appropriate tax exempt document prior to making a purchase.

As part of maintaining the College’s tax exempt status, the College cannot make gifts or contributions to political organizations/candidates nor can College funds be used to make loans or “micro loans” disbursed through organizations such as Kiva. Similarly, College funds cannot be used to make gifts directly to individuals, families, or to GoFundMe sites (or other similar donation sites).


Hope College is committed to obtaining high-quality goods and services at reasonable costs through a fair and equitable procurement process. As employees of Hope College, each of us is entrusted to be a fiscal steward of College resources. In order to accomplish this, faculty, administrators, and support staff involved in purchasing goods and services for the College must adhere to this policy. This includes all expenditures of funds for the purchase of goods such as supplies, books, computers, scientific equipment, etc. and for services such as consulting, publicity, legal assistance, equipment maintenance, etc. The Hope College Procurement Policy complies with the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200), governing procurement purchases with federal funds.


The College’s reputation for fair, honest and consistent treatment of suppliers can best be maintained if procurement is performed solely on the merits of the transaction. All College employees should conduct themselves in such a manner as to foster public confidence in the integrity of the College’s procurement process. Therefore, all persons engaged in the procurement process in any department or position must adhere to the following principles and standards published by the National Association of Educational Buyers Code of Ethics.

  1. Give first consideration to the mission and policies of Hope College.
  2. Strive to obtain the maximum value for each dollar of expenditure.
  3. Decline personal gifts of significant value (see Gifts from Vendors below).
  4. Grant qualified suppliers equal consideration insofar as College policy permits.
  5. Conduct business with potential and current suppliers in an atmosphere of good faith, devoid of intentional misrepresentation.
  6. Demand honesty in sales representation whether offered through the medium of a verbal or written statement, an advertisement, or a sample of the product.
  7. Receive consent of the originator of proprietary ideas and designs before using them for competitive purposes.
  8. Make every reasonable effort to negotiate an equitable and mutually agreeable settlement of any controversy with a supplier.
  9. Accord a prompt and courteous reception insofar as conditions permit to all who call on legitimate business missions.
  10. Foster fair, ethical and legal trade practices.

The College encourages all purchasers to consider minority-owned vendors, female-owned vendors, local vendors, alumni-owned vendors, and labor surplus area firms.

Gifts from Vendors

College employees shall not accept or solicit, directly or indirectly, anything of economic value as a gift, favor, or entertainment which is or may appear to be designed to influence official conduct in any manner, particularly from a person who is seeking a business or financial arrangement with Hope College. Employees may engage in entertainment or activities with economic value to build relationships with key vendors/business partners, so long as a representative from that organization is also present at the event/activity and the employees participation is pre-approved by his/her supervisor. Whenever possible, such gifts should be used to benefit the operations of the College and/or shared with other employees and students.

Unsolicited gifts valued under $35 may be accepted. You should inform your supervisor of any gifts that you have accepted. Examples of acceptable gifts include: unsolicited advertising or promotional material such as pens, pencils, scratch pads and calendars, occasional business lunches or food and refreshments of nominal value, or other items of nominal or minor value such as a box of candy or an umbrella that are merely tokens of appreciation and not related to any particular transaction.

Conflict of Interest

No College employee shall participate in the selection, award or administration of a contract or transaction if a real or apparent conflict of interest would be involved. Such conflict would arise when an employee, any member of his or her immediate family, or an organization which employs or is about to employ any of the parties indicated above, has a financial or other interest in the firm doing or about to do business with the College.

Every employee has a responsibility to report any real or potential conflict of interest to his or her supervisor (or dean, provost, or VP). This includes any relationship with only the appearance of a conflict. Faculty and staff may be required to annually report any such conflicts in writing on a Conflict of Interest Statement to the President’s Office and/or the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs.

Green Purchasing

Hope College endorses “Green Purchasing” and is committed to the use and purchase of environmentally and socially responsible products and services. Departments are expected to support this initiative in accordance with the guidelines located at the Campus Sustainability website.

Procurement Thresholds

Employees must adhere to the following regulations when making a purchase on behalf of the College. If assistance is needed, please contact Business Services.

  • Purchases less than $5,000 — Goods and services may be purchased directly with minimum competition. Pricing, service and product/service quality are equal factors in vendor selection. To the extent practical, business should be distributed among suppliers if they offer the same rates.

    Food consumed on campus for meetings, events, etc. should be provided by Creative Dining Services. Purchases of paper, supplies and other office products should be initiated through the Hope Bookstore.

  • Purchases from $5,000 to $25,000 — Goods and services must be selected after obtaining price quotations from at least two sources. These quotes can be obtained orally, in writing, or via a vendor price list or online search. All capital purchases over $5,000 must be processed through the capital purchase process.

  • Purchases greater than $25,000 — Goods and services must be selected based upon written requests for information (RFI), which include a clear and accurate description of the technical requirements for the material, product, or service to be provided and identify all requirements which contractors must fulfill in evaluating their offer. Competitive pricing from a minimum of two vendors is required. All procurement transactions must be conducted in a manner providing full and open competition.

  • Sole source/emergency purchase — A sole source purchase may occur when only one firm can satisfy the product/service requirements. Similarly, in an “Emergency Purchase” (purchase required to protect life and/or property or to prevent substantial economic loss or the interruption of service), formal procedures will be waived but competition should be used where possible. If the purchase will be grant-funded, Hope College may use a sole source purchase with prior permission from the sponsor.

Special Purchasing Circumstances

In order to avoid the acquisition of unnecessary or duplicative items, the following procedures are in place at Hope College to ensure the appropriate use of funds.

  • Purchases Requiring Special Procurement Procedures — The college encourages the use of CIT, Physical Plant, Catering and the Bookstore.

    All purchases of furniture and construction services (including design and development) must be initiated through the Physical Plant.

    All purchases of technology hardware, software (including licensing and subscriptions), peripherals and printers must be initiated through the Computing and Information Technology Department.

  • Professional Services — When specialized skills, knowledge, resources and experience are needed that cannot be provided reasonably by existing staff, such services may be obtained from firms or individuals outside the College on a fee-for-service or professional contract. Selections must be based on impartiality, competitiveness and ability to fulfill needs. All contracts for professional services must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate Administrative Council member(s). Examples of Professional Service Contracts include appraisals, architectural and engineering services, auditing, accounting and financial services, consulting services, printing and graphic design, research surveys and studies, web design and development.

    All services for professional design and/or construction are selected by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in consultation with the Director of Operations and appropriate members of the Administrative Council, and approved by the Board of Trustees. To the extent possible, contracts for construction projects should include value engineering clauses to offer opportunities for cost reductions.

Contract Retention

Significant contracts include those with a value in excess of $25,000 per year or $50,000 over the term of the contract or that could result in significant adverse exposure for the College (not including personnel contracts). All significant contracts must be signed by an authorized signatory (President, CFO, Director of Finance and Business Services) of the College. Business Services must be contacted prior to engaging in any negotiations related to a significant contract. All significant College contracts entered into with outside organizations/companies/private parties should be filed with the Joint Archives located in the Theil Research Center. See Business Services Record Retention Policy.

Contracts that are under the “significant” threshold should be signed by a department head (ie. academic chair, dean, director, vice president). Non-significant contracts may be stored with the Joint Archives or within a department in an area that is accessible and known to more than one party.


Documents related to procurement action must be maintained in accordance with the Business Services Record Retention and Destruction Policy. Procurement documents that must be maintained include the rationale for the method of procurement, selection of contract type, contractor selection or rejection, and the basis for contract price.

Grants & Federal Funds

Grant funds are to be used according to the policies of Hope College. If more restrictive, recipients must adhere to all regulations outlined by the grant.

The CFO must approve, in advance, grant applications for programs originally funded by a grant that will need additional funding beyond the life of the grant.

When equipment or other goods and services are requested and/or purchased with either federal or private grant funds, all College procurement guidelines must be followed in specification, price solicitation, vendor selection and procurement. In addition, the Federal Government mandates that the Procurement Standards in OMB Circular, 2 CFR Part 200, Subpart D, Section 200.320 for goods and services purchased with federal funds must be followed. If the grant is being transferred to a different institution, the Hope College Office of Sponsored Research and Programs, the Principal Investigator (PI), and the new institution will make arrangements for the transfer and determine how transfer costs will be covered.

Federal Grant Funds Procurement

Special rules apply when using federal grant money. For questions regarding whether an award is considered a “federal grant”, please contact Business Services. All federally funded awards will have a fund number beginning in “28XXX”.

  • Micro purchases (transactions under $5,000) — Consistent with the Hope College policy, goods and services may be purchased directly with minimum competition. Pricing, service, and product/service quality are equal factors in vendor selection. Per federal guidelines, to the extent practical, business should be distributed among suppliers if they offer the same rates.
  • Small purchases (transactions between $5,000 and $25,000) — Consistent with the Hope College policy, price or rate quotes must be obtained from at least two sources. These quotes can be obtained orally, in writing, or via a vendor price list or online search. Quotes must be maintained for 7 years after the end of the grant period.
  • Large purchases (transactions over $25,000) — Consistent with the Hope College policy, goods and services must be selected based upon written requests for information (RFI). If the project is a construction project, bids must be publicly solicited. If the project is not construction related, rate quotes must be obtained from a minimum of two sources. Documentation of the quotes must be maintained for 7 years after the end of the grant period.
  • Sole source purchase — If the purchase is a unique product, public emergency, is authorized by the awarding agency, or there is no reasonable competition, competitive bids are not required. Documentation must be submitted to the Business Manager (or designee) prior to the purchase.

Asset Ownership & Retirement

Anything purchased using College funds remains the property of the College until the item is retired. When retiring an item, Business Services should be consulted for any item (or grouping of related items) with an expected value of $50 or more. If there is a question as to the value of the item, Business Services should always be consulted. If Business Services determines there is any value to the asset, all College branding will be removed and the asset will be sold at fair market value. All proceeds from the sale will belong to the College (not the department or budget).

Methods of Payment

Corporate Credit Card

When an employee “signs out” a corporate credit card, that employee agrees to be bound by the terms of the use of that card as described at the time of issuance. While electronic expense reporting must occur within 90 days of the charge being made, we recommend report submissions within 30 days. Failure to follow College policies related to credit card use (including timely expense reporting) may result in suspension of credit card privileges or further disciplinary action. Employees with expenses over 90 days old will have their credit card shut off. The employee must submit all expenses before the card is turned back on. If an employee’s card is shut off three times within a 24-month timeframe, the employee will lose credit card privileges permanently. For issue around misuse of credit cards, disciplinary action will be managed consistent with the information outlined below (see “Accountability”).

Annual fees for College corporate credit cards will be paid by the College. Employees are personally liable for all charges on the card until proper and complete documentation is submitted and approved through Certify.

College corporate credit cards are intended for business use only. College corporate credit cards may not be used for personal expenses. Should personal purchases be accidentally charged to your corporate card, full disclosure must be made of the personal charge and full payment for that charge must be deposited through Business Services no more than 30 days after the personal charge was incurred. The check to reimburse the personal charge should be made payable to “Hope College” and should be deposited to account 7699.

Cash/Travel Advances

Generally, cash advances should only be used when traveling to areas where credit cards are not widely accepted or when international currency is needed. An employee may have only one cash advance outstanding at any given time. Accounting for a cash advance requires proof of cash spent (usually a receipt) and return of any unspent cash. Failure to account for a prior advance will result in the denial of all subsequent cash advance requests and could result in further employment disciplinary action. All cash advances must be reconciled with Business Services within 30 days (or before fiscal year end closing) after the completion of the travel event.

Domestic Cash Advance

A travel advance request should be submitted no less than two weeks prior to the departure date. A travel advance will typically be issued within ten working days prior to the date it is needed (in the form of a check or direct deposit).

A cash advance used to provide incentives to participants in a survey or study must include a list of all recipients (including a signature from each recipient). The list must be included in the expense report as documentation that the money was disbursed.

International Currency Advance

A travel advance request should be submitted no less than two weeks prior to the departure date (additional time is preferred). Currency will be issued prior to the planned departure.

The College will allow the cash advance feature to be used via the Hope credit card, when traveling internationally. The amount withdrawn and reason for withdrawal will be required to be documented as a cash advance (requiring proof of cash spent, usually a receipt). Unspent cash must be returned with the expense report.

Personal Payment and Payment Request

Hope employees may use their personal credit card while conducting College business and submit College-related expenses via a Payment Request. The College will not cover the cost of any annual fees for personal credit cards, late payment fees, or overdraft fees. Employees may not allow rewards programs or category reward to influence purchasing decisions.

A Payment Request must be submitted within 90 days of the expense or the funds will not be reimbursed. Sufficient documentation must support the request to comply with IRS requirements.


General Travel

Travel shall be used to accomplish College business objectives in a cost-efficient manner.

Employees must use prudent judgement; for example, traveling coach or economy class, and staying and eating in moderately priced establishments. Employees may travel in business or first class, but will be expected to cover the difference. Employees requiring the use of first- or business-class airfare, when needed to support medical needs, will be permitted to do so based on supporting documentation and approval from the supervisor and/or HR. The college will cover airport parking within reason. Employees traveling for extended periods of time should consider alternative methods of traveling to the airport (such as Uber, car service, etc.). While traveling, only reasonable, business-related expenses will be covered (this would not include personal hygiene items, clothing, personal entertainment items, parking fines, traffic tickets; and would typically not include valet parking). Personal expenses incurred by the employee while traveling on College business (for example: snow removal, boarding of pets, or lawn care) are not allowable expenses.

Information about personal meals while traveling for College business can be found under “Meals and Entertainment.”


If a spouse or other individual accompanies the employee, the charge to the College may only be the single room rate. Tips for hotel staff, while not mandatory, are covered by the College, within reasonable limits as determined by the services required and received. (If you choose to tip, industry standards suggest the following: $1-2 per bag for bellhops, $1-2 for concierge helping arrange cab/ground transportation, $2-5 for valet service and $2-3/night for housekeeping).

Staying With Friends of the College

If a traveler chooses to stay with family, alumni, or friends of the College in lieu of staying in a hotel room, a gift of gratitude may be purchased for the host if the value of the gift is less than $50 multiplied by the number of nights stayed with the host (up to a maximum of $200). A meal with the host could be considered in lieu of the gift with the same suggested amounts. Federal grant/contract money may not be used for this purpose.


Travelers may choose to fly to the destination when flying is less expensive (when considering the totality of travel cost involved during the duration of the trip including the value of the employee’s time), than other forms of transportation. Employees must select the least expensive airfare that is available during reasonable travel times. Employees flying on federal grants and contracts must use a US-flag carrier, even if not the least expensive, except in extenuating circumstances. While employees may always choose to check a bag, they are encouraged to use prudent judgement as to the necessity of checking a bag.

Rental Vehicles

Travelers may rent a car at their destination when it is less expensive (when considering the totality of travel expenses involved during the duration of the trip including the value of the employee’s time), than other transportation modes such as taxis, ride sharing services (such as Lyft or Uber), limousines, and airport shuttles. Employees must select economy or compact model rental cars when available. The College does not pay for Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) as these insurance coverages are provided by the College through its vehicle insurance policy and/or the College’s corporate credit card. Accidents or damage incurred with the rental vehicle (with or without personal injury) must be promptly reported to Campus Safety and Business Services.

Airline, Hotel, & Rental Car Loyalty Programs

Employees may retain frequent flyer, hotel frequent guest, or rental car club program benefits. However, participation in these programs must not influence selection that would result in additional cost to the College beyond the lowest available fare. Membership fees associated with these programs are considered personal expenses and are not covered.

Personal Vehicles

When traveling from campus, it is recommended to use vehicles available through the Hope College Transportation Services.

Employees may use their personal vehicle for business purposes if the cost to the College of using one’s personal vehicle is less than the cost of other forms of transportation (or the College will cover up to the cost of a comparable flight).

Employees will be reimbursed at the current college established rate (at the time of current policy approval the rate is $0.45 per mile). Fuel and other costs of using a personal vehicle are included in the mileage rate and therefore will not separately be covered by the College. Distance is calculated based on IRS regulations for deductible expenses. See the figure here. Documentation to support the actual miles driven for the trip must be provided as part of the expense reimbursement request. Suggested supporting documentation includes a print out of Google Maps or Mapquest. Toll and parking expenses incurred during the trip will be covered. Any travel less than 10 miles in a given day may not be submitted for reimbursement. Repairs to personal vehicles, even if maintenance became necessary as part of business travel, will not be covered by the College.

The College does not provide insurance on personal vehicles when used for College business. It is the personal responsibility of the vehicle owner to carry adequate insurance coverage. It is recommended that the Combined Single Liability limit be $300,000. The College is not responsible for any damage incurred to the employee’s vehicle when used for College business. Insurance deductibles, traffic fines or fees are the responsibility of the employee/auto owner and are not allowable costs to be charged to the College.

Travel/Luggage Insurance

Expenses for additional travel or luggage insurance coverage purchased by employees will not be covered by the College. The College provides sufficient travel insurance for each full-time employee and the cost of additional coverage is the personal responsibility of the employee.

International Phone Plans & Wifi

The College will cover the costs of international phone plans for the period when the phone plan is needed to conduct College business (this should be built into the off-campus course fee, if applicable). The College will cover the cost of wifi in a hotel or on an airplane when wifi is needed to conduct College business. Wifi will not be covered if solely used for entertainment purposes.

Guest Travel

The College will not cover travel and other business expenses incurred by a spouse or other individuals accompanying an employee on business unless the spouse or other individual is representing the College in an official capacity and has prior approval to travel on behalf of the College by the appropriate Vice President. College credit cards may only be used for expenses incurred by the employee.

Meals and Entertainment

Personal Meals While Traveling for College Business

The College will cover an employee’s actual documented meal expenses (with detailed receipts) up to the maximum daily meal allowance. The College considers $55 per day plus 15–20% gratuity to be a maximum (in most instances) for personal meals. While the allocation of these funds is at the discretion of the employee, the funds could be allocated as follows: $10.00 for breakfast, $15.00 for lunch, and $25.00 for dinner, plus $5 towards snacks/beverages purchased throughout the day.

Meal per diems will only be allowed in some instances when employees are traveling for twenty or more consecutive days. Meal per diems should be built into the off-campus course fee, if applicable.

Personal meal expenses in excess of the above amounts must have additional disclosure as to “why” the employee could not stay within these guidelines, or they will not be covered. Meal expenses are not permitted when a meal is otherwise provided by the hotel, a conference, or is paid for by a friend of the College. The College will not pay for alcohol purchased for personal consumption (see “Personal Consumption of Alcohol” for more information).

Business Meals

Business meals taken with guests of the college, during which a specific business discussion takes place, are allowable expenses. The College expects the employee to use reasonable discretion when incurring business meal expenses. For a clear understanding of “reasonable discretion,” it is recommend that you discuss with the fund manager.

When entertaining a guest of the College off campus for a meal, to maximize the benefit of conversation for those that will be dining with the guest, the College will pay for up to four employees or students to accompany that guest. In situations when it feels appropriate/necessary to involve more than 4 employees or students, it would be appropriate to move the meal on campus (through dining halls or catering) in order to include more people.

Business Meals With Other Hope Employees

The College will pay for business-related meals taken with other employees when no other time is available for the discussion of College business, which should be a rare occurrence, or when participating in the official faculty mentoring program through Initium. (Celebratory meals are addressed in “Celebratory Occasions, Gifts, Funerals, and Charitable Donations.”)


College funds may be used to tip within the range of 15-20% of the bill. Tips above or below this amount should be submitted with additional explanation.

Meals for Personal Occasions

Meal costs for personal occasions, such as employee birthdays, Administrative Professionals Day, etc. are not classified as business meals and will not be covered.

Personal Consumption of Alcohol

Hope College will not cover the purchase of alcohol for personal consumption while dining alone or only with other employees, regardless of the nature of the gathering. Alcohol may not be purchased/reimbursed with grant funding. Employees who have access to endowed discretionary funding who wish to make purchases of alcohol outside of the guidelines of this policy must take the discretionary money as compensation first (which will be taxed accordingly).

Alcohol at a Business Meal

Alcohol will be covered for legitimate business purposes that involve a client of the College, such as donor or stakeholder cultivation and/or recognition. The ordering of alcohol should typically be initiated by the client of the College, not by the Hope employee. Alcohol consumed with a meal (including before or after the meal), while entertaining guests or clients of the College, is covered up to a maximum of two drinks per person. Moderation with respect to the cost of alcohol is the guiding principle in determining what is reasonable and covered and we encourage reasonable judgement about who should be participating in the event/meal. Federal grant/ contract money cannot be used to pay for alcohol.

Situations that require further interpretation of “legitimate business purpose” should be directed to the appropriate Vice President, Provost, or President for approval. Final decisions about whether an alcohol expense will be covered is the responsibility of the employee’s applicable VP (or the President when a VP makes the purchase).

If it is determined that the expense is not allowable, the employee will be responsible for covering the cost.

For events hosted by certain areas of College (for example, Alumni and Family Engagement), where more than 10 individuals are in attendance and the primary audience is non-students, alcohol may be purchased by the College when it is a pass-through cost (meaning the money is collected by the office and passed through Hope College) by an event registration fee or another source is funding the purchase.


Guest speakers who visit the College infrequently may receive a taxable honoraria compensation via a payment request. If the individual receives more than $600 of honoraria payments in one calendar year, the College will issue that individual a 1099 form.

A form W-9 will need to be provided to Business Services for honorarium payments. If the individual does not have a TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number), SSN (Social Security Number), ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), ATIN (Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number), or EIN (Employer Identification Number), please contact the Business Services office prior to arranging the service. Questions related to the way in which an individual should be compensated may be directed to the Business Services.

Individuals who are employees of the College should be compensated through payroll or via an Over & Above form through the Human Resources Department, and should not receive an honoraria.

Professional Development Funds

All full-time faculty will have a professional development fund. Guidelines related to these funds can be found here.

Gift Cards


Gift cards (or other “financial equivalents”) may not be purchased for distribution to any student unless the gift card is awarded as part of a random drawing and the amount is $100 or less because there are implications to a student’s financial aid. A non-gift card item of nominal value (under $100) may be gifted to a student without causing the value of the gift to be reported on the student’s financial aid.


Gift cards for employees are unallowable when using college resources because they are considered undocumented compensation, which is prohibited by the IRS guidelines. Vouchers for a specific item of nominal value (under $100) may be gifted to an individual without causing the value of the gift to be reported on the individual’s W-2. Over & Above forms are the proper means of compensating College employees for their extraordinary services.


Gift cards $50 and under purchased for a guest of the College are permitted if there is no other form of compensation. The name of the recipient must be included in the supporting documentation.

Celebratory Occasions, Gifts, Funerals, and Charitable Donations

Department budgets may be used to pay for celebratory gatherings within reason. Occasional recognition meals for exemplary accomplishments will be permitted.

In the event of a death of a Hope employee, the spouse of an employee, or a dependent (18 years of age or younger) of a Hope employee, Human Resources purchases a floral arrangement (or makes a charitable donation if the family requests no flowers) on behalf of the college. In these circumstances, departments are encouraged to consider recognizing the event in a different way (ie. meals for the family, sympathy cards, etc.).

In situations not covered by Human Resources, departments may purchase flowers or small mementos (under $100) using operational funds to recognize the death of someone significant to an employee, hospitalization of an employee, or the birth of a child of an employee. Gifts to anyone outside of these parameters may also be permitted with prior discussion with Business Services. Gift cards are not considered acceptable purchases in these events. If the family has requested a gift to a bona fide charitable organization in lieu of flowers, discretionary (not operational) funds may be used for this purpose.


General Approval Policy

Fund managers must approve all expenses related to their fund, no matter the form of payment (Payment Request, Hope Visa, or Cash Advance). If the fund manager is the one making the purchase, the secondary fund manager should approve the expense.

The president’s expense report will be approved by the acting chairperson (or designated member) of the Board of Trustees.

Approvers bear responsibility for the expenses which they approve. Both financial and disciplinary actions can occur for both the purchaser and the approver in cases where a pattern of negligence by the approver is found in approval of inappropriate expenses.

Business Services has fiscal responsibility for spending at the college. If there is a disagreement between Business Services and an employee/department/supervisor, the CFO (or designee) has final decision making authority.

Approving Split Expenses

Expenses split between multiple budgets will be approved by each of the fund managers.

Use of Proxy Approval

Certain individuals may choose to use a proxy for approval purposes, however, the fund manager still bears the responsibility of the approved expenses.

A proxy approval may not be used in instances where alcohol is purchased.

Conflicts of Interest While Approving

Avoid conflicts of interest, whether by fact or appearance, while approving expense reports. For example, an expense report should not be approved by the individual’s spouse, sibling, or child. If the approver has a personal relationship with the user that could be perceived as a conflict of interest, the approver should request that his or her supervisor approve the expense.

Individuals should not act as the approver on a meal or entertainment expense they attended.


The burden of proof is on the spender. Each individual is responsible for providing sufficient documentation to support the appropriateness of all expenses for which they are requesting payment reimbursement and for which they have charged to their Hope credit card or cash advance.

Employees are encouraged to report concerns regarding individuals who may be using resources outside of these guidelines directly to their supervisor. However, if needed, the college also has a Whistleblower Policy.

Individuals who use college resources outside the guidelines of this policy, as determined by a combination of the supervisor, divisional leadership, Human Resources, the CFO, and/or Business Services will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination subsequent to a conversation and in accordance with the applicable employee handbook. Various accountability practices may be used. The College will determine what level of disciplinary action may be needed by evaluating the severity of the incident(s) by considering progressive discipline. Some of these practices may include:

  • Verbal conversation
  • Withholding Payment Request reimbursement until Certify is fully reconciled
  • Requiring reimbursement of the unallowable or unapproved expense
  • Revoking College credit card privileges
  • Revoking spending privileges
  • Revoking budgetary oversight responsibilities
  • Formal written warning
  • Demotion and/or loss of supervisory privileges
  • Suspension (with or without pay)
  • Termination

Authority and Amendment

This policy is bringing together the Travel and Expense Policy, the Procurement Policy, and the Gift Card Policy that have existed in Business Services as individual policies previously. In this format, the policy was first adopted March 12, 2019. Any questions about this policy can be directed to Business Services at (616) 395-7810, busofc@hope.edu or accountspayable@hope.edu.

This policy will be reviewed 12 months after its initial release and every three years thereafter, or sooner if circumstances dictate necessity.

Related Policies, Procedures and Documents

  • Capital Process (in development)
  • Business Services Forms
  • Request for Information/Request for Proposal
  • Business Services Record Retention and Destruction Policy



All purchases made on behalf of the College must be appropriately documented. This method of documentation must occur for all forms of payment (invoice, Payment Request, Hope Visa card, or Cash Advance). Documentation must report the following information:

  • “Who” — For who was this expense incurred? If this was a meal, who attended the meal?
  • “What” — What items were purchased?
  • “Where” — At what location did the expense occur? What restaurant? What store? What city?
  • “When” — What date was this expense incurred? Does this purchase relate to an event that already occurred or will occur?
  • “Why” — What was the business purpose of this expense? How can we support that this was not a personal expenditure?
  • Five-digit fund and four-digit account number (account number listing found here)
  • Receipt (if the charge is over $35)

The required documentation can come from the receipt, a written explanation, or a combination of the two sources. Original, itemized receipts are the preferred source of this information.

Documentation for all purchases must be returned to Business Services within 90 days of the date of the charge. After this time frame, Business Services will be required to either not reimburse the expense or will report the expense as taxable income on the individual's W-2.

Requests for Information

Employees seeking to make purchases above the outlined thresholds must complete a requests for Information (RFI). This document can then be distributed to the vendors. Significant contracts can only be signed by an authorized signatory (President, CFO, Director of Finance and Business Services) of the College.

Hope Credit Cards

Requesting a Hope Credit Card

An employee may request a Hope credit card (with approval from their supervisor) at any time during their employment at Hope. All requests should be sent to busofc@hope.edu and should include the employee’s name, department, and immediate supervisor. The supervisor will need to approve the credit card. In rare occasions, Human Resources may approve the issuance of a credit card to expedite the process.

Credit cards take approximately two weeks to arrive. When Business Services receives the credit card, the employee will be contacted to pick it up and sign the Credit Card Usage Agreement.

Activating a Hope Credit Card

All Hope credit cards must be activated before use.

  1. Call the number listed on the sticker on the front of your card
  2. Press 1 for English
  3. Enter the 16-digit card number shown on the front of the card & the “#” key
  4. Use your four-digit birth year as the “activation code” & the “#” key
  5. Remove the sticker

Setting a Four-Digit Pin Number

All Hope credit cards must have an active pin number before use.

  1. Call the number on the back of your card
  2. Press 1 for English
  3. Enter the 16 digit card number shown on the front of your card & the “#” key
  4. Enter the four digit “activation code” (your birth year) & the “#” key
  5. Follow the prompts to change the pin number

Note: Business Services cannot retrieve this number, so make it something easy to remember!

Spending on a Hope Credit Card

The Hope credit card may be used anywhere Visa cards are accepted (domestic or international). You may be required to use a four-digit pin (see “Setting a four-digit pin number” above). The address associated with the card may be required for online purchases. The address is as follows:

100 E. 8th Street, Suite 280
Holland, MI 49423

Using Certify

Every expense charged on a Hope credit card will be automatically assigned to the cardholder’s Certify account. It is the cardholder’s responsibility to document each charge and submit for approval.

Instructions on how to use Certify can be found in the Certify User Manual.

An individual may receive reminders to complete their Certify expense report. After the first reminder, the applicable Vice President or supervisor may be carbon copied on the subsequent reminder emails. At 90 days, the credit card will be shut down and the expenses outstanding may be considered compensation on the individual’s W-2 (see additional information in “Methods of Payment”).

Fraudulent Charges on College-Issued Credit Card

If fraudulent charges are noticed by a cardholder, the cardholder should call the number on the back of their Hope Visa card and identify any fraudulent activity. Next, a Credit Card Dispute Form should be filled out immediately. Once the form is completed, the form should be emailed to a program administrator (Accounts Receivable Coordinator or Controller). Fraudulent charges should be expensed to the individual’s most commonly used fund number and to account 7777. If PNC/Visa resolves the dispute and a credit is issued, it should be credited to the same fund and account number, resulting in a net zero impact.

Payment Requests

If an employee uses personal funds to pay for a business expense, the employee may complete a Payment Request form. Appropriate documentation (as included in the “Documentation” section above) must be included with these types of requests.

Similarly, a Payment Request can be used to pay an outside individual or vendor, if necessary. A W-9 form will be required anytime the College pays an independent contractor for services performed.

Most weeks, Payment Request forms turned in to Business Services by Tuesday at noon will be paid the same week on Friday.

Cash Advances

Individuals who wish to take cash while traveling (domestic or internationally) should fill out a Payment Request at least two weeks prior to their departure. Within 30 days of return, an Advance Reconciliation Report should be turned in. If the cash advance is used to pass out funds to survey or study participants or as a meal allowance, a listing of signatures of the receipts must be provided with the reconciliation.


Invoices may be submitted to Business Services for payment. If this is the first instance of Hope College paying this vendor, please provide a completed form W-9 to Business Services with the invoice. The College will pay the invoices in the last check run prior to the due date, when applicable. Invoices must abide by the documentation requirements (see “Documentation”).


When an outside party owes the College money, Business Services will create the invoice. Invoicing outside of Business Services is not permitted. Email busofc@hope.edu and indicate the fund and account that the money should be deposited to, the reason for the invoice, and the amount. Your fund will receive the credit immediately. Business Services will handle collection activities.

Inter/Intra Departmental Charge Form

Amounts can be moved between funds and account numbers within a fund via an Inter/Intra Departmental Charge Form. The form must be completed using fund and account numbers for each party.

Donations from one department to another may not be charged to an operating fund (18XXX). However, donations made from a discretionary fund (25XXX) will be permitted.

Approval Procedures

Who Should Approve

The primary approver should approve all charges made to the funds for which they oversee. The secondary approver should approve all charges made to funds by the primary approver.

How to Approve

The approver should consider the following items prior to approving an expense.

Hope College Expense Policy flow chart

Reviewing Budgets

Monthly Budget reports

Monthly budget reports will be sent out at the beginning of November through May. A year-end budget report will be sent out shortly after the audit fieldwork is completed. One report will be sent near the beginning of October for the first quarter of the fiscal year (July, August, and September).

Mid-Month Review of Budgets

If a fund manager wishes to view an up-to-date version of the budget, that may be done via plus.hope.edu. Business Services has created Instructions for Using Plus.Hope.Edu for Operational or Discretionary Budgets and Instructions for Using Plus.Hope.Edu for Grants for your convenience. The same individuals that receive a monthly budget reports will have access to plus.hope.edu budget information.

Review of Budget Reports

Fund managers should review these reports for discrepancies and report any concerns to Business Services as soon as possible. Waiting until the end of the fiscal year is not advisable.

Change of Fund Viewers

The primary and secondary approver should receive monthly budget reports, as well as any individuals who oversee the area. Additional individuals may be included on the monthly budget reports, if requested. Please contact Business Services if you would like to update the names of the individuals receiving the monthly budget reports.