Student award funds include funds for scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, prizes and loans, and are designated either for undergraduate or graduate students. Many of these funds are endowments which are invested to generate income in perpetuity for the support of student awards. Note that many student awards are made from University operating funds, and only those funded by donations or restricted awards are established as restricted funds.
There are many divisions of the University which are involved in the administration of student awards, including Colleges or Faculties, the School of Graduate Studies, Enrolment Services, Trust Accounting (Financial Services Department), and the Donations Management (Division of University Advancement).
The student award process is governed by the University’s Policy on Student Awards Established in the University of Toronto and involves the following:
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Establishing the Award
All awards, with the exception of general university awards, are established at a college, a faculty or at the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). Decisions are made on the terms of the awards, including identification of the awarding body. This frequently involves consultation with the donor who is funding the award.
The process of approving the establishment of an award includes the initial approval by the college, faculty or SGS Council and final approval by the Academic Board (or Enrolment Services on behalf of the Board).
The establishment of general university awards, e.g. generally undergraduate awards which are not specific to a college or faculty, is handled by Enrolment Services.
Setting up a fund in AMS
Funds are set up in AMS by Donations Management upon a request received from University Awards, Enrolment Services.
Award records for donor-funded awards must be drafted and submitted to the University Registrar’s Office using the Award Explorer platform. Paper/PDF award records are no longer accepted. Training videos for Award Explorer have been created to assist staff in using Award Explorer to draft and submit award records. For access to the staff repository, consult with your division’s Awards Administrator who can add new users to Award Explorer. If there is currently no Awards Administrator please submit a ticket to
The information about an award can be viewed within Award Explorer. The Award Explorer public repository can be accessed at https://awardexplorer.utoronto.ca/.
Processing of Pledges and Donations
Pledges and donations for student awards are processed in the same way as any other donation. For details, refer to the GTFM section Monetary Donations.
Budgets and Overdraft Tolerance
Budgets (funds available for spending) are set up when expendable donations are received or when investment income from LTCAP or EFIP are distributed annually in April. Also see the section Monetary Donations for more information.
Student award funds have been provided with an overdraft tolerance intended to cover the annual award payment. Since the annual award varies widely across accounts, a maximum tolerance of $10,000 has been provided to each fund to facilitate payments to students when donations are received after payments are made. It is crucial that fund managers review their funds and make award payments only when donations for prior awards have been received. Deficits in funds are the responsibility of the division and careful review by fund managers will limit the risk of potential default from donors.
For questions or assistance with budgets and overdraft tolerances, please contact the Supervisor, Trust Accounting in the Financial Services Department.
Payment of the Award
Selecting the Award Recipient
The selection of the award recipient is made by the awarding body as specified on the award record.
Authorizing Payment of the Award
Where the awarding body is SGS, the payment of the award is authorized by SGS. In all other cases, with few exceptions, the payment of the award is authorized by Admissions and Awards upon the recommendation of the Division.
Note: The fiscal period for these accounts is the University fiscal year, May 1 to April 30.
Transfer of Funds, Internal Sales and Expense Recoveries
Transfer of funds is the movement of funds from one account to another. Internal sales are buy/sell transactions for services and/or supplies within University’s divisions. Expense recoveries are allocations of expenses among various funding sources for payments made to external parties. See the section Internal Revenues and Internal Expense Recoveries for a more detailed explantion of these types of transactions.
Restricted funds are governed by external restrictions and the University is entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that the funds are used in accordance with the terms set out in the trust. Therefore, transfers of funds between restricted funds are limited only to those that do not contravene donors’ terms and conditions, or are explicitly permitted by donors. Furthermore, transfers between restricted funds and another funding group (operating, capital and ancillary operations), referred to as interfund transfers, are only permitted when they have received approval from the Business Board of Governing Council.
Transfers should be kept to a minimum since they provide poor accountability to donors. Fund managers are strongly encouraged to disburse directly from the restricted fund to reduce the need for fund transfers. When a transfer is required, please send your request to the Supervisor, Trust Accounting, Financial Services Department.
Internal buy/sell transactions are not typical of student award funds and, therefore, should not be processed in student award funds.
Student award payments can be split among several funding sources. However, divisions can use the internal revenues/expense recoveries transaction when it is administratively more efficient to recover expenses after the payment has been made. In these cases, ensure that the same GL account is used for both the debit and credit lines of the transaction so that the transaction is eliminated for total University reporting. In addition, ensure to process the recovery only after the disbursement has occurred. For proper accountability, a thorough description should be included in the transaction.
Review, Account Reconciliation and Reporting to Donors
Review and account reconciliation
Departments should review and reconcile their accounts on a regular basis to ensure that transactions recorded in the fund are appropriate, and disbursements are made in accordance with donors’ wishes. Deficits should be investigated and donors should be reminded of their commitment. A variety of financial reports are available in AMS to facilitate the review process. For more information on AMS reporting, refer to the appropriate reference guide for reporting in FIS. Courses specific to non-research funds analysis and reporting are also available. For information on the course and course materials (available for download), refer to the FIS Training Schedule and Course Summary.
Financial Reporting to Donors
The University prepares annual Donor Financial Reports for endowments over $95,000 and for other funds when they are specifically requested by donors. The Donor Financial Report, together with other information (i.e. the list of award recipients) are sent to donors as part of the University’s accountability efforts. Central and divisional offices all participate in this endeavor.
Fund managers are asked to participate in annual information training sessions in early May. During May and June, fund managers are asked to review and sign off for disbursements as reported in the draft Donor Financial Report to ensure that funds have been spent in accordance with donor’s conditions and that they are accurately classified in the report. Regular reviews and reconciliations of accounts will reduce or eliminate the need for adjustments to the financial report. Fund managers also participate by providing narrative information of activities or accomplishments made as a result of donors’ funding.
Donations Management reviews the accuracy of donations and matchings recorded in the fund; Financial Services reviews for the accuracy of the overall report focusing on the endowment values and the distribution of investment income. Once the Donor Financial Report is finalized, the report, together with additional information, is sent to donors by central or divisional development officers.
Last revision January 2014