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9. How do I spend my start-up/grant money?

Not all newly hired faculty members will have start-up funds, and if you do not, then the information on this page will not apply to you. (Start-up funds are usually associated with fields in which launching a research effort requires considerable expense).

If you have start-up funding, your department's administrative assistant will be your key contact in this process. If this person is new, then you will need to work with your chair, unless he/she is also new to administration. Often the assistant dean is someone who knows how the system works and can advise you. In any case, you are looking for a member of the administrative staff who has experience with purchasing and accounting, since the process can quickly become complicated if not handled skillfully.

Start by bringing your letter of appointment (with any written commitments) to your administrative contact. This person will ask you for a list of what you want. If you are buying computers, you will need to work with ITS (see Where's my Computer? section) to get a quote. When you have assembled all of your items with their appropriate specifications, your administrative contact can create a purchase order and begin the purchase process. Please be aware of the variables below that can affect the process.

What kind of money is it?
Purchases made with "soft money" (money from grants) are processed through Sponsored Funds Financial Management, and therefore go through a routing system different from purchases made through state funds. The restrictions on how the money can be spent will differ from one type of funding to another.

Pro-Cards and Purchase Orders
At UAlbany all small (under $2500) purchases using state funds are made with a "pro-card" which is essentially a credit card issued to you (or to whomever you designate to make your purchases). Purchases larger than $2500 can be made with a purchase order. All purchases made with Sponsored Funds require a purchase order.

There are two general ways in which start-up monies might be handled, depending on the deal you have made, and on your preferences and experience

  1. An account is set up in your name, and you are given responsibility for oversight and management of your own purchases. This is a common arrangement when you are PI on a grant. Advantage: you do not have to go through as many approval signatures to spend the money. Disadvantage: you may find yourself more deeply involved in the paperwork and bureaucracy than you hoped for.
  2. The funds are transferred to the department, and you spend them out of the department's accounts. Advantage: the paperwork and processing are handled within the regular procedures of departmental spending, leaving you free to concentrate on your research. Disadvantage: you need to have the signature of the chair or other account administrator to spend the money.