Glossary: Finance and Accounting

Academic Support

Consists of activities that directly support instruction, research, and public services. Includes libraries, museums, media centers, and departmental academic administration.

Accounting String

A series of alpha and numeric codes used to identify and access financial data in FIS.  See FOAPAL and Chart of Accounts.

Account Code

The third element of a FOAPAL accounting string used to identify specific financial transactions. Account codes define the type of activity taking place, such as revenues, expenses, and transfers in the Operating Ledger, and assets, liabilities, and fund balances in the General Ledger. Account codes with similar characteristics can be grouped into account types.

Account Index

See Index code.

Activity Code

The optional fifth element of a FOAPAL accounting string. It is used to subdivide activities in a FOAP, primarily for the purpose of tracking multiple activities or tracking cost sharing on grants and contracts within the FOAP.

Agency Funds

Used to account for funds of persons or external organizations while the funds are in the custody of the University. The University acts as the fiscal agent for the owner of the funds. Examples include trust funds held by the Erb Memorial Union and payroll deduction funds held by Business Affairs. Currently, the Federal Direct Student Loan Program is also classified in this group, as federal regulations guide the issuing of the loans and once loaned, the receivables are the responsibility of the federal government.

Approval (or Approvals Process)  See also Implied Approval.

After a FIS transaction document is completed, it is subject to the approvals process.  Some documents will receive implied approvals.   Other documents will be routed to reviewers through approval queues.   Documents receiving approval may then be posted.  See also Disapproval.

Approval Queues

The approval queues route FIS documents to various individuals (approvers) for review in the approvals process.   The FOAPAL elements and/or dollar amounts determine which queues are required.  Once reviewed, the document is approved and sent to posting, or is disapproved.

Assets (Account Type 10)

The financial value of property or economic benefits that you own. Typical assets include : Cash (A0xxx-A1xxx), Accounts Receivable (A3xxx), Inventories (A4xxx), and Prepaid Expense (A5xxx).

Auxiliary Enterprise Funds

Sometimes referred to as "Proprietary Funds," these funds are used to account for operations that are financed and operated in a manner similar to private business enterprises and not directly related to the educational mission of the University. Examples include the Erb Memorial Union, Housing, Student Health Service, and Athletic Department. Goods and services are provided on a self-supporting basis.


A section of a FIS form containing related pieces of information. Each form has a "key" block at the top that requests or reflects key access information, and one or more framed data blocks below, each of which generally focuses on one area of data.


An individual authorized to complete and approve purchase orders.

Capital Outlay

Purchases of equipment, buildings, major remodeling, or for improvements other than buildings (such as art work, outside lighting systems, Autzen Stadium carpet, etc.)

Chart of Accounts

The primary structure of FOAPAL elements used to keep track of the flow of resources into and out of the University.  It is used to organize, collect, and report financial data, including revenues, expenses, budget, assets, liabilities, and fund balances.  The UO's chart is identified by the letter B.

Closing of the books

Closing of the Books Process done at fiscal year end to close all revenue and expense accounts and add net income or loss to fund balance. An additional fiscal period (accrual period 14) is opened in July for any adjustments needed after the last regular fiscal period is closed.  No changes can be made to the financial records in FIS for the fiscal year after closing.


To formally enter a new or updated record into the FIS database; the data displayed on-screen on a form is not saved until it has been "committed." Records extracted from the database for updating are not available to other users until they have been recommitted.


A specific item ordered from a vendor.

Commodity-level accounting

A less frequently used method of accounting in FIS that allows one or more FOAPAL strings to be assigned to each specific commodity.

Complete Documents

When you reach the end of entering a FIS transaction document, you should generally complete it.  After a document is completed, it is subject to the approvals process.  Approved documents are then posted.

Control Account

Account codes used in the general ledger that summarize current fiscal yearrevenue and expense, budget, and transfer activity from the operating ledger.

Credit Memo

A document used to issue a vendor credit.


The place where financial data is stored; data in the FIS database is accessed by all FIS modules, providing consistency and uniformity of data formats.

Database Administrator

The University Computing staff person who assigns clearances and otherwise maintains the integrity and security of the FIS database.


A breakdown of a transaction into its basic data contents.

Direct Access

Selecting a form directly by entering its 7-letter name at a "Direct Access" prompt rather than through a sequence of menu choices.

Disapproval    See also Approvals Process.

After a FIS transaction document is completed, it is subject to the approvals process.  A document may be disapproved if it contains errors or fails to meet all applicable requirements.  Disapproved documents become incomplete and the person who originated the document will receive a BANNER messagetelling them why it was disapproved.  The originating user may then make the corrections and re-complete the document or delete it. 


An on-line form that is used to record various types of financial transactions, such as journal vouchers, invoices, and purchase orders.  A document is identified by an 8-digit document number (i.e. J0000274) and a 2- to 3-digit document type (i.e. JV, INV, PO).  For more information, see Documents Identification.

Document-level accounting

The most commonly used method of accounting in FIS; allows one or moreaccounting strings (FOAPALs) to be used to pay one or more commodities, as a percentage of the total charge.


One of the six parts of a FIS accounting string.


A dollar amount reserved for some future budgetary expense.   FIS On-line POs and Accounting Encumbrances create encumbrances.

Endowment Funds

These funds are generated by gifts from donors and the original principal must remain intact in perpetuity. The income from the principal may be restricted or unrestricted as designated by the donor or the University. Most endowment funds are handled by the University of Oregon Foundation, a separate entity from the University.

Exchange Transaction

Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 33 discusses exchange and nonexchange transactions. An exchange or exchange-like transaction is one in which each party receives and gives up essentially equal values. A nonexchange transaction is one in which a party gives (or receives) value without directly receiving (or giving) equal value in exchange. In contrast to a ”pure” exchange transaction, an exchange-like transaction is one in which the values exchanged, though related, may not be quite equal or in which the direct benefits may not be exclusively for the parties to the transaction. Nevertheless, the exchange characteristics of the transaction are strong enough to justify treating the transaction as an exchange for accounting recognition.

Expert navigation mode

Now known a "Direct Access" navigation.   Selecting a form directly by entering its 7-letter name at a "Direct Access" prompt rather than through a sequence of menu choices.

Fiduciary Management Services

This category is distinguished by a formal relationship, as the University manages and awards for the operation but does not have ownership of them. University Service Departments are included in this category, payroll deduction service, and the art of operating the University Loan Funds. The Federal Direct Student Loan program also is included in this category.


A data item within a block, such as "Account Type" or "Vendor."

Financial Aid

This category includes awards of aid and actual disbursement. It does not include Financial Aid administration or counseling, fee remissions, or Federal Direct loans.

Financial Manager

A reporting designation designation that allows a responsibility unit to create a single financial report that combines activity for more than one  fund or organization code.  The financial data is grouped by FOAPAL elements; the Index will be listed if one exists for the specific combination of elements. If you are not sure if you have a financial manager number or would like more information, call Business Affairs at 6-1115.

FIS (Financial Information System)

FIS is the University's financial information system, a comprehensive software package for entering, adjusting, and retrieving financial data. FIS is a complete financial system, with modules devoted to accounting, purchasing, accounts payable, fixed assets, grants, and budget development. It offers University administrators and departmental staff accessibility to financial information, data security, and compatibility with other databases at the UO and elsewhere in Oregon higher education.

Fiscal Period

A unit of time (corresponding to calendar months) into which the fiscal year is divided. Period 1 is July 1st through July 31st, and so on. An extra accrual period (called Period 14 in FIS) also exists.

Fiscal Year

The period of time used for financial reporting purposes; the UO's fiscal year extends from July 1st to June 30th of the following year.


An acronym for the six chart of accounts elements used to process financial data (Fund, Organization, Account, Program, Activity, Location). Transactionsin the Operating Ledger (OPAL) require fund, organization, account, and program, sometimes referred to as FOAP.   Transactions in the General Ledger require only fund and account.  All of the elements, with the exception of activity codes, are hierarchical and roll up from lower data entry levels to higher summary levels.


A standard FIS screen display that resembles a printed form in appearance and organization; forms are used to create transactions, perform queries, and generate summaries.


A FIS command, such as LIST or COMMIT, which generates activity on-screen or in the database. FIS functions are shown in most screen references in capital letters. You issue a FIS function by pressing one or more keys on your keyboard that are mapped to that function.

Fund Accounting

Higher Education accounting systems are organized and operated on a fund basis. A fund is a fiscal and accounting entity with a self-balancing set of accounts recording cash and other financial resources; together with all related liabilities and residual equities or balances, and changes therein. These are segregated for the purpose of carrying on specific activities or attaining certain objectives in accordance with special regulations, restrictions, or limitations.

Fund Code

The first FOAPAL element of an accounting string; shows ownership of cash and fund balance. A fund is a self-balancing set of accounts, with assets, liabilities, and a fund balance. A fund may be unrestricted or restricted, and may be specific to one department or shared by many departments. UO has thousands of funds, which are grouped into fund types based on similar characteristics.

Fund Balance

The net equity, which is the difference between assets and liabilities.

GA Instruction Fee Income

Self Support - General and Educational: Graduate Teaching Assistants also receive fee remissions, but we are allowed to record income by making an offsetting expense (fringe benefit) entry to the hiring department or grant, with an offsetting entry to income. The self-support portion of this category funds the expense to all but grants. The "G & E" category allows us to actually charge grants and is true net revenue.

General Ledger

The balance sheet; shows the financial position of a fund at a particular point in time.  FIS General Ledger forms show current assets, liabilities, control accounts, and fund balances.


Lines and screens of information that provide immediate on-screen assistance to FIS users with forms, blocks, and fields.


A record of a document's progress in the processing stream, from its creation to the present.

Implied Approval    See also Approvals Process.

After a FIS transaction document is completed, it is subject to the approvals process.  Some documents will receive implied approvals.  An implied approval takes place when the person completing the document has also been given authorization in the approval queue to bypass further approvals within a certain dollar limit.  Documents receiving implied approval may then be posted.

Index Code

A series of up to six characters that can be used to default FOAPAL elements on FIS transaction or query screens; used to improve accuracy in data entry.  Elements defaulted usually include fund, organization, program, and activitycodes; rarely include account codes.

Indirect Costs

Many grants and contracts allow for overhead to be charged based on direct expenditures. This total is the amount that has been charged to these funds.


Referring to something that is internal within a single department.


Referring to something that goes across different departments.

Inter-Institutional Journal Vouchers

A journal voucher document reflecting a transaction between a UO department and a department of another college or university of the Oregon University System or the Chancellor's Office.

Institutional Management/Support

This category is used for the administration support tasks and executive management of a University. It would include Office of President, Provost, Vice President for Administration, Vice President for Public Affairs and Development, Human Resources, Business Office, Planning, Public Safety, Public Affairs and Develop, Budget and Resource Planning.


An accounting document used to process payments to a vendor for commodities and/or services.

Journal Voucher (JV)

A document used to record debit(s) and credit(s) to be posted to theOperating and/or General Ledgers, reflecting a transaction or adjustment made between or within departments at the UO. JVs are also used (in the form of Inter-institutional JVs) for transactions between UO departments and those of other colleges and universities in the Oregon University System (OUS) or the Chancellor's Office.

Key block

The key block is the top block on most FIS forms.  The information entered in key block field(s) determines what data is displayed on the rest of the form.


The financial value of obligations owed.


Of the numerous definitions possible for this term, the generic "getting rid of something" most closely approximates its meaning in Banner FIS.  To liquidate in FIS means to "get rid of" an encumbrance that was created by either a accounting encumbrance or purchase order.  The means for the liquidation would be either a journal voucher or an invoice that reference the encumbrance.


A list of permissible values for a field, generated by issuing a LIST function while the cursor is positioned in the field. Value lists are displayed only for those fields that have corresponding table of coded data stored in the database.

Loan Funds

Used to account for resources that may be loaned to and repaid by students. Sources include federal government and private donors. These funds are operated on a "revolving" fund basis, with loan and interest payments remaining in the loan fund for future lending.

Location Code

The optional sixth element of a FOAPAL string. It is used primarily to track the location of fixed assets via building number, room number, etc. Location data can also be entered in journal voucher and invoice forms, but it is not carried over to Fixed Asset forms.


A list of modules or forms displayed on-screen from which FIS users make a selection.

Merchandise for Resale

Businesses such as Housing, EMU, Health Service, Printing, Physical Plant, purchase materials that are inventoried and then charged out to University customers as services/products are provided.


The sub-systems that comprise FIS: each module is affiliated with an area of financial activity, such as accounting and accounts payable.


Moving around in the blocks, fields, and records of a FIS form; also, moving around in the FIS environment, from one form to another.

Net Investment in Plant Fund

Used to account for the acquisition value of all the University's capital assets; including land, buildings, equipment, improvements other than buildings, libraries, and museums.


Things that are immediately accessible on-screen to logged-in users; in FIS,forms, financial data, and help screens are all on-line.

Operating Ledger (OPAL)

Used to record the day-to-day financial activity of the university.  Operating ledger screens in the financial system show year-to-date revenue, expense, encumbrance, transfer, and budget activity.

Organization Code

The second element of a FOAPAL accounting string.   This code identifies the responsibility or budgetary unit within the UO.  It reflects a department’s internal structure and the institution’s organization chart.


The official recording of a transaction (document) on a ledger (OPAL or GL).   In FIS, the "posting process" is a background batch job which generally runs several times an hour.  It takes approved documents and performs the appropriate accounting ledger updates.   Once posted, documents will then  appear on the transaction listing forms of FGITRND or FGIGLAC.

Plant Construction/Improvements

This category includes acquisition, construction, or renovation of University land or buildings large enough to be capitalized (the value of assets increased).


An invoice that requires certain documents returned to the vendor with the payment (i.e., subscriptions, memberships, registration, etc.).


The formal description of a class of FIS users, as generated by the FIS Database Administrator, for the purpose of controlling access to data.

Program Code

The fourth element of a FOAPAL accounting string.  This code specifies the function that a transaction is related to.  Functions include instruction, research, public service, academic support, student services and activities, physical plant operations and maintenance, institutional management and support, financial aid, plant construction and improvement, and fiduciary management services.


Used to define what function the funds are used for. For example, the category "academic pay" provides what expense we are paying, but not why; i.e., instruction, research, student services, etc. Also, fund definitions also do not always describe the purpose of expenditures. For example, the program category of "Instruction" can be funded by unrestricted or restricted funds.

Public Service

Non-instructional services primarily beneficial to groups outside the University. This includes conferences, advising, publications, consulting, entertainment, and workshop and seminar for non-credit.

Purchase Order

A document that specifies commodities ordered from a specific vendor, as well as the price, terms, and conditions of that order. Purchase orders are coded by Buyer from requisitions that have been entered by various departments, and includes accounting data that automatically creates encumbrances against departmental accounts.


A request to display selected information in the database, according to some specified criteria, without adding, modifying, or deleting any data. When a query is being performed, FIS is considered to be in "query mode." 

To begin query mode, click on the    (ENTER QUERY ) icon.  Once you are in query mode, you may query keyword(s) in any of the fields that your cursor can reach.  Remember that keywords will be case sensitive and to use the %for wildcards - i.e. %Rehab%. 

Click on the    (EXECUTE QUERY ) icon to execute the query.


A collection of data fields that are stored and retrieved in the database as a single unit.  Records represent a series of data units being entered or retrieved. A block containing records will allow you to scroll through them. A form will display a count of the records viewed in the form's bottom left corner.


The University sometimes "waives fees" for selected students as a form of financial aid. Rather than show just the net income, we show both the gross income received and this offsetting entry to keep a record of what was waived. Remissions are considered a reduction of income, in compliance with OSSHE and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board policy.

Renewal and Replacement Funds

Used by service departments and auxiliary enterprises, these funds reflect resources set aside in accordance with OSSHE policy on a systematic basis to fund future equipment purchases and building repairs. Housing, Erb Memorial Union, Printing, and Student Health Service are examples of organizations that maintain such funds.


Used to identify resources that may be available for current operations, but that are to be used only for a specific purpose as directed by the donor, or the granting or contracting agency.  Sponsored research, gifts for construction of a facility, or student aid are examples.  Grants and contracts may be in operation for multiple years and these funds can be tracked on grants ledgers, screens in the financial system which are not limited to current fiscal year activity.

Retirement of Debt Funds

Used to account for funds set aside and disbursed to retire debts incurred to finance the acquisition, construction, or renewal of capital assets.


The ability to summarize data at various hierarchical levels, which allows you to query financial reports not only at the data-entry level, but also at higher levels that will combine the data as needed.

Rule type

A collection of common accounting codes, such as JV types, that determine how debits and credits are posted to a ledger.

Student Services/Activities

Represents services outside the formal instruction program to promote student's intellectual, cultural and social development. Includes student services or advising, counseling, admissions, registration, financial aid counseling and administration, athletics, student union, health services, housing services, etc.

Student Loans This amount represents amounts of loans disbursed to students from Federal Direct Loan program, Perkins Loan program, and University Loan program. The Federal Direct Loans are totally funded by the federal government, Perkins Loans by repayments from former students, and University Loans by repayments from students and contributions.


An on-screen summary of information that displays a current financial status; a gathering of detail elements to obtain a total to be posted.


A record of a document that contains errors, and which cannot be processed until corrections have been made.


The actual structures in the database where data is stored. Tables are made up of collections of rows and columns. Each row contains a complete set of information about one individual FIS entity, such as a transaction. Each column represents one type of descriptive information (like a date or amount) for all the rows.


A financial activity that results in the posting of a charge or credit to the financial records, identified by an account code.  A transaction is entered into the database through the use of a document such as an invoice or a journal voucher.

Transaction Date

The transaction date of of every transaction document determines the fiscal period and fiscal year that the transaction belongs to.

Unexpended Plant Funds

Used to account for resources set aside for acquisition of land, buildings, and equipment; or for construction, remodeling or repairing.

Unit of measure

The quantity by which a commodity is ordered (each, box, ream, etc.).


Used to identify resources with no specific limitations imposed by donors or external agencies. These types of funds represent the resources available for the general operations of the university. Included in this category are the general fund, with revenues primarily from state appropriations and student fees for tuition; income/expense funds, with revenues from student fees and/or departmental sales and services; and unrestricted gift funds.

User class

A collection of users who require equal or similar access to FIS data.


The information that is entered or displayed in a field.

Vending Machine Funds

Funds raised through vending machine income by a certain department to be used for that department's personnel.


A company or person from which goods and/or services are purchased.