The University of Chicago
The University of Chicago

Local Business Center, Division of the Physical Sciences

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. Can purchases made on a personal credit card be reimbursed if they do not exceed $500?
A. Yes. GEMS can be used to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses as well as processing GEMS card transactions. Non-travel reimbursements should be limited to $500 or less.

Q. Can a faculty member be reimbursed with a DPV and through the GEMS system?
A. Currently yes. However, we are moving toward a date where GEMS will be the only method of reimbursement allowed for University employees. The GEMS system can process out-of-pocket reimbursements for all employees, students, and post-docs, but only benefits eligible employees can be issued a GEMS credit card.

Q. Can students and post-docs be reimbursed by a DPV, but not through the GEMS system?
A. Any University employee, student, and post-doc scholar with a current record in the payroll system can be reimbursed through GEMS for out-of-pocket expenses (travel and non-travel). GEMS cards can be issued only to benefits eligible employees.

Q. When should reimbursement requests be given to the financial administrator vs. given to the departmental administrator?
A. The financial administrator is the approver for transactions on your accounts. The University's account controls generally prohibit the requestor and approver being the same person. Thus, the financial administrator should not fill out reimbursement forms and purchase orders that he/she will approve. Departmental administrative support (if it is available) should provide assistance with completing the forms prior to submission for approval. In cases when administrative support does not exist, personnel within the LBC can provide such support for reimbursement requests.

Q. Will GEMS reimbursements for faculty and staff be deposited directly to their bank accounts or merged in with payroll?
A. All GEMS reimbursements are paid through the payroll system. If you are currently collecting a pay check through direct deposit, then your GEMS reimbursements will be included with your regular pay deposit. If you normally collect your pay in the form of a check, then your GEMS reimbursements will also be distributed in that form. Bi-weekly and monthly employees will receive reimbursement payments based on the University's bi-weekly payment cycle. To start direct deposit or to change your account details go to the Employee Service Service site or contact Becky Kurns

Q. How are GEMS reimbursements distributed to students and post-docs? Will they get a check or will the reimbursement also be rolled into their payroll? Is there a difference between reimbursements for travel vs. for purchases made on a personal credit card?
A. There is no difference in payment method between travel and non-travel reimbursements. Student support and post-doc fellowship stipends are not processed through the payroll system. Therefore, students and post-docs will receive their reimbursements by check (unless they have a University job and direct deposit) during bi-weekly payment cycles.

Q. Can GEMS settings be changed so that I get email only when there are new reports that must be concurred, and not every time some other action is taken (e.g. reports approved or paid)?
A. Yes, the number of e-mails can be reduced. The e-mail settings can be changed at the "system settings" page and also on the "expense preferences" page both of which are found using the "profile" tab at the top of the screen.

Q. Can PIs select their own GEMS delegates?
A. Facult already have delegates assigned to them. However, additional delegates can be assigned using the GEMS interface. The steps are: profile/expense settings/expense delegates. For assistance, contact your financial administrator or Gems support at gemssupport@uchicago.edu.

Q. How are GEMS card expenses paid?
The University automatically pays MasterCard for all University GEMS card expenses from a single University account. Each expense is automatically transferred to the Divisional account associated with that card by default. Default accounts are specified in advance for each card by Faculty Service Representatives or, in Economics, the departmental administrator.
GEMS card users and University account administrators allocate GEMS card expenses from default accounts to the appropriate University account(s). This step is key: after you use your GEMS card, you must account for your expenses in the GEMS system, even though the University has paid MasterCard and the Division has paid the University. This is true even if your GEMS card expenses are appropriately allocated to your GEMS card default account. This final step is NOT automatic. Using a GEMS card obligates you to account for your expenses in the GEMS system.
GEMS card users pay no bill. GEMS card activity has no effect on your personal credit. You will get a monthly statement by mail, but this is just for your records and should not be paid.

Q. Can a PI see and concur purchases made on the GEMS card that will be issued to postdocs under his/her supervision?
A. There is no way to do this automatically, but the PI may request that all transactions are forwarded by the financial administrator.

Q. Do purchases made with a GEMS card require scanning receipts and uploading them into the GEMS system?
A. Yes, all required receipts should accompany a GEMS report electronically.

Q. Can travel expenses for all personnel (faculty, postdocs, and students) be reimbursed through either GEMS or by DPVs?
A. Travel expenses cannot be reimbursed with a DPV. Only GEMS and Travel Vouchers (on-line or the blue Form 97) are used for travel reimbursements. Benefits eligible employees should use GEMS for travel reimbursements, all others (e.g. students, visitors, post-doc fellows) should use the Travel Vouchers.

Q. Are receipts required for per diem travel expenses?
A. No, if per diem is used as the basis for reimbursement, then receipts are not needed. You can use per diem for meals/incidentals only or lodging AND meals/incidentals. Receipts for lodging are always required regardless of dollar amount unless the per diem rate is used. If per diem is used, it must be used for the entire trip and not only for select days or locations. Recepts are still required for transportation related expenses (e.g. airfare, car rentals).

Q. Are itemized receipts required for meal reimbursements?
A. Yes, business meals should have an itemized meal receipt (not just the signature receipt). As a rule, all receipts must both clearly identify what was purchased AND indicate proof of payment.

Q. How would I go about receiving a travel advance?
A. If you have the GEMS card, a travel advance is not necessary. For people who do not wish to have a GEMS card or are not eligible for one, a Form 95 travel advance will need to be completed. Travel advances will not be issued more than 30 days before the anticipated trip, except in the case of advance purchase of tickets (must provide ticket receipts). The advance must be reconciled within 30 days after completion of the trip using a Form 97 or on-line travel voucher. Students, post-doctoral fellows, and visitors usually do not receive travel advances and may only do so if traveling on official University business.

George Herbert Jones Laboratory

PSD LBC Main Office

Jones Laboratory: 5747 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637

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Eckhart Hall

PSD LBC Satellite Office

Eckhart Hall: 5734 S. University Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637

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Gordon Center for Integrative Science

Chemistry Business Center

Gordon Center for Integrative Science: 929 E 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

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