Financial Policies

FN08 Refunds

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Director of Accounting Operations, 814-865-0649

Policy Steward: 

Associate Vice President for Finance



This policy governs The Pennsylvania State University’s (“University” “Penn State” or ‘PSU”)' issuance of refunds, with the exceptions listed below, and complies with the Office of the Corporate Controller’s mission of providing quality financial, accounting, and information services that foster a culture of responsible stewardship and sound fiscal management of University resources.


The University’s financial policies are applicable throughout the University, including all direct and indirect subsidiaries, and are required to be followed by all University employees who engage in financial, accounting, purchasing or other transactions, including University employees who in the course of their assigned duties engage in such transactions on behalf of third parties such as the Penn State Alumni Association or other related entities. The University’s financial policies are not applicable to Penn State Health or its subsidiaries, or to Penn College of Technology, each of which has its own financial policies.


The following processes are exempt from this policy:

Bursar Refunds: Refunds for tuition, room and board, general deposits, student account credit balances, etc. See the Bursar's website for details.

Credit Card Refunds: Refer to Policy FN07 Electronic Payments - Credit Cards for information that applies specifically to credit card refunds.

Interdepartmental Refunds: When merchandise or services are transacted between University departments via an Internal Service Request (ISR) or by Journal Entry, refunds must be settled via Journal Entry.


Check refunds of $2.00 or less will not be issued.


A cash or check refund (dependent upon restrictions stated in this policy) may be issued if the original transaction of merchandise or services was:

  1. paid by cash or check,
  2. if the request for a refund is made within a reasonable time of the original transaction, and
  3. if evidence of the original transaction is available (e.g. presentation of a sales receipt or availability of departmental sales records to confirm the transaction).

If the original transaction of merchandise or service was paid by check and/or eCheck, a refund may only be issued after waiting 14 calendar days from the date of the transaction. This waiting period allows the check or eCheck to clear the bank.


If an area of the University exchanges merchandise or services with the public for payment on a regular basis more than one day a week and credits the revenues to a cost object in the Auxiliary & Business Services business area (6530), that activity shall be referred to for the purpose of this policy as a "retail operation."

A retail operation may issue a cash refund of $100 or less directly to a customer through their sales applications (cash register, point-of-sale (POS) system, etc.), if enough cash is available. If sufficient cash is unavailable, a refund would be processed by check and mailed. Check refunds of $2.00 or less will not be issued.

All refunds (see specific "Exceptions" above) greater than $100 to be issued by retail operations are processed on a Non-PO Invoice in SIMBA with appropriate backup. The Refund Request Form is an optional form available for use if no other backup is available. A University check will be issued to the person named on the request form. A retail operation may use the Refund Request Form for all refunds if it so chooses.

If the original payment was made by credit card, the refund is credited back to the credit card account. If a credit submitted by the University is returned by the bank because the credit card account has been canceled, a refund check may be issued.


All other activities not under the above definition of a retail operation shall be considered as "non-retail."

All refunds (see specific "Exceptions" above) greater than $2 to be issued by non-retail operations must be processed on a Refund Request Form (if no other documentation is available) and processed by Non-PO Invoice in SIMBA. A University check will be issued to the person named on the request form and mailed. Check refunds of $2.00 or less will not be issued. A non-retail operation may use the Refund Request Form for all refunds if it so chooses.


Both retail and/or non-retail operations may adopt a local policy of no refunds. If an operation selects not to issue refunds, then a statement indicating the "no refund" policy must be clearly posted at the point of transaction or appear on the sales receipt. Despite any no refund policy, merchandise must meet warranty of merchantability requirements. Defective merchandise must either be replaced, or a refund must be issued.


It is prohibited to issue any kind of a credit slip (except gift certificates and refund certificates issued according to Procedure CR2052 Accounting For Coupons and Gift Certificates to an individual in lieu of a refund with the intent of having the individual redeem the credit slip at a later time.


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Director of Accounting Operations, a division of Office of the Corporate Controller.



Most recent changes:

  • September 2, 2022 - Editorial change to change Policy Steward from Associate Vice President for Finance and Corporate Controller to Associate Vice President for Finance.

Revision History:

  • January 28, 2022 - Policy rewritten to document SIMBA implementation.
  • November 8, 2018 - Subject Matter Expert added.
  • September 20, 2018 - Editorial changes to update GURU hyperlinks from html formatting to cfm format.
  • September 10, 2018 - Editorial changes to update hyperlinks and to remove redundant Approved Date, Published Date, and Effective Date information.
  • September 25, 2013 - Editorial changes to reflect current operations, and to reflect the addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.
  • November 15, 2010 - Editorial changes to "Exceptions," Credit Card Refunds, to bring things into sync with FN07 verbiage on the handling of refunds for credit card sales.
  • June 14, 2006 - Revision History added.
  • June 8, 2005 - Editorial changes to eliminate "General Forms Usage Guide" references, and to add the correct links for the forms referenced in the policy.
  • January 16, 1996 - Removed reference to Bookstore and reorganized for GURU.
  • August 18, 1992 - Major revisions.
  • July 25, 1986 - Renumbered and relocated from Policy CS-8, dated 7-25-83 (Cash and Sales section is now the "Financial" section)
  • June 1, 1982 - Retyped without change from Commonwealth Campus Policy CS-9 (September, 1978) and University Park Policy CS-6 (September, 1966)

Date Approved: 

February 7, 2022

Date Published: 

February 8, 2022

Effective Date: 

February 8, 2022