Financial Policies

FN17 Required Use of Approved University Forms Appearing in the General University Reference Utility

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Director of Accounting Operations, 814-865-0649

Policy Steward: 

Associate Vice President for Finance



This policy establishes the requirements for the use of approved Pennsylvania State University (“University”) forms that have been vetted and approved for use by the steward/applicable central office, and the Office of the Corporate Controller (or designated representative) 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 to 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.


Those forms, with appropriate instructions appearing in the "Forms" section of the General University Reference Utility (GURU), are the "official University form," and are required to be used for their specified functions. Approval of completed forms must be in accordance with Policy FN18 University Approval Authorization. For ALL forms, approval signatures (hand-written or electronic) must appear on the original of the applicable form being processed.

No form may be used that substitutes for an approved official University form without prior review and approval by the steward of the form/central office, as facilitated by the Office of Systems and Procedures (designated representative of the Corporate Controller).

Form templates and completed forms used for collecting personally identifiable information (PII) must comply with Policy AD95 Information Assurance and IT Security and Policy AD96 Acceptable Use of University Information Resources.

All form templates, having been vetted and approved, must be password protected before being published on GURU.


Requesting the Use of a Modified Version of an Official University Form:

If a business area desires to use a modified form instead of the official University form, and authorization to do so has not already been granted for that form, permission must be solicited via written request to the form steward/Central Office. Typically, a modified form will be a revised version of the official University form customized specifically for use by the requesting area. If the form steward/Central Office concurs with the request, documentation supporting/explaining the request will then be submitted to the Office of Systems and Procedures for review on behalf of the Corporate Controller.

The following information provides a basis for the form steward/Central Office and the Office of Systems and Procedures to determine the acceptance of, and subsequent administration relating to, modified versions of official University forms. Based on these criteria, use of any format other than those approved must be approved on a form-by-form basis by the appropriate form steward/central office and the Office of Systems and Procedures before that format will be accepted for central office processing.

To be accepted/approved, modified versions of an official University form must have the same information, and the layout must be as close as possible to the official University form. After review and concurrence by the form steward/applicable central office and the Office of Systems and Procedures, a modified version of an official University form will be authorized for use (authorization in writing by the applicable form steward/central office).

Requests to modify official University forms include the following formats:

  • photocopies of a blank official University form
  • FAX transmissions of a completed official University form (informational/file copies; not for central processing)
  • computer-generated
  • commercially printed custom versions
  • memos/letters that include the same information found on the official University form

Modifications to official University forms and subsequent use of a modified version are NOT acceptable for central office processing, and permission will not be granted, if one of the following is applicable:

  1. Official form is prenumbered
  2. Official form is multi-copy
  3. Official form is produced using colored paper
  4. Official form is produced using colored font/type

Use of an Approved Modified Version of an Official University Form:

Once approved and in use, modified versions must comply with the same approval policies required for the official form (see Policy FN18 University Approval Authorization). All approval signatures must coincide with the approval guidelines established via the Authorized Approval System. As required when processing official University forms, all signatures on modified versions must be hand-written or have an electronic signature applied.

Maintenance of a Modified Version of an Official University Form:

Once approval has been granted for an area to use a modified form version, any future changes to key data fields/control elements of the official University form must also be reflected in the modified form. Like the original request, changes to a modified version must also be reviewed by the applicable form steward/central office and the Office of Systems and Procedures. Accomplishment of such changes (through regular monitoring of GURU News announcements), and initiation to make the resultant changes to an approved modified version, will be the responsibility of the business area that originally requested the modified version. A central office has the right to reject any original or modified form that is not current.


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of Systems & Procedures, a division of Office of the Corporate Controller.



Most Recent Changes:

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

Revision History:

  • April 4, 2022 - Policy updated to remove the term "paper" and updated electronic signature verbiage.
  • November 8, 2018 - Subject Matter Expert added.
  • September 13, 2018 - Editorial changes made to add a Cross References section and to remove redundant Date Approved, Date Published, and Effective Date information.
  • February 3, 2016 - Reviewed and updated to reflect current operations and best practices for the proper use of official University forms.
  • September 27, 2013 - Editorial changes. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.
  • July 14, 2005 - Additional editorial changes to eliminate "General Forms Usage Guide" reference in the policy title and its reference in the "Policy" section, to be consistent with the previous announcement that the General Forms Usage Guide has been retired and replaced with the Form Locator.
  • March 17, 2005 - Editorial changes to eliminate "General Forms Usage Guide," correct links where needed, and to remove reference to Appendix 2 (obsolete and deleted).
  • March 29, 1994 - New Policy.

Date Approved: 

April 4, 2022

Date Published: 

April 4, 2022

Effective Date: 

April 4, 2022