IFR Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

When should an IFR account be used?

An IFR should be used when ever the activity is state activity. All activity should go through an IFR unless there is an approved exception as stated below.

When should a Stony Brook Foundation (SBF) account be used?

SBF accounts should only be used when the revenue is from gifts or contributions.

When should a Faculty Student Association (FSA) account be used?

FSA accounts should be used for:

  • one-time events of short duration, i.e. conferences;
  • benefit of individual students, faculty or staff members or appropriately recognized organizations;
  • may not be used when funds are state.

When should a Research Foundation Service and Facility (S&F) account be used?

S&F accounts should be used when activity is 100% research-highly technical research. May include some third party activities.

How do I open an IFR account?

The following are the steps you should use when requesting an IFR account:

  1. Determine what the account is to be used for. How much revenue will this account generate? What will your expenses (budget) be? This information should be shown on the IFR Allocation Worksheet (in Microsoft Excel format).
  2. Once you have determined this information you should then receive approval from your Dean or Chairperson.
  3. Along with the Dean's or Chair's approval, submit your request to your VP area for approval.
  4. Upon VP approval, the VP coordinator will submit the request to Accounting for processing.
  5. Accounting will inform you and all interested parties once the account has been created.

If the IFR account will be for a service that you will be charging a user fee, there are additional steps:

  1. Determine what the service is for.
  2. Obtain approval from your Dean or Chairperson
  3. Determine the user fee by working with your Dean's office and/or VP office. This will be achieved by determining the projected annual expenses and the annual unit of service (i.e. annual hours, annual analyses). This information will be input on the rate schedule (see attached) to determine the rate. Download the Service Center Guidelines
  4. Once the user fee has been calculated, the rate schedule must be submitted to your Dean's office and then VP office for review and approval.
  5. After VP office reviews and approves, the VP Coordinator will submit, along with all required documentation, the request for Accounting to create the account.
  6. Accounting will submit the rate schedule to the University Controller for final approval.
  7. While awaiting the University Controller's approval, Accounting will submit the request to the SUNY System Administration to create the account.
  8. Upon final approval, Accounting will inform you and all interested parties of the account.

Please explain the difference between "Ending Cash Balance" and "Uncommitted Cash Balance"

A simple way to answer this question is to think of your own checking account. The ending cash balance would be equivalent to what the bank says you have after certain checks and deposits have cleared. The uncommitted cash balance is what you say your real balance is after you adjusted the bank balance by any outstanding deposits and checks. The ending cash reflects your account balance after payroll, purchase orders, journal transfers and any IFR assessments have been processed and paid, while the uncommitted cash includes not only the processed and paid expenditures but the encumbered payroll, purchase orders and accrued IFR assessments. Note the Uncommitted Cash does not reflect future revenue.

What are the fringe benefit and overhead rates?

The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) and the Division of Budget analyzes the actual fringe benefit costs on an annual basis. After the rate is computed, OSC notifies all state agencies of the rate specific to a fiscal year and agency.

The 2017/18 rate for Federal is 59.97% and the State (Non Federal) is 61.48%. The components for the 2017/2018 rate are as follows:

Federal State
Retirement 17.51% 18.79%
Group Health Ins. 29.84% 30.21%
Social Security 7.22% 7.34%
Dental Insurance 0.43% 0.47%
NYS Unemployment Ins. 0.09% 0.13%
Survivors' Benefits 0.08% 0.08%
Worker's Comp. 3.77% 3.39%
Employee Benefit Fund 0.94% 0.99%
Vision Benefits 0.09% 0.08%
Total Fringe Benefit 59.97% 61.48%

Historically the rate for IFR overhead assessments were identified and assessed by SUNY System Administration. The policy with these rates changed in the 97/98 fiscal year and the campus now has the responsibility to manage these assessments. Effective July 1, 1999 a new methodology for assessing the IFR accounts was instituted. Revenue is the basis for charging IFR assessments not expenditures. The current rate is:

IFR Overhead 15.00%

How is this assessment charged to the account?

Fringe benefits will continue to be assessed on expenditures. The IFR overhead assessement will be charged on the revenue prior to any fringe benefit charges. As the revenue is deposited to your account, the assessment will be charged. This charge is a direct reduction to your account's cash balance. It DOES NOT affect your account's allocation. Please note there may be a one-time assessment on IFR accounts' Ending Cash Balance at 06/30/99.

My account has plenty of cash, yet Purchasing says I do not have enough money for my order. Please explain.

When, Purchasing processes a purchase order, they make an encumbrance against your account's allocation, not your cash. When you request your account's initial allocation, your request should be based on your anticipated annual revenue and expenditures. If your cash is greater than anticipated, you may request, through your VP coordinators and ultimately the Accounting Department, additional allocation. Basically, you need your allocation to spend your cash, and you need your cash to get your allocation!

How come it seems to take so long to see my cash deposits?

All deposits are made at the campus Bursar's Office. Every 15th and 30th (or 31st) of the month a revenue summary report is generated identifying the total of all deposits made to each account. The Accounting Office reviews this report and subsequently enters the revenue information into the SUNY system. When you look at your AES report's cash page or the SUNY system, the cash amounts reflected for each month are for the last 15 days of the prior month and the first 15 days of the current month. For example, if you look at the month of January, the cash would be for the periods of December 16-31, and January 1-15.

How do I know the detail of the total cash per month?

Along with your AES reports, each IFR account includes a copy of the IFR Collections Analysis report. This gives the detail information.

An error was made and a deposit went into the wrong account. How can I get it corrected?

Just contact or e-mail Revenue Accounting Department explaining the error and indicate the correct account. Accounting will process a transfer of cash between the accounts. A transfer of cash may generate assessments.

Unspent allocation was removed from my account. How can they take my money?

When IFR allocation is in short supply and projections indicate that you will not require all of your requested allocation, some may be transferred to other accounts that are short at the VP coordinator's discretion. This does not mean that your money has been taken, your cash balance is unaffected.

There was unspent allocation at the end of the year. Did I lose that money?

Unlike state purpose funds, IFR accounts do not "lapse". Although the allocation is unspent, the cash balance rolls forward, and is one of the factors used to determine the account allocation for the following year.

Why do I have to keep a log of all usage of the services my center provides?

An account director is responsible for keeping logs of all information supplied on the rate schedule for the service center. This includes the expenses as well as the annual units. The information maintained in the logs will be required during the campus rate review process. This is an audit requirement.

What is excess external revenue and why must I keep a log for the collection of external revenue?

Excess external revenue is anything that is charged above the approved external rate. The excess external revenue may be kept by the department and used at the department's discretion. The account director is responsible for maintaining logs, which identify the amount of external revenue collected. During the rate review process the logs are used to identify the amount of excess external revenue, which may be contained in the account balance. This is also an audit requirement.