What exactly can be reimbursed, to whom, and when, is always a bit confusing. Ask if there’s a question that’s not answered here!
What Funding Is Available? #
In general, reimbursement comes from three main sources. First, almost every project grant that I write includes three categories of reimbursements: travel funding for the relevant lab members; funds to buy technology, website hosting, and so on; and what our grants often call “documentation costs,” which can cover both open-access publication fees as well as the purchase of books. For this kind of funding, talk to me first about what you’d like to do, then prepare your reimbursement form and bring it to me (see below) and I’ll take care of it.
Second, many postdoc or doctoral grants (such as those from the FNRS or the FSR) will often come with a “budget de fonctionnement” which will cover, in essence, any research-related costs (within the categories spelled out below) that the researcher would like to bill to them. You should already know (or you can ask me for) the account number for that budget, if you have one; you can then freely submit reimbursements to it whenever you would like (see below).
One overall caveat for either of these first two cases: if you’re funded (either personally or project-wise) by the FNRS, they tend to be pretty strict about reimbursements. You’ll need to exhibit very clear research-based reasons for your expenses, and you can only usually do very simple things with, e.g., travel.
Finally, the Institut supèrieur de philosophie (ISP) has its own “mobility” funding for travel to conferences, to which you can apply. (FIXME: I don’t yet know how this funding works! I’ll get more info when I can.)
What Can Be Reimbursed? #
How Much Money? #
How to do reimbursement depends first on how much the item costs. You should include any expected costs in your estimation – like consumables, maintenance contracts, service contracts, etc. You should also estimate the cost over a reasonable period of time, such as three to four years, to not be accused of underestimating your costs.
Between €1 and €8,500: No need to talk to the purchasing service, as long as these are not recurrent expenses. If you are purchasing something for which there exists a competitive market, you should obtain three quotes from different providers, and send them to me so that I can keep them in case the grant expenditures are audited.
Between €8,500 and €29,999: You must contact the purchasing service (“Service des Achats”). They will draw up a purchasing dossier, you’ll get three quotes from competitors, and then the service will help you negotiate the quotes with each of the providers. You’ll then be obligated to take the lowest quote, and the purchase will need a purchase order prepared by the accounting service.
More than that: What?
For What? #
N.B.: If you’re funding something from an FNRS grant, there is a detailed guide from the FNRS concerning what can be financed.
Books: Can always be reimbursed. There is a procedure (though I don’t know exactly how it works) in place with the FNAC in Louvain-la-Neuve, to which you can take a “vignette” and have them bill the charges directly to your university account. (Note: do not do this for computer equipment; see below.)
Cloud hosting: Unlike other IT related expenses, cloud hosting and other kinds of managed IT solutions do not need to be passed through SGSI and can be directly reimbursed.
OA publication fees: If we have the budget for it, open access publication fees may be reimbursed from the operating budget of any FNRS grant, up to €750.
Hotels for visiting guests: UCLouvain has a contract negotiated with the Martin’s and Ibis hotels in LLN, as well as a few other hotels in Brussels, Wavre, and Mons. The easiest thing to do here is have the Institute staff arrange that inbound travel for you.
Office supplies, etc.: Send an order to the Institute’s accounting person, who can put together the purchase order for you. There’s actually quite a few restrictions about who you can buy from and what you can buy, more than is reasonable for us to keep up with.
What Can’t Be Reimbursed? #
Computers, Software, Peripherals, etc. #
The procedure for anything computer-related is complex. The following list of goods must be purchased through the SGSI, the local IT service (any efforts at submitting a reimbursement for them will be summarily denied):
- Office and laptop computers (which must be Dell or Apple)
- Small peripherals
There are separate procedures for the purchase of each of these types of goods, and different people at SGSI that you need to contact. To learn more about it, you can try clicking this link, or if that doesn’t work, go to the UCLouvain intranet, to the “Administration des finances (ADFI)”, then follow: Recettes et Dépenses, En pratique, Achats, Liste des produits, Informatique et bureautique.
In normal cases, it will be difficult to fund the purchase of an iPad or similar tablet, given some bureaucratic rules that are currently in effect. If you need one, let me know.
Processing Reimbursements #
Once you’ve bought something – unless it was by purchase order or through the travel agency – we work on an after-the-fact reimbursement system. Thankfully, getting reimbursed is relatively easy. There are two ways to do it, depending on whether you’re comfortable with the online form or would like to submit paper receipts. (Some grants may require paper receipts. I will have told you about this in advance, if so.)
Online Form #
To create an online reimbursement, you need to visit your UCLouvain “bureau virtuel” (at https://intranet.uclouvain.be/). You will probably already have, pre-configured, a box of links labeled “Finance.” If you don’t, click “Personnaliser mon bureau virtuel,” then “Ajouter un widget.” In the list of widgets, click “SAP,” then make sure the “Type de liens” is set to “Finance.”
Now, if you scroll down in the “Finance” list, you should see a list titled “Note de frais — Créer.” That will take you to the expense-reporting section. Fill in the basics: select yourself under “Bénéficiaire,” and fill in a quick description explaining what the reimbursement is intended to cover. Under “Approbateur,” select me.
If your grant came with a personal account (a budget de fonctionnement) for your expenses, you may have been given access to debit it directly. If so, you will see a line just below “CLC/Gestionnaire” which reads “Compte.” If you have that, click it, and select your account. If you don’t, don’t worry; that just means that I will need to select the appropriate account for you, which I’ll do after you submit the report. Under “CLC/Gestionnaire,” select the current ISP CLC – right now, Eric Legrand.
For each expense, you can now click “Ajouter une dépense,” and fill in the details. The basics should be easy: a pre-defined type under “Nature,” then date, quick and long descriptions, currency and amount.
Finally, with all the expenses entered, you need to upload a PDF containing all of your receipts in the “Annexe” field. Important: If something is merely a reservation document (this applies especially to airplane e-tickets, for instance!), which doesn’t have any proof of payment involved (i.e., it doesn’t show a zero-euro balance at the bottom), then you must also upload an excerpt from your credit card or bank statement showing that the expense was in fact paid, and not just reserved.
Third Parties #
For reimbursements to third parties (anyone who doesn’t have a bank account registered with the university), you have no choice but to process the paper form, which can also be found on the intranet in the same place as the other paper form above. Fill in all the details and e-mail it to the e-mail address for the ISP CLC.
If you need more information about how to fill in the external person’s bank account details, you can find that in this PDF guide.