Cash Advances

Cash advances are provided by the University for use as participant incentives and study subject payments. The general concept is that UNC will advance the funds, receipts are collected during the study, and the advance is settled afterwards.

University Policy and Procedure

Please note cash advances may not be used for the following:

  • Payment to an employee.
  • Payment to an independent contractor, including guest lecturer, for services.
  • Cash awards to an employee (excluding gift certificates and gift cards).
  • Cash awards to an employee who is on another state agency payroll such as UNC Hospitals
  • Department Purchase of event tickets, such as athletic events, performing arts or other University events, from any source.
  • Travel reimbursements, such as airline tickets, hotel accommodations, and related expenses.  Travel-related expense reimbursements should be requested through the Web Travel System.

Requesting an Advance

Forms should be submitted in advance of the study.  Once approved by the central offices, it can take up to three weeks to process.  While the advance should be processed via direct deposit, it may also arrive as a check.

Advances are treated as loans by the University and failure to settle within a reasonable time may result in a reduced paycheck.

Forms should be submitted using the Cash Advance Form.  Be sure that you have all the required documents for the cash advance ready before submitting.

Forms required for requesting a cash advance:

Although advances may be requested AFTER a student is completed, all required documentation must be provided in order to settle the advance.

Note that each researcher is only allowed one outstanding advance at any time. 

Collecting Receipts

  • Receipts must include participant's name, amount received, method (cash/gift card), signature and date.
  • There is no standardized receipt provided by the University.  Statements such as "I <print name> received $<amount > <cash or gift card> for participating in <study>" along with signature and date are sufficient.  If the study is approved by the IRB, it is helpful to have the study number included.  Original signatures are required. Example Receipt
  • If gift cards are provided, the employee's original receipt for their purchase is also required.
  • If e-gift cards are provided, the account history may be sufficient if it provides the necessary components (participant's name/email, amount received, statement regarding study "Thank you for participating in IRB study #", and amount paid by employee.
  • If circumstances (such as COVID) prevent collecting original receipts, an email from the participants stating they have received funds for participation may be accepted.
  • [New Dec 2020] If gift cards are provided, maintaining a gift card disbursement log is required. Logs should contain information such as study subject identification number, date of gift card distribution, amount of gift card, and gift card identification number.

Additional forms required IN ADDITION to signed receipt(s):

If the study subject/participant is employed (as faculty/staff/student employee) : 1123.1 .1f Gift/Prize/Award Documentation Form
If the study subject/participant is receiving $400 or more in incentives: Research-Participant-Excel-Template (Check with Post-Award Business Officer or Accounting Tech for spreadsheet for required information PRIOR to providing incentives)

Settling the Advance

To submit all the necessary documents to settle a cash advance please use the Settling Cash Advance form.  Be sure that you have all the required documents for the settling the cash advance ready before submitting.

  • Receipts should be submitted to the office in a timely manner.    
  • In the unlikely event there are unused funds remaining, a check should be issued payable to "UNC SILS".  Note the University does not accept gift cards for settlement.
  • Also required is a signed 307.1.4f Reconciliation of Cash Advance for Study Subjects. Only the Study Coordinator and/or Principal Investigator (OSR) signature(s) are required.  The form will be completed by office personnel.
  • Should the central offices deny the documentation submitted, it is the employee's responsibility to either provide the necessary information or reimburse any un-approved amount.
  • Please note office personnel will redact names from receipts as part of the settlement process. The employee should turn receipts with signatures.


  • Cash advances are NOT provided to students without a SSN.  Doing so may endanger immigration status.
  • Temporary employees are not eligible to receive advances.
  • If additional funds are needed, an additional advance may be requested.
  • All  advances using OSR funds for domestic use are to be reconciled within 60 days.
  • All  advances using OSR funds for foreign use are to be reconciled within 90 days.
  • OSR projects are limited to three outstanding advances.