Pre-Departure Finances

For programs in which the Study Abroad Office (SAO) manages the budget, all program payments will be made by the SAO.

The NC State Travel Accounting Department requires that as many payments as possible are paid before departure. If on-site payments are typically a better bargain, or if the monetary system of the program’s country makes pre-payment difficult or impossible, the Faculty Director should inform the SAO of these circumstances, and exceptions will be made accordingly.

For liability reasons and to protect both NC State and the Study Abroad Office from the potential loss of large payments, any invoices or bills over $10,000 require a formal contract before payment can be made.  According to NC State contract policy, only certain staff within the University have the authority to sign contracts. This is usually limited to the Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, Provost and the Director of Purchasing. This process can take several weeks and no payments can be made to the vendor until the contract is executed. The SAO will review program budgets to identify those that will need a contract. Once an invoice has been received, the SAO will work with Contract Management to facilitate this process with the program’s vendor.

IRS Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) prohibits payments to any person or entity that is on a federal government sanction lists. In order to meet the IRS’s FATCA requirements and be able to make payments to our foreign instructors and vendors, NC State must receive the appropriate federal form (W-8 series) from each payee. The Study Abroad Office will not be able to pay any foreign person or entity until this form has been received and reviewed.

When the Study Abroad Office requests a wire transfer to a foreign company or an individual non-resident alien, the appropriate W-8 form must be submitted to Accounting along with the invoice. The Study Abroad Office will proactively inform each vendor about this requirement and send the appropriate federal W-8 form for individuals or companies. Upon receipt, the W-8 form will then be kept on file in the Controller’s Office, and should not have to be requested for future payments.

For more information on the University’s process to comply with FATCA, please see the Controller’s website.

Paying Vendor Deposits
Invoices generally need to be paid 1-4 months prior to the start of a program (e.g. between January and April for a program departing in May). Once the SAO receives an invoice, it can take between 4 to 6 weeks to process the payment request and for the vendor to receive funds. Faculty directors are advised to inform their vendors of this timeline to avoid potential problems with payment.

The SAO asks that faculty directors read the vendor policies carefully, as some vendors do not allow flexibility in changing deposit amounts, regardless of a possible fluctuation in the number of students. As a result, the overall cost of the program could increase or decrease based on the stipulations outlined in the vendor policy.

Pre-payments by invoice
The majority of program expenses (group tours, accommodation, classroom rental, ground transportation deposit, etc.) can be paid prior to departure by the SAO with receipt of a valid invoice. Payments may be made by wire transfer, foreign currency check, and regular University check.

In the case of a wire transfer faculty directors will need to request the bank details and wiring instructions from the vendor and submit them to the SAO. Note that the SAO must abide by Accounting’s requirements and cannot expedite payments.

Each invoice must contain:

  • Type of service(s) provided by vendor
  • Vendor name, address, and logo/letterhead
  • Date of invoice
  • Name of person(s) receiving service(s)
    • if it is a group of students, the count of persons for service is acceptable (i.e., “22 students on a bus”)
  • Date(s) of service(s)
  • Current amount (deposit, down payment, or remaining balance)
  • Current amount due date (NCSU policy on any payments is net 30 days from receipt of invoice)
  • Final balance
  • Final balance due date
  • Wire transfer bank details


  • If the invoice is in a foreign language, a detailed English translation must be provided, including all minor information from the invoice.
  • Invoices cannot include the words “proforma” or “estimate,” rather the invoice must show an actual billable amount.
  • The SAO requires that the vendor provide a copy of their refund/cancellation policy.
  • Faculty Director Lodging: refer to note about Third Party Lodging approval before payments may be made to vendor.

Accounting may request more information in order to pay an invoice. To ensure timely payment, please be sure to include all relevant information and forward invoices to the SAO as soon as they are received.

Pre-payments by credit card or cash
Faculty directors should consult with the study abroad regional advisor or budget manager to confirm that the program budget is secure and the program will run prior to making any program related purchases, including airfare.  In limited instances, deposits may need to be made before the program’s applicant numbers are confirmed.

The SAO strongly discourages any consideration of using personal funds for group arrangements (train tickets, housing, etc.) since these types of arrangements may involve large amounts of money and Accounting requires specific information for group payments.

If a faculty director believes a certain situation warrants use of a personal credit card or cash instead of having the SAO pay an invoice, it is advisable to consult with the SAO to ensure the purchase is eligible for reimbursement.

If making an allowable purchase with personal cash or credit card, faculty directors must submit the vendor receipt to the SAO for reimbursement. Please submit the receipt as soon as possible as it can take 2-5 weeks to receive reimbursement.

Please note that the SAO cannot guarantee amount or timing of reimbursements from Accounting, as Accounting may have questions or may need additional documentation before approving the expense.  Additionally, the SAO cannot guarantee reimbursement will be received prior to the program departure date if the reimbursement request is received less than 30 days prior to departure.

Please see Program Receipts for instructions on the details required for a receipt.

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