Skip to Content

Undergraduate Research

Using Your Money

Your Grant Money

Your project period is 12 months, based on the grant start date or graduation, whichever is first. You cannot pay for any work that took place before the grant start date.

Refer to the budget section of the Application Guidebook [pdf]

Note: funds may only be used for the student awardee(s) and the project. Funds may not be transferred to a different student nor used for mentors or graduate student compensation (including salary, benefits and travel).

The Controller’s Office will set up individual "N" accounts for each Scholar  project in consultation with the budget managers at the level of College/School or Campus (if outside of Columbia). This will occur ~three to four weeks after project selections are announced. The start date is Jan. 1 for spring projects and May 1 for summer/fall projects. NOTE: the Office of Undergraduate Research does not have your account number.

  • Your mentor's department business manager is usually the one who manages scholar awards. Ask your mentor.
  • Your mentor’s department business manager may need to contact the college, school or campus business manager for account information. The award will be in an "N" fund.
  • The business manager may designate a contact for processing of your expenditures (such as hiring, travel approval, reimbursement for supplies and purchasing).
  • Your mentor will need to contact the business manager to start hire paperwork, handle any purchases or initiate travel approval paperwork.

The business manager of your mentor’s department or campus designee will manage your account, in coordination with your mentor. 

If the business manager does not have your account number, they may need to contact the business manager at the College/School or Campus level (if outside of Columbia).

Awards are automatically transferred by the Controller's Office to your mentor’s department into internal fund "N" accounts for each Scholar PROJECT as directed by the business manager at the level of College/School or Campus (if outside of Columbia).

REMEMBER: Your mentor must authorize all expenditures!

It is not unusual for your budget needs to change — something might cost more or less, supply needs change, conference plans get altered, etc. — that’s OK! Once your account is set up, all changes are between you and your mentor. You do not need to contact the OUR unless you have questions on how money can be spent. Your business manager may require the change in writing with your mentor’s signature or email approval; this will vary by departments.

REMINDER: All Magellan awards must comply with university policy and be in compliance with the allowable/unallowable guidelines in the guidebook.

This is not a bank account where you can withdraw money when you need it. Pre-approval is required for everything and can take multiple weeks, so plan ahead!

Your mentor must authorize all expenditures. The business manager for your mentor's department will be your point of contact for handling purchases, initiating travel paperwork and checking on your account balance.

To receive a salary, you must be hired. To do this, your faculty mentor needs to ask the business manager to hire you as an hourly student worker following your budget, with one of the codes listed below:

(51419)  Undergrad Student Research Assist
(51427)  Undergrad Student Research Asst Work Study
(51428)  Non Enrolled Undergrad Research Asst
(51429)  Non Enrolled Undergrad Research Work Study

You are hired the same way as other student employees (through the student hire system), except that the account number is your Magellan Scholar account. You will  complete an electronic timecard (called ITAMS) each week to log in your hours — the person who hires you can help with this, too.

NOTE: You cannot be paid for hours worked before the grant start date.

This is for any type of travel: to conduct research or to present your research, etc.

  • Who helps me? Most likely your department administrator, but your mentor may have experience with this, too 
  • BEFORE you go to the department administrator:
    • Get estimates of cost for plane or mileage, lodging, local transportation (taxis/shuttles), registration (if applicable), etc.
    • Know the destination and dates, and explain the purpose of travel.
  • You must have a travel authorization form (called a TA) completed and submitted BEFORE each and every trip you take.
    • An account number is required for this.
    • This must be done at least a few days before you go. More time is better!
    • NOTE: this is not the same as the paperwork filed with the Study Abroad Office. Talk with your business manager!
  • You must save ALL receipts while you are traveling.
  • Within 10 days of your return, a travel reimbursement voucher must be completed, and you must provide all your receipts, give your mileage, etc. Talk about this with the person in the department who is helping you BEFORE you leave.
  • NOTE: some prepaid items (like flights) can be reimbursed right away, but this is up to your department. Ask whomever is assisting you.
  • Items purchased BEFORE the start of the grant period cannot be reimbursed.
  • You MUST have faculty permission before you buy something.
  • The following must be discussed with your mentor or the business manager BEFORE purchasing. There are generally three ways that items can be purchased:
    1. on a university purchasing card (credit card) 
    2. directly from the scholar account through the university purchasing process
    3. purchasing item(s) yourself (or mentor) and getting reimbursed through PeopleSoft.
  • SAVE receipts!!!
  • All materials/supplies that are not expended during the project (including cameras, recorders, etc.) are USC property and must be given back to your department, mentor or OUR.

Award Requirement Reminder — Don't forget:


Haven't Spent All Your Money?

If you are graduating ...
Funding may continue for one semester after graduation. Your mentor must contact us to confirm the grant end date. You will still need to complete your report and presentation at the end of the grant period. 

If you're still an undergraduate...
Your mentor can request an extension. Your mentor must send an email to and include:

  • name of the Magellan Scholar
  • reason for needing an extension
  • confirmation of mentor's willingness to continue supervising student and project
  • new end date desired (must be a specific date)

If the project is finished ...

  • remaining funds must be returned to our office - contact
  • funds may not be transferred to a different student

Grant extensions may be requested under the following circumstances:

  • project is not finished
  • funds are still remaining in the grant
  • the student will still be an undergraduate or is requesting to continue for no more than one semester past graduation
    • one semester is spring for December graduates, summer for May graduates, and fall for August graduates.

To request an extension:

Mentors or business managers must email with the following:

  • name of the Magellan Scholar
  • the reason for needing an extension
  • confirmation of mentor's willingness to continue supervising student and project
  • new end date desired (must be a specific date)

If the project is finished:

  • all remaining funds must be returned to our office (contact
  • funds may not be transferred to a different student



Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.