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Budget and Expense Account Codes

Please note: The Expense topics below are under review. Revised content will be highlighted when published. Please contact for assistance on urgent issues.


Northwestern uses chart string-based systems to manage financial transactions, in which all expenses are classified by five-digit expense account codes (e.g. – 73475 is “Lab Supplies and Hardware”).  These expense account codes are grouped together in related five-digit budget categories.  The expense account codes are said to “roll up to” budget categories.

     Budget category “Supplies” is 73000
     Several supply-related expense account codes like “73475 – Lab Supplies and Hardware” roll up to 73000

Available and Allowable Budget Account Codes

The Sponsored Research office (SR) establishes new sponsored projects in NU Financials with a specific set of budget category codes based on the terms of the award agreement.  The corresponding expense account codes are then available for use on the associated chart string(s).  The complete list of budget and account codes that could be opened is found in the Sponsored Project Budget and Account Code Tree.  For a given cost to be charged to a sponsored agreement, the cost must be reasonable, allowable, allocable, and consistently applied. Please see the Cost Allowability for Sponsored Charges page for details.       

Requests to Open Restricted Budget Account Codes

Effective FY23, Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs (ASRSP) will review and process requests for opening restricted budget account codes following initial award set-up.  Department administrators should complete a Request for Opening Restricted Budget Account Code form and submit to  ASRSP will approve or request additional information within 10 business days of receipt.