Chicago Organizations Finance Office
We hope this communication finds you well. At this time, COFO is working remotely and providing service by email. We will continue to respond promptly to email and phone messages and plan to print and mail checks once a week.
- Phone: (312) 503-1365
Communication with COFO (Until Further Notice)
For reimbursements, payments and requests for ledgers, please email us at COFO@northwestern.edu. Requests for reimbursements/payments should include all appropriate documentation (i.e., invoices, receipts, vouchers) attached to your email. We will respond promptly with any questions or requests for more information. All checks will be mailed so be sure to include a mailing address on your voucher.
With the spring term being one generally of officer transition for student groups, COFO will need to ensure that its records are current and updated transparently. To this end, we ask that groups with departing officers communicate with COFO by email according to the following protocol:
- From their Northwestern University email, the departing officer sends a message to COFO@northwestern.edu:
- Indicate current position (e.g., treasurer), name of student group and request to update officers
- Name the incoming officer who will be assuming their responsibilities
- Copy the incoming officers and the group’s current co-officers (e.g., president, treasurer) using their Northwestern email addresses
- The current treasurer should be sure their available balance matches the COFO ledger. Please request a copy of the ledger to be sure.
- The incoming officer replies all, confirming their acceptance of the position.
- COFO will reply to all to acknowledge receipt of the request and acceptance.
- Incoming officers new to COFO should review the training material available on this page
We are currently considering temporary delivery options for the in-person training offered by COFO.
The Chicago Organizations Finance Office (COFO) provides financial services for University-recognized student organizations. Through COFO, student organizations may open and maintain fiduciary accounts, request check payments, transfer funds, and make deposits.
University-recognized student organizations enjoy several "umbrella" benefits such as tax-exempt status, certain insurance and legal services, sponsorship, etc. However, for an organization to enjoy these benefits, all funds must be deposited in a COFO account. Student organizations are prohibited from having any additional savings or checking accounts.
COFO Manuals and Handbook
COFO has compiled a handbook of policies and procedures. These guidelines are designed to comply with University regulations. COFO users must read document and abide by the policies and procedures contained within the COFO Treasurer's Handbook:
COFO cannot reimburse for the following:
- Alcohol, or, alcohol-related purchases
- Illinois sales tax
- Out of pocket payments for contracted goods and services
- Personal store credit, airline miles and airline ticket exchange credit
- COFO cannot process reimbursements or payments for faculty or staff, only students
Important Notes About Payments
- If payments to an individual (e.g., honoraria, non-employee compensation including, speaker fees, coaching, refereeing, copy editing, web page design, parking valet, musical performances, and disc jockeying) total or exceed $600 in a given calendar year, the IRS requires a 1099 tax form is issued to the individual. Therefore, student officers must request a W9 for each individual providing a service for their group.
- Find more information about honoraria payments.
Each president and treasurer must individually complete the signature card for their position. Signature cards must be on file in COFO before officers are authorized to use their COFO account. Officers also must individually sign up and complete the COFO training.
COFO Hours, Deposits and Payment Requests
COFO is open for appointments on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10AM to 4PM.
Reimbursement/payment request vouchers and itemized receipts can be sent as an email attachment to COFO@northwestern.edu. Include payee mailing address on vouchers as checks are being mailed until further notice.
Checks for deposit must be made payable to Northwestern University with the name of student organization noted in memo section of the check. The check is to be mailed to COFO at 710 N. Lake Shore Drive, Rm. 728, Chicago, IL 60611. For cash deposits, contact COFO for an appointment. DO NOT PLACE CASH IN THE MAIL.