Research Coordinator Corner
All You Need to Know about Research Cash Advance
COVID-19 has forced many of us to rethink our day-to-day operating procedures. While different challenges have emerged, it’s important to remember that these challenges offer an opportunity to develop new and more efficient processes. In particular, as we figure out how working remotely will affect our faculty’s research, I wanted to focus on the Research Cash Advance process and introduce the TouchNet system. TouchNet is a new mechanism for repaying unused research cash advance funds. The new system allows researchers to return their unused funds online, thereby reducing the need for on-campus, paper transactions.
As a reminder, Research Cash Advances are available for research expenditures that are impossible or impractical to process through normal Texas State procurement or reimbursement procedures. For example, in the College of Liberal Arts, our faculty often use the research cash advance process to facilitate human subject incentive payments.
Only principal investigators (PIs) can submit a Research Cash Advance Request; however, the PI can assign one "Contact Person" to help them prepare the request and reconciliation report. PIs can request a research cash advance for themselves or for their field personnel, research/creative staff, or students. A PI can have multiple Research Cash Advance Requests open at the same time, but new requests will be denied if the PI has an outstanding reconciliation.
PIs who receive research cash advances are personally responsible for ensuring the expenditures are allowable under Texas State, federal, state, local, or grantor policy. Allowable expenses may include, but are not limited to: postage and shipping; supplies, materials, permits, or fees; non-capital equipment purchase, rental, or repair; foreign contract (e.g. labor, guides); human subject incentive payments; and communication costs (phone, cell phone, or internet). If the advance will be used for human subject incentives, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval letter must be attached to the request.
The research cash advance timeframe is limited to a four-month period. If the project is longer than four months, a complete substantiation/reconciliation report must be completed prior to issuing a new advance. The funds can be requested no sooner than ten days prior to the date that funds are needed. Additionally, cash advance start and end dates cannot fall outside the sponsored program funding period.
PIs will receive emails that update them on approval status. They can also log in to the Research Cash Advance System to check their request or reconciliation status.
Within 30 days of the research cash advance end date, the PI must complete an electronic Research Cash Advance Reconciliation. This is where TouchNet comes in. TouchNet facilitates the return of unused funds using the PI’s Funds Commitment number and their bank routing details. PIs will receive an email receipt from TouchNet that must be uploaded to their reconciliation, along with any receipts or other acceptable supporting documentation to account for fund expenditures. Again, this new system provides a paperless, online mechanism that can be accessed off-campus while working remotely.
Remember that as challenges emerge, so do opportunities. As we all adjust to our “new normal,” please remember that your Research Coordinators are here to help you navigate these systems and to make sure that your research continues, regardless of where you are working.
For policy questions, contact Dr. Michael Blanda: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For financial questions, contact Accounts Payable: email@example.com.
For Research Cash Advance Online system questions, contact Dr. Yongxia Xia: firstname.lastname@example.org.