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Chartfield Requests

Follow these steps to add a new, non-sponsored project.

Core Information

  • If you are setting up a PI chart string or any chart string that belongs specifically to a faculty member, please use their Employee ID in the manager field so that they can view the chart string in the Research Portal.
  • The fund type must match the fund attribute. Even if you are setting up a discretionary string (i.e., PI string), a 172 should have a project type of self-supporting (SSUP).
  • Choose the correct attributes. All projects need FUND, CLASS and a purpose matching the type of string (gifts use GIFT_Purpose, endowments use END_purpose, all others use Current_purpose).
  • The class should align with the activity supported on the project.
  • The description must be unique, so be specific. (e.g., “Dr. Smith PI” rather than “Chair PI”).

Questions & Attachments

 How to Answer Question 1: Reason for Request

Reason for request should be more detailed than “to capture Dr. Smith’s revenue and expense.” A better description includes type of revenue and expense (e.g., “string for new PI Dr. Smith’s non-sponsored research expenses, professional development, travel and clinical trial close-out revenue”).

 How to Answer Question 2: Source of Funding

If funding is from another department or an affiliate, please attach an email from them indicating their support. If it is a small amount from within your department no email is required. If it is a large amount from within the department, include documentation (i.e., offer letter, but feel free to redact all sensitive areas of the letter).

If it is a dean’s commitment or NMCAT funds, just indicate that (we can verify).

 Grants or Subcontracts

If this is an internal award from Northwestern, please attach a supporting email. If this is from an affiliate or another source, please include an email from the Office for Sponsored Research indicating that it shouldn't be set up as a sponsored project. Always include the signed contract or other relevant documentation you have.

 Gift Requests

Include June Ulrey ( in the list of those to be notified. Attach gift transmittal documentation (including check or electronic payment receipt).

 Setting Up a 160

Include all documentation you have and do not request a chart string until this has been approved by both Cost Studies and Feinberg.


Most chart strings should include a budget. If you have already budgeted for this new activity on another existing chart string, choose “Orig zero budget” and then do a portal budget journal moving the budget once the chart string is set up.

If it hasn’t been budgeted on another chart string, complete the budget template and follow these rules:

  • Always mark that the budget is “recurring”
  • Complete the fund, dept., account and increase/decrease amount columns
  • Do not complete current budget or revised budget columns
  • Do not include cents on budget; round to nearest dollar
  • Check that the correct account is used; budget-only accounts are not used on non-sponsored chart strings (e.g., 70000)
  • Check that the correct fringe benefit rate is used when budgeting salaries
  • Both expense and revenue on the budget worksheet must be completed and must equal each other

Chartfield Request/Inactivation Forms

 Chartfield Request Forms

A new chartfield (or chart string) is requested when an existing chartfield value or management chart string does not meet a need to capture unique financial activity for appropriate monitoring or financial accounting purposes. Chartfield request forms support requests for new department IDs, project IDs (non-grant), program codes, chartfield 1 values or account codes. The chartfield request form also supports updates and inactivation of these fields. However, you will still need to use the business process for combination chart string inactivation.

To have a chartfield/chart string created, a department must utilize the electronic chartfield request form available in NUFinancials. To access this form, see Chartfield Request Form in NUFinancials. Please note that only non-grant (non-sponsored) chartfield values may be requested using this online form.

As stated above, the form supports the requests of several options.

  • Department ID: Tracks information according to a divisional breakdown of the organization. It is the lowest level at which you can manage staff and/or control, secure or report on budget/activity performance within unrestricted funds series 110-160 (includes recharge activities).
  • Project ID: Captures activity detail and additional description about the activity useful for management and reporting. Used with funds in the series 170s through 800s; the project value, fund/project value or deptID/project value is the lowest level at which you can manage staff and/or control, secure or report on budget/activity performance for chart strings that use project IDs.
  • Program: A linking mechanism used to identify collaborative activities across units and allowing multiple user access and reporting.
  • Account: Classifies a specific revenue, expense or balance sheet type of activity.
  • Chartfield 1 Values: Opened on a case-by-case basis. Currently, there is a list of chartfield 1 values that are already established. These values can be used by any department at their discretion if the need arises. However, it is up to the department to keep track of which value is being used and for what reason.

Most requests will be those that fall under the project ID option; however, please choose the option that best suits your department’s needs. Once the option has been chosen, the system will take you to through the proper screens for your use.

When submitting your request, please make sure to attach all appropriate supporting documentation. For example:

  • Confirmation of funding sources
  • For gift requests, gift or deposit transmittal slip
  • Budget journal template if budget to be established

 Chartfield Inactivation Forms

The same online form that is used for requesting (adding) chart strings can be used to inactivate a department or project. Just choose "inactive" as your option in the drop-down box. To inactivate a project, a GL005 Cognos report showing a zero balance for the project must be submitted with the online form.

 Combination Chart String Inactivation

In the event that a department is closing a project that is linked with multiple chart strings (same project housed in more than one department or same project linked to more than one fund, 171/172), then the online inactivation form discussed previously cannot be used. One must fill out the Inactivation of Chart String Combinations template, which can be found under the "Inactivate a ChartField or Chart String Process" section. The GL005 Cognos report showing a zero balance is required as additional documentation.

Visit Request or Inactivate a Chartfield Value or Chart String for more information. It is best practice to inactive chart strings during budget season, in addition to following the steps above. Inactivating chart strings during the budget process will eliminate the chart string from showing up as a $0 budget on your reports during the following fiscal year.

 Electronic Chartfield Request Form

Use the electronic request form to inactivate a project/department that is only associated with one chart string, which should be closed. If a project/depart is link to multiple chart strings and they all are being closed, then you can use the online form. You can close projects or department IDs at any time during the fiscal year using the chartfield request form.

 Chart String Combinations Template (Excel Form)

Use the Chart String Combinations Template (Excel Form) to:

  • Inactivate a chart string that uses a project id that is being used in another string (i.e., a 171 was converted to a 172 and the 172 is still being used)
  • Inactivate a string that was created in error (i.e., in keying a CRT someone transposed two numbers in the project id and created a new chart string)
You can submit requests for combination chart string inactivations to your financial administrator at any time throughout the year. However, they are only processed quarterly throughout the fiscal year. An email will be sent by the Office of Finance and Administration to departments when we will begin to accept these inactivations for the quarter. Please see Accounting Services Chartfield Maintenance Policy for the yearly schedule.