A special ‘Tips from a Financial Services Insider’ series called ‘Did Somebody Say FOAPAL?”.

Banner … what is it?

Banner is the University’s enterprise resource planning system, and is comprised of 4 main areas: Finance, Student, Advancement and Human Resources. In plain language, the Banner Finance system does the heavy lifting for most of the university’s financial transactions/ tracking. If you’ve done any of the following, you’ve worked with a Banner system

  • claimed a travel expense
  • created a journal
  • claimed a PER in 2015

Banner … how does this relate to FOAPALs?

If you don’t already know what Banner is, you’ve likely just read more than you’ll ever need to know. The key point is that the backbone of the Banner Finance system is the FOAPAL. The FOAPAL is the accounting string used to denote where a revenue or expense item is to be transacted in the chart of accounts or general ledger.

FOAPAL … why is this important?

You can read all about the reasons that the FOAPAL is important. However, what it really boils down to is the FOAPAL is used to ensure that money comes from and goes to the correct places. Much like your account number tells the bank where to put your pay cheque every two weeks. And just as you would not want to provide the wrong bank account number and fail to receive your pay cheque, it is equally important to get FOAPALs right.

The FOAPAL is critical to getting the University’s business done, but remains the thing that Financial Services receives the most questions about.

We’re hoping to begin to fix that with this series. Each letter in FOAPAL stands for an element of the accounting string (i.e. the FOAPAL is the accounting string). This series will provide plain language explanations for each of the elements.

Next week, we’ll put the ‘F’ in FOAPAL. Stay tuned!


We always love to hear from you! Email your feedback to facts@carleton.ca.

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