Cost Transfers

A salary cost transfer is the process by which departments tell the university accounting system, ARC, to move actual payroll (not future) charges for an employee from one or more ComboCode(s)/ChartString(s) to other ComboCode(s)/ChartString(s). Cost transfers can only be initiated for payroll charges that have already been processed by the payroll system.

At the time of hire/rehire, a salary distribution profile is created for all faculty and staff via Template-Based Hire (TBH), or by Payroll for employees who could not be hired using TBH. An employee's past salary charges can be transferred to different ComboCodes, by those in the home department with security access to do so, through the cost transfer transaction process in PAC.

The requested transfer will only be completed once the payroll charges have been committed to the Accounting and Reporting at Columbia (ARC) system. By creating a cost transfer in the PAC system, the user is asking ARC to move payroll charges for a specific employee for a specific period of time and a specific earnings code between ComboCodes. This is done to retroactively make changes to payroll charges that have already been paid out. Every earnings charge has an Earnings Code that identifies the type of earnings the employee received. Cost transfer transactions are created for both active and inactive employees in your home department(s) for both the current fiscal year and the minus-one fiscal year. For example, in FY15, you can complete cost transfers for FY15 and FY14.

Cost transfers are completed for many reasons, including:

  • when an employee’s earnings are in suspense
  • a salary distribution profile or funding arrangement ends before a new one is set up
  • a department decides to charge a different ChartString for an employee's salary or add comp (or portion of)
  • any time there is a need to move payroll charges (salary expense or additional compensation payments) between ComboCodes/ChartStrings
  • if at the time of hire, a Grant Project was not yet established and the salary expenses were allocated to other departmental ComboCodes

Visit the Training Catalog for information on processing cost transfers.


There are limited instances when a cost transfer must be done on paper through the Payroll Office. For more information on how to complete a cost transfer via paper please go to the Payroll section of the Finance Gateway.