Get Help Now @ 256.216.6698
Athens State University Knowledge Base

Purchase Order Process


NOTE: The transcript of the above video is below. 


Purchase Orders, or POs, are required prior to most purchases using Athens State University resources.  The Purchase Order process must be completed prior to actually ordering the materials or service from the vendor.  Following the Purchase Order process will help to ensure your items are delivered to you and that the vendor has received payment.

When are Purchase Orders required? 

  • Any purchase above $100 should go through the Purchase Order process prior to actually purchasing the item or service.  Materials that are under $100 can be reimbursed through petty cash upon approval. 
  • All out of state travel requires a purchase order regardless of the cost.
  • If you are in charge of any student groups or organizations, those entities must still follow the same rules regarding Purchase Orders.


What is the Purchase Order Process?

  • Research the estimated cost of those goods and services.  This can be done by doing the research yourself or getting the vendor or vendors to send you a price quote.  If you are ordering technology such as computers or software, you can email the helpdesk requesting a quote.
  • Fill out the Request for Purchase Order (RPO) form and get it approved by the appropriate parties listed on the document.
  • Submit it to financial affairs.  Within three days, financial affairs will email you with your PO Number.  At that point, you may complete your purchase using your PO Number.  Once the purchase is complete and an invoice is received, notify the business office and they will pay the vendor.


How to fill out an RPO Form

When filling out the RPO Form, keep in mind that the RPO estimates the total cost if you do not have an exact quote.  When estimating the cost, please be sure to overestimate the actual cost rather than underestimate it.

  • Fill out the date, company, and company address in the top fields of the form.  Remember that Athens State University can ONLY purchase items from vendors that appear in our Active Vendor List.  If you are not sure whether or not a vendor is an active vendor, you can go to to see if they are active.
  • Enter the quantity, description, and unit price of the items you need to purchase.  Remember that this is an estimate.  When filling out the form, the total column will automatically total.
  • Fill in the department to which the products should be charged and the name and email address of the individual responsible for the purchase.  The PO Number will be sent to the individual listed in this field.

Within three days, the person specified on the RPO Form should be notified via email that the PO has been processed and they should be given the PO number.  At this point, they can place the order.  When the purchase is shipped to Athens State University, it will first be delivered to our Receiving Department so that they can check it for accuracy and document it in our receiving system.  After this, the purchase will be delivered either to your office or to the receiving area in your building.  If you pick up the order from a vendor or if the purchase is not an item that is physically delivered to campus, it is YOUR responsibility to report the items to receiving.  This process insures that the products are ready to be paid.


Which situations require a PO?

  • Search Committee:  If you are on a search committee and you are going to try and cover some expenses, you must complete a PO that estimates the expenses.  These may include travel, or lunch, or something similar.  The maximum allotment per candidate is $750.00.  When filling out the PO, put “Candidate Expense” under the vendor name.  If you have questions about the specifics of what can be paid for when on a search committee, please contact financial affairs for clarification before completing the PO.
  • Organizational Memberships:  You must have a PO whether joining a new organization or renewing a membership.  For new memberships, the PO must be filled out and completed before agreeing to join the organization.  If you are renewing an annual membership, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure a PO has been filled out and processed prior to the date of the renewal.
  • Labor:  Situations where you are paying for labor, you must still fill out a PO.  However, special rules also apply to labor contracts.  When attempting to pay for labor, contact the financial affairs office to obtain a specific contract for these situations.  This contract must be filled out and attached to the PO upon initial submission to the business office. 


Completing the Purchase Order

Overall, the key to the Purchase Order process is to receive permission and complete the Purchase Order process before agreeing to spend money unless it is a purchase under $100 or in-state travel. Everything else needs a purchase order. 

When completing the purchase order, it is ok to send a quote attached with the purchase order, but NEVER send an invoice with the request.  An invoice demonstrates you have already agreed to pay for something without first getting the purchase order.  Quote is ok – invoice is not.  Lastly, never send an invoice to financial affairs without a PO Number unless you have been given specific information.  Again, the PO Process must be completed and you must receive a PO number before getting the invoice or agreeing to a purchase.  

Have more questions? Submit a request