How To Buy

LAST UPDATED: February 13, 2015

What You Should Know

Your role as a buyer on behalf of your department comes with significant responsibility. While the purchasing department has the ultimate authority over buying decisions, in most cases, it’s up to you to decide if a purchase is allowable given your funding source, if it is within the scope of your business needs, and if the cost is appropriate and reasonable given the circumstances.

Your Role as Departmental Buyer

A departmental buyer has the delegated authority to purchase materials, supplies, services, and repairs when these goods and services do not require a signed contract or on-site labor as long as they are:

  • within the limit of your buying authority;
  • cost less than $5,000, including tax (if any), freight, and handling charges;
  • not qualified as equipment; and are
  • not restricted items.

Purchases should be made from the University’s contract suppliers through Prime Financials or the Prime Marketplace.

Buying Goods or Services Costing $5,000 or More

Purchases totaling $5,000 or more require at least three written quotations. Work with the Purchasing Department to initiate the RFP/Bid process.

How Not to Buy: Avoid Conflicts of Interest

In making purchases and buying decisions, avoid activities or situations that could result in a conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest. You must not use your University position to influence outside organizations or individuals for the direct financial, personal or professional benefit of yourself, members of your family, or others with whom you have a personal relationship.

In order to avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest, at no time solicit or accept gifts from a supplier or contractor or from a potential supplier or contractor. Ordinary business courtesies, such as payment for a modest lunch are acceptable when approved in advance by the director of purchasing.

Gifts of promotional items without significant value (less than $25), and those distributed routinely by the supplier to clients, also are acceptable. All gifts, or "free" items received in conjunction with a purchase are considered University property. As such, they must either be used within the department or forwarded to surplus property. Gratuities, gifts of money, and gift cards (cash equivalents) cannot be accepted at any time.

For more information


Tel (609) 258-3080
Fax (609) 258-0442

Princeton University
Office of Finance & Treasury
701 Carnegie Center
Princeton, NJ 08540

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7 New South
Tel (609) 258-3080
Fax (609) 258-5040
Open Monday through Friday,
8:45 am — 5:00 pm


Customer service, cashiering,
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