Chart of Accounts (COA), Finance

Chart of Accounts (COA), Finance

COA Handbook

About the COA Handbook

This handbook explains Yale’s Chart of Accounts (COA) and provides information to promote effective financial management.

What is the Chart of Accounts?

The Chart of Accounts (COA) is a set of codes used to classify and record financial transactions in meaningful ways. Yale’s Chart of Accounts structure was designed to:

  • Identify specific “pots” of money and where it came from
  • Specify where that money can & is being used
  • Record the transactions related to that money

The COA also provides the structure for reporting and monitoring financial activity at Yale. It consists of segments and descriptive attributes (see below for an explanation of the PTAEO account structure) that help the University organize financial information for:

  • Internal reporting and financial management
  • External reporting and compliance
  • Effective management of restricted funds

What’s New at COA?

  • COA Training - now offered quarterly through TMS. To register, please click here or go to and search by course owner “Finance” and training category “Chart of Accounts”.
  • Requestng Multiples – If you are requesting multiple new projects, tasks or linkages or wish to close multiple projects/tasks, you may consolidate LIKE items into one request. Please see the examples below. You must complete the header of the standard COA form; then insert or include a second tab (examples below) with the detail. This is for LIKE items only. Please do not include new projects, new linkages and project closures on the same spreadsheet – each of these require a separate COA form.


The COA contains five segments: project, task, award, expenditure type, and organization. The order in which they fall creates the acronym PTAEO.

  • Project indicates the activity for which the money is used. [“why”]
  • Task is a subset of project, and is used to identify components of the project. [“why”]
  • Award indicates where the money comes from. [“funding”]
  • Expenditure Type indicates the category of an account (asset, liability, fund balance, expense or revenue. [“what”]
  • Organization indicates who uses the money. [“who”]

Contact Information

Who to call for what…

Last Updated: December 18, 2013 (ap).

Yale University