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Northwestern University

Computer Replacement

The Computer Replacement Funding Program periodically replaces computers in the departments and programs of the College. This program supplements funds available for computer purchases from department budgets, faculty discretionary accounts, research grants, and other sources.

The Dean’s Office provides computer replacement funding according to the policies and procedures below. Weinberg has funded the program each year, starting in FY09. The program is assessed each January for the next fiscal year (e.g.; review in January 2016 for FY17 funding).

Replacement cycle

The program provides for replacement of one-fourth of eligible computers on an annual basis, based on a four-year lifecycle for computers. Departments may utilize a trickle-down approach to moving computers between faculty and staff with differing computing needs over the four-year life of a computer.

Faculty and staff eligibility

Eligible faculty and staff

Ineligible faculty and staff

Shared appointments

If a faculty or staff appointment is shared with a Northwestern department outside of Weinberg, the Dean’s Office will provide pro-rated funding, anticipating the other portion of funding to come from the other Northwestern department(s). If an individual is 50% or more part-time at Northwestern, but paid entirely from within Weinberg, he/she is eligible for full funding. If an appointment is shared between two or more departments within Weinberg, a primary department is designated for computer funding.


The budgeted cost per computer is calculated to enable purchase of a computer and software operating system. The annual amount is set in January of each year, after assessing the current Weinberg/University prices for a variety of appropriate business-class computers—laptops and desktops from Dell, Lenovo, and Apple.

Funding software purchases

The Dean's Office funds software licenses on Weinberg’s standard software image separately. For details, see Purchasing and Updating Software.

The budgeted cost per computer is not calculated to include the cost of printing or specialized software. These items may be funded from department accounts (for shared use), faculty discretionary accounts (for individual use), or from the budgeted cost itself if a less expensive computer is selected.

Allocation of funds

Department chairs should consider the varying computing needs of eligible faculty and staff in allocating funds. It may be appropriate to spend more than the individual allocation for the computers of a few high-end users, to spend significantly less than this for the computers of other users, and to allocate remaining funds for printers. Technical support representatives from Weinberg IT will be happy to help make recommendations on computer purchases for the department.

Purchasing policies

Weinberg maintains hardware and software purchasing policies and technical support policies. They are designed to provide faculty and staff with a range of choices and to enable technical staff to provide high-quality computer support at reasonable cost.

These policies apply to all Weinberg/University computers, regardless of funding source.

Program procedures

The Dean’s Office calculates the funding for each department, equal to the (# of eligible individuals) x (budgeted cost per computer) x (1/4). The department funds are transferred to department operating accounts in January of each year and are accompanied by a detailed list of eligible individuals in the department.

The Department Chairs may initiate desired computer purchases from their operating account at any point during the remainder of the fiscal year, following standard computer purchasing policies. We encourage departments to make replacement purchases in the winter, spring, and early summer of each year, and to avoid making replacement purchases during late summer and early fall when the support focus is on new faculty.

The intent of the program is to ensure that one-fourth of eligible computers are replaced each year (e.g.; not to save funds for less frequent purchases or to redeploy funds for other departmental uses). Department chairs may be asked to report annually in August on the number of computers purchased with program funds.

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