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Northwestern University

Computer Replacement Policy

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 February for the next fiscal year (e.g.; review in February 2018 for FY19 funding).

Replacement cycle

The program provides for replacement of eligible computers on an annual basis, based on a four-year lifecycle for computers. Reimbursement is for one computer per eligible faculty or staff member every four years. If they have useable life they may be repurposed to students or postdoctoral scholars or recycled if they have no remaining utility. If a computer is repurposed within the University, it will be done so in an “as-is” condition with no support to be provided by Weinberg College or Northwestern IT. Redeployed computers should be wiped to ensure that sensitive data is not accidentally transferred in case of a redeployment.

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.

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 Northwestern 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

Each year, Weinberg College calculates the average cost per computer bundle, including hardware and the software operating system, for a variety of appropriate business-class computers (laptops and desktops from Apple or Dell). The average cost per computer is not calculated to include the cost of printing or specialized software.

Qualifying computer purchases should be made using the department or program computer maintenance account.  Other funds may be used to make other non-reimbursable computer purchases.  

The Department Chairs may initiate computer purchases at any point during the 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.

After each purchase, department should then request reimbursement for the purchase via the Computer Replacement Reimbursement Request form. If purchases comply with the standards outlined in this policy funding will be approved. Transfers will occur annually during the fiscal year-end close process. The amount of funding will be lower of:

(a) the average cost per computer * the number of eligible computers purchased in the fiscal year, or

(b) the actual cost of eligible computers purchased in the fiscal year


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