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Office of Business Operations

Fixed Assets | Policy


To define guidelines for the capitalization of purchases of land, buildings, land improvements, infrastructure, equipment and library materials.

Policy Statement

Fixed assets consist of all capitalized assets which are expected to be useful for more than one year and cost $5,000 or more.


Land includes all land owned by the University, either purchased or donated, and used, rented, or held for investment.

Buildings include all buildings owned by the University, either purchased or donated, and any building improvements costing $100,000 or more. This includes buildings used, rented, or held for investment.

Land Improvements include all improvements to land owned by the University costing more than $25,000. Land improvements include parking lots, athletic fields, plazas and gardens.

Infrastructure includes all items of campus systems improvements owned by the University costing more than $25,000. Infrastructure items include roadways, sidewalks, passages, and utilities including steam tunnels, sewer systems, energy management systems, and electrical and telecommunication distribution systems.

Equipment is defined as any movable property i.e., machinery, vehicles, computers and furniture costing at least $5,000 that is not a replacement part. Component items that form one working equipment system are combined for capitalization purposes. The “system” definition applies to computer configurations, AV equipment and scientific or manufacturing equipment. Additions to equipment that become either component parts or permanently connected to existing equipment items are also defined as equipment and should be capitalized, regardless of cost.

Each item of equipment acquired will be assigned a serially numbered University tag affixed to the equipment and marked “ University of Northern Iowa Property”.

Library Materials include books, tapes, discs, subscriptions, special collections, binding, and microfilm that are added to the general collection. Costs are accumulated on an annual basis.

Equipment Inventory

Annually, all equipment having University property numbers must be inventoried, in accordance with Iowa Code. Department heads are responsible for conducting an inventory of all taggable equipment regardless of acquisition method (purchase, transfer, donation). The individual making the physical inventory should identify items that are missing or were sold, traded-in, discarded, or transferred to other departments.


All fixed assets are depreciated on a straight-line basis using estimated useful lives as follows:

Buildings40-50 years
Land improvements20-30 years
Infrastructure20-40 years
Equipment5-20 years
Vehicles5-10 years
Library materials10 years

The University does not capitalize works of art, historical treasures, or computer software purchased by licensure usage.

Office of Business Operations 6/22/05
Revised 9/25/06

President’s Cabinet Approved X/XX/05