How the Surplus Program Works

Surplus items are made available to Princeton departments first, but all University employees and students can access the list of surplus products through the online surplus system.

Items are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and are made available to Princeton departments first. After five days, if a department has not selected an item, it is made available for purchase by University employees, students, and the general public. (Departments may still request items that have been made available to the public.)

Contact Us

Email or call (609) 258-2347 with any questions about the University Surplus Program. 

Policies for items going into Surplus

  • You may not remove University property from the campus for personal use, re-sale, or other unofficial use unless processed through the purchasing department. This includes discarded items and equipment or supplies in use by departments or by students, tenants, or visitors.
  • You must turn over items no longer needed to the surplus program in order for them to be redistributed to other departments, sold, donated, or recycled.
  • You must turn over broken or unusable items to surplus for proper disposal
  • You may not remove items from dumpsters, garbage cans, or any other disposal location for personal use or sale.

Policies for items coming from Surplus

  • Consider surplus first, this is a more sustainable use of our resources.
  • If your department needs to purchase new furniture or equipment, check the online surplus system inventory first.
  • Federally funded contracts and grants require recipients to consider available surplus before acquiring new equipment.

Questions regarding the Surplus Program may be directed to the Building Services Surplus Program Coordinator at

Entering surplus into the system

Each department, administrative or academic, must designate at least one surplus contact person who will be responsible for tracking department surplus. We recommend assigning one contact for low-value goods and furniture, and another for electronic and technical equipment. To add a surplus contact person in your department, email

  1. The surplus contact person adds new surplus items via the online surplus system, which automatically updates the surplus inventory. Only the surplus contact person has permission to enter items into the online surplus system.
  2. Once you enter an item into the surplus system, we will arrange to move it from your department as soon as possible. We will not pick up items that have not been entered into the online surplus system, i.e. please do not submit a service request to move items into surplus.
  3. We will be responsible for advertising it, displaying it, and disposing of it (when necessary). 

Departments do not receive funds for surplus items. Items submitted to surplus are available to other University departments at no cost.


  • Individuals may not purchase vehicles due to potential liability.
  • University employees may not purchase their old computers due to confidentiality and high-risk data. All computers pass through a standard disk-wiping process before going through the surplus program.
  • All items in the surplus system are available as-is. Equipment and items transferred, sold, traded-in, given, or otherwise disposed of carry no warranty from the University. The University accepts no liability and all transactions are as is and final with no returns.
  • Purchased items must be removed on the day of purchase. The warehouse cannot store items for personal purchase.
  • Occasionally a department will have need for temporary storage space for equipment or furniture they will need in the near future. The purchasing department will provide current storage rates for contracts in place with outside suppliers. Any movement of furniture or equipment must be reported to the surplus program coordinator so that the location of the item can be properly recorded in the University’s capital asset system.

Unsold items

Items will be available for purchase for one month. After a month in the warehouse, items that have not sold are disposed of by other means:

  • charitable donations
  • sale for scrap
  • trade-ins

Charitable donations

Charities interested in acquiring surplus equipment must be approved by the Office of Community and Regional Affairs. Please call (609) 258-3204 or email to begin the approval process. Participating charities are responsible for the prompt pickup of items when they become available.


Departments don’t receive funds for the sale or disposition of scrap materials. The cost of transferring, storing, and completing the paperwork for raw, scrap materials often outweighs the economic benefit to the University. Follow these guidelines to dispose of scrap materials:

  • Low-value goods: Departmental representatives have the authority to sell to an employee low-value raw materials with fair market value less than $100. These goods will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Scrap metal: There are several sites available on campus for the disposal of scrap metal: in the MacMillan Building’s Electrical, Plumbing, and Roofing Shops, and in Frick, Jadwin Physics, Moffet, and Forrestal Shop. Departments are responsible for taking the scrap to the site. For large amounts (50 pounds or greater), the departmental representative should call the Service Center at (609) 258-8000 to arrange for pickup. Proceeds from scrap sales go to Princeton University Facilities Organization.

Sales or trade-ins to outside suppliers & companies

Surplus items can be sold to companies and suppliers outside the University or used as trade-ins. These sales or trade-ins must be approved by the surplus program coordinator. All sales or transfers must be documented with the Release and Waiver and Bill of Sale forms, which should clearly indicate the conditions of the transfer, and copies must be submitted to the surplus coordinator.

Items Used by Professors & in Research

Faculty members are permitted to purchase their computers or laptops upon retirement or at the end of their employment at Princeton University. In order to safeguard the University’s data, the following steps must be taken:

  1. The department manager must notify the surplus coordinator that a professor is retiring and wants to purchase their computer or laptop, and provide the make, model, and specifications of the unit.
  2. The surplus program coordinator will supply the department manager with the sale price (including 7% sales tax), a bill of sale, and a waiver for signature of the faculty member.
  3. If the sale price is agreed upon, the department or faculty member will be responsible to wipe the unit and arrange delivery of the unit to surplus for confirmation that the unit has been sufficiently wiped prior to the sale being completed to remove any operating software and proprietary data.
  4. Upon confirmation that the wiping process has been completed, the department or faculty member will be responsible for picking up the unit in surplus and providing the completed paperwork, including payment, to the surplus program coordinator.


If the data is unique to the faculty member’s research or work, a sale can be made with the stipulation that the department manager acknowledge the fact the data will be remaining with the unit and consequently will not jeopardize Princeton University. An e-mail sent from the department manager to must be received in order to confirm this stipulation.

When Professors/Researchers Leave the University & Want to Take Equipment with Them

Purchasing and ORPA work together to establish a fair market value for equipment leaving the University with departing faculty and to ensure that the transfer takes place in accordance with sponsored projects and grants. Faculty who are not taking research grants with them to another institution may still purchase equipment bought on grants, or with University startup funds, when leaving the University, provided that both the Department and ORPA approve the request in advance.

Equipment Purchased on Sponsored Research Grants

ORPA must submit a final property report to the sponsor. If the sponsor doesn’t respond within three months, Princeton has title to the items. On certain grants the government will declare that the equipment is government-owned at the start of the project. In these cases the equipment cannot be sold. For equipment purchased with government funds, ORPA must confirm that the University has title, or if any special conditions apply to the disposal or sale of the equipment before it can be entered into the central surplus system or disposed.

Equipment Purchased on Sponsored Research Contracts

The sponsor has 12 months to notify Princeton that they want title to the equipment. After this point the equipment becomes property of the University. ORPA must confirm that the University has title to equipment purchased with non-government sponsored research funds before it can be entered into the central surplus system or disposed.