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Name: Travel Expense Policy - Interim
Responsible Office: Business Office

Applies to: (examples; Faculty,Staff, Students, etc)

Faculty , Staff , Students

Policy Overview:

Issued: 10-01-2016
Next Review Date: 10-01-2017
Frequency of Reviews: Annually

This purpose of this policy is to describe the guidelines and procedures related to expenses incurred while traveling for the College.  Travel expenses should be normal, reasonable and should be incurred to further the educational, research, and development goals of the College.

This is the overall College travel policy.  Departmental travel policies may be put in place that are more restrictive or that add procedures to operationalize the policy for the department.  These departmental policies should be reviewed and approved by the Business Office before being put into effect.

Applies to all members of the College community as well as any individual whose travel is funded by the College.


Table of Contents:

Section

Procedures before Travel Arrangements Made

Faculty Travel
Staff Travel
Estimating Cost of Trip

Travel Planning and Approved Expenses

Air Travel
Car Travel and Mileage
Lodging
Car Rental
Meals and Incidentals
Tips and Gratuity
Other Reimbursable Expenses
Non-Reimbursable Expenses Exchange Rate Documentation
Travel for Non-College Personnel
Spouse/Companion Travel
Additional Information

Procedures after Travel

Definitions:

Term

Definition

Per Diem Rates

Per diem is the maximum reimbursement allowed for lodging (excluding taxes), meals and incidental expenses. 

 

The College uses the per diem guidelines set by the federal government as a benchmark for reasonableness.  Different agencies are responsible for setting the rates for different travel locations.  The following websites are utilized to determine the appropriate per diem guidelines:

 

Continental United States:  www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100120

Non-foreign Rates (Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam):  www.defensetravel.dod.mil

Foreign Travel:  aoprals.state.gov

Details:

This policy outlines the travel and reimbursement expectations related to College-funded travel.  In addition, departmental units may set more restrictive policies.  Travel and entertainment expenses funded by federal grants or outside sources must comply with the specific guidelines of the granting agency/organization as noted in the proposal, budget, and governing policies of the agency.

Procedures:

PROCEDURES BEFORE TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS MADE

In order to assist employees of the College with trip planning, the Business Office has created a Travel Authorization Form that is required to be completed in advance of travel.   

The purpose of this form is to gather the following relevant information related to the trip: 

• representatives of College who will be in attendance,
• dates of travel,
• business reason for the trip,
• estimated cost,
• per diem allowance information for destination, and
• travel approvals.

This information represents the data necessary for the College to make informed decisions regarding whether the planned travel is reasonable, necessary, mission-critical, and the best utilization of College resources.

Presidential staff may choose to exempt departmental staff from the travel authorization pre-approval process for day trips only.  The pre-approval process steps can only be excluded if the department has a documented, established day trip approval process in place.  The process must be specifically communicated to the departmental staff by written departmental policy and must be approved by the Business Office.

Faculty Travel

Faculty receive professional development funds based upon availability at the discretion of the Dean with the support of the Department Chair.  The travel reimbursement amount may be capped in total based upon funds available. 

Given the nature of academic conferences, it is permissible for multiple faculty members to attend the same conference.

Staff Travel

Travel for staff for professional development is based upon available funds.  Preference should be given to local conferences first.  If no local conference is offered on the subject matter, travel to an out-of-town conference is possible but should be limited to ensure that professional development funds are spent equitably across staff. 

In general, conference attendance by staff should be limited to one representative of the department.  A strong business justification for attendance by multiple staff at the same conference should be provided as part of the approval process.  To enhance departmental education and learning, the College suggests that staff attending conferences bring materials back to share with departmental colleagues to communicate and promote the knowledge gained from conference attendance.     

Conference attendance by staff is limited to no more than one local conference and one out-of-town conference in an academic year.  Any exceptions must be made by the President.  In addition, no international travel is permitted for staff.  Any exceptions must be made by the President.     

Estimating Costs of Trip

As part of the travel planning process, the traveler must estimate the total cost of the trip to ensure that the appropriate signatures are obtained based upon the signature requirement thresholds set forth in this policy. 

The College will not reimburse any meal amounts over the per diem guidelines as set by the government.  The per diem amounts represent the maximum reimbursement allowable.  The College will reimburse the traveler the lower of the actual costs or the per diem amount.  Expenses must be substantiated by detailed receipts.  Credit card statements and summary credit card receipts cannot be utilized for expense reimbursement support. 

Per diem amounts represent the total allowance allowable for a full day of travel.  Generally, for the first and last day of travel, the per diem for meals and incidentals is calculated at 75% of the stated rate.  Exceptions to this guideline are detailed in the Meals and Incidental section of this policy.

The maximum reimbursable amount for non-conference related lodging is based upon the actual United States Government lodging per diem rate for the locality, plus an additional 20%.  Certain exceptions are made to this lodging guideline for conference travel as well as for travel to rural areas.

Different government agencies are responsible for setting the rates for different travel locations.  Per diem reimbursement rates differ according to geographic location of travel. 

Per diem information can be found on the following websites based upon travel destination:

Continental United States:  www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100120

Non-foreign (Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam):  www.defensetravel.dod.mil

Foreign:  aoprals.state.gov

A copy of the per diem information from the website should be attached to the travel authorization form and should be utilized to estimate the cost of the trip.

All travel supported by funds of the College is required to be approved in advance by the appropriate parties.  The number of signatures required for the approval process is dictated by the estimated cost of the trip.

All travel authorization forms require the signature of the traveler and the traveler’s supervisor. 

Additional signatures may be required based upon the cost of the trip.  The signature thresholds are based upon the cost estimate. 

Cost estimates of: 

• $1,000.00 or more, require the signature of the appropriate Dean, Vice President, or President’s Staff;
• $2,500.00 or more, require the signature of the CFO; and
• $10,000.00 or more, require the signature of the President.

Any travel expenditures supported by grant funds also requires the signature of the Assistant Vice President for Finance.

All travel should be authorized in advance.  Unauthorized trips, expenses that do not comply with College policies, or expenses deemed to be excessive will not be reimbursed. 

TRAVEL PLANNING AND APPROVED EXPENSES

It is the policy of the College to reimburse for travel expenses on the basis of actual expenditures at the conclusion of the travel.  Expense reports should be submitted within 30 days following the trip.  Any expenditures should be substantiated by the appropriate supporting documentation.

Appropriate supporting documentation includes detailed receipts, not credit card statements or summary credit card receipts.  For meals charged to the hotel room, the hotel bill is not sufficient documentation.  The detailed receipt for the meal is required for reimbursement.  As travel planning commences, the employee should be mindful and collect the necessary documentation for expense reimbursement.    

All expenses require a detailed receipt unless otherwise noted in this policy.

The College may choose to reimburse individuals for large expenditures in advance of travel should payment for such items be due before travel occurs.  Examples of such items might be airfare and conference registration as well as car rental or hotel pre-payments.  In such cases, both the original receipt and the credit card statement showing payment due before travel are required for reimbursement.  Request for reimbursement of such items should be made on a travel reimbursement request form.  These items would then be excluded from the travel reimbursement request form submitted after the travel occurs as reimbursement for the items has already been processed.

Travel Arrangements

Air Travel

It is the policy of the College to only reimburse for lowest-cost coach class fare.  Under no circumstances will the College reimburse fares in first or business class.  In order to minimize the cost of the trip, airfare reservations must be made at least 30 days in advance of the trip in order to be reimbursed.  For international travel, airfare must be purchased at least 90 days in advance.  Air travel should be considered for travel locations 200 miles or more from the campus.

Any air travel booked outside these timeframes must be explained in writing and approved by the appropriate President’s Staff member if it is to be reimbursed. 

The College reserves the right to reimburse only a portion of the cost of airfare not purchased within the timeframes outlined in this policy. 

Car Travel and Mileage

The College reimburses mileage at the rate set by the IRS with certain parameters.  A comparison of the cost of driving one’s own vehicle rather than flying or renting a car should be made, documented, and submitted with the expense report.  Mileage reimbursement cannot exceed the cost of the lowest regular coach airfare.  Additionally, if car rental is a lower cost option than charging mileage, the mileage reimbursement will be no more than the car rental rate.

To be reimbursed for mileage, the mileage should be substantiated by documentation (e.g., mapquest or google maps).  In calculating mileage, note that qualified business mileage does not include your normal commute to and from work. When business travel originates from your home, subtract your “normal round-trip” commuting miles from the total miles associated with the trip.  This adjustment should be made to the total mileage substantiated by the map documentation.

Mileage should be tracked on a daily basis and logged with the appropriate documentation for each day, outlining the business purpose for the travel.  The expense reimbursement request for mileage should not be submitted as a sum total only.  A detailed, daily log is required.

Mileage reimbursement for an overnight trip should be reported on the travel expense reimbursement form.  Mileage for day trips should be reported on the mileage log form and submitted as a general reimbursement request.    

Employees are reimbursed for tolls and parking fees while on College business.  However, any parking fines/tickets or traffic fines imposed while an employee is utilizing a vehicle on the College’s behalf are the responsibility of the employee.

Employees driving a college-owned vehicle cannot claim a mileage reimbursement.  See College Vehicle Usage Policy for information regarding the use of College vehicles.

Lodging

For non-conference travel, the College will reimburse the traveler for lodging up to the amount set in the per diem guidelines for the travel destination, plus 20%. 

Different government agencies are responsible for setting the lodging rates for different travel locations.  This information can be found on the following websites based upon the travel destination:

Continental United States:  www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100120

Non-foreign (Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam):  www.defensetravel.dod.mil

Foreign:  aoprals.state.gov

All lodging costs should be substantiated by a detailed receipt and traveler should submit per diem documentation from the appropriate governmental website.

Employees will be allowed to stay at the host conference hotel if it is above the allowable lodging per diem rate only if the traveler is utilizing the negotiated conference rate.  In order to take advantage of this exception, the traveler should include the hotel information for the conference which should ideally note the negotiated conference rate.  This exception is made in recognition of the networking benefit that can occur when staying at the conference hotel as well as the cost savings related to transportation (i.e., not needing car rental or taxi services).

Finding appropriate lodging in rural areas can prove difficult as some areas have limited options.  If an employee cannot not find adequate lodging within the per diem plus 20% guideline in a rural area, an exception may be made if an explanation is provided and it is approved by the appropriate President’s staff member. 

Car Rental

The College will only reimburse for the rental of mid-sized vehicles.  Upgrades or larger vehicles are only acceptable when:  four or more employees travel together and share the rental, cars in authorized category are not available, the upgrade is at no additional cost, transporting large or bulky materials, or pre-approved for medical reasons (e.g., drivers with disabilities).

Employees are required to refuel cars before returning vehicles to the rental company.  Therefore, employees should not select the refueling option provided by the rental company.  Employees should request reimbursement for refueling costs with a fuel receipt on the travel expense reimbursement request form.

When traveling in the United States, the College’s insurance policy covers rental vehicle damage.  Therefore, the College will not cover the cost of the optional car rental insurance. 

Meals and Incidentals

The College will reimburse the lower of actual expenditures or the meal per diem amount for the travel destination.  Per diem amounts represent the maximum reimbursement for a full day of travel.  The first and last day of travel the per diem for meals is calculated at 75% of the stated rate.  The only exception to this rule is made when the travel/flight schedule is such that the employee is traveling during all three traditional meal times (e.g., flight leaves at unusually early or unusually late hour).

Full per diem amounts will only be provided if the conference registration fee does not cover any meals.  Per diem amounts will be adjusted for the meals provided by the conference.  The conference brochure outlining what the conference fee covers and does not cover in terms of meals should be included in the documentation submitted with the travel expense reimbursement request form. 

Adjustments to the per diem amount for provided meals by the conference or by others should be as follows:  20% breakfast, 30% lunch, and 50% dinner.  

Different government agencies are responsible for setting the per diem rates for different travel locations.  This information can be found on the following websites based upon the travel destination:

Continental United States:  www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100120

Non-foreign (Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam):  www.defensetravel.dod.mil

Foreign:  aoprals.state.gov

All meal costs should be substantiated by a detailed receipt and traveler should submit per diem documentation from the appropriate governmental website.

The College will not reimburse for meals occurring in St. Louis before or after traveling (e.g., breakfast while waiting at the airport or dinner upon return).  These meals should be at the employee’s expense.  In addition, meals while attending training or traveling in the St. Louis metro area are not reimbursable.  Employees can only expense meals when they are greater than 50 miles from the College.

Incidental expenses are minor expenditures associated with business travel.  The College will reimburse actual expenses up to a maximum of $5 per day (the per diem rate).  These expenses are items such as a mid-day snack or non-alcoholic beverage, baggage handler tips and room service tips. These expenditures are frequently paid in cash and are generally minimal.  Therefore, the College will allow for reimbursement without a receipt for these items. 

All other expenses must be substantiated by detailed receipts.  Credit card statements, summary hotel bills, and summary credit card receipts will not suffice for documentation.  No reimbursements will be made without appropriate documentation. 

Recognizing that the entertainment of guests not employed at the College may occur while traveling, please see the Meals and Entertainment policy for further guidance regarding permissible expenses in these circumstances.  The College will reimburse for the cost of alcoholic beverages while entertaining guests on College business.  Expenses related to entertaining should be submitted separately and should not be included on an employee’s travel expense reimbursement request form.

Tips and Gratuity

The College will not reimburse gratuities in excess of 20%.  This includes tips at restaurants, taxi services, etc.  Tips totalling more than $10 require a receipt.   

Other Reimbursable Expenses

The College will also cover the costs of business communications (e.g., fax and internet) while traveling. 

Non-Reimbursable Expenses

The College will not cover the following costs:

• fines for parking or moving violations
• personal entertainment (e.g., movies, golf, optional tours)
• laundry services (if trip is less than five days)
• lost or stolen personal property (including cash)
• personal expenses (e.g., haircut, toiletries, clothing, luggage, bags)
• costs incurred due to unreasonable failures to cancel transportation or hotel reservations
• non-approved spouse/companion expenses (including travel, meals and additional driver costs on rental cars)
• life, flight or baggage insurance
• excess baggage charges for personal items (e.g., golf clubs, skis)
• mini-bar items
• personal reading material
• repairs to personal vehicles used for business travel
• commuting costs between home and College
• costs incurred at home due to travel (e.g., child care, pet care, lawn/home maintenance)
• political contributions
• charitable contributions (only under limited circumstances will such items be approved)

Other items may also be deemed non-essential based upon review by the Business Office. 

Exchange Rate Documentation

Employees should utilize www.oanda.com to obtain the average exchange rate for the applicable time period.  A copy of the print screen with the exchange rate must be included as documentation.  If expenses were charged to a credit card, the credit card statement may be substituted as documentation for the exchange rate.

Travel for Non-College Personnel

This travel policy applies to all individuals who are reimbursed by the College for approved business travel, including non-employees, students, guest lecturers, consultants, as well as prospective employees of the College.

To ensure compliance, the College employee hosting the traveler is responsible for informing the guest of the policy prior to the visit. 

There is a separate policy related to college-sponsored student travel.  See the Student Travel Reimbursement Policy for details.

Spouse/Companion Travel 

From time to time, spouses/companions of the President, Vice Presidents, Trustees, and other senior administrative employees of the College may travel to functions or other events related to the ongoing business of the College. Such functions may include, but are not limited to, professional conferences and fund raising activities such as alumni and donor events.

Spouse/companion travel must be pre-approved if the travel is to qualify for reimbursement.

If the attendance of the spouse serves a bona fide business purpose of the College, the travel expenses of the spouse/companion may be paid in accordance with the College's travel policy on a tax-free basis.

If it is determined that the attendance of a spouse does not serve a bona fide business purpose, but approval has been obtained for reimbursement of the spouse's travel expenses, then per IRS regulations, the amount of such reimbursement shall be included in the employee's compensation as a taxable fringe benefit and reported on the employee's Form W-2 (and applicable state and local tax reporting forms).

To be a bona fide business purpose, the presence of the spouse/companion must be essential (not just beneficial) to the employee being able to carry out his/her business purpose for the College. The spouse/companion's performance of some incidental service does not make it a bona fide business expense. An employee's spouse/companion performing a ministerial task (such as taking notes) or accompanying the employee to luncheons and dinners is not a bona fide business purpose. The spouse/companion must perform substantive business related functions.

The determination of the presence of a bona fide business purpose for the spouse/companion travel shall be made by the Board Chair (with the assistance of an independent third party as necessary) for spouse/companion travel for the President. For all other employees, the determination shall be made by the Vice President, Finance and CFO.

In all cases, the bona fide business purpose for the accompanying spouse/companion's travel must be clearly articulated and appropriate documentation must be submitted for the College's records to substantiate the tax determination made related to the travel.

Additional Information

This is a general policy that cannot cover every situation.  Departments may have additional restrictions that are not documented within the College policy.  Departmental policy should be communicated and enforced at the departmental-level.  Expenses incurred should be reasonable, not extravagant, with a specific business purpose.   

There are times when an exception to the travel policy may need to be made due to an unusual situation.  Reimbursement of such expenses by the College could result in taxable income to the employee. 

When an exception to the policy is needed, a brief explanation must be noted on the travel expense reimbursement request form and an exception approval must be obtained from the appropriate President’s staff member as well as the President. 

PROCEDURES AFTER TRAVEL

To claim any reimbursement for travel, the employee must submit the travel expense reimbursement request form with all supporting documentation and approval signatures within 30 days of the expenditure.  Travel expense reimbursement request forms submitted more than 60 days after the completion of the trip require exception approval with a written explanation outlining the reason for the delay in submission.  Exception approval must be granted by the appropriate President’s Staff member and the Vice President, Finance/CFO.  Delays in the submission of expenses may result in the reimbursement being treated as compensation, and therefore, taxable to the employee due to IRS guidelines related to accountable plans.

The College requires detailed receipts for all expenses in order to process reimbursements unless otherwise noted in this policy. 

Responsibilities:

Position/Office/Department

Responsibility

Traveler, College

Be familiar with the policy and adhere to guidelines as well as gather the necessary documentation for reimbursement.

Approvers of Travel

Be familiar with the policy and ensure adherence to guidelines.  Act as the first reviewers regarding the travel approval and travel reimbursement request forms for the appropriate signatures and documentation.  Return to traveler if information is missing from form and make requests for correction.

Accounts Payable Administrator

Acts as a second check regarding adherence to policies and informs traveler of issue with travel expense reimbursement request.  Returns form to traveler if information missing or requires correction.  Processes travel expense reimbursement requests.

AVP, Finance

Acts as an additional reviewer regarding adherence to policy and provides oversight related to travel expense reimbursement request payment process.

VP, Finance & CFO

Acts as an additional reviewer regarding adherence to policy and reviews travel expense reimbursement request payments. 

Resources:

Per Diem Websites

Continental United States:  www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100120

Non-foreign Rates (Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam):  www.defensetravel.dod.mil

Foreign Travel:  aoprals.state.gov

Exchange Rate Website

www.oanda.com