Travel Reimbursement Policy | Spalding University Policy Guide

1.9.1: Travel Reimbursement Policy

Spalding University
Finance Office-Travel Reimbursement Policy

(See also Travel Policy)

The University will reimburse reasonable travel and business expenses duly authorized and incurred for the conduct of University business by employees, students, and other persons in the official service of the University according to this policy which shall apply to all departments regardless of the source of funds, and in all affiliated and related organizations.


Persons incurring expenses on official business shall use the most economical and efficient means consistent with the best interest of the University and the purpose for which the expense is incurred. No duplicate claims or commuting expenses are allowed.


Each administrator is responsible for ensuring that reimbursements from programs or to persons under his or her authority are reasonable and appropriate for the purpose and charged to a program appropriate to that purpose. An administrator may set lower reimbursement rates and require pre-travel authorization for persons or programs under his or her responsibility.


Reimbursement claims shall be submitted through the Spalding University online

expense reporting system.  The expense report shall be initiated by the person seeking reimbursement, with approval by the immediate supervisor, and the person responsible for the program. If the immediate supervisor is not available to approve the travel voucher, the expense report will be re-routed for approval to the next highest reporting level (i.e. the supervisor's supervisor). Individuals may not approve their own reimbursement or that of a colleague at the same reporting level, superior, spouse, relative, or household member.


Original itemized receipts, showing the date of the service, vendor and detail transactions are required. If the receipt is not available, complete the Missing Receipts Form (Appendix C) and submit with the online expense report.


Traveler expense decisions shall be made in the best interest of the University. Side trips, vacations and extended stays with family and friends should not play a factor in making these decisions. Additional expenses for larger hotel rooms, premium vehicles, driving vs. flying to accommodate family and friends shall be deducted from the travel expense report prior to submission and/or a check remitted for the related charges on the Spalding credit card.


In order to comply with Federal regulations, documentation of the necessity of the travel for the employee is required for any expenses that are charged to a Federal award (e.g. an NIH grant).  Examples of documentation that may appropriately justify necessity include meeting agendas, abstracts, copies of posters and/or presentations, etc. Such documentation should be submitted along with other required travel backup documentation with the online travel expense report.

Administration of Policy

To be reimbursable, business expenses must be properly substantiated, have a business connection and be submitted within certain time limitations. These time limitations determine both whether the cost may be reimbursed by the University as a business expense, and whether that reimbursement will be treated as taxable income to the individual.


In order that expenses are recorded on a timely basis, reimbursable business expenses that are not charged to the Spalding credit card and mileage are to be submitted weekly via the online expense report.  Reimbursable business expense that was charged to the Spalding credit card are to be reconciled at the end of each month and submitted online expense report.


In order to comply with IRS requirements, the University uses the IRS standards for establishing reasonable time limitations for determining the tax treatment of reimbursements, as follows:

  1. If written substantiation for the reimbursement is submitted within 60 calendar days of when the expenses were incurred or after returning from travel, and if all other requirements of the University’s Travel Policy are met, the reimbursement will be treated as a nontaxable reimbursement of a University business expense.
  2. If written substantiation occurs more than 60 calendar days after the expenses were incurred or after returning from travel, the reimbursement must be reported to the IRS as taxable income paid to the individual. The amount of the reimbursement will be added to the employee’s W-2.


Additionally, the following guidelines appear in IRS Publication 463 to establish what will be considered a "reasonable time" period for purposes of the following:

  1. Advance Payments – Funds can be advanced up to 30 days before reasonably anticipated expenses are paid or incurred (i.e. departure of trip).
  2. Return of Excess Amounts – within 120 days after expenses are paid or incurred. Note: Although the IRS Regulation specifies that excess funds from travel advances can be returned up to 120 days of trip return date, the University requires that all advances be reconciled within 30 days (to meet the above “written substantiation” rule) which means that all unused funds would also have to be returned within 30 days for the advance to be considered “reconciled”. Unsubstantiated advances and excess allowance funds not returned to the University within 30 calendar days, and reconciliations that include unallowable expenses, will be added to the employee’s W-2 as taxable income.


The Finance Office or the traveler’s supervisor may require additional information in order to justify the expense as a business expense. The Finance Office or traveler’s supervisor may disallow or reduce any claims contrary to this policy or account restrictions, or which cannot be justified.


Policy exceptions in the best interest of the University and interpretations will be made by the Controller and may be appealed to the COO except for travel claims for the COO and Provost, which shall be approved by the President. Reimbursement of the President is approved by the COO. An audit of the President’s expense reimbursements may be done by the Board of Trustees acting through its Chairman. Reimbursement of Trustees will be reported to the Board's Executive Committee on a post-audit quarterly basis through the Finance Office.

Spalding University Purchase Card

Spalding University Purchase Cards are issued as requested by Department Chairs and Managers to members of their department in order to purchase services or supplies for their department. The cards are also to be used by card holder for business travel. Each cardholder will sign a Purchase Card Program Cardholder Agreement (Appendix B) upon issuance of the card.

The cardholder will comply with the Monthly Reconciliation procedures which includes uploading of all receipts in the online system, maintaining a record of business purpose; proof of receipt, reconciliation of monthly bank statements and corresponding University ledger, in addition to proper record retention. Failure to do so will result in suspension of card privileges.

Improper use of this card (including personal purchases) can be considered misappropriation of University funds. The cardholder is considered responsible for any and all charges against the card. This may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

If the card is lost or stolen, the cardholder will immediately notify the bank by calling the number on the back of their card and the Finance Department via email of any lost or stolen card.

The card is to be surrendered immediately upon termination of employment, whether for retirement, voluntary or involuntary reasons.


Travelers should book standard room accommodations at non-luxury/moderately priced hotels. The hotel folio should be submitted with the online expense report for reimbursement.
When traveling for a conference it is appropriate to stay at the hotel hosting the conference. The room booked must be at the conference rate.
Travelers will not be reimbursed for “no show” charges except under extenuating circumstances, which must be documented in the expense report.
Travelers who stay in a private residence with friends or relatives while traveling on business will be reimbursed for reasonable actual expenses incurred to extend appreciation for their hosts.

University employees and/or students traveling on official business shall use the most economical, standard transportation available and the most direct and usually traveled routes. Expenses added by use of other transportation must be assumed by the individual.
Use of privately owned vehicles may be reimbursed at the prevailing IRS rate . Mileage claims, based on official mileage maps, must be more economical than the airfare available, except when the use of a vehicle is necessary. Local travel shall be listed separately by trip including date, miles driven, and purpose. If actual gas expenses are claimed in lieu of mileage for personal vehicles (and for the fuel for rental vehicles), provide final receipts from the gas/fueling station. The “prepaid” version of the receipt issued prior to fueling is not a finalized paid receipt for documentation. If mileage is claimed, reimbursement for fuel charges cannot be claimed. When deciding whether to use a personal vehicle and claim mileage or obtain a rental vehicle, consider the number of miles to be driven and the number of days of the trip. Typically, any trip over 200 miles would be more economical using a rental vehicle. Also note that the University’s insurance policy does not cover personal vehicles.
Commercial carrier travel including airfare may be reimbursed at actual cost including taxes and fees for the most economical class available. Reimbursement for business class is contingent upon prior approval from the traveler's Chairperson, or Dean.

Other Expenses
Actual costs may be reimbursed for parking, tolls, first checked baggage fees, internet (to conduct University business) and baggage handling, including delivery to or from a common carrier or lodging, and storage. Costs for overweight baggage, multiple checked baggage and shipping are allowed if a business necessity.

Costs of laundry and dry-cleaning may be reimbursed for business travel of more than six consecutive days. Other necessary expenses may be allowed by the Controller if in the interest of the University.

Meals, tips, and taxes may be reimbursed on the basis of actual expenses with the approval of a supervisor. The itemized/detailed receipt must be included. The amount of reimbursement must be no more than the prevailing per diem rate set by the U.S. General Services Administration.

Prevailing per diem rate domestic travel locate the applicable city and state.
For Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. Territory possessions:

Prevailing per diem rates for international travel

University entertainment is the arrangement of activities, events, or meals for the promotion and advancement of the university’s mission. While the breadth of the university’s mission may occasionally require entertainment needs, such expenditures must be reasonable and must be managed in a fiscally responsible manner.

Meals or events that are primarily social in nature (i.e. public relations, development, etc.) and have University-related business purpose may be permitted. Examples of acceptable entertainment expenses include:
• Alumni events and receptions
• Faculty, staff, and student awards and appreciation events
• Receptions for visiting scholars, dignitaries, award winners, etc.
• Meals including University guests and other non-employees
• Donor and donor prospect meals and receptions
• Commencement-related events
• Recruitment of prospective faculty, staff, or students
• Catered events in celebration of University milestones.

Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list. If you have any questions regarding a potential entertainment expense, please contact the Finance Office.

*Entertainment expenses may not be reimbursed from federally sponsored programs.*

• Entertainment expense require that the following items be documented on the expenditure:
• Location, Business Purpose, Date, Participants/Group and the receipt be itemized.

Business Meetings/Meals
For a meeting to be considered "business related,” the meeting must be planned with a defined, strategic business objective. A pre-meeting agenda is encouraged to establish expectations of the meeting. Whenever possible, meetings should be conducted outside of normal meal periods.

Official departmental parties open to all employees are permitted. Non-allowable expenses include parties or meals for social functions such as employee birthdays, weddings, births, and other personal events.

**Business meals and refreshments/alcohol are not allowable in support of federally sponsored programs unless they have been specifically approved by the funding agency.**

Gratuities for business meals are allowable; however, they must be reasonable and not exceed a threshold of 20%.

Please be mindful of situations where gratuity is automatically included. Any additional gratuity should not exceed a total of 20%. (For example, if your bill is $100 and an 18% tip is added by the merchant, any additional tipping should not exceed 2%, or $2.00.)

For large catering/delivery orders (pizza, sandwiches, box lunches, etc.), a 20% tip may be too generous. For example, if you order sandwiches from a nearby sub shop and the total cost is $1,500, a 20% tip, or $300, would be excessive. A 5% tip, or $75, would be more reasonable.

Tipping for baggage, hotel employees and taxi drivers is typically $1 per bag/night.

Alcohol purchases are not a reimbursable expense. Prior approval of COO, Chief Advancement Officer, Provost, and the President is necessary for alcohol purchases that are deemed necessary for events for donors, alumni, etc.

Spouse/Children Expense
Spouse/children (including children under 18 years of age) meal and entertainment expenses shall be paid only when authorized by the Department Head/Chair, or, in the case of the Dean expenses shall be approved by the Office of the President or Provost.

Non-Employee Expense
Non-employee (guest speaker, recruit, donor, etc.) meal and entertainment expenses may be paid in conjunction with the approved entertainment and business meal criteria.

Payment Methods
The University’s Purchasing Card is the required method of payment for travel, business meals, and entertainment expenses. On a limited exception basis, if a Purchasing Card is not available, an employee or student may pay out-of-pocket and request reimbursement through the Finance Office.

Cash Advances

Cash advance are available by special request and approval by the COO.

An authorized check request is submitted to the Department Dean/Chair or Manager for approval. Included on the request should be the amount, the reason for the request, and a summary of expected expenses.

Upon approval, the request is forwarded to the Finance Office for processing on the next scheduled day for check writing. The funds are debited to a temporary account assigned for Cash Advances, 11-00000-12102.

After completing the purchase, the recipient of the cash advance should complete and return an expense report to the Finance Office within 30 days of the date of the advance check/e-check. All items listed on the online expense report should have an accompanying receipt attached. If the actual amount spent is less than the cash advance, the remaining monies must be returned to the Finance Office with the submission of the online expense report.

Once the completed online expense report is received in the Finance Office, the total amount of funds spent will be debited to the recipient’s department as designated on the expense report, crediting the temporary account assigned for cash advances. If the actual amount spent exceeds the cash advance, the difference will be refunded to the recipient.
The Finance Office maintains a trial balance of all outstanding cash advances. If expense reports have not been returned within the allotted 30 days, the advance recipient and their Department Manager will be sent a notice requesting that an expense report be completed. No future advances will be approved until the outdated expense report has been received by the Finance Office. If after 120 days, the advance will become a taxable transaction to the employee and the payroll department will be notified to access the appropriate taxes on the employee paycheck and list the excess funds.

Moving / Relocation Expenses
Payment of reasonable moving expenses, up to a set amount, from non-federal unit funds may be authorized by President as part of the recruitment package for new full-time, regular status administrators, faculty and exempt staff moving at least 75 miles and whose relocating principal residence is within 40 miles of the assigned University workstation. Such payment is not an entitlement and is negotiated on a case-by-case basis, and is coordinated by the Human Resources Department.

Reimbursement of non-deductible expenses to an individual and/or employee is considered income and will be reported to the IRS.


International Travel

Unless stated otherwise in this section, all requirements for international travel reimbursement are the same as previously stated in this policy. For the purpose of this policy, international travel is defined as all travel outside the 50 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam and any other territory possession of the United States.

Out-of-country authorization is required for all international travel regardless of the funding sources and must be approved by the following:
a. The person requesting the approval; and
b. Department head or individual to whom the traveler reports; and COO.
This approval prior to taking the trip and before making any reservations. Failure to comply with this will result in disapproval of the reimbursement request. No consideration will be given to forms filed after the trip has been taken. This form must be submitted no less than fifteen (15) working days prior to the departure date.

When traveling in a foreign country, it is advised that traveler’s obtain vehicle insurance provided by the rental car agency. When renting a vehicle, make sure that Spalding University is listed as the lessee (i.e. "John Doe/Spalding University").

Reimbursement Rates
For International Travel, the traveler will be reimbursement for actual expenditures using prevailing per diem rates for international travel

Foreign Travel Advance
In certain circumstances, an advance may be necessary. These advances may be requested for foreign travel only. For consideration of an advance, the following must be in place:
Requester/traveler’s request must be for official university business.
a. Length of stay must be at least five (5) working days.
b. A minimum amount requested must be $500 or greater.
c. Requested amount must be supported by a list of estimated expenditures.

d. The advance request must be received at least ten (10) working days prior to the anticipated trip.
e. The traveler must sign an advance statement stipulating the required paperwork will be filed with the Finance Office within thirty (30) working days of return from the trip. Failure to do so will stop any future advances and may result in the amount of the advance being added to the employee's W-2 statement at the end of the calendar year. The traveler must sign the advance form when the check is distributed. No designee is allowed.

Appendix A
Employee Travel & Reimbursement Non-Allowable Expenses

- Airline club membership fees
- Airline amenities (blankets, pillows, headphones, snacks, advance check-in fees, etc)
- Annual fees or late charges for personal credit cards
- Barbers, manicurists and shoe shine
- Expenses related to vacation or personal days taken before, during or after a business trip unless they resulted in the reduction of the total cost of the trip
- Golf fees, ski lift tickets, etc
- Early Bird Check-in fees
- Frequent flyer purchases / upgrades
- Health club facilities
- Laundry and dry cleaning service (unless gone for > 6 days)
- Limousines
- Loss or theft of airline ticket
- Loss or theft of personal funds or property
- In-room video rentals
- Meal per diem and a business meal expense (should be one or the other – not both)
- Mini-bar refreshments
- “No show” charges for hotel or rental car services
- Optional travel (including trip cancellation) or luggage insurance
- Parking tickets
- Personal entertainment (i.e. sporting events, theater, etc.)
- Personal telephone calls except to report changes in schedule or to talk with family members once a day (for a reasonable period of time for a max of $10)
- Personal reading materials (magazines, newspapers, etc.)
- Pet care fees
- Rental car options such as LDW, PAL and liability insurance for domestic trips only
- Rental car upgrades above mid-size / intermediate class
- Saunas, massages
- Souvenirs or personal gifts
- Taxis to restaurants for personal meals
- Traffic violations and court costs
- Towing charges
- Expenses more than 60 days old and/or related to a prior fiscal year without approval from the appropriate Dean / VP / Chair

For Appendix C or to view the policy in Word, click the link below.