Travel and Entertainment Management

Policy number: 4.7

Policy section: Business & Finance

Revised Date: January 2, 2019


1. Definitions

Definitions of capitalized terms are set forth in Appendix A.

2. Policy Statement

It is the policy of the University to pay reasonable and necessary costs of approved local, non-local domestic, and international University business travel for employees and students, as well as reasonable, legitimate entertainment expenses incurred for approved University business purposes. All travel and entertainment expenditures must further the University’s educational, research, and service mission. Through the consistent application of this policy, the University intends to protect its reputation and nonprofit status by avoiding excessive or inappropriate spending.

3. Purpose

This policy establishes responsibilities and guidelines for ensuring that business travel and entertainment expenses are valid, necessary, and in compliance with Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) accountable plan rules and regulations and other government agency regulations. Where donor restrictions, sponsor, agency or other regulations or agreements are more restrictive than prescribed in this policy, the more restrictive terms apply.

4. Applicability

This policy applies to all University employees, students, and others who incur expenses while engaged in University business travel or entertainment. Travel reimbursements for independent contractors and other non-University employees must also comply with this policy. The University will not reimburse travel and entertainment expenses for non-University purposes.

5. Travel: Approval

  1. All University travel requires pre-approval through the University’s Online Travel and Expense System by the University individual with budgetary authority over the funds being used, or by his or her designee.
  2. Approvers may require submission of a budget prior to approving the travel request. Travelers must submit a travel request for pre-approval through the University’s Online Travel and Expense System prior to making travel arrangements in order to provide travel information for the University’s travel insurance and risk purposes. These requirements apply even if travel expenses are to be paid by a third party such as a government agency, a research sponsor, a professional organization, or other non-University person or entity.
  3. Travel expenses incurred by the traveler without the required pre-approval may not be reimbursed. Travel expenses incurred by the traveler and booked to the traveler’s University credit card for unapproved travel are subject to being recovered from the traveler by payroll deduction.
  4. All pre-travel and post-travel approvals will be made by the University individual with budgetary authority over the funds being used, or by his or her designee. No traveler may approve his or her own travel. If a traveler fails to meet these requirements, the University may withhold permission to travel and/or decline reimbursement of travel expenses.
  5. Students and employees planning to travel internationally for any University- sponsored purpose must comply with this policy and with the travel requirements set forth on the University’s Office of Risk Management website.
  6. Departments sponsoring international travel are responsible for reviewing the Travel Alerts and Warnings system of the United States Department of State and the travel map provided through the University’s Online Travel and Expense System for information on the countries of destination prior to the commencement of travel. Travel to countries on the list of Travel Alerts and Warnings of the United States Department of State is prohibited unless approved in accordance with University Policy 11.4, Global Travel to Restricted Regions.
  7. Approval, but not pre-approval, is required for local travel if only mileage and incidental travel costs will be incurred and the travel does not include an overnight stay.
  8. Any exceptions to this Section (Travel Approval) must be authorized by the President or the Vice President for Business and Finance or by one of their respective designees.

6. Travel: Online Travel and Expense System and Trip Changes

  1. University employees must book all air, lodging, and car rental reservations and other business travel arrangements through the University’s Online Travel and Expense System or a University-approved travel management company agent. For routine travel reservations, online booking through the University’s Online Travel and Expense System is required.
  2. Consideration must be given to minimizing travel costs by maximizing flexibility in travel plans to allow for alternate airlines, schedules and times, which may lessen travel costs.
  3. International and Complex travel reservations must be booked with a University-approved travel management company agent.
  4. If emergency or en-route changes to travel plans are necessary, the traveler must contact the University-approved travel management company agent.
  5. When a trip is canceled after the reservation has been made, it is the employee’s responsibility to cancel all applicable reservations and registrations through the University’s Online Travel and Expense System or by contacting the University-approved travel management company agent.
  6. Students traveling for any University purpose must comply with procedures established by the program director for the student’s travel program. Students must purchase their tickets in accordance with approvals and procedures established by their program directors. Program directors must consult with the Office of Risk Management with respect to graduate students and with the University’s Study Abroad Program with respect to undergraduate students.

7. Travel: Advances and Payment

  1. Expenses not directly billed to the University will be paid by the traveler and will be reimbursed after the completion of travel. Travelers may request a University- issued credit card which may be used for business travel and entertainment and other approved University business expenses.
  2. Travel advances are allowed for group and/or international travel. Individual travelers may request a travel advance during the pre-approval process and must provide pre-travel justification. Travel advances are limited to $75 per day unless the trip extends beyond thirty (30) days, or unless the traveler submits an expense estimate for the trip demonstrating the need for the additional funds.

8. Travel: Airfare

  1. All reservations for University business travel must be made using the University’s Online Travel and Expense System at the lowest available coach fares for both domestic and international flights. With sufficient budget and approval of the appropriate budget authority, business class airfare may be booked for flights with actual flight time of six (6) hours or more. Otherwise, the cost of upgrades is considered a personal expense and will not be reimbursed.
  2. Reservations should be made early, since the lowest fares are usually available with twenty-one (21) and fourteen (14) day advance purchases and ensures the most convenient and cost effective fares. Federally-funded travel may be subject to additional restrictions which are included in Section 22 of this policy, Grants and Other Sponsored Project Business Expenses.
  3. Airline club membership is not an allowable University business expense.
  4. Group travel arrangements must be made through a University-approved travel management company.

9. Travel: Lodging

  1. University travelers must use the University’s Online Travel and Expense System to book lodging accommodations in order to take advantage of negotiated rates and corporate discounts.
  2. Exceptions will be made for conference bookings and bookings where there are other savings not available through the University’s Online Travel and Expense System. The class of lodging must be reasonable and appropriate for the University business purpose and location and for a traveler representing a nonprofit organization. Reimbursement will be made for actual costs consistent with this policy or the daily per diem allowance as provided in Section 12, Per Diem Allowance.

10. Travel: Ground Transportation

  1. Travelers must use discretion when choosing ground transportation, availing themselves of the most practical and economic option available. Vehicles may be rented by travelers only when taxicabs, airport buses, airport limos, or personal vehicles are unavailable, more costly or impractical, or when University business needs require the rental. Vehicle selection must be appropriate to the traveler’s business needs and must be booked through the University’s Online Travel and Expense System.
  2. Rental Cars. Rental car reservations must be booked using the University’s preferred provider through the University’s Online Travel and Expense System. The University maintains a Comprehensive Automobile Liability Insurance Policy to cover bodily injury and property damage liabilities arising out of the use of rented vehicles being driven on behalf of the University. Therefore, employees traveling on University business must decline any insurance coverage offered by the rental car company except in foreign countries where travelers must always accept additional rental car insurance. The University will not reimburse the costs of collision damage insurance unnecessarily acquired from rental companies. When renting a vehicle, the traveler must not accept the fuel option and must refuel rental cars per each rental locations’ refill requirements prior to returning the car in order to minimize costs.
  3. Personal Vehicles. Authorized travelers may use their own personal vehicles for local and non-local business travel. The University will reimburse documented business mileage at the rate approved by the Internal Revenue Service. The University accepts no responsibility for collision damage to a vehicle owned and operated by an employee while driving on University business. This becomes the sole responsibility of the employee and the employee's insurance carrier in the event of an accident.
  4. Other Ground Transportation. Car fares, taxicab fares, and bus fares to and from railway, bus, and airport terminals, to and from business facilities and hotels, and for local business needs are reimbursable expenses. If bus or rail travel is used, the traveler must select coach class.
  5. Parking and Tolls. Reasonable parking charges and tolls associated with business travel will be reimbursed.

11. Travel: Meals

  1. While traveling on University business, expenses for meals are reimbursable on the basis of actual, reasonable expenses incurred or by the traveler electing to receive a per diem allowance. Per diem rates will be determined by travel destinations and will be linked to General Services Administration (“GSA”) per diem tables in the University’s Online Travel and Expense System. Approvers have authority to set trip budgets below published per diem rates.
  2. Travelers who use University-issued credit cards to pay for meals while traveling are not eligible to receive a per diem allowance. University employees may be reimbursed for entertainment expenses incurred while traveling on University business in accordance with the requirements of Section 15, Business Meals.
  3. Meals purchased on travel which does not require an overnight stay will not be reimbursed unless the time away (from both home and office) is longer than twelve (12) hours.

12. Travel: Per Diem Allowance

  1. The University reimburses travelers for actual costs incurred for University travel unless the traveler elects to receive a per diem allowance.
  2. If per diem allowance is approved, per diem rates must be used to determine reimbursement for the entire trip, not for select days. Per diem allowances may be for either lodging or meals and incidentals or for both but they may not exceed the allowance set by the GSA for a particular city or foreign country or the budget allocated for the travel by the traveler’s division or school. GSA maximums do not apply to actual costs if actual costs are elected for meals and lodging or both unless specified in the terms and conditions of an award from a sponsoring organization or other agency funding the travel.
  3. Travelers who elect a per diem allowance for lodging must provide a detailed hotel receipt.

13. Travel: Alcohol

Alcohol purchases for business travel are not eligible for reimbursement unless there is a documented University business or entertainment purpose.

14. Entertainment: General

  1. Entertainment events involve the entertainment of Business Guests. Entertainment events include meals, sports events, theater, concerts, galas and openings on campus, recognition events, awards banquets, student retreats and any other on or off campus events that include food, drink, recreation and/or entertainment. These events may be paid from University funds if there are documented University business purposes for the events, subject to other requirements and limitations within this policy.
  2. Entertainment expenses paid from University funds must occur on campus using University preferred or exclusive providers and caterers unless approved in advance by the University individual with budgetary authority over the funds being used, or by his or her designee.
  3. Costs must be appropriate, given the University’s nonprofit status and must also fall within any guidelines issued by the Vice President for Business and Finance.
  4. This policy sets the University’s standard requirements for each category of entertainment expense. Exceptions to these entertainment standards must be based on a documented University business purpose and be approved in advance by the President or by the appropriate Dean or Vice President. Service of alcohol is subject to Section 19, Alcohol

15. Entertainment: Business Meals

  1. Business meals are meals that have a bona fide University business purpose with Business Guests.
  2. A reasonable number of University employees are permitted to accompany each Business Guest to a business meal.
  3. When a guest of an employee attends a business meal, it is at the employee’s expense unless Business Guests are similarly accompanied.
  4. Meals and alcohol are not allowable expenses where University employees are the only attendees.

16. Entertainment: Recognition and Awards Events

  1. Recognition and award events are faculty and staff events held to celebrate accomplishments, recognize student accomplishments, retirement, and similar events. Each department or division may hold one faculty and staff recognition or award event per year. This one event may be for the entire division at the Vice President or school level or at a departmental level, but in no case may there be events at multiple levels that include the same employees or a subset of the same employees. Student recognition events may be held at the discretion of the President or the appropriate Dean or Vice President.
  2. All faculty and staff awards and/or recognition must be reviewed by Tax Compliance prior to making the award to ensure appropriate tax reporting. Student awards must be approved by the Office of Financial Aid and reviewed by the Vice President for Business and Finance or his or her designee for proper tax reporting.
  3. Reasonable expenses for retirement recognition events may be paid from University funds to celebrate the retirement of faculty/staff members who are designated as retirees by the University’s Human Resources Department.

17. Entertainment: Welcome and Holiday Celebrations

The following welcome events are acceptable entertainment events:

  1. One University hosted event per academic year to welcome new faculty and/or staff is allowed.
  2. One University-wide holiday celebration hosted by the President is allowed.
  3. Each department or division may hold one holiday celebration event per year. This one event may be for the entire division at the vice president or school level or at a departmental level, but in no case may there be events at multiple levels that include the same employees or a subset of the same employees.

18. Entertainment: Organizational Development

  1. Organizational Development events are held to cultivate employees’ professional development.
  2. Each department or division may hold one organizational development event per year. This one event may be for the entire division at the vice president or school level or at a departmental level, but in no case may there be events at multiple levels that include the same employees or a subset of the same employees.
  3. Events must be held on campus using preferred or exclusive vendors unless there is a documented reason for an exception that is approved by the University individual with budgetary authority over the funds being used, or by his or her designee.
  4. Events that are primarily social in nature and do not satisfy the requirements of being professional development activities are not allowed. This section does not limit University-wide cultivation events, such as Human Resources training offered to all employees or individual employee job- related training.

19. Entertainment: Alcohol

Alcohol service at entertainment events must comply with the restrictions and intent of University Policy 1.15, Alcohol, and University Policy 1.16, Alcohol Sponsorship. Alcohol purchases for entertainment purposes are not eligible for reimbursement unless there is a documented University business purpose.

20. Entertainment: Miscellaneous

  1. Gifts. Gifts to friends of the University are permitted when a legitimate business reason for the gift exists (e.g., custom, appreciation). Gifts may be reportable and must be reviewed by the Office of the Vice President for Business and Finance prior to being made to ensure appropriate tax reporting. Gifts to another nonprofit entity may only be made for a bona fide business reason and must be approved in advance by the President.
  2. Decorations, Floral Arrangements, and Cards. Use of University funds to pay for decorations, floral arrangements and greeting cards for holiday occasions, sympathy, and celebration of birthdays, births, graduation and other accomplishments is not permitted.
  3. Office Guest Amenities. Bottled or canned beverages must only be purchased from the University’s exclusive beverage sponsor for service on campus. Other beverage companies’ products may not be paid or reimbursed from University funds. Beverages, coffee, and snacks are intended for University guests. Snacks and other food and beverage service or supplies purchased solely for office use will not be paid or reimbursed from University funds.

21. Travel and Entertainment: Documentation and Settlement of Accounts

  1. All documentation and expense reporting for business travel and entertainment expenses will take place within the University’s Online Travel and Expense System.
  2. Receipts are required for all travel expenditures greater than or equal to $25, except when a per diem allowance has been authorized for the traveler.
  3. When a receipt is required, it must be itemized. Detailed receipts will be electronically stored in the University’s Online Travel and Expense System and original copies only need to be retained in accordance with procedures posted on the Office of Budget and Finance website.
  4. All business travel, entertainment, and other expense reports must be submitted for approval no more than thirty (30) days after the completion of travel or when the expenses occurred.

22. Travel and Entertainment: Grant and Other Sponsored Project Business Expenses

  1. Travel costs charged to federal and non-federal grants and other sponsored project contracts and/or subcontracts (“Awards”) must follow the regulations of the grantor or sponsoring entity (the “Sponsor”) and the terms and conditions of the individual Awards.
  2. Restrictions may include the need for prior approval from the Sponsor, use of United States flag carriers, limits on the total amount that may be charged for travel, and compulsory use of government per diem allowances for lodging and/or meals.
  3. The traveler must review the specific Award or contact the Office of Research and Graduate Studies or Grant and Contract Accounting well in advance of departure to determine whether any additional restrictions are applicable. Travel policies of federal and non-federal Sponsors vary.
  4. In addition to meeting all other University policy requirements, the following conditions apply to travel charged to Awards:
    1. University Business Purpose. The University business purpose section of the University’s Online Travel and Expense System must clearly identify the relationship of the travel to the purpose of the Award. When a trip involves multiple purposes, the basis for allocating the charges to the Award must be stated.
    2. Fly America Act and Open Skies Agreements. Use of United States flag carriers is required for all international travel charged to a federal Award unless certain exceptions are met. This requirement must not be influenced by factors of cost, convenience, or personal travel preference. The business travel and entertainment procedures are available on the Office of Budget and Finance website provide information about exceptions, documentation and timing requirements.
    3. Advance Approval Required. Awards from federal agencies may require that all international travel, even if included in the Award, be approved from 45 to 90 days in advance by the federal agency's administrative officer. Some non- federal sponsors require approval in advance of all travel whether domestic or international. Travelers must consult with the Office of Research and Graduate Studies for details on obtaining approval.
    4. Penalties and Fees. In certain limited situations, penalties or cancellation fees for airline, hotel, and car rentals may be reimbursable under a federal Award.
    5. Alcohol and Entertainment Expenses. Expenses for alcoholic beverages and entertainment expenses must not be charged to a federal Award and must be coded as an unallowable expense. Such expenses are only allowable on non- federal Awards when the event and/or use of alcohol have been specifically approved in advance by the sponsor and comply with all University policies relating to service of alcohol.

23. Penalties for Non-Compliance

Violations of this policy, including, but not limited to, misuse of a University-issued corporate credit card, or failure to obtain required pre-approvals under this policy or other University policies, including but not limited to University Policy 11.4, Global Travel to Restricted Regions, may result in the loss of University credit card privileges, taxation or loss of reimbursement, and/or disciplinary action up to and including termination or legal action.

24.  Questions

Questions about this policy may be directed to Business and Finance at 214-768-1178.

25. Department Administrative Rules, Procedures, Guidelines, and Related Policies

  1. Detailed business travel and entertainment procedures are available on the Office of Budget and Finance website. The website contains links to the University’s online travel and expense management system provided by Concur Technologies, Inc. or a successor online travel and expense management system (“University’s Online Travel and Expense System”). The University’s Online Travel and Expense System supports travel booking, ticketing, direct payment processing, and expense reimbursement.
  2. Other University Policies referenced in this policy include:
    1. University Policy 1.15, Alcohol
    2. University Policy 1.16, Alcohol Sponsorship
    3. University Policy 11.4, Global Travel to Restricted Regions

Appendix A: Definitions

“Business Guests” means donors, students, prospective students, alumni, faculty and staff candidates, and business or professional associates accompanied by University employees for University purposes.

“Complex” means travel having more than one destination or more than one airline involved.

“General Services Administration or GSA” means the United States federal government office responsible for establishing federal travel regulations.


Revised: January 2, 2019

Adopted: May 16, 2017