7 - 02.8

Administrative policy regarding travel regulations (in-state and out-of-state)

  1. Policy statement. It is the policy of the university to reimburse university faculty and staff and to pay outside vendors for necessary, appropriate and approved travel-related costs and activities.  The policies and procedures herein apply to all sources of funds expended by the university, including gifts, sponsored programs, designated income, released funds and university appropriations. 
    1. More restrictive policies and procedures may apply to certain accounts including sponsored programs.  More restrictive travel policies and procedures may also be specified by certain programs, schools, departments,centers or divisions.  Restrictions on travel reimbursements may not be imposed that conflict with the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
    2. Employees are responsible for following this policy and, if applicable, the policy of their particular program, school, department, center or division.
    3. Faculty reimbursements for instructional travel including mileage, parking and tolls are to be reimbursed at the prevailing university rate in accordance with the applicable collective bargaining agreement.  The prevailing university rate for mileage is the current allowable IRS standard mileage rate in use per mile of authorized business travel.  
  2. University approved travel. University approved travel is generally defined as transportation on university business in excess of one's normal commute. University approved travel includes movement on official university business from home or the primary work location to another destination, and return to home or the primary work location.  University approved travel does not include the commute between the employee's home and his/her primary work location.
  3. Sponsored program travel.  This policy applies to all sponsored programs,except when the sponsored program guidelines are more restrictive than university policy and the sponsored program rules apply.  Principal investigators and others traveling on sponsored funds are to be familiar with the allowable cost provisions of their sponsored program.  Travel expenses that do not conform with both this policy and the sponsored program guidelines will not be reimbursed to the traveler or expensed to the sponsored program.
  4. Authority and responsibility. All travel must be authorized and approved as required by the traveler's department.  The approval of the "Expense Reimbursement Request" constitutes approval of travel expenses, as well as the accuracy and reasonableness of the request for reimbursement.  If the university has designated an exclusive travel agency(ies) and such agency(ies)uses a central billing method, approval of the travel agency invoice or statement constitutes approval of the travel expenses.  Requests for travel reimbursement must be supported by a statement of business purpose and receipts are to be maintained in the traveler's department files. Receipts are original invoices and statements from the vendor for the service or product.  Credit card statements or vouchers do not constitute "receipts".  
    1.  The traveler's supervisor is responsible for reviewing the travel expenditures for compliance with policy and for providing proper payment authorization Supervisors also are required to review expenditures, and in situations where there is reason to believe the expenditures may be inappropriate or extravagant, deny reimbursement. 
    2. Advances of university funds for individual travel purposes are not permitted.  Any request for advances for group or student travel must be authorized by the university's chief financial officer. 
  5. Travel agency(ies). The university may designate third-party or internal travel agency(ies) as the university's exclusive travel agent(s).  In such cases,university travelers must comply with the terms of the agreement with such travel agency(ies) and any procedures established by the university.
  6. Transportation. Travelers are encouraged to compare all the costs associated with each mode of transportation and select the one that is the most cost effective.  The reimbursement for use of a privately-owned vehicle will be paid at the lower of a mileage allowance or accumulated airfare by coach for all individuals on approved travel status traveling in a privately-owned vehicle. 
  7. Air travel. University travelers are normally required to take advantage of the lowest airfare available and to plan as far as possible in advance. Travelers should book airline tickets fourteen days or more prior to the flight whenever possible.
    1. The lowest applicable airfare includes: 
      1. Flights with routing/connections that do not increase the one-way total elapsed trip time by more than two hours, 
      2. The use of secondary airports that do not increase the one-way total elapsed trip time, including additional drive time, by more than two hours, 
      3. Flights with departure/arrival times that are no more than two hours before/after requested time, 
      4. In no case will the traveler be required to have a flight depart prior to 6:30 a.m. or a flight arrive later than midnight,
      5. If traveling using federal grant funds, the traveler must fly a United States of America carrier, and 
      6. A traveler does not have to incur longer total trip times if the savings is not at least two hundred dollars for the round trip. 
    2. Deviations from policy will be monitored.  No reimbursement will be made for first-class or premium rates where other options are available except as provided below.
    3. Air travel charged to sponsored programs may require that the traveler "Fly America" when selecting an airline.
    4. Frequent flyer and other affinity programs. In accordance with Ohio Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 91-010, university employees are prohibited from accepting, soliciting or using the authority or influence of their position to receive discounted or free "frequent flyer" airline tickets for personal travel if the ticket or benefits were obtained through the purchase of airline tickets for use on official university travel.  Any rebates or commissions earned based on university business and paid to a university employee offered by any source, including but not limited to credit card issuers, can only be applied to university approved travel.  Such restrictions shall not apply to the extent the traveler used personal funds for the cost of the airfare.
    5. A less than first-class ticket (i.e.,business class ticket) may be purchased with departmental approval for international flights exceeding five consecutive hours, excluding layovers.
  8. Transportation to the airport. Travelers are to use the most cost-effective mode of transportation from their home or campus to and from the airport.    Reimbursement for transportation costs other than by personal vehicle should be no more than the cost of the standard mileage rate and the long-term parking fees.
  9. Miscellaneous transportation. If the traveler requires transportation (bus,taxi, subway, ferry, etc.) between airports, at a destination or related to overnight lodging, the actual and reasonable cost of such transportation will be reimbursed.  Receipts must be obtained and provided for any fare that exceeds twenty-five dollars. 
  10. Car rental. Rental cars are authorized if their use is as economical as any other type of transportation. 
    1. Travelers may be reimbursed for a rented vehicle and for the gasoline purchased for official university business in the rental vehicle.  
    2. University guidelines do not provide for the reimbursement of luxury vehicles.  The university standard is an intermediate size car or comparable vehicle.  
    3. Uninsured motorist insurance should be purchased for the rental vehicle. Most rental agencies include such coverage in their casualty insurance. Any other insurance should be declined.  The university's blanket auto insurance policy automatically covers all other rental car insurance needs.  If an insurance claim is necessary, the signed vehicle rental agreement must be filed with the office of tax, treasury and risk management services. When traveling overseas, the collision damage waiver must be purchased.  
    4. Only university employees are authorized to drive rental vehicles on university business.
  11. Personal vehicle. The use of a privately owned vehicle will be reimbursed at the lower of the current IRS standard mileage rate or as limited by a traveler's department/college. The mileage rate is to cover all expenses incurred for using the privately owned vehicle except parking fees and tolls.  An individual who uses a privately owned vehicle on university business must meet the liability insurance requirements of the motor vehicle financial responsibility laws of the state of Ohio (see https://www.bmv.ohio.gov/dl-mandatory-insurance.aspx for current requirements). 
    1. Transportation costs for parking fees and tolls are reimbursable on an actual cost basis in addition to the standard mileage rate.  Receipts must be obtained and provided for any individual expenses that exceed twenty-five dollars.  
    2. Services that are personal in nature such as car washing, detailing, oil changes, etc. are not reimbursable.
    3. Mileage may be reimbursed for travel to and from an employee's temporary work location when the temporary work location exceeds the distance of the employee's primary work assignment.  Only the mileage in excess of the normal commute to or from the primary work assignment may be reimbursed.
  12. Lodging. Travelers on university business will be reimbursed at the lodging facility's standard single room rate, including applicable taxes. However, the maximum lodging reimbursement may not exceed 150% of the federal lodging per diem. The lodging facility must be at least fifty miles from the traveler's home or headquarters. Limited policy exceptions are described in section (L)(2).
    1. Procedures.
      1. Domestic federal lodging per diems by city are available on the U.S. General Services Administration website and foreign federal per diem rates are available on the U.S. Department of State Office of Allowances website.
      2. When in the state of Ohio, the traveler should inquire as to the availability of a state tax exemption due to the tax exempt status of the university.  A copy of the university's tax exemption certificate may be obtained at the business administrator services website.
      3. Travelers will not be reimbursed for free accommodations awarded in connection with frequent guest or frequent flyer programs. 
      4. Travelers will be reimbursed for business-related telephone, fax, copying, computer connections, and other necessary business costs. 
      5. Non-business expenses including room service meals,movies, games, laundry and other personal expenses will not be reimbursed.
      6. If a lodging facility requires prior financial commitment(e.g., prepayment for one night or credit card guarantee), the traveler is responsible for notifying the lodging facility of any cancellation.  If he/she fails to provide notice of cancellation:
        1. The traveler will not be reimbursed for the resulting penalty payment.
        2. The traveler will be required to reimburse the university for the resulting penalty payment if university funds were used for the prior financial commitment.
      7. Lodging expenses greater than 150% of the federal lodging per diem not approved for reimbursement will be paid personally by the traveler.
      8. Supporting documentation for lodging expenses must include original receipts and an official conference, convention, or training session document that indicates the lodging rate for the event site.  The documentation must be retained in the traveler's department and be available for audit.
    2. Exceptions. 
      1. Lodging expenses in excess of 150% of the federal lodging per diem must be approved by the appropriate executive officer.
      2. Such lodging expenses will be approved only under the following conditions:
        1. The traveler is required to attend a meeting, conference, convention, or training session where the traveler is expected to have business interaction with other participant in addition to scheduled events; and
          It is anticipated that the maximum benefit will be achieved by authorizing the traveler to stay at the lodging facility where the meeting, conference, convention, or training session is held; and
          ​The lowest available advertised lodging rate at the lodging facility exceeds 150% of the federal lodging per diem amount.
        2. When travel is for university business other than to attend a meeting, conference, convention,or training session and lodging accommodations in the travel destination area are:
          1. Not available at or below 150% of the federal lodging per diem; and
          2. The savings achieved from occupying less expensive lodging at a more distant site are consumed by an increase in transportation and other costs.
          3. Reimbursement for lodging less than 50 miles from the traveler's home or headquarters is allowable only in unusual, infrequent circumstances and justification must be documented in the reimbursement request.
  13. Meals, tips and incidental expenses. The university will reimburse meals at the IRS standard per diem rate.  The per diem allowance includes reimbursement for incidental expenses such as fees and tips for porters, baggage carriers,house-cleaning and bell staff, therefore, requests for reimbursements of these types of expenses will be disallowed.
    1. No reimbursement will be made for a meal that is provided as part of a conference registration fee.  When travel is to a location designated by the IRS as a higher-cost area, the traveler may be reimbursed at the higher per diem rate. Conference registration documentation must be retained and available for audit to identify meals included in the conference registration fee.
    2. Business travel completed without an overnight stay is not eligible for a per diem meal reimbursement.
    3. Meals will be reimbursed based on the times listed below: 
      1. Breakfast (must be on travel status prior to seven a.m.); 
      2. Lunch (must be on travel status prior to noon); and 
      3. Dinner (must be on travel status after to five p.m.) 
    4. An individual must be on travel status for a reasonable period after the above meal times to be reimbursed for meals. 
    5. Reimbursement for alcoholic beverages will not be authorized from university funds. 
  14. Personal and spousal travel. The traveler must unbundle the costs for personal travel that may be combined with business travel.  The university reserves the right to determine the fairness of the allocation of such costs.  The traveler must personally pay the supplier of the services related to personal travel.  In no case will the university pay for personal travel and be reimbursed by the traveler.  The university will not reimburse a spouse's travel expenses when the spouse performs only incidental duties during the business travel.  Expenses for an employee's spouse may be reimbursed if the spouse has a significant role in the proceedings or is involved in fundraising activities and the activities constitute a valid business purpose.  Spousal travel reimbursement requires approval of the president or the president's designee.
Policy Effective Date: 
Mar. 01, 2015
Policy Prior Effective Dates: 
7/9/1998, 10/25/2000, 6/4/2003, 9/20/2005, 1/5/2007, 6/1/2007, 7/4/2008