Travel and Entertainment Policy

Finance Office


OVERVIEW

Travelers seeking reimbursement from the College are responsible for ensuring that travel-related expenses are for valid College business-related purposes, are in accordance with College policies and procedures and are a prudent use of College funds. All travel-related expenses should be approved by the traveler’s department chairperson, supervisor or budget officer prior to making arrangements. Expenses incurred outside of this policy may not be reimbursed. It is expected that the traveler selects the most economical means when incurring travel-related expenses. Entertainment, including food and refreshment expenses associated with Gustavus-sponsored business meetings may be covered by College funds if they are actual, reasonable, and necessarily incurred in the discharge of official business-related duties.

Travel supported by grants may have more restrictive requirements than this policy. Contact the Research and Sponsored Programs staff in the Grants Offices for additional details.

IRS REQUIREMENTS

Reimbursement procedures must comply with IRS Accountable Plan rules in order for advances and reimbursements to be considered non-taxable income to employees (from IRS Pub 17):

  1. An individual must have paid or incurred expenses that are deductible while performing services for the college.
  2. An individual must adequately account for these expenses within a reasonable time period, and
  3. An individual must return any excess reimbursement or allowance within a reasonable time period.

Gustavus does not have a per diem policy. Without proper documentation, advances and reimbursements must be reported as income on an employee’s W-2 form.

DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS/REIMBURSEMENT 

  • Employees are expected to use their Wells Fargo purchase card for all College-related expenses. For additional detailed information on the use of the Purchase card please see the Purchase Card Procedure Manual.
  • Reimbursement support must indicate dates and a bona fide business purpose.
  • All expenses should be supported by an original receipt that contains the amount and description of the expense incurred.
  • In the case of meals and entertainment expenses, the names and titles of those being entertained must be included (large groups may be described categorically). The unspecified total receipt is not sufficient. 
  • If an individual is traveling longer than 7 days on a combined business/personal international trip please contact the Finance Office. There may be personal income tax implications.
  • The Federal mileage reimbursement rate can be found on the Finance Office webpage. Only mileage above and beyond the normal commute distance from your primary residence (where you spend the majority of your time) will be considered reimbursable. Personal mileage reimbursement requests should not exceed the cost of an airline ticket unless there is an approved business reason for vehicle travel.
  • All reimbursement requests should be submitted via an RFP within 30 days of the conclusion of the event unless prior arrangements have been made with the Finance Office. Requests after 90 days will not be accepted. 
  • By submitting a reimbursement request for approval, you are attesting that the charges are correct and in compliance with College policies.
  • Noncompliant requests will be returned for corrections and/or additional information as required, which could delay reimbursement. 

AIRLINE TRAVEL

  • All travelers are expected to travel coach or economy class at the best available fare at the time of booking.
  • Seat upgrades and/or seat selection fees are at the traveler's own expense.
  • Flight deviation fees are at the expense of the traveler unless dictated by the College. In this case, documentation should be included with the reimbursement request.
  • Airline club memberships are at the traveler’s own expense.
  • Reimbursement for the use of personal travel vouchers in purchasing airline tickets used for College travel is not allowed.
  • The traveler is allowed reimbursement for one bag only.

GROUND & RENTAL TRANSPORTATION

  • Taxis, Uber/Lyft, shuttles and public transportation are allowed between terminals, hotels, places of business, etc., whenever necessary. Special care should be taken when tipping with Uber/Lyft. In some cases the tip is included with the cost of the fare.
  • Due to the business relationship and preferential pricing discount the College has with Enterprise and National, they should be used for auto rentals when available. For more information regarding this process, please contact the Gustavus MotorPool (motorpool@gustavus.edu) at 507-933-8000.
  • When the traveler is on College-related business in the U.S., the driver must “decline” the optional insurance coverage. Domestic collision damage waiver and liability insurance supplement are provided through the College’s auto physical damage and auto liability insurance policies. 
  • When a vehicle is rented in connection with international travel, the optional travel insurance must be purchased.

VEHICLE ACCIDENT REPORTING

In case of an accident involving a staff member traveling on College business, immediately contact 911 in emergencies as well as the Gustavus Department of Campus Safety. For additional details on accident reporting, please refer to the motor pool vehicle policy.

LODGING

  • It is expected that whenever possible, travelers will use reasonably priced facilities.
  • An itemized listing of expenses must accompany your reimbursement request.
  • Meals charged to your room account must include an original itemized receipt.
  • WiFi purchase while staying at a hotel is allowed only when necessary for business related activity.
  • Purchase of in-room movies or mini-bar purchases are at the traveler's expense.
  • In the event that cancellations are necessary, travelers should contact the hotel immediately. Advise the hotel about early departures to avoid penalties.

MEALS/REFRESHMENTS (light snack or drink) – DURING TRAVEL

  • Meal/Refreshments, including gratuities, will be reimbursed at actual costs up to established maximums as listed below:

Daily maximum of $60 with a suggested breakdown as follows:

  1. Breakfast $15
  2. Lunch $15
  3. Dinner $30
  4. In cities with populations exceeding 1 million the maximum allowance is $80 (Dinner goes up $50). Exceptions to maximums may be allowed with the approval of the employee’s supervisor.
  • When meals/refreshments are included in the cost of a conference, meals/refreshments taken elsewhere are not considered valid travel expenses unless there is a business or health reason.
  • Allowable meals/refreshments are associated with extended workday travel, business meetings or events.
  • Gratuities should be limited to 15-20%, unless automatically charged. Depending on the severity, gratuities in excess of 20% may be the responsibility of the traveler.

MEALS/REFRESHMENTS (light snack or drink) – NON-TRAVEL

Employee-only meetings less than 3 hours should not include a meal; however, refreshments (light snack or drink) at employee-only meetings less than 3 hours may be available on a limited basis. 

Examples where meals/refreshments may be reimbursable include:

  • At search committee meetings, hosting a search committee representative, or hosting a job candidate.
  • When an employee hosts a visiting lecturer, potential donor, or other guest on official College business.
  • At events hosted by the President, Provost, Vice Presidents, or Deans recognizing work-related achievements or milestones by employees (e.g., retirement after significant service years, service award events, etc.).
  • During official business-related meetings involving a combination of College employees and external individuals, such as a meeting with Board of Trustees members, an external task force or advisory group, or volunteers.
  • During college-wide events such as the opening of the year college gatherings, holiday parties, etc.
  • The purchase of coffee and accompanying condiments (sugar, creamer, etc.) for offices if the primary consumer(s) are external individuals (i.e., prospective students, job candidates, etc.).

Certain types of expenses generally are not considered reasonable and necessary for the College, and therefore, may not be paid or reimbursed with College funds. Non-allowable expenses include payments or reimbursements for:

  • Office/departmental/division parties or employee/student worker meals and entertainment.
  • Holiday and/or end of year celebrations for employees and/or student workers.

ALCOHOL EXPENSES

Alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited before the end of your workday. The College may in certain circumstances reimburse for alcohol as a beverage with a meal. In addition to the IRS reimbursement requirements listed above, the following conditions must also be met:

  • Employees must use prudence in these circumstances and may not purchase an unreasonable amount of alcohol (one drink per person is typically considered reasonable) nor at an unreasonable cost as compared to the overall cost of the meal.
  • Alcoholic beverages consumed by travelers between or after mealtimes are not reimbursable, except when they qualify as necessary entertainment for donor solicitation. Receipts submitted to substantiate such purchases should note the name of the donor and the nature of the meeting.

There may be other occasions when it is necessary for alcohol to be reimbursed. These instances will be rare and must be pre-authorized by the President, Provost, or appropriate Vice President. Please include the approval with the reimbursement request.

Employees are reminded that use of College money to purchase alcohol can expose the College to additional liability should injuries occur as the result of alcohol consumption.

OTHER ALLOWABLE TRAVEL EXPENSES

Reasonable expenses incurred by the employee may be reimbursed and may include:

  • Laundry and Dry Cleaning: Laundry and dry cleaning is only allowed on extended trips of more than seven days, when it is not practical to bring enough clothing for the whole trip.
  • Telephone: Telephone calls for business purposes are allowed. Personal phone calls are only allowed on extended trips.

NON-REIMBURSABLE TRAVEL EXPENSES

  • Costs for meals, travel or lodging of spouses, dependents and/or other guests
  • Valet parking service
  • Health spa fees
  • Theft or loss of personal belongings
  • Personal entertainment or excursions
  • Toiletries, medicine, magazines, etc.
  • Traffic & toll violations/fines
  • Personal property insurance premiums

APPROVAL/AUTHORIZATIONS

Listed below are the approvers’ responsibilities:

  • Review documentation for completeness in support of the charges.
  • Ensure the charges are in accordance with College and IRS policies.
  • Resolve missing or inadequate documentation prior to submission to Finance.
  • Obtain additional approval if charges are going to another department.
  • Include written approval by the appropriate Vice President or the President when required to allow exceptions to this policy. 


EXCEPTION PROCESS

Written approval by the appropriate Vice President or the President is required to allow exceptions to this policy. Please include the approval with the reimbursement request. 

EQUIPMENT LOSS PREVENTION & SECURITY WHILE TRAVELING

Gustavus employees using personal or College owned laptops or related devices while traveling should only use secured Wi-Fi connections while accessing Gustavus and related cloud-based systems that may contain sensitive information. A secure network requires a user to agree to the legal terms, register an account, or type in a password before connecting to the network. 

Gustavus can provide a secure Mi-Fi (Hotspot) device or other secure remote access solutions for use during travel if necessary. If you believe that your laptop has been compromised, it is YOUR responsibility to immediately contact Campus Safety (507-933-8888).

Employees should never leave their laptop or related devices unattended while traveling. Equipment should be locked in a secure location (ex. hotel room, safe, locked office space, etc.) while away and/or outside of normal business hours. 

If a Gustavus phone, laptop or other device is stolen, it is YOUR responsibility to immediately contact Campus Safety (507-933-8888).