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University Policy 515: Travel

Category: 500 Operating Policies
Sub Category: General
Covered Individuals: Employees, Students, and Visitors
Responsible Executive: Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services
Policy Custodian: Controller’s Office, Controller
Effective Date: 06/02/2021
Last Revised: 2022/06/23
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515.1 PURPOSE AND SCOPE

Utah State University operates an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Accountable Plan for University business related travel expenses. When IRS criteria are met, travel expenses allowed under an Accountable Plan are considered to be non-taxable to the employee, whether reimbursed to the employee or guest, or paid directly to the vendor with University funds.

This policy determines when an actual expense is allowed or whether a per diem or mileage allowance may be used. The University reserves the right to set per diem or mileage allowances at or below the applicable current Federal rates. Rates will be reviewed annually. Travel expenses are to be allowed uniformly throughout the University.

The University is accountable for how public monies are spent, and expects that travel expenses will be scrutinized. Those who travel on behalf of the University hold a position of trust and authority, requiring the demonstration of integrity by judicious use of such funds.

It is the responsibility of the Department Administrator to determine when travel is authorized. It is the responsibility of the traveler to certify via electronic approval that all expenses are correct and incurred in performance of University related business. Wherever possible, the University will establish controls to ensure that departments meet their fiduciary responsibilities related to University travel.

When University funds are not available for all expenses, an individual is not obligated to travel. However, if the individual chooses to travel, it is expected that the traveler will assume the remainder of the cost.

All University travel must be supported by a properly completed Travel Authorization (TA) form unless the only expenses are relating to the operation of University owned vehicles including departmental and Motor Pool vehicles. The TA form is available at https://servicenow.usu.edu.

515.2 POLICY

2.1 Approved Rates for Reimbursement

2.1.1 Transportation

2.1.1.1 Private Automobile

The allowed rate for University business related use of a private automobile will be determined utilizing Motor Pool data for cost of operation adjusted for cost of fuel. Rates will not be greater than the approved IRS rate. The current rates can be found at https://travel.usu.edu/travel_procedures.


2.1.1.2 Automobile at Airfare Rate

When traveling out-of-state, and the traveler elects to drive his or her own vehicle the entire trip (in lieu of using a commercial carrier), allowed expenses will be the lesser of:
- The allowed mileage rate; or
- The associated expenses of flying as allowed and documented by the department.


2.1.1.3 Rental Vehicles

Allowed expenses for rental vehicles will be based on actual receipts with reductions for any personal use outside of the University travel period.


2.1.1.4 Commercial Aircraft

Allowable air transportation costs are limited to those fares less than first class as supported by an itemized receipt.


2.1.1.5 Private Aircraft

The allowed rate will be ten cents higher than the private automobile rate per mile for one person and fifteen cents higher than the private automobile rate per mile for two or more persons.


2.1.2 Lodging

2.1.2.1 Domestic and International Travel

Lodging will be allowed at actual costs as supported by itemized receipts.


2.1.2.2 Lodging at Other than a Motel/Hotel

Travelers may elect to stay with friends, relatives, personal accommodations other than the traveler’s permanent residence, personally owned campers, or personally owned trailer homes instead of staying in a motel/hotel. With proof of staying overnight away from home on approved University business, the allowed expenses will be as follows:
- $25.00 per night with no receipts required; or
- Actual cost with a receipt from a facility such as a campground or trailer park.

2.1.3 Meals

2.1.3.1 Travel Requiring an Overnight Stay – Either actual costs or per diem must be used for the entire trip.

2.1.3.1.1 Actual Costs (applicable to both domestic and international travel)
Expenses for meals based on actual costs are allowed but must be supported by itemized receipts.


2.1.3.1.2 Per Diem

2.1.3.1.2.1 Domestic Travel
Travelers may be allowed a per diem for any given trip.
The current per diem rate can be found at https://travel.usu.edu/travel_procedures.


2.1.3.1.2.2 International Travel
Travelers may be allowed a per diem for any given trip. The per diem rates applicable are the meals and incidental expense (M&IE) rates outlined in the Federal Travel Regulations. These rates can be accessed through the Department of State website at aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem.asp.


2.1.3.1.2.3 Partial-Day Travel
The per diem rate of the first and last day of any travel requiring more than a single day will be allowed at 75% of the full per diem rate.


2.1.3.1.2.4 Multiple Destination Points
The per diem rate will be based on the destination point. Where there is more than one destination point, the per diem could be different for any given travel itinerary. For example, travel might include a conference in Washington D.C. and then a departure to London, England. The initial per diem rate would be based on the rate effective for Washington D.C. Upon departure from Washington D.C. the per diem rate would be the rate effective for London, England.


2.1.3.1.2.5 Adjustment for Meals Provided
The per diem will be adjusted for any meals provided by the conference or event, included in the cost of lodging, or provided as part of a group travel meal or business meal. Since per diem rates vary, the adjustment for meals provided will be a percentage of the total per diem allowed; 25% for breakfast, 30% for lunch, and 45% for dinner.


2.1.3.2 Travel Not Requiring an Overnight Stay

For single day travel where the individual is in travel status for more than 12 hours but is not required to stay overnight, the allowed meal expenses will be at the actual cost as supported by an itemized receipt or 75% of the per diem rate, and will be reported as taxable income in accordance with Internal Revenue Service regulations.


2.1.4 Other Out-of-Pocket Expenses

2.1.4.1 Parking Fees

Parking fees are allowed at the actual cost as supported by a receipt.


2.1.4.2 Taxi, WIFI, etc.

All other University business related expenditures are allowed at actual cost. Individual transactions of $15.00 or more must be supported by an itemized receipt.


2.1.4.3 ATM Fees

ATM fees charged to obtain a cash advance related to the travel will be allowed.


515.3 FAMILY/COMPANION TRAVEL

For those occasions when it is determined that family/companion travel is essential or beneficial to the University for the accomplishment of a bona fide business purpose, University funds may be used for the family/companion travel expenses with approval by the appropriate Dean or Vice President.


3.1 Essential Family/Companion Travel

If the family/companion travel is determined to be essential to the University for the accomplishment of a bona fide business purpose (not just beneficial), the allowed travel expenses will be non-taxable to the employee.


3.2 Beneficial Family/Companion Travel

If the family/companion travel is determined to be beneficial to the University for the accomplishment of a bona fide business purpose (not essential), the allowed travel expenses will be taxable to the employee and withholding taxes will be deducted from the next available payroll.

515.4 RESPONSIBILITIES

4.1 Controllers Office

The Controller’s Office is responsible for monitoring and updating this policy.

4.2 University Departments

Departments are responsible for adhering to this accountable plan.

515.5 RELATED USU POLICIES

515.6 DEFINITIONS

6.1 Group Travel

A meal where two or more employees eat together while on University business related travel and one employee pays for the entire cost of the meals of all employees in attendance.

6.2 Business Meal

A meal when one or more employees attend a meal with clients, customers, etc., whether the meal is paid for by the employee or the non-employee.

6.3 Per Diem Adjustment for Group Travel Meals or Business Meals

The per diem for meals will be adjusted for all employees in attendance at the group travel meal or business meal, including any employee who paid for the meal.

6.4 Guest

A guest is a non-employee traveling for University business such as a job interview, a guest lecturer, etc.


RESOURCES

Procedures

Guidance

Related Forms and Tools

Contacts

POLICY HISTORY

Original issue date: 2010/07/01
Last review date: 2019/11/13
Previous revision dates: 2015/01/28, 2018/01/01, 2019/02/27, 2019/04/01, 2019/11/13