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Travel and Entertainment Policy

Effective Date: 
March 16,2005 

Last Updated:  March 1, 2015  

Responsible University Officer:
  • Vice President for Business and Finance

Policy Owner:
  • Associate Vice President for Accounting and Business Services

Policy Contact:
Policy Contents
   Policy Statement
   Reason for Policy
   Who Should Read this Policy
   Policy Text
   Related Information
   Additional Contacts
   Revision History



The University pays all necessary, appropriate, and reasonable business-related travel and entertainment expenditures incurred by its employees and by other designated individuals on its behalf. Employees are responsible for carefully managing University’s resources by incurring moderate and economic expenses consistent with the business purpose of the travel or entertainment event.

The terms set forth in sponsored contracts and grants shall apply if they are more restrictive than those contained in this Policy. Similarly, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regulations shall apply to travel subject to those rules. Travel paid with Faculty Development Funds is subject to individual college guidelines; such travel, however, is reimbursed in accordance with the procedures included in the Concur Reporting System.

Departments may establish more restrictive procedures, if desired.


This Policy establishes the reimbursement procedures for official University travel and entertainment expenses that meet standard business practices and are in compliance with the Internal Revenue Code and applicable Treasury Regulations, as well as other external regulatory requirements.


Anyone who incurs travel or entertainment-related expenses on behalf of the University; members of the Leadership Team, as well as supervisors and Business Managers responsible for the approval of such expenses incurred by employees and other individuals conducting University business.


The following travel and entertainment expenses are eligible for reimbursement, subject to the availability of funds:

Airline Travel

Airline tickets for travel by the most direct route, in economy class, and at the lowest airfare available may be reimbursed by the University. Exceptions may be granted to fly business class for either international travel or for a documented medical reason. The Vice Provosts and Deans may approve exceptions for business class airfare costing less than $5,000 per trip. Such approval must be in writing and state the reason for the exception. Business class airfare costing $5,000 or more requires prior written approval from the President or applicable Vice President. First class air travel is not allowable.

If a traveler must cancel an airline ticket, and a credit towards a future purchase is received, the credit must be used towards the traveler’s next University business trip. The University will not reimburse travelers for tickets obtained with frequent flier miles. 

Additional fees for early boarding, security pre-screening, extra leg room, and similar additional fees are not reimbursable. The University will pay for one checked bag used to transport the traveler’s personal belongings. The costs to check any baggage necessary to support the business purpose of the trip (e.g., meeting materials and equipment, etc.) are reimbursable. 

The per trip dollar limit for air travel within the continental United States (CONUS) is set forth in Appendix A

Personal Vehicles

Travelers may use a personal vehicle for business-related travel when it is more cost- effective than purchasing a round trip economy airline ticket or using alternate forms of ground transportation. 

Expenses for travel between an employee's residence and his or her principal place of business (i.e., commuting expense) shall not be reimbursed. Daily transportation in a personal vehicle from an employee’s residence to a temporary work location is not reimbursable unless the work location is outside of the metropolitan area of the employee’s principal place of business, i.e., at least 50 miles. The assignment at the temporary work location also must not exceed one year in duration. 

Reimbursement is based on the actual distance from the starting point to the destination by the most direct route, multiplied by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) standard mileage rate in effect at the time of travel. The IRS mileage rate covers all expenses incurred in connection with the use of a privately-owned vehicle, including gasoline purchased for the trip, insurance, maintenance, depreciation, and other cost associated with the use of the vehicle. 

The number of miles eligible for reimbursement will be calculated automatically by the Concur Reporting System, using an on-line mapping service, based on the starting point and destination addresses entered by the traveler (or other preparer) into the System.

The IRS standard mileage rates for the use of a personal automobile are contained in Appendix A. The Appendix includes two mileage rates: a rate for traveling while on University business and a separate rate for an employee who is reimbursed for moving expenses. 

Note: Employees who use their personal vehicle for University business should have insurance coverage at the levels recommended in the Vehicular Use Policy.

Rental Cars

The University will reimburse travelers for the cost of an economy or mid-size rental car when other ground transportation is not available or when such use will result in cost savings and time efficiencies. Rental costs for a larger vehicle may be reimbursed when traveling in a group or when a no-cost upgrade is available. 

Travelers should avoid incurring expensive refueling charges (i.e., purchasing fuel in advance) when renting a vehicle, consistent with the business requirements and time constraints of the trip. 

Students are not permitted to rent vehicles while traveling on University business or in connection with other University-sponsored activities. 

Insurance—Domestic Car Rentals

The University has a non-owned auto policy that provides collision insurance for travelers renting a vehicle for use on University business. In addition, insurance is provided to travelers who use the University Purchasing Card to rent an automobile. See Car Rental Insurance Provided by Visa

Because insurance is already available through the University, travelers will not be reimbursed for collision insurance (i.e., collision damage waiver coverage) and should decline the purchase of such insurance when renting a vehicle. 

The University’s insurance policy does not cover a traveler’s personal belongings; therefore, if a traveler desires insurance for personal property, the traveler should purchase the insurance from the rental agency at his or her own expense. 

Insurance—Foreign Car Rentals

Renting a vehicle in a foreign country is discouraged. However, if it is necessary to rent a vehicle, and prior approval has been obtained from the employee’s supervisor, insurance coverage must be purchased. 

Reporting a Car Accident

If a traveler is involved in a car accident while traveling on University business, he or she should contact Risk Management as soon as possible. See Additional Contacts.

Automobile-Related Expenses

Necessary and reasonable charges for automobile-related expenses are reimbursable when either a personally-owned vehicle or rental car is used while traveling on University business, including charges for road tolls, ferries, bridges, tunnels, parking, etc. Gasoline for business-related trips will be reimbursed only for rental cars. if a personal vehicle is used, reimbursement for gasoline expenses is included as part of the IRS standard mileage rate.

Other Transportation

The costs of public transportation, shuttle buses, and taxis for travel to and from airports, meetings, and hotels are reimbursable by the University. Such costs, including tips, must be reasonable for the location of travel. Private limousine service for such transportation is not allowable.

First class accommodations are reimbursable for train or bus travel, as long as the cost of such travel does not exceed that of an economy airline ticket for the same trip.


Travelers will be reimbursed for lodging accommodations that are necessary and reasonable. The University will reimburse the cost of a single room unless a larger room is shared with another University employee or conference attendee, or special circumstances warrant a larger room or suite (e.g., to host a business reception or meetings, etc.). Expanded accommodations for family members and/or guests are the responsibility of the traveler and will not be reimbursed. 

The cost of laundering, cleaning, or pressing of clothing incurred while traveling is reimbursable if a trip exceeds five consecutive days. Tips for services (baggage handlers, hotel maids, etc.) are reimbursable if such tips are customary and reasonable for the area and service provided. Additional charges for the use of a hotel fitness center are reimbursable but not health club membership or user fees or spa charges. 

Note: Hotel fitness center expenses incurred while an employee is traveling are not allowable charges to federal contracts and grants.

The maximum amount eligible for the reimbursement of daily lodging expenses is determined by the location of the travel. See Reimbursement Methods.

If a traveler stays overnight at the home of a friend or relative, instead of a hotel, while traveling on University business, the cost of a gift for the host is reimbursable. The cost of a “gift in lieu of lodging” is limited to the amount set forth in Appendix A

Note: Gift in lieu of lodging expenses are not allowable charges to federal contracts or grants.


In order to avoid expensive hotel surcharges for telephone calls, the use of cell phones is strongly recommended. Travelers who use a personal cell phone may be reimbursed for business-related calls and one reasonably brief, non-emergency, personal call home per day, if they incur additional out-of-pocket costs related to such calls, e.g., if the traveler incurs excess minutes charges related to the calls. All other personal phone calls are the responsibility of the traveler and will not be reimbursed by the University. See Electronic Communication Policy

Internet Charges

The University expects travelers to use the most economical means of accessing the Internet when traveling. Travelers will be reimbursed for reasonable, business-related
Internet charges incurred (e.g., hotel Internet access charges) while traveling on University business but not for the cost of home Internet service. See Electronic Communication Policy.

Travel Meals

The University will reimburse the cost of meals purchased while traveling on business. Meals provided to a traveler at no charge or as part of a conference registration fee are not reimbursable. Meal expenses incurred either before a trip begins or after a trip ends are also not reimbursable.

In general, meals are not reimbursable unless an employee is traveling at least 50 miles from his or her principal place of business, unless a meal qualifies as a business or entertainment meal (see below). In addition, under IRS regulations, the travel generally must include an “overnight stay” as supported by a lodging receipt. 

The maximum amount eligible for the reimbursement of daily meal expenses is determined by the location of the travel. See Reimbursement Methods.

Business Entertainment Meals

The University will reimburse employees for the actual cost of business meals and related entertainment expenses (e.g., tickets to an athletic event) incurred in hosting events for prospective donors, visitors, and other individuals who have a business relationship with the University. Under IRS regulations, amounts paid for business entertainment must be either directly related to or associated with the active conduct of business. An entertainment expense is directly related when there is an active discussion aimed at obtaining a specific business benefit and the activity takes place in a clear business setting such as a hospitality room. An entertainment expense is associated with the active conduct of business when the event directly precedes or follows a substantial business discussion. 

Business meal and entertainment expenses must be reasonable and customary for the location where the activity or event takes place. 

Business meals or light refreshments may be provided in connection with certain University events that include only employees (or employees and students). Such events include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Employee morale events, e.g., annual retreats, new employee receptions, holiday gatherings, etc.;
  • Convocations, town hall meetings, and similar events;
  • Business meetings, conferences, and training sessions that take place over an extended period of time, e.g., an entire day.

Meals or light refreshments provided to employees in connection with such events must be furnished on an infrequent basis.

The per-person dollar limit for the reimbursement of business entertainment meals is contained in Appendix A.

Note: Business entertainment expenses are not reimbursable under federal contract or grant funding. 

NCAA Meal Allotments

Athletic team travel and travel by coaches and athletic staff are subject to NCAA rules and regulations governing the reimbursement of meal expenses. Student athletes traveling to team events will receive daily meal allotments based on the amounts authorized by the NCAA.

Athletic-related travel must be approved in advance by the Director of Athletics or his or her designee.

Miscellaneous Expenses—Foreign Travel

Special fees for foreign travel are reimbursable, including the actual cost of obtaining a passport, visa, tourist card, and necessary photographs; the cost of certificates of birth, health, identity, and related affidavits; charges for required inoculations; fees and surcharges related to currency conversion, check cashing, and personal credit card and ATM transactions; the cost of traveler’s checks; and the cost or international cell phone service. 

Non-Reimbursable Expenses

Some expenses are considered personal expenses even though they were incurred while traveling on University business. Under IRS regulations, personal expenses are those that are not ordinary, necessary, and reasonable in relation to the taxpayer’s business. Examples of non-reimbursable expenses are included in the Appendix B. Examples of expenses that are not reimbursable under federal contract or grant regulations are included in Appendix B-1.






USF Conflict of Interest Policy
USF Electronic Communication Policy
USF Faculty Development Fund
USF International Travel Policy for Faculty and Staff  
USF Membership Policy
USF Moving Reimbursement Policy
USF Policy on Student International Programs and Study Abroad Opportunities
USF      Purchasing Card Policy
USF Vehicular Use Policy
External  IRS Publication 463 - Travel, Entertainment, Gift and Car Expenses
External IRS Publication 1542 - Per Diem Rates
External OMB Circular A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions




Actual Expense Method Reimbursement method that requires the traveler to provide original itemized receipts for all business-related purchases.
Business Manager A University employee, designated by the President, Vice President, Vice Provost, or Dean who is the financial manager for the University account(s) funding a travel or entertainment expense. This may include the President, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, or Deans.
Business Entertainment   Any activity generally considered to provide entertainment, amusement, or recreation, including the furnishing of business meals. The expense must be ordinary, necessary, and reasonable and must be either directly related to or associated with the active conduct of University business.
Business Meal A meal attended by faculty, staff, or students that may or may not include other individuals not employed by the University, which is directly related to or associated with the conduct of University business.
Concur Reporting System The University’s on-line system for payment requests, expense reimbursements, cash advance requests, and reporting.
Business Purpose Travel, entertainment, and other business expenses that are in furtherance of the educational and research mission of the University.
Expense Report  The Concur on-line expense reimbursement form used by an employee to obtain reimbursement for business-related travel and entertainment expenses paid for with a personal credit card or personal funds and to reconcile cash advances and Purchasing Card transactions.
Incidental Expenses  Tips for service of waiters, baggage handlers, and hotel maids, etc. If the Per Diem Method is used, such expenses are included in the M&IE rate
FOAPAL (or FOAP) The acronym representing each element of the University’s Charts of Accounts, i.e., Fund, Organization, Account, Program, Activity, and Location.
Ordinary, Necessary, and Reasonable Expense An expense is ordinary if it is normal and customary. An expense is necessary if it is essential to University business. An expense is reasonable if a prudent person would incur the expense in a similar situation.
Per Diem The daily dollar amounts authorized for the reimbursement of lodging and meal and incidental expenses (M&IE) for individuals traveling on University business. Per diems are authorized only for foreign travel and travel in non-foreign areas outside of the Continental U.S (OCONUS).
Travel Meal A meal purchased by an individual while traveling on University business.
Purchasing Card A bank-issued Visa card with a standard single transaction limit of $1,000 and a monthly credit limit of $2,500. This card may be used for small dollar, business-related purchases. Cards may be used for travel and entertainment expenses when authorized by a Business Manager or supervisor.

Traveler A University employee or other designated individual who is approved to travel on University business.






Disbursement Services Dennis Miller 415.422.2102 millerd@usfca.edu
Expense Report Morgan Maich 415.422.5977 mrmaich@usfca.edu
Insurance Melissa Diaz 415.422.5899      mddiaz2@usfca.edu
Payment Request Emmy Moore 415.422.2706 moore@usfca.edu
Purchasing Card Dennis Miller     415.422.2102 millerd@usfca.edu
Sponsored Projects Travel Approval Chavon Rosenthal 415.422.5222 cerosenthal@usfca.edu





Expense Report Used to reimburse employees for business-related expenses paid for with personal funds. Also used to reconcile travel advances and Purchasing Card transactions.  ABS (Concur)
Payment Request Used to reimburse non-employees for business-related expenses.  ABS (Concur)
Purchasing Card Application Completed by employee and Business Manager or supervisor to obtain a Purchasing Card.  ABS
Missing Receipt Form Used when original receipt substantiating a business expense is lost and a duplicate cannot be obtained   ABS


Traveler/Person Incurring Expense
  • Obtains approval for business trips, cash advances, and related expenses.
  • Incurs business-related expenses at the best available rates.
  • Completes Expense Report, including proper documentation, and submits it to the Concur Reporting System in accordance with this Policy. 
  • Reviews, reconciles, and obtains the necessary approvals for business-related charges reported in the Concur Reporting System.
  • Reviews and certifies that all business-related charges are correct.
Business Manager or Supervisor
  • Authorizes business-related travel and entertainment expenses.
  • Ensures there are budgeted funds available for expenses.
  • Reviews and approves Expense Reports, charges, and receipts processed in the Concur Reporting System.
  • Ensures expenses are business-related and are in compliance with all University policies.
President, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, and Deans
  • Approves expenses that are an exception to this Policy or require higher-level approval for employees in his or her division.
  • Reviews and approves Expense Reports and charges in the Concur Reporting System for his or her direct reports.
  • Ensures all employees in his or her division are in compliance with this Policy.




  • 03/01/2015 - Revised to increase dollar limit for hotel expense incurred while traveling within CONUS.
  • 01/01/2015 - Revised to include the IRS mileage rates for 2015.
  • 01/01/2014 - Revised to increase dollar limit for air travel within CONUS and to include the IRS mileage rates for 2014.
  • 12/06/2012 - Revised to include the IRS mileage rates for 2013.
  • 05/01/2012 - Revised to include additional guidance on the reimbursement limits and the Concur Reporting System
  • 10/30/2008 - Revised
  • 03/16/2005 - First publication of Policy