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Travel Frequently Asked Questions

Out-of-State Travel

What approvals are required for out-of-state travel?

Personal Automobile

What is the policy for travel on a scheduled day off?

Commercial Transportation

Can I extend business travel to obtain savings on transportation costs?

Is it mandatory for an employee to extend travel to obtain savings on transportation costs?

Can I extend business travel for personal purposes?

If I change my itinerary and incur additional costs (e.g., flight change charges), who is responsible for paying these costs?

If I cancel my travel arrangements, who is liable for costs that are not recoverable?

May I use a rental car while on business travel?

May I travel by air within the state of Pennsylvania?

Lodging

Is overnight lodging permitted in places such as Shippensburg and Millersville?

Subsistence

How do I determine the proper reimbursement for subsistence while in overnight travel status?

Can I be reimbursed for subsistence while in non-overnight travel status? If so, how much?

Can I be reimbursed for subsistence if required to participate in a non-overnight travel assignment on a holiday or scheduled day off?

Can I be reimbursed for alcohol as part of subsistence reimbursement?

May I incur meal expenses on behalf of others?

If I am authorized to incur meal expenses on behalf of others, may I use my travel card to pay the bill?

Telephone Calls

Are telephone calls reimbursable?

Purchase of Food

What is the appropriate use of public funds with respect to the purchase of food?

 


Out-of-State Travel

1. What approvals are required for out-of-state travel?

Out-of-state travel requires the approval of an employee’s supervisor and cost center manager (if not the same person). For travel outside of the contiguous United States, the University President’s approval is required in addition to Provost (for academic affairs), supervisor and cost center approval.

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Personal Automobile

1. If I embark on business travel from my residence, will I be reimbursed for mileage between my residence and the travel destination, or between headquarters and the travel destination?

If an employee embarks on travel from his/her residence, the employee will be reimbursed for mileage either between residence and the travel destination, or headquarters and the travel destination, whichever is shorter. Local travel while at destination must be documented for reimbursement purposes.

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2. What is the policy for travel on a scheduled day off?

If an employee is required to work on a holiday or scheduled day off, the employee may be reimbursed for mileage from his/her residence to a point of public transportation or designated worksite, other than headquarters. An employee may never be reimbursed for mileage between his/her residence and headquarters.

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Commercial Transportation

1. Can I extend business travel to obtain savings on transportation costs?

Yes, an employee may extend travel to obtain savings on transportation costs. The employee must document the savings via an attachment to the travel expense voucher. If extending travel does not save money, the employee is liable for any incremental costs (i.e., subsistence and accommodations).

Example: Conference ends on a Friday and employee extends travel to Sunday.

 

Example 1

Extended Travel Justified

Example 2

Extended Travel Not Justified

Return Friday

Return Sunday

Return Friday

Return Sunday

Airline Cost

$700.00

$300.00

$700.00

$500.00

Hotel Accommodations

@ $100/night (2 extra nights)

200.00

200.00

Subsistence

@ $28/day (2 extra days)

56.00

56.00

Total Expenses

$700.00

$556.00

$700.00

$756.00

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2. Is it mandatory for an employee to extend travel to obtain savings on transportation costs?

No, it is not mandatory; however, employees are encouraged to extend travel, if reasonable. Cost of travel is very often the determining factor in whether or not an employee receives budgetary approval to travel.

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3. Can I extend business travel for personal purposes?

Yes, an employee may extend business travel for personal purposes. The employee will be reimbursed for expenses incurred up to the point when he/she would have returned under normal circumstances. If extending travel causes the cost of transportation to increase, the employee is liable for paying the incremental cost of the transportation. Employees are expected to take appropriate leave in accordance with the leave policy.

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4. If I change my itinerary and incur additional costs (e.g., flight change charges), who is responsible for paying these costs?

The University will pay for additional costs incurred if an employee changes his/her itinerary for a valid business purpose, and the change is approved by his/her supervisor. An employee who changes his/her itinerary for personal reasons is responsible for any additional costs resulting from the change. Exceptions may be made by Vice President for Administration and Finance or his/her designee.

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5. If I cancel my travel arrangements, who is liable for costs that are not recoverable?

The University will pay for any costs that are not recoverable if an employee cancels his/her travel arrangements for a valid business purpose, and the change is approved by his/her supervisor. An employee who cancels his/her travel arrangements for personal reasons is liable for any costs that are not recoverable. Exceptions may be made by the Vice President for Administration and Finance or his/her designee.

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6. May I use a rental car while on business travel?

Use of a rental car is prohibited unless it is the most economical means of transportation available (e.g., less expensive than a taxi or airport shuttle). The rental car may be used for business purposes only. The employee must pay for any incremental cost of personal use of the vehicle. Exceptions may be made by the Vice President for Administration and Finance or his/her designee.

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7. May I travel by air within the state of Pennsylvania?

Because of the relatively high cost, air travel within the state is prohibited. Exceptions may be made by the University President.

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8. If traveling in a System-owned vehicle or Department of General Services (DGS) vehicle, may a guest accompany me if there is room in the vehicle?

No, all occupants of a System- or DGS-owned vehicle must be employees of the System or members of the public or private sector necessary for the conduct of official business for which the vehicle is assigned.

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Lodging

1. Is overnight lodging permitted in places such as Shippensburg and Millersville?

Expenses for lodging will not be allowed at sites located within a reasonable commuting distance of headquarters or residence. Generally, either 50 miles or 1½ hours of travel time are considered reasonable commuting, subject to itinerary, weather, and time considerations. Exceptions may be made by the Vice President for Administration and Finance or his/her designee.

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Subsistence

1. How do I determine the proper reimbursement for subsistence while in overnight travel status?

Subsistence reimbursement is based on the number of hours an employee spends in overnight travel status. The maximum allowable reimbursement amount must be reduced for meals provided at no cost, included in a registration fee, facility rental, or the cost of lodging.

Example:

Depart on April 1 at 9 a.m. and return on April 3 at 10 p.m.
1 Lunch and 1 Dinner were provided
Destination is Pittsburgh, PA
Rate of Reimbursement = $28

$28.00

April 1—9 a.m. to April 2—9 a.m.

$28.00

April 2—9 a.m. to April 3—9 a.m.

$18.00

April 3—9 a.m. to April 3—10 p.m. (13 hours)

$74.00

Maximum Allowable Reimbursement

-$6.00

Provided Lunch (21% of $28)

-$16.00

Provided Dinner (58% of $28)

$52.00

Total Reimbursement

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2. Can I be reimbursed for subsistence while in non-overnight travel status? If so, how much?

Yes, an employee who works more than two hours before the normal start of the work day or two hours past the scheduled quitting time, and is 50 miles or more from both residence and headquarters may be reimbursed for subsistence. The employee will be reimbursed for the cost of one meal, up to the maximum rate established..

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3. Can I be reimbursed for subsistence if required to participate in a non-overnight travel assignment on a holiday or scheduled day off?

Yes, an employee is eligible to be reimbursed for a percentage of the 24-hour subsistence rate as listed below. There are no mileage requirements in this situation

Less than 3 hours

No reimbursement

3 hours to less than 6 hours

25%

6 hours to less than 15 hours

62.5%

15 hours to less than 24 hours

100%

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4. Can I be reimbursed for alcohol as part of subsistence reimbursement?

No, alcohol is not considered subsistence and will not be reimbursed.

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5. May I incur meal expenses on behalf of others?

The President, Vice Presidents, and others specifically designated by the President, in writing, are eligible to be reimbursed for actual meal expenses incurred for themselves and on behalf of others in the conduct of official business. Such reimbursement will be made only when the meal is an integral part of the business meeting and includes employees from more than one State System entity or participants who are not State System employees.

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6. If I am authorized to incur meal expenses on behalf of others, may I use my travel card to pay the bill?

An employee may use his/her travel cards to pay for such meals if the meeting is held at a restaurant. An employee also may use his/her travel card if take-out food is ordered for a business meeting; however, if the meal is catered and services such as set-up and clean-up are received, a contract must be prepared in accordance with the catering policy. Payment will then be made to the vendor with a University check.

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Telephone Calls

1. Are telephone calls reimbursable?

Business telephone calls are reimbursable. Personal telephone calls are not reimbursable.

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Purchase of Food

1. What is the appropriate use of public funds with respect to the purchase of food?

See Use of Public Funds Policy

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