Employee Travel & Business Expense Reimbursement
This information outlines the general guidelines regarding travel expense reimbursement and answers the most frequently asked questions. The Business Services Travel Desk in 124 Administrative Services is available to answer your questions and provide more detailed instructions at 320-308-4005. Contact Travel
- Travel Authorization Requirements
- Drivers License Record Check
- Vehicle Expense
- Airfare Expenses
- International Travel Expenses
- Special Expenses
- Employee Expense Reports
- Travel Advances
- Visa Credit Card - Travel
- Business Expenses
- Travel Authorization Form (pdf)
- Student Organization Travel Authorization Form (pdf)
- Travel Expense Report - Employees and Students (doc)
- Affidavit (pdf)
- Vehicle User Agreement
- Request to Incur Special Expenses (doc)
- Request to Incur Special Expenses (pdf)
MnSCU Board policy/procedure 5.19.3 states: All in-state travel and the incurrence of related expenses must receive oral prior approval and all out-of-state travel requires written prior approval by an employee who has delegated authority to approve out-of-state travel. Written authorizations are retained locally for audit purposes. See Minnesota State Colleges and University Board Policies at www.mnscu.edu/board/policy/519.html.
Although in-state travel only requires verbal approval of immediate supervisor, a Work Revision Request is also necessary for academic administration and instructional faculty when academic duties and responsibilities need to be adjusted or covered during work-related travel away from campus. The Work Revision Request form is now a section of this new Travel Authorization form.
The Travel Authorization Form combines the following into one:
• Minnesota Management & Budget Authorization for Travel form,
• International travel section of Request for Approval to Incur Special Expense form,
• Work Revision Request form,
• Documentation of non-employee accompanying during travel as per MnSCU Board Policy 5.19,
• Office of Chancellor Travel Expense Reimbursement by Outside Sources Approval form.
The Travel Authorization form is formatted to be filled out electronically, but the form must be printed out and routed for signatures. A process to electronically route through a series of digital signatures is expected to be developed at a later date.
Submit the Travel Authorization form to your supervisor at least 10 business days prior to departure date in order to be routed for approval signatures before travel commences. Out-of-state travel requests require signature of chair for acknowledgement and approval signatures of supervisor and dean or appropriate vice president. Out-of-state travel requests from employees in units that report directly to the president, not through a vice president, require the supervisor and president’s signature. International travel requests require signature of chair for acknowledgement and approval signatures of supervisor, dean, vice president/provost and president.
After appropriate signatures are obtained, the Travel Authorization form will be returned to the individual requestor. The signed and dated Travel Authorization form documenting prior approval should be attached to expense reimbursement paperwork. Out-of-state and international travel expenses will not be reimbursed without written approval prior to travel.
If you are traveling for a University Study Abroad Program and you plan to have a non-employee(s) accompany you, an agreement and release must be signed and filed with the Center for International Studies (CIS). Adult non-employees shall complete the Companion form. If the non-employee is a dependent under the age of 18, the Faculty Staff shall complete the Minor Child form. These release forms do not need to be routed with the Travel Authorization Form but must be submitted to CIS at any point prior to departure.
Per the State of Minnesota Policy on Drivers' License and Record Checks and MnSCU Board Policy 126.96.36.199 all faculty, staff or students, driving any vehicle for university-related activities, should take care to comply with applicable laws by: not driving with an inactive, cancelled, suspended or revoked license; maintaining appropriate liability insurance; refraining from driving while distracted or under the influence of alcohol or drugs; abiding by any applicable license restrictions; and driving lawfully and courteously.
All faculty, staff and students must receive MnSCU authorization before driving for any university-related activities. Additional information regarding the process of requesting this authorization can be found on the Human Resources Vehicle User Agreement web page.
What are the Maximum Meal Allowances?
Employees are to claim actual expenses for meals, but reimbursement, including tips, may not exceed the maximums. Meals exceeding these maximums require the filing of a Special Expense form (Word or PDF) in advance of the event. See the "Special Expenses" section.
The following meal allowance rates were effective January 1, 2014 and will remain in effect until superceded:
All Bargaining Units
All Bargaining Units
The metropolitan areas also include any location outside the forty-eight (48) contiguous United
When Am I Eligible for Meal Reimbursement?
Meal reimbursement is allowed when the employee is in travel status 35 or more miles from his/her workstation.
- The breakfast meal is reimbursed only when the trip begins before 6:00 a.m.
- The lunch meal is reimbursed only when the employee is in travel status through the normal lunch period.
- The dinner meal is reimbursed only when the trip ends after 7:00 p.m.
- Times of departure and return must be indicated for all meal reimbursement requests.
When the University is paying the cost of commercial transportation or conference registration fee and a meal is included as a part of the travel or conference, employees are not eligible to be reimbursed for the same meal.
What Are the Maximum Lodging Allowances?
There is no rate schedule, but reimbursement is limited to the single room rate. Inquire about government rates when making reservations.
Are Receipts Required to Claim Lodging Reimbursement?
The original itemized lodging receipt showing room rate and tax is required.
What if Two Employees Share Accommodations?
Each employee may claim one-half of the lodging expenses. You will not be reimbursed for expenses incurred by another employee even if you did in fact pay for his/her share. Each employee is required to submit his/her own expenses on his/her own expense report with receipts as evidence of payment.
What Amount of Lodging Reimbursement Will I Be Allowed to Claim
If My Spouse Accompanies Me On An Overnight Trip?
The State of Minnesota allows reimbursement at the single rate. The employee should have the establishment certify the single rate on the receipt.
Does St. Cloud State University provide vehicles for travel?
Yes. St. Cloud State University partners with Enterprise-Rent-A-Car for its vehicle travel needs. The agreement provides vehicles for both authorized university employees and authorized student employees for field trips, meetings, and other official state business. SCSU Facilities Management manages the travel/vehicle rental process. Information on how to reserve a vehicle can be found on the Facilities Management Travel/Vehicle Rental Procedures web page.
What Is the Rate of Reimbursement For Using My Personal Car on
If you choose to utilize your personal vehicle for state business the rate of reimbursement per the state bargaining agreements and compensation plans is as follows. Trips crossing calendar years will require the use of two rates to determine the reimbursement amount.
- 50.5¢ per mile - January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015
- 47.0¢ per mile - January 1, 2016 and thereafter
Mileage shall be paid based on the most direct route. This amount should be listed under "Trip Miles" on the Employee Expense Report. Vicinity driving should be listed under the "Local Miles" column. For trips that cross the mileage rate change, two rates must be used.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car has indicated that they should always have vehicles available. In the unlikely event that an Enterprise Rent-A-Car was requested but was not available the mileage reimbursement rate for a personal vehicle will be the standard IRS rate, which is 7¢ greater than the rate listed above. To obtain the higher reimbursement rate please attach to your travel reimbursement request a written statement from Enterprise Rent-A-Car indicating that a car was requested but was unavailable. The higher reimbursement rate is only applicable for in-state travel. All out-state travel will use the lesser rate listed above.
Out-of-state travel by personal vehicle may be authorized. Employees utilizing this option must include with their expense report an airfare quote dated at least two weeks prior to the trip. Your expenses by personal vehicle cannot exceed this quote and you will be reimbursed the lesser of the two amounts. All out-of-state mileage calculations are based on the lesser mileage rate as noted above.
May I Claim Reimbursement For A Rental Car?
Yes, but a "justification statement" must be attached to your expense report. You must demonstrate that public transportation was more expensive or unavailable.
May I Claim Reimbursement For Airfare?
Yes, but the amount is limited to the lowest round-trip airfare available on the day the trip request was approved.
How Do I Purchase Airline Tickets?
Employees may charge their airfare to the University at Bursch Travel. As soon as arrangements have been made at the travel agency, the employee should have his/her department submit an Internal Requisition (Form I.R. 1400) to Business Services for payment.
Are Receipts Required For Reimbursement of International Travel
Receipts are required for the same expenses as domestic travel. Claims should be converted to U.S. Dollars at the exchange rate in effect at the time the travel occurred. For assistance in currency conversion you may use the website http://www.xe.com/tec/.
Employees must not travel to countries for which a travel advisory has been issued by the United States Department of State. Check for Travel Warnings at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html.
Special expenses include, but are not limited to:
- Meals exceeding the maximum allowance.
- Meals within 35 miles of the workstation.
- Conference fees in excess of $1,000.00.
- Lodging within 35 miles of the workstation.
- Refreshments (coffee, tea, or soft drinks)
Employees requesting reimbursement of special expenses must request approval IN ADVANCE on a Request to Incur Special Expenses form (Word or PDF). The completed form should be submitted to the Director of Business Services.
Receipts are required for all special expenses.
The MnSCU Employee Expense Report and the Internal Travel Requisition form have been consolidated into one form, SCSU Travel Expense Report (doc).
This form is designed to be completed by the person making the claim for reimbursement. It is to be authorized by the employee, the Supervisor, and the Responsible Person for the identified cost center. Students who travel should use this same form.
- Original receipts are required for all expenses except mileage, meals, parking under $10.00, and taxi.
- Canceled checks, photocopies, and credit card receipts and statements are not acceptable receipts.
At the close of the fiscal year all travel expense reports must be received in Business Services according to established due dates (usually July 10th) or they will be charged to the next fiscal year.
Reimbursements/Advances are included in the employee's paycheck. Because they follow the payroll cycle, please allow three to four weeks for processing.
Each employee will be reimbursed only for his/her own expenses.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires employee business expenses to be submitted for reimbursement within 60 days after the expense is incurred. If not submitted within 60 days, the reimbursement becomes taxable for federal, state, FICA and Medicare; and withholding tax must be taken.
May I Request A Travel Advance?
If your anticipated reimbursable expenses exceed $50.00, you may request a short-term travel advance. The amount of the advance should not include any expense that will be billed directly. An employee may have only one outstanding advance at any time.
How Do I Settle A Travel Advance?
After your trip is completed, and within five days of your return, submit a second Employee Expense Report indicating the actual expenses, the appropriate receipts, and an I.R. 1401 for the actual cost. Any excess advance funds will be taken out of the employee's paycheck. A Travel Advance not settled within 28 days of the return date will be deducted from the employee's paycheck.
A St. Cloud State University credit card with travel capabilities is available to employees who demonstrate a continuing need to travel on University business. It provides a convenient and secure way to pay for business expenses such as airfare, hotels, car rental, or conference registrations without needing to request a cash advance or use personal funds.
The Cardholder is the state employee in whose name the card has been issued. The Program Administrator is the employee in the Business Services office responsible for issuing cards, auditing statements, and responding to cardholder inquiries.
Travel Card Policies:
Request to incur Special Expense
Per MnSCU Board policy 7.3, procedure 7.3.3, part 6, subpart B; prior approval must be obtained through the use of a special expense form in order to charge any travel related purchases to a state credit card. A blanket approval for an extended time range is allowable, not to exceed one fiscal year. The blanket approval would only cover purchases specifically listed in subpart B. The properly approved special expense form must be on file with Business Services prior to the occurrence of any travel related credit card charges. Approval to charge travel related purchases to a state credit card does not satisfy the written approval requirement for out-of-state travel.
Guidelines for Card Use
- The Visa travel credit card is for university business travel purposes only and may not be used for personal transactions.
- The card may be used only by the Cardholder, and for their individual expenses.*
- The card may be used only for allowable non-taxable expenses according to St. Cloud State University, MnSCU, and State of Minnesota travel policies.
- Any expense requiring an additional request to incur special expense form must have the form approved prior to the charge.
- The following types of business/travel expenses may NOT be charged on a state credit card:
- Personal phone calls
- Internet connection fees not associated with a hotel stay
- Fuel purchases for a personal vehicle
- Cash advances
- Relocation expenses
- Cards for professional development cost centers may be used ONLY for allowable non-taxable expenses according to the collective bargaining agreement and the employee’s professional development plan.
* Not applicable to athletic team or other student group activity when specifically authorized.
It is the Cardholder’s responsibility to safeguard the travel credit card and account number.
Failure to comply with policies and procedures will result in deactivation of the credit card.
Travel Card Procedures:
Applying for a travel credit card
St. Cloud State University employees may apply for a travel credit card by contacting the Program Administrator in 124 Administrative Services. A signature is required acknowledging that the applicant has read and understands the travel card policies and procedures. The applicant will be required to attend a training session before the card is issued.
When a credit card transaction is made, it is the Cardholder’s responsibility to obtain an itemized receipt.
A statement will be mailed to the Cardholder on the 6th of each month. The statement will show all transactions posted to the account. It is the responsibility of the Cardholder to verify the correctness of the statement.
- Verify each transaction by comparing the receipts to the statement.
- Staple behind the statement:
- The original itemized receipts in order.
- Any additional pre-approved special expense forms.
- Out-of-state travel authorization form (if applicable).
- Sign the statement to certify its accuracy.
- The appropriate supervisor/responsible person must review and sign the statement in the same manner in which an employee expense report would be approved.
- It is the Cardholder’s responsibility to submit the statement and receipts to the Program Administrator in 124 Administrative Services by the 20th of the month.
- It is the Cardholder’s responsibility to arrange for submission of the statements on time in case of absence.
Change in Employment Status:
If a Cardholder is leaving the University, he/she must surrender their travel credit card to the Program Administrator. Any outstanding charge receipts should be submitted to his/her approving supervisor to review, approve, and submit with the next statement.
Travel Card Contacts:
To report a lost or stolen card, or to dispute charges call US Bank (800) 344-5696 (24 hours)
To report any changes in Cardholder information, ask questions regarding policies, procedures, or to inquire about statements call the Program Administrator during business hours at (320) 308-4005.
Purchases made by an employee on behalf of the University can be eligible for reimbursement if approved in advance by the responsible person on the account which the reimbursement will come from. Purchases under $5000 are eligible for reimbursement to an employee with the approval of the reimbursing accounts responsible person. Sales tax is not reimbursable from any account other than an agency account.
For reimbursement of a business expense submit a completed Payment Request Form (PR1400) along with the original receipt to Business Services in AS122.
Please feel free to call the Travel Desk in Business Services, 124 Administrative Services Building, 320-308-4005, if you have any questions.
Please keep in mind that most regulations are the result of legislative action, and changes to those regulations are through labor negotiations and legislative process. Maximum rates are set by collective bargaining agreements and the Department of Employee Relations, and may change for any or all of the various bargaining units each time the contracts are renegotiated.