Travel Policy

I.  Effective Date 

June 2016 

II.  Last Revision Date

May 2024 

April 2017 

III.  Responsible Party 

University Financial Services 

IV.  Scope

This Policy applies to all employees, students, and other individuals who travel and use funds administered by the University. 


To provide guidance for those traveling on University business, to meet the reasonable needs of travelers, establish cost effective practices that are consistently applied, and ensure that travel expenses comply with internal standards and regulatory requirements. 

VI.  Policy Statement 

The Marymount University (“University”) Travel Policy applies to all authorized and approved University business travel, regardless of the source of funds (e.g., sponsored programs). All travel expenditures should be reasonable and proper in nature and purpose and shall conform to the University’s Standards of Coduct and Core Values and the MU Conflict of Interest Policy. 

VII. Definitions 

Allowable Expense 

A necessary, reasonable, and appropriate expense incurred for the primary benefit of Official University Business and therefore permitted to be reimbursed or directly charged based on the permission of the University or by the terms of federal or primarily sponsored agreements. 

Commuter Miles 

The non-reimbursable miles traveled between a person’s home and Official Station, no matter the time of day or day of the week. 

Domestic Travel 

Travel among any of the fifty United States, its possessions and territories.  In the case of sponsored awards, domestic travel may be defined in the contractual or grant documents. 

Incidental Expense 

Fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel maids, taxi or shuttle drivers, and others for personal services performed. An allowance for Incidental Expenses is included within the daily subsistence rates (see per diem) for the area of travel. These are not reimbursed separately and should not be requested. 

International Travel 

Travel outside of the United States, its possessions and territories.  In the case of sponsored projects, foreign travel may be defined in the contractual documents.  Federal grants or contracts must comply with the Fly America Act and all applicable requirements.  The Fly America Act requires travelers using federal funds to fly on U.W. flag air carriers.  Certain exceptions apply, see Fly America Act.  Any questions should be directed to the Sponsored Accounting Office.   

Official Station 

The primary work area or office assigned to the employee – may be subject to a telecommuting agreement. 

Official University Business or Business Purpose 

An activity that directly carries out Marymount University’s mission of instruction, research and service or that provides support to the University’s instruction, research, and service activities. 

Per Diem Expenses 

Reimbursement for meals, meal gratuities, and incidental expenses. 

Personal Expenses 

Expenses for personal items such as clothing, toiletries, and entertainment. 

Travel Costs 

Travel Costs are the expenses for transportation, lodging, subsistence, and related items incurred by employees who are in travel status on Official University Business. 

University Sponsored Travel 

Pre-authorized travel that is funded (in part or whole), supported, and/or coordinated by Marymount University. Student travel may be University Sponsored whether or not the travel was pre-authorized. 

Vicinity Travel 

Travel within a fifty (50) driving mile radius of an employee’s Official Station. Safety exceptions to the radius requirement may be granted on a case-by-case basis. 

VIII. Policy 

A.  Travelers 

A traveler on Official University Business has the responsibility to act prudently and to only incur travel expenses that are necessary, reasonable, appropriate, and for which documentation is available. The traveler is responsible for keeping clear and complete records of expenses and prompt submission of travel-related expense reports. To maintain efficient business processes, travel documentation that is incomplete, inaccurate or not well-organized will be returned to the traveler and will delay reimbursement processing.  

1. Vicinity Travel 

  1. When you incur work-related, non-commuting transportation expenses for local or single-day travel, MU will pay for reasonable transportation and limited subsistence expenses in accordance with this and departmental policies. Travel is considered local and may be pre-paid or reimbursed when it exceeds your normal commuting distance, or you use a different method of travel. 
  2. Trips between university campuses; Main Campus, Ballston, and 4040, are not eligible for reimbursement, employees have the option to use the shuttle. 
  3. Non-commuter mileage is reimbursed using the personal mileage rate available at 
  4. Round-trip mileage traveled routinely and directly by an employee between their  residence and workplace incurred on a workday is considered commuting mileage. Commuting mileage and other commuting costs incurred on workdays are considered personal expenses and are not reimbursable. 
  5. Non-commuting parking fees associated with university business travel are reimbursable.  
  6. Bus, subway, taxi, or similar mass transit costs are reimbursable where there is a business necessity. 
  7. Single-day travel is any travel that takes place within 24 hours and no overnight stay occurs. Reasonable transportation expenses will be reimbursed. 

2. Spouse/Companion/Family (Dependent) Travel: 

Payments or reimbursements for spouse, companion or family travel are not allowed.  Dependent care costs incurred because of travel are not allowed.  

3. Personal Travel in Conjunction with Business Travel 

  1. When personal travel is scheduled in conjunction with business travel only the business-related portion of the expenses may be paid with the P-Card. All Personal Expenses must be paid with personal funds. Any expenses that combine business and Personal Expenses and cannot be easily separated must be paid with personal funds and the business portion reimbursed after the trip is complete. 
  2. Airfare and other expenses such as parking and car rental where the personal portion of the expense cannot be easily separated must be paid with personal funds and the business portion calculated and reimbursed upon the trip’s completion. 
  3. The business days of the hotel expense may be paid with a P-card if the hotel can accommodate the separate billing process. Room and tax may be charged to the P-card. Internet and parking expenses for business days may be charged to the P-card if there is a valid business purpose. 
  4. All other business-related expenses may be paid with a P-card such as registration and ground transportation if the expense is one hundred percent (100%) business related. 
  5. At the time travel authorization is requested, a complete itinerary of the business portion of the trip is required, along with a statement of the beginning and end time of the personal portion of the trip. 

4. Sponsored Program Travel 

  1. The grant or contract award document should be consulted to determine any travel restrictions. For example, under most sponsored program awards, the lowest available commercial discount or customary fare must be used; first-class fares are not reimbursable.  Travelers are responsible for complying with any travel restrictions contained in their grant or contract document.  
  2. 2 CFR 200.474 of the Uniform Guidance allows for dependent care costs paid for using Federal funds above and beyond what an employee would normally incur when they travel on University business. Since MU does not normally allow this type of expenses as expressed above (regardless of the source of funding), the Vice-President of Research must also approve an exception if the exception is for such costs using sponsored program funding just as he or she may approve an exception for non-sponsored program travel.   
  3. In accordance with the Fly America Act of 1974, U.S. flag air carriers or shippers must be used when traveling or shipping items and the costs are charged to a federally funded sponsored project. Exceptions apply, including Open Skies, which allows for use of air carriers from countries who have transportation agreements with the U.S. government – consult with the Office of Sponsored Programs for details. 

5. International Travel 

  1. Due to the unique nature of international travel with the opportunities and risks involved, all foreign travel for Official University Business must be reported to the Marymount Risk Management Office. Notification should be made at least 30 days before travel to allow enough time to secure foreign travel insurance and address any other applicable requirements. 
  2. The foreign travel per diem allowance (FTPDA) is based on the most current publications of U.S. Department of State maximum travel per diem allowances for foreign areas. 
  3. The daily FTPDA will be one hundred percent (100%) of the listed Meals and Incidental Expenses (M & IE) rate. 
  4. The FTPDA is intended to cover the costs of meals at adequate, suitable and moderately priced facilities as well as mandatory service charges, taxes, laundry and dry cleaning. 

B.  Pre-Travel  

1. Travel Authorization 

  1. Prior authorization for travel is required for travel on Official University Business, whether or not reimbursement will be sought. All travelers seeking authorization to travel (whether in-state, out-of-state or international travel) must have prior approval of their supervisor before any commitments are made or the travel has commenced. An employee should be aware of his/her department’s and/or Sponsor’s travel policies, as they may be more restrictive than those contained herein.  
  2. Group travel including student travel must be submitted by the staff or faculty member responsible for the group. 
  3. No one may authorize an exception to these policies and procedures for his/her own travel. 
  4. The President or Secretary of The Board approves travel for Board of Trustees. 
  5. Travel Authorization is submitted and approved through Workday as Create Spend Authorization.  
  6. The following are exceptions to the use of the online Travel Authorization form: 
  7. Recurring Vicinity Travel may be approved by the department by using a Travel Authorization form that covers a period of no more than one (1) year. 
  8. Travel expenses for independent contractors, must be paid by the contractor. 
  9. Airfare and lodging for job candidates, and other non-employees (excluding Independent Contractors), may be paid via the University Purchasing Card (P-Card) without preauthorization. Consult with the Controller before paying International visitors. 

2. Travel Advances

Travel advances can be issued to University employees as warranted.  Generally, no advance will be issued if another advance is outstanding. Additionally: 

  1. Request must be made at least thirty (30) business days before the first day of travel.  Advances are requested through the Create Spend Authorization in Workday. 
  2. Advances must be repaid or reconciled within fifteen (15) working days after return from a trip. Failure to account for cash advances may result in the full amount of the advance being deducted from the employee’s future reimbursements and/or paychecks. 

C. Travel Related Expenses

1.  Conference Fees 

  1. Pre-approved registration fees for meetings or conferences should be paid directly by the University or paid for with a University P-Card. Registration fee paid directly by an individual will be considered a travel advance until the conference is completed and proof of attendance must be submitted (refer to travel advance). 
  2. When a conference or meeting is offered as a package including hotel room and meals, payment is usually made in advance and reimbursement to the traveler is not necessary. 

2.  Air Travel 

  1. Travelers are expected to book the lowest available economy class airfare consistent with business requirements. Except as described in Section D.4.E below, first class and business class upgrades are not considered an allowable expense. However, coach or economy class upgrades or seating charges are allowable if approved by the supervisor. 
  2. When checking luggage, the University will reimburse the cost of checking the first bag, if the airline charges for such services. The traveler will have to pay to check any additional bags on his/her own. If the travel requires bringing large amounts of University-related items, the traveler must get approval from Supervisor ahead of time to be reimbursed for additional luggage charges 
  3. If the traveler is unable to use a purchased airline ticket and follows proper airline notification procedures, she/he should return the unused ticket(s) or, in the case of an e-ticket, a hard copy of the reservation (including flight information) to Accounts Payable and notify the appropriate budget supervisor. Accounts Payable will hold the ticket and set up a travel advance account for the value of the unused ticket. The value will be maintained in the receivable account, along with the expiration date of the ticket. If the ticket is not used before the expiration date, the expense will be written-off to the department(s) that made the original purchase 

3. Ground Transportation 

Travelers are expected to use the lowest cost ground transportation consistent with business needs that are also the safest and least time-consuming option. For example, many hotels offer free airport shuttles which should be used when available. 

  1. Vehicle Rentals may be authorized when it is an economical and practical means of transportation. The University will pay for or reimburse only the actual rate or the preferred vendor rate (if available in the destination locale), whichever is less.   
  2. Always rent the most economical class-size car for the number of people traveling. Any upgrades or enhancements are personal expenditures and will not be paid for or reimbursed by the University. In circumstances when the traveler chooses to upgrade, the cost of the most economical rental for the same trip should be determined, and substantiation provided.  Documentation should be submitted with the receipt for the actual rental and the University will cover the base rate.  
  3. The University discourages rental of 15-passenger vans and trucks. Insurance requirements for 15-passenger vans and trucks differ from that of light trucks, cars and 7-passenger vans and require proper licensure.  
  4. In circumstances where more than one MU employee might drive the vehicle, all should be listed as operators on the rental car agreement. 
  5. Refer to Vehicle and Driver Safety Policy 2.2. 
  6. Personal Vehicles may be authorized when such use is more advantageous to the University, as determined by the manager or travel approver.  Refer to Vehicle and Driver Safety Policy 2.3.  If a traveler uses a Personal Vehicle, the cost of transportation is reimbursable at the University’s allowable rate. Note: Charges for repairs, tires, gasoline, or other operating expense will not be separately reimbursed as they are considered covered by the University’s allowable mileage rate. 
  7. Taxi, Uber, Car Sharing.  Taxis and car services such as Uber can be used for local transportation and in-city destinations whenever possible, unless a rental car or other means of transport is more cost effective or where there are safety or other issues that justify the additional cost. Local transportation includes travel to and from airports and railroad stations, between appointments, and between hotels and meeting locations during the working day or specifically related to a work function.  It is reasonable to provide a tip for taxi service of 15% – 20%. 
  8. Limousine & Shuttle Service.  Limousine and shuttle services may be used when they are less expensive than alternative means of transportation (e.g., train, taxi, Uber, or personal auto) or when there are safety or other issues that justify the additional cost. When traveling with others, it is may be economical to coordinate travel times and share a limousine or shuttle service. 

4.  Chartered Transportation 

The decision to use a private aircraft, bus, van, driver or other service should be made by the traveler and manager or travel approver based on cost and business needs. Prior to entering into an agreement for chartered transportation, the traveler must contact and have approval from the Director of Procurement and the Office of Risk Management for information regarding insurance and licensing requirements. 

5.  Lodging 

Travelers are expected to book reasonably priced lodging consistent with business requirements. Always request an educational discount when available. 

  1. If an individual is attending a convention or conference, use of the convention or conference hotel is appropriate. 
  2. For any local lodging using university funds, travelers must be booked at Placemakr Marymount Ballston.  Use discount code: MUA10.   
  3. When paying for any lodging using a university P-Card, notify the hotel that the rates should be tax-exempt. 
  4. Reimbursement must be documented by an original itemized hotel bill and receipt. Financial Services may raise concerns regarding reasonableness of hotel costs before or after travel and before travel reimbursement to the traveler. 
  5. The traveler is responsible for cancelling any room reservation she/he will not be using. Travelers should ask for the hotel’s cancellation policy at the time of booking and should be aware of any cancellation fees or penalties. Cancellation time deadlines are based on the location/time zone of the property. A record of the cancellation number should be kept, in case of a subsequent billing dispute. If an employee fails to cancel reservation in a timely fashion, she/he may be held responsible for any cancellation fees. A written explanation for any failure to cancel must be submitted with the Travel Expense Report. 

6.  Long-Term Travel – Travel Greater than 30 Days 

Because per diem rates are established for short term visits, it is expected that when research or business requires residence in a distant location for longer periods of time, travelers will be able to find less expensive accommodations. Therefore, reimbursement for actual lodging expenses for trips greater than thirty (30) days will be permitted up to 50% of the current published federal per diem rates for those expenses at that location, available at domestic per diem or foreign per diem. Receipts are required for lodging. The reimbursement limits apply for the entire trip, not just the part greater than thirty (30) days. 

7.  Meals and Miscellaneous Travel Expenses 

Employee and student travelers may purchase or be reimbursed for reasonable meal expenses using one of two methods: per diem or actual expense.  The employee traveler may only use one payment/reimbursement method per trip. 

  1. Per Diem Reimbursement Guidelines – Domestic per diem reimbursement will be based on the U.S. General Services Administration Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) Rates, which are listed by location and month. Foreign per diem reimbursement will be based on the Department of State Office of Allowances Federal M&IE Rates, which are noted by area of travel and updated monthly. The traveler must use the correct rates for the month of travel from these websites as a maximum limit.  
    1. The traveler can only claim 75% of the day’s rate for days of transit or actual travel.  
    2. Per diem rates must be reduced for any meals paid for by another party (e.g. a conference).   
    3. Any expenditure over the per diem amount will be the traveler’s responsibility. 
    4. Per diem reimbursement is not allowed for Vicinity Travel. 
  2. Incidental Expenses – If the traveler is receiving per diem reimbursement, the rate covers incidental expenses related to meals; therefore, incidental expenses, such as tips, will not be reimbursed separately. If the traveler is using the actual expense method for meals, tips for meals are permissible. Other incidental expenses must be minimized and itemized as actual expenses to be reimbursable.  Refer to Section XI C. 

8.  Prospective Employee Recruitment Travel 

  1. The President or a Vice-President may authorize travel for prospective employees and/or their families. Prospective employees are subject to the same travel policies and procedures as MU employees and are required to provide complete documentation for any reimbursement requests.     
  2. Subsequent visits to the individual’s new work location (for house hunting, etc.) are generally treated as taxable income. 
  3. For information on paying an employee Relocation and Moving Expenses, refer to Compensation Policy, 4.6 Relocation Funds. 

9. Student Travel 

Students who intend to go on University Sponsored Travel must complete the  Student Travel and Field Trip Expectations and Consent Agreement. This form must be held and maintained within the department from which the student arranges travel through, or the department sponsoring it.  Student travel must be submitted by a Faculty or Staff member. 

D. Travel Payments and Reimbursements 

All travelers are strongly encouraged to use a University Purchasing Card (P-Card) for travel-related expenses, including airfare, ground transportation, hotel stays, meals, taxi services and parking. Non-adherence to the University P-Card Policy and the requirements of this Policy could result in non-reimbursement of expenses and suspension of the University P-Card.  Refer to Planning Travel for information on allowable expenses and required documentation. 

The employee traveler may only use one payment/reimbursement method per trip.  If a traveler uses a P-Card for their meals, they cannot request a per diem reimbursement. By using a P-Card, the University is already paying the actual amount spent. Since reimbursement methods cannot be combined on one trip, the traveler must decide before travelling whether he or she wants to use the P-Card to pay actual meal expenses or receive a per diem reimbursement for meals. Actual expenses in excess of the per diem daily rate will not be reimbursed. 

1. University Purchasing Card (P-Card) 

  1. The University P-Card is the preferred method of payment for employee business expenses: airfare, registration, lodging, and other approved travel expense. P-Cards may not be used for meals and incidental expenses while traveling.  
  2. When the P-Card cannot be used to make payment for travel-related expenses, a University check can be processed. Requests must be submitted according to standard University Travel procedures available on the Procurement and Payables website.  

2. Reimbursement 

  1. Travel related expenses must be submitted with required documentation and paid to the traveler within sixty (60) calendar days of incurring the expense or returning from the trip. 
  2. Reimbursement requests for expenses older than sixty (60) calendar days will be taxable to the traveler. 
  3. Reimbursement requests for expenses older than one hundred twenty (120) days will be denied. 
  4. Payment of travel expenses by the University is limited to costs authorized in this Policy. Departments and employees may negotiate a lower travel reimbursement than allowed by this Policy. In this situation, the traveler will pay the remaining expenses as Personal Expenses. 
  5. Reimbursement for travel expenses will not be made until the trip is complete. 

3. Third Party Reimbursements, Rebates, and Promotions 

  1. When a third party pays for or intends to reimburse a Marymount University employee for travel expenses, the employee may only submit a reimbursement request for Allowable Expenses not covered by the third party. 
  2. If the third party reimburses an employee for expenses after the employee has been reimbursed by the University, the employee must repay Marymount the lesser of (i) the total amount paid by the third party, or (ii) the total amount reimbursed to the employee by the University. It is the traveler’s responsibility to initiate reimbursement and to ensure that any funds received are remitted to the University. 
  3. University employees may not use personal funds to pay travel expenses on behalf of faculty, staff, students, Guests or colleagues unless extenuating circumstances exist and there is no other means of payment. In such a case, expenses will not be reimbursed until the trip is complete and the trip expense report is submitted. Check with Accounts Payable before committing personal funds. 

4.  Personal Expenses (not eligible for payment with P-card or reimbursement) 

  1. Expenses of a personal nature incurred solely for the convenience or sentiment of the traveler. 
  2. Expenses for Commuter Miles or for other non-official purposes. 
  3. Expenses incurred while on personal leave even if scheduled in conjunction with University Sponsored Travel. 
  4. Per Diem Expenses and lodging while on Vicinity Travel. 
  5. Airfare obtained with frequent flyer miles or credits or program equivalent, travel vouchers, credits, gift cards, and other non-monetary methods. 

E.  Traveling with University Equipment 

  1. To reduce the potential for data and identity theft when traveling on university business, the university will assign a loaner or “clean” laptop/device.  For international travel, this is a requirement, follow Security Guidelines for International Travel.   Colleges and departments are responsible for developing procedures to provide loaner devices.  
  2. Travel outside the U.S. or its territories with electronic devices presents risks, including: 
  3. Loss, theft, or seizure of devices, data, and login credentials 
  4. Device infiltration or malware compromising sensitive information 
  5. Violations of federal regulations.  
  6. Transporting certain equipment, materials, and software may require an export license which can take up to two months to process and even longer if your plans include travel to a Heightened Risk or Highly Sanctioned country.  
  7. In certain situations, taking a laptop computer or other electronic device outside the U.S. may be regarded as an “export” subject to regulation by the U.S. government under the U.S. export control laws. Such “exports” may require a license from the U.S. government, particularly if you are traveling to a country with which the U.S. has an embargo or your device contains encryption software, unpublished data covered by a technology control list maintained by the U.S. government, data with potential military use, or data relating to weapons of mass destruction.  For more information on international travel access Travel.State.Gov.  

F.  Exceptions 

There may be unique and valid business needs which require exception to this Policy. Exceptions must meet a valid business need and not simply a traveler’s preference and must be requested prior to incurring the expense. Exceptions must be properly documented and approved by the Vice President for Finance. 

G.  Violations 

Failure to meet the requirements outlined in this Policy may result in travel expenses not being reimbursed to the traveler. Traveler may owe the University an amount equal to the total of discrepancies or unallowable expenses. Travelers who do not follow this Policy will also bear full responsibility for any liability resulting from their travel. 

In addition, any employee that violates the requirements found in this Policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment 

Other Resources: 

Planning Travel Guidelines  

International Travel Guidelines 

P-Card Policy