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General Description
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Performance Evaluation
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Travel and Meal Policy

Document Number: BUSF--103 Revision #: 1.0
Document Owner: Executive VP Date Last Updated: 01/06/2014
Primary Author: VP of Business and Finance Status: Approved
Date Originally Created: 06/15/2012

General Description

This policy is intended to provide faculty and staff direction in the manner and extent funds may be expended for the purposes of travel, entertainment, and hospitality. Business-related entertainment expenses are defined as reasonable food, beverage, and incidental costs associated with the conduct of Cumberland University business. The University must ensure that funds are used judiciously and appropriately in support of its activities. It is also designed so that these expenses are in compliance with Internal Revenue regulations, federal cost regulations under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-21, and donor guidelines.



This policy applies to Faculty, students supervised by faculty, and Staff of the University traveling, entertaining or incurring non-travel business expenses on behalf of the University: The policy applies to all faculty and staff whether using a University Purchase Card or submitting reimbursement requests. This document outlines policies and procedures in general terms to allow reasonable discretion for faculty and staff and administrators and should not be expected to cover every possible situation. This policy applies regardless of the funding source. In cases of sponsored programs or restricted discretionary funds, the terms of the grant, contract or donor’s limitations may be more restrictive than the University’s policy. In cases where these limitations are less restrictive, the University’s policy will apply. Exceptions to this policy may be approved by the Vice President for Finance and must be clearly justified as beneficial to the University. Colleges and departments may, at their discretion, impose greater but not less control than required by this policy. The University has no obligation to reimburse faculty and staff, students or non-employees for expenses that are not in compliance with this policy.




All faculty, staff, students, and administrators

Responsibility: Business and Finance
VP of Business and Finance

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Relevant Knowledge: In order to comply with this policy you should know:
Current University policy

Terms and Definitions: Additional training

Corrective Action

Loss of travel privilege

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Policy Provisions

Pre-Travel Authorization

Any employee intending to travel overnight for Cumberland University business should complete a “Travel Authorization and Advance Form” which outlines all anticipated costs associated with the travel as well as times of departure and arrival.  This form should be approved by the employee’s supervisor and submitted to the business office for budget check. The business office will verify that there are available budgeted funds in the identified budget. The business office will maintain the form and match it against the actual charges that are submitted for payment. Conference brochures which detail the registration fees, dates of conference, and all meals provided should be submitted with the travel requests.


Lodging and Transportation



Faculty and staff should use standard accommodations at reasonably priced hotels and motels when making reservations. Reimbursement for lodging may not exceed the normal rate for a standard single room. While traveling on University business, travelers should expect to receive service and accommodations that are both safe and comfortable, but not lavish or extravagant. In addition, travel arrangements should be well planned so that costs will not exceed budgetary limitations. In room movies and mini-bar expenses will not be reimbursed. When traveling to a conference, it is appropriate to stay at the hotel hosting the conference. Trips of less than 100 miles one way do not qualify for reimbursement for an overnight stay.


Lodging Receipts

Original receipts for lodging are required. The receipts must be submitted with the expense report. Meals and incidentals on lodging receipts must be itemized separately (see Meals). Lodging receipts must include all of the following information:

· Name and location of the hotel

· Dates of stay

· Itemized listing of charges

· Proof of payment

· Business purpose of trip

· For group travel purchases, all names of lodgers are required.


Lodging Cancellations

Should travel plans change, it is the traveler’s responsibility to cancel his or her hotel reservation. The deadline for canceling reservations without penalty varies with each hotel. Please record the date; cancellation number; and the clerk’s name when canceling. Failure to cancel a guaranteed hotel reservation could result in a no-show billing for the reserved room.


A No Show cancellation is considered a non-reimbursable travel expense unless there are extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the traveler (for example, a canceled flight). Such circumstances must be documented on the expense report.


Transportation Receipts

Passenger copies of transportation tickets are required. For electronic tickets, print the receipt. Transportation receipts should include passenger name, dates, destinations and amounts. For a group travel purchase all names of passengers are required.


Valet Parking

The University will not reimburse University travelers for cost associated with valet parking fees and/or valet tip.  Exception would be considered if valet parking is the only means of parking at the point of destination.


Air Travel

Commercial air travel expense is reimbursed on the basis of the actual cost incurred by the traveler using normally traveled routes. All University approved travel will be at the most economical rates, not first class or business class. Coach or promotional fares are the only classes of travel allowed. The lowest cost air travel will take precedence over any frequent flyer programs. Exceptions may be allowed if the lowest-priced fare would:

· require circuitous routing;

· require travel during unreasonable hours;

· excessively prolong travel or greatly increase the duration of the flight;

· result in increased costs that would offset transportation savings.



Baggage Expense

Charges for excess baggage are reimbursable only when the traveler is transporting University materials or when the extended period of travel necessitates excess personal baggage. Necessary expenses associated with baggage handling, storage and tips is allowable.



Lost Baggage

Should your baggage be lost or damaged, you must notify airline personnel and file a claim with the airline before leaving the airport. Neither the University nor the University’s insurance will pay for loss or damage to your personal property.


Ground Transportation

The use of rental cars (economy or compact models) may be authorized when other transportation is not available or when using a rental saves time or money. Car rental insurance should be waived. The University will not reimburse for insurance paid to car rental companies, as such liability is covered under the University umbrella policy. Traffic and parking violations are not reimbursable. Ground transportation, especially to and from airports, should be by the least expensive mode of transportation. Public transportation should be used whenever practical.


Personal Car Usage Guidelines

Faculty and staff may use their personal car for business purposes under 400 total miles. It is the responsibility of the owners of vehicles being used for business to carry adequate insurance coverage for their protection and for the protection of any passengers. Proof of current personal insurance will be required before reimbursement for mileage can be made.


Mileage Calculation

In most circumstances, the appropriate way to calculate business mileage is from home or the office, whichever is less, to the business destination. At no time should normal commuting miles be included in the calculation. When driving from home to the airport on University business, total miles are not allowed. Faculty and staff will be reimbursed for business usage of personal cars at $0.445 per mile. The Vice President of Finance approves any change to the mileage reimbursement schedule. All mileage reimbursements should include exact mileage readings from odometer or MapQuest generated mileage calculations for documentation. If odometer readings are used, the street address must also be provided. If there are extenuating circumstances, the employee should have the appropriate dean or vice president approve the request before the travel takes place. Faculty and staff will not be reimbursed for the following, even if these costs are incurred during business travel:

· Car repairs

· Rental car costs during repair of personal car

· Tickets, fines, or traffic violations


Meals and Entertainment


Business-Related Meals

Only reasonable meal costs (based on your location) will be reimbursed. Faculty and staff should show prudence and fiscal responsibility in their choice of restaurant. High end establishments must be avoided unless circumstances dictate that it is an appropriate choice and it is pre-approved by a Dean or Vice President. Itemized receipts are required for all meals.  Meals charged to a hotel bill are subject to all policies and requirements and require itemized receipts in order to be reimbursed. A clearly substantiated business purpose should exist for any meal to be purchased with University funds. The names of all persons for which meals are paid must be written on the back of the itemized receipt.  Costs for meals with other University staff or faculty to discuss business are not an appropriate use of University funds.


Personal Meal Expenses While Traveling

1. General limitation – A traveler may not claim reimbursement for more than three meals in any single calendar day or in any period of 24 consecutive hours.

2. Full day meal allowance – A travel day of 18 or more hours shall be considered a full day and entitle the traveler to reimbursement for up to three meal reimbursements equal to the lesser of the amount actually spent for the meals or the maximum reimbursement rate daily total for the location. If the traveler is provided a meal in the cost for other travel related expenses such as a conference fee or airfare, the traveler is not eligible for reimbursement for that meal. For example: If breakfast and lunch is provided the only portion of the meal allowance reimbursable is the dinner component.

3. Partial day reimbursement – A travel day of less than 18 hours shall be considered a partial day and entitle the traveler to reimbursement for meals based on the partial day reimbursement rules listed below. However, the traveler is only allowed reimbursement for meals actually incurred (paid for). If the traveler is provided a substantial meal in the cost for other travel related expenses, the traveler is not eligible for reimbursement for that meal. When the travel day is less than a full day, the following guidelines will be applied to the reimbursement of amounts spent for meals:

a. Six hours in travel status – qualifies for one meal reimbursement up to the lesser of the amount actually spent for the meal or the maximum reimbursement rate.

b. Twelve hours in travel status – qualifies for two meal reimbursements up to the lesser of the amount actually spent for the meal or the maximum reimbursement rate.

c. Refer to TABLE 1 A. for hourly schedule for meal allowances and itemized meal reimbursements.

4. Cost of meals included with other charges – The traveler is not entitled to a meal allowance for substantial meals provided free, on an airplane, included in conference registration fees or provided on a complimentary basis by the facility at which one is lodged. Employees must provide schedule/agenda for all conferences in order to substantiate daily meal allowance. The University will generally reimburse faculty and staff for three meals a day; however meals should not exceed Cumberland’s approved meal rate of $30 per day ($6-breakfast, $9-lunch,$15-dinner) unless the destination is identified in TABLE 2 as a “Key City” ($10-breakfast, $15-lunch, $29-dinner for a total of $54) The University, following IRS regulations, does not allow travel meal expense for one-day travel. However, a bona fide business meal may be reimbursed (see business related meals). Snacks and drinks (bottled water) during travel are not reimbursable unless they replace a meal and are part of an approved meal allowance. See above.


Alcoholic Beverages

The purchase of alcohol with University funds for any meal or entertainment purpose is prohibited.



Documentation and IRS Requirements

In order to comply with IRS rules, faculty and staff must substantiate the date, place, and business purpose of the meal. An original, itemized receipt must be submitted with the expense report for any business meal or entertainment expense. Receipt "stubs" will not be accepted as documentation. All receipts must be itemized. Attendees should always be listed on the back of the receipts and on the expense report. Business purposes such as “lunch meeting” are not adequate information to fulfill this requirement.


Tipping for Meals

Tips included on meal receipts will be reimbursed. As a general rule, faculty and staff should not tip more than 15% of the bill.



Departmental Functions

Certain departmental functions, such as holiday parties, retirement parties, and other significant departmental gatherings, serve an important business purpose for the University in supporting morale and encouraging networking among colleagues. All faculty and staff must obtain specific approval of their Dean or Vice President for the specific event prior to committing any University funds for a departmental function. All expenditures for such functions must be within the confines of the departmental budget. Documentation of appropriate approvals is required on the request for reimbursement or payment approval and must be attached before Accounting can process. Expenses paid with a Cumberland University credit card without the Dean or Vice President approval will be subject to payroll deduction.


Internet Usage

The University recognizes that internet usage while traveling for business purposes is sometimes necessary. Employees are encouraged to pursue hotels that provide “Free” internet access. However, where charges are incurred for internet usage this is an allowable reimbursable expense providing that it is itemized on the hotel invoice. Internet charges incurred at airport terminals are not allowable reimbursable expenses.


Expense Reporting


Expense Reimbursement--Faculty and Staff

Cumberland maintains an "accountable plan” as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Under this type of plan, reimbursements for travel, entertainment and non-travel business expenses are not required to be reported as income to the employee, as long as the advances and reimbursement of expenses meet all of the following three requirements:

1. There must be a business connection to the expenditure. This means that the expense must be a deductible business expense incurred in connection with services performed as an employee. If not reimbursed by the employer, the expense would be deductible by the employee on his or her 1040 income tax return.

2. There must be “adequate” accounting by the recipient within a reasonable period of time. All reimbursements must be submitted to the Business Office within 30 days upon returning from the trip. This means that faculty and staff must verify the date, time, place, amount and the business purpose of the expenses. Itemized receipts are required.

3. Excess cash advances must be returned within two business days upon return.


Expense Form

Employees seeking reimbursement for business expenses paid using personal funds should complete the Expense form on the P drive and submit to his or her supervisor for review and approval. These should then be forwarded to the Business office for further processing and approval. In no circumstances can an employee approve his or her expense reimbursement. In order to be reimbursed for approved travel and entertainment business expenses, the employee must complete an Expense Form and submit to their supervisor for review and approval. These should then be forwarded to the departmental budget manager for further processing and approval. In no circumstances can employees approve his or her expense reimbursement. These reimbursements must be submitted no later than 30 days upon returning from the trip. Expense reports must clearly document the business purpose of all expenses incurred.  Note that for IRS purposes, Cumberland University requires a detailed and reasonable explanation of the business purpose. In cases where inadequate business purposes are presented, the entire expense report will be returned unprocessed and reimbursement will be delayed. Cancelled checks are not acceptable in lieu of receipts. For hotel charges, you must include the hotel bill and list charges by day by type. For airline charges, you must submit the “Electronic Ticket Receipt”. Credit card receipts are not considered original receipts and are not sufficient support for reimbursement.


Purchase Card Program

Cumberland provides a purchase card program for its faculty and staff.  The Purchase Card is the preferred payment method for all significant travel expenses incurred by Cumberland travelers. The Purchase Card program provides faculty and staff with a variety of benefits and allows the University to gather travel data that is useful for management reporting. Any charges made with the University Purchase card without proper receipts and documented approved business purpose will be subject to payroll deduction from the next monthly payroll check for the employee. Any areas of this policy referring to “will not be reimbursed” will apply to the credit card purchase as “will be deducted from payroll” since credit card purchases are paid by the University.  


Purchase Card Eligibility

All faculty and staff who travel as a part of their job requirements on a regular basis would qualify for the Purchase Card. Applications for the Purchase Card must be approved by the appropriate Dean or Vice President for the school or department with final approval from the Vice President of Finance.


Use of Purchase card

The Purchase Card should be used only for business travel and entertainment expenses including:

· Air Travel

· Lodging

· Car rental

· Meals and Entertainment

· Miscellaneous travel expenses

Faculty and staff using the Travel Card should note: Within the State of Tennessee and other states allowable, all Sales & Use Taxes should be avoided. Cumberland University is Tax Exempt in the State of Tennessee. A copy of the Sales Tax Exemption form is available on the P Drive.  It is the employee’s responsibility to provide the merchant with the sales tax exemption form. Taxes paid will not be reimbursed unless the vendor refuses to honor the Cumberland’s Tax Exempt status. This refusal should be well documented on the itemized receipt. In essence, if sales tax is avoidable but still paid, Cumberland will not reimburse the employee (or will deduct from payroll if paid with CU credit card).  If a local vendor refuses to honor Cumberland’s tax exempt status the employee will only be reimbursed for sales tax for  the first occurrence. Employees are urged to only do business at establishments that will honor the tax exemption.


Purchase Card Policy

The Purchase Card program is covered in detail in a separate purchase card policy.



Termination of Employment

Upon termination of employment, all Purchase Card holders must:

· Promptly pay any remaining balances

· Return the card to the accounting department


Self-Audit Expense Report

Faculty and staff should review their own Expense Form for completeness and propriety. Signing your report indicates your agreement with charges listed and your adherence with University policy.



Signatures and Approvals

The employee must sign the Expense Form requesting reimbursement certifying that the expenses submitted for reimbursement were incurred while conducting University business. Signing or initialing another person's name is not allowed. All reimbursement requests must have signed approval by the appropriate signature authority as per the Purchasing Authority Matrix. Reimbursement expense forms cannot be approved by the individual seeking reimbursement.



Approver's Responsibility

The approver must insure that:

· the expense was incurred in the conduct of University business.

· the expense has been charged to the proper account(s)

· the expense report has been properly prepared and adequately documented and in accordance with University Policy.

· all receipts are itemized and receipts are taped to blank page in order of occurrence (by date/time and etc.). All check requests/reimbursement requests not compiled in accordance with this policy will be sent back to the department and not processed.

· policy exceptions must have a letter of authorization from the Vice President of Finance.


Reimbursement Payments

Reimbursement checks will be sent to the location selected by the employee.



Cash Advances for Travel

The University discourages the use of cash advances; however, they may be used in extenuating circumstances. The Vice President for Finance will approve all cash advances. Cash advances will be issued to University faculty and staff only. An employee may have only one cash advance outstanding at any given time. Excess cash advances must be returned within two business days upon return. Further questions regarding cash advances should be discussed with the Vice President for Finance.


Table 1--Meal Cut-Off Hours

Travel Status Hours

Meal Consume Time




at least 6

12 AM--8 AM




at least 6

10:01 AM--4 PM




at least 6

4:01 PM-11:59 PM




at least 12

12 AM-4 PM




at least 12

10:01 AM-11:59 PM




at least 12

4:01 PM - 7 AM




at least 18

12 AM- 11:59 PM






Table 2--Key Cities as Identified for Travel Meal Reimbursement

(Based on prior travel experience)

California - Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

Colorado - Denver

District of Columbia - Washington, D.C.

Florida - Miami, Orlando

Georgia - Atlanta

Illinois - Chicago

Indiana - Indianapolis

Kentucky – Louisville

Louisiana – New Orleans

Maryland - Baltimore

Massachusetts - Boston/Cambridge

Minnesota - Minneapolis/St. Paul

Missouri – St. Louis

Nevada - Las Vegas

New York - New York

Pennsylvania - Philadelphia

Texas - Houston, Dallas

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Performance Evaluation
Performance Metrics: Compliance with standard policy and procedure

Consequences: Loss of privileges

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Subject Experts
The following may be consulted for additional information.
VP of Business and Finance

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