Lesley faculty, staff, and students sometimes travel to conduct University business.
The policy applies to all University travel, regardless of the funding source. Travelers representing Lesley should act in an ethical, practical, and fiscally responsible manner. Travelers should be prudent and exercise good judgment when incurring travel costs.
All expenses that travelers submit for reimbursement must be in compliance with this policy. It is the traveler’s responsibility to understand this policy before planning and beginning travel.
This policy is not intended to cover every possible situation or scenario.
If you’re teaching in a Lesley program off campus, review our Off-Campus Instructional Travel Policy.
Reimbursement of Expenses
To be reimbursable, an expense must be necessary to the business of the University and in compliance with IRS, state, and granting agency regulations, as well as represent a reasonable and appropriate use of University funds.
Travelers are required to substantiate (with original, itemized receipts) all expenses within a reasonable amount of time. Reimbursements are not subject to state or federal taxation.
Conversely, expenses that don’t meet these criteria will be treated as taxable income for the recipient. For the purpose of this policy, a “reasonable amount of time” is considered to be within 60 days of completing the trip.
Use Lesley’s Expense Voucher (Excel) to submit your expenses.
In general, grant-sponsored travel must comply with the University policies and procedures; however, some grants may impose stricter requirements.
Travelers using grant-related funds should be aware of restrictions and acknowledge that any expense submitted for reimbursement and charged to a grant is in full compliance with a grants’ requirements.
Lesley’s Finance Office is the authority for determining which travel is reimbursable under a particular grant or contract.
Travel Authorization and Approval
Each department designates, with Lesley’s Finance Office, authorized signers for business and travel expenses. These authorized signers have the primary responsibility of ensuring compliance with this policy.
Authorized signers must verify that expenses and expense reports meet these criteria:
- The travel expense was incurred while conducting University business. Employees can not use Egencia to make arrangements for personal travel or vacations. Due to contractual agreements with airlines and hotels, our arrangement with Egencia is only for business-related travel.
- The information contained on the Travel Expense Report is accurate and corresponds to this policy.
- The expenditure is charged to the proper account.
- The expenses meet sponsor guidelines, when applicable.
- The expenses are in accordance with state and federal regulations.
- Travelers may not authorize reimbursement for their own expenses.
- Employees are not authorized to approve the expenses of a colleague or supervisor.
Review our Authorized Signer Policy (PDF).
Lesley’s Procurement Office has established relationships with certain travel suppliers.
A designated travel agency, Egencia, provides a range of travel services to the University. In addition, our Procurement Office has negotiated rates that can provide cost savings on airfares, hotels. and rental cars.
The traveler should make air travel arrangements through University approved suppliers whenever possible. Currently, Lesley is using Egencia travel agency.
Air Class of Service
All air travel must be in coach class. Travelers are expected to purchase the lowest, logical air fare available. Lesley’s preferred travel agency notifies travelers of the University policy requiring employees to accept the least expensive comparable and reasonable flight that is within a 3-hour window of the original requested flight time.
Frequent flyer memberships must not influence flight selection that would result in selecting a flight that is not the lowest price available.
If a traveler declines the lowest reasonable fare within the 3-hour window of the original requested flight times, and the increased cost of the flight is $100 or more, the traveler is required to get Supervisor, Off-Campus Division, or Program Director approval.
The lowest priced coach class airfare is generally available with an advance purchase. Travelers must book airfare at least 14 days in advance. Airfare is usually classed as non-refundable, which allows for a reservation change (for a fee).
Class of Service Upgrades
Upgrades at the expense of the University are not permitted and won’t be reimbursed. The traveler must document any free upgrades in their Travel Expense Report.
Frequent Flyer Programs
The University will not reimburse travelers for tickets purchased with frequent flyer miles.
Frequent flyer miles earned by the traveler during University business travel may be retained by the traveler for personal use.
Airline Club Membership
Dues for membership in any airline or airport club are not reimbursable.
Travel on Private or Charter Aircraft
Travel on private of charter aircraft is not authorized by the University.
The University reimburses travelers for the first checked bag fee. Travelers are reimbursed for excess baggage charges when travelling with heavy or bulk materials, equipment for business, or if traveling for more than 2 weeks. The traveler must include documentation in their Travel Expense Report explaining excess baggage charges.
The University won’t reimburse travelers for personal items that are lost while traveling. The airlines are responsible for compensating travelers for any lost baggage.
Cancellations & Unused Airline Tickets
In the event of a cancellation, travelers should contact our preferred travel agency. Refunds are processed by the agent. Travelers may only use this ticket for University business.
Denied Boarding Compensation
Airlines occasionally offer free tickets or cash allowances to compensate travelers for delays due to overbooking, delays, or changes in equipment.
A traveler may volunteer for denied boarding compensation only if flying outside of normal working hours or if the delay in their trip won’t result in any interruption or loss of business. Travelers may keep the compensation for their personal use.
Travelers may rent a car when driving is more convenient and less expensive than airline or rail service, or it is necessary to transport equipment or materials. Reimbursement for rental cars in the general area of one's regular place of business is prohibited. Vehicles rented in the name of the University may only be driven by University employees. Rental cars are not to be used for any personal travel.
Travelers may rent a car when the total costs, including parking, are less expensive than other transportation modes. All employees renting cars must comply with rental agency requirements, as well as state and local laws governing operating a motor vehicle. Violations of any motor vehicle law are the employee's responsibility.
The traveler should make every reasonable effort to return the rental car with a full tank of gas to avoid expensive refueling charges. If the rental car is returned and requires gasoline, 50% of any refueling that exceeds $10 will be deducted from the employee's reimbursement.
If the rental company offers a fuel service option, including EZ Fuel from Avis, the traveler needs to refuse that service. If the traveler chooses a fuel service option, the entire cost will be deducted from the employee's reimbursement.
The University doesn’t pay for the rental of children's car seats or for additional drivers, unless the other driver is a Lesley employee. GPS expenses are not reimbursable.
Rental Car Requirements
University employees are approved to rent cars if they live more than 150 miles from their business travel destination. The traveler’s supervisor must authorize the use of a rental car before they make a reservation.
Employees who are required as part of their primary duties to travel in the Boston area but outside of the Massachusetts Transit System and don’t have access to an automobile may, on an infrequent basis, and with prior authorization from their supervisor, rent a car when the total costs to rent, including parking and gas, are less expensive than other transportation modes such as taxis.
The employee is expected to rent the least expensive class of car, and use the car for business travel only. Car rentals for an employee's regular commute won’t be reimbursed by the University, as this is in violation of IRS regulations.
Before renting, the employee should always compare the cost of rental against the University agreement with Zip Car. The cost of gasoline is included in the Zip Car rate. If the employee is scheduled for several 1-day trips, Zip Car is often a more cost-effective alternative.
Rental Car Categories
Lesley business travelers must use economy or compact cars. Travelers may book a class of service one level higher when there is no additional cost to the University, or in case of bad weather. For Off-Campus Instructional travel, faculty members need to get approval from the Program Director for upgrade above a midsize car.
At the time of the rental, the employee should inspect the car with the rental car company representative and note any damage on the rental contract, before accepting the vehicle.
When the car is returned, the employee should inspect the car again with the rental car company representative, if available, to ensure the car is in the same condition.
Rental Car Insurance
Travelers should decline rental car insurance. If the traveler accepts the car insurance, it will be deducted from their reimbursement.
However, travelers should accept all insurance coverage when renting a car in a foreign country.
Rental Car Accidents
Should a rental car accident occur, travelers need to submit a written accident report to the rental car company, local authorities, and Lesley’s Chief Financial Officer.
For Off-Campus Instructional travel, the scheduler for that program also needs to be notified.
Rental Car Reimbursement
If rental car is not being paid by direct bill, the original car rental agreement receipt is required for reimbursement.
Employees may use their personal car for business purposes, if it’s less expensive than renting a car, taxi or alternative transportation, or if it’s timelier than taking public transportation.
Employees using cars for Off-Campus Instructional travel can be reimbursed to a maximum of 600 miles per weekend, without prior approval.
Reimbursement for Personal Car Usage
Travelers are reimbursed for business usage of personal cars. Effective January 1, 2017, the mileage reimbursement rate is $.535 per mile.
Employees won’t be reimbursed for their daily commute. Automobile mileage allowance assumes coverage of all transportation.
The automobile mileage allowance assumes coverage of all transportation and operating costs including gas, oil, towing charge, repairs, auto insurance, and damages. Tolls and parking are reimbursed in addition to the allowance.
Employees are not reimbursed for tickets, fines, or traffic violations. Requests for mileage reimbursement should include starting point, destination, number of miles, and purpose of trip.
Automated tolls paid (e.g. Fastlane/EZ-Pass) don’t require documentation as long as the charges are reasonable.
In case of insurance claims, including theft or damages while on University business, the employee's personal insurance coverage is the primary insurance carrier.
Rail travel should be made through the University’s preferred travel agency, Egencia.
Rail-Class of Service
The traveler should use rail travel when it is the most convenient and least costly transportation available. Rail travel should be the lowest available fare that offers reserved seating. The traveler’s budget unit head may authorize business class if the cost is less than a comparable coach class airfare.
The most economical mode of transportation should be used to and from air, bus, and rail terminals. In many cities, transportation to and from airports is provided free by many major hotels. Travelers should consider public transportation and shuttle service. Employees traveling to the same location should share ground transportation when possible.
Reasonable use of a car service is reimbursed only if it costs less than other available modes of transportation, such as taxi or shuttle, or if a valid business reason precludes the use of a more economical mode of transportation.
Ground Transportation Reimbursement Requirements
Original receipts are required for all ground transportation expenses.
Travelers should use standard accommodations at non-luxury hotels and motels when making their reservations. In many locations, special rates have been negotiated by the University or our preferred agency.
Travelers should be aware of and use these discounts when appropriate. Seminars and conferences often offer favorable rates for attendees at particular hotels. Employees attending conferences at specific hotels should request a room at the minimum rate offered.
Hotel Spending Guidelines
The University will pay for the cost of a single room unless a larger room is shared with another employee on University business or if special business circumstances warrant a larger room or suite. Documentation of such situations should be included in the Travel Expense Report.
The Dean or budget unit head should approve exceptions prior to the expense being incurred.
Expanded accommodations for family members or guests are the employee’s responsibility and are not reimbursable.
Normally, reservations guarantee a late arrival. If a traveler can’t honor the reservation, it’s the traveler’s responsibility to cancel the room, in compliance with the hotel’s terms. Travelers should call the hotel or Lesley’s preferred agency directly.
Hotel Reimbursement Requirements
The original detailed hotel bill is required for reimbursement of lodging expenses. Any personal expense should be labeled on the hotel bill and should not be included on the Travel Expense Report.
Hotel expenses should be broken down by day and category (room, meals, miscellaneous) when claimed on the Travel Expense Report. If receiving meal reimbursements, the traveler must include detailed (itemized) meal receipts. If the detailed receipt is not included, the meal will not be reimbursed.
If the hotel bill indicates there was more than one guest, and the expenses aren’t split accordingly, the traveler must explain the guest’s business purpose, or adjust the cost differential (for example, single versus double room).
Some smaller lodging establishments don’t provide an itemized bill. If a hotel can’t provide an itemized bill, the receipt from the establishment and record of payment is acceptable for reimbursement.
Hotel Frequent Guest Programs
Many hotels have frequent guest programs that reward travelers with free accommodations in exchange for a given number of paid room nights at a hotel or chain. Awards from such programs may be retained by the traveler for personal use. However, participation in these programs must not influence hotel selection which would result in incremental costs beyond the University or travel agency rates. Any membership fees associated with joining these programs is not reimbursable.
Lodging in a Private Residence
Travelers who stay in a private residence while travelling on business are reimbursed for reasonable actual expenses incurred to extend appreciation for the hospitality.
Lodging Per Diem
Reimbursement for lodging is primarily made on the basis of actual expenses incurred. Under special circumstances, such as lodging in foreign countries where receipts are difficult to get, a per diem for lodging may be warranted.
Lesley’s Controller must authorize the use of a lodging per diem, in advance of travel. Per diem accounts are based on Federal Travel Regulation Guidelines.
Overnight lodging is provided if a traveler’s destination is 50 or more miles from their home. Any deviation to this requires documentation of reason, and is subject to budget unit head approval.
Reimbursement for lodging within the general area of one’s residence may be considered personal income as defined by IRS regulation and is subject to income tax.
Personal meals are defined as meal expenses incurred by the traveler when dining alone or with another employee on a business trip. Travelers must select the method for reimbursement (actual or per diem) and apply it for the entire trip.
Purchases of alcohol are generally not reimbursable. Those who wish to purchase alcohol with their meal or at a social event are expected to use their personal funds.
The per diem is paid at the rate of $39 per day where lodging is incurred and at $29.25 for the day of checkout. If no lodgings have been authorized, there is no per diem. Mixing reimbursements methods on the same trip is not allowed.
Off-Campus Instructional travel is always by per diem.
If being reimbursed for actual meals, the traveler must submit original, detailed with the request for reimbursement. Failure to supply receipts may result in not being reimbursed for a meal.
Business meals, while traveling on University business, are meals taken with clients or prospects during which specific business discussions take place.
If a traveler is being reimbursed for actual meals, they need to submit an original detailed (itemized) receipt with their Travel Expense Report.
Employees are reimbursed for business meal expenses according to actual and reasonable costs. In accordance with IRS regulations, a written explanation identifying the date, place, specific purpose of the meal, persons in attendance and business relationship must accompany the Travel Expense Report for reimbursement.
Other Travel Expenses
Employees are reimbursed for conference registration costs. Auxiliary conference activities such as sightseeing trips, museum tours, golf outings, and local travel costs to get to these activities are not reimbursable.
Conference registration fees should be paid through a purchase order, and are not to be charged to credit cards.
When traveling on University business, business telephone calls are reimbursed, as well as one telephone call of reasonable length to home per day.
Requests for reimbursement must include the original bill noting the call made.
Travelers are reimbursed for reasonable gratuities. The amount of the tip should reflect the quality of the actual service received or the prevailing custom for that particular service.
Gratuities for meals should be included as part of the cost of the meal. However, meals using the per diem allowance method already include the tip amount.
All other tips should be reported as miscellaneous on the Travel Expense Report. The traveler should include a brief description of the tip, for example, bellhop, taxi driver, etc.
Miscellaneous Reimbursable Expenses
Travelers are reimbursed for miscellaneous expenses associated with business travel. Examples include parking, tolls, tips, currency conversion fees, business office expenses, one phone call home per day, and costs associated with baggage handling and storage.
The travel expenses of an employee's spouse, significant other, friend, or family member are not reimbursable without written authorization from the employee's department head.
If approved, the reimbursement is considered personal income and subject to income tax.
When travel expenses include costs related to companion travel, a written explanation and clear documentation identifying the incremental costs of all expense items affected should accompany the Travel Expense Report.
Prepayment of Expenses
Lesley University does not provide travel advances, unless the trip involves traveling with students. Lesley’s Finance Office must approve all advances. Advances must be substantiated to the Controller's Office within 14 days after returning from the trip.
The traveler must submit original receipts for all expenses on a Lesley University expense voucher, and note the receipt of the cash advance on the form.
The traveler must deposit any leftover money with Lesley’s Cashier. Failure to follow these policies will result in the refusal of additional cash advances.
Travel Expense Reporting
To get reimbursement for business related travel expenses the traveler must complete the Lesley Travel Expense Report [link to Excel file] and include original, itemized receipts.
The traveler should submit all travel reports and reconciliations in a timely manner, typically within 30 days of completing the travel.
In compliance with IRS regulations, the traveler must submit all expenses within 60 days after they were incurred. If the traveler submits expenses after the 60 days, Lesley’s Finance Office will return the request for reimbursement to the traveler and it won’t be processed for payment.
The traveler’s supervisor, and budget head if appropriate, must sign reimbursement requests and forward them to Lesley’s Accounts Payable Office. Accounts Payable issues reimbursement checks.
An employee is personally responsible for payments of the following travel expenses:
- Business expenses not substantiated by original receipts or documentation
- First-class travel
- Flight insurance or baggage loss insurance
- Personal purchase of goods and services
- Personal entertainment
- Airline clubs
- Rental car mileage for personal use
- Rental of portable GPS
- Rental of child car seats
- Rental of luxury or sports car models
- Traffic fines
- Hotel valet service
- Excessive personal phone calls
- Hotel amenities (in–room movies, mini-bar, laundry or dry cleaning)
- Magazines and newspapers
- Costs incurred by failure to cancel reservations
Lesley’s Finance Office has final authority in determining reimbursable expenses.
Occasionally, the University is required to pay the travel expenses for non-employees, such as guest speakers, performers, or prospective faculty or staff. All non-employee travel must adhere to the aforementioned University policy and procedures.
Departments should arrange such travel through University preferred suppliers and agencies. Doing so minimizes the out-of-pocket expenses of the non-employee, and provides the University with financial oversight. For more information regarding non-employee or guest travel, contact our Procurement Office.