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Travel Policy


The purpose of the Colgate University travel policy is to provide faculty and staff with specific guidelines covering travel, entertainment, and other business expenses as well as the documentation required to substantiate such expenses and/or reimbursement.

It is not possible to anticipate all situations that may occur traveling for or entertaining on behalf of Colgate. As a result, these policies are meant to serve as guidelines to follow when incurring work-related expenses. It is expected that employees will interpret these policies to keep expenses to a minimum and ensure that such expenses are directly related to an employee’s job responsibilities and the mission of the university. The primary responsibility for adherence to these guidelines rests with the individual and his/her respective department head/supervisor.


Employees must fly coach class and should coordinate air travel needs with one of the university's preferred travel agencies:

Please contact purchasing at 315-228-7474.

If the use of the Preferred Travel Consultant is not considered the best option, university personnel may utilize the services offered through Internet sites or other travel agencies. If an alternate travel booking method is used, the following guidelines must be followed:
  • All charges for alternate travel methods are to be billed either to the university-supplied Chase MasterCard travel card (Colgate Chase Card) or an employee’s personal credit card. Individuals choosing to use their own personal credit card should be aware that reimbursement will not take place until after the trip is completed.

  • A comparable quote from the preferred consultant should be obtained. Please be advised that most of the additional services offered through the preferred consultant are not available when using an Internet site for travel-related purchases. Especially important are the 24-hour emergency services and the assistance of travel professionals are not available when using Internet travel providers.

  • Colgate University will not be responsible for travel-related problems, including monetary losses that occur from the selecting of travel through the Internet or use of any unapproved travel agency.

Monetary advances are not permitted for air travel. Payments will not be made directly to any unapproved travel bureau. If an employee wishes to use an agency for group or team travel other than the preferred consultant they must obtain approval from the Director of Purchasing before any commitment is made.


Rental car

Employees should rent a car only when it is required for daily use at the business destination or if there is no other reasonable means of transportation. Individuals should go to the Colgate Accounting Office website for a detailed outline of procedures to be followed when renting a car for business purposes.

Personal car

The use of an employee’s personal car for business travel will be reimbursed at the federally approved mileage rate as communicated by the Accounting Office. Effective January 1, 2015, the reimbursable mileage is 57.5 cents per mile, in accordance with IRS guidelines. Mileage reimbursement should never exceed the cost of alternative transportation.

It is important for employees to be aware that the vehicle owner’s insurance policy will always provide the primary liability coverage. The university will not provide reimbursement for the deductibles associated with the primary insurance under these circumstances. All incidents should be reported to the risk management and endowment coordinator for review by the university’s insurance carrier to determine whether there is secondary liability coverage under the university’s automobile liability policy.

The university’s commercial automobile policy will not provide collision or comprehensive coverage when an employee’s vehicle is used for business travel. The vehicle owner’s policy will provide the only coverage for these types of claims.
The university will reimburse employees the actual cost of moderately priced accommodations. The hotel billing statement must be attached to the Travel Expense Summary report or to an employee’s Colgate Chase Card activity statement.

New York State (NYS) sales tax will not be reimbursed. Sales Tax Exemption Certificates are available at the Accounting Office and should be presented at the hotel when checking in to a NYS hotel. Please note that the NYS sales tax exemption number is located in the lower left portion of the Colgate Chase Card which may be honored by the vendor to eliminate the sales tax. Certificates are also available in the Accounting Office for lodging in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Please contact the Accounting Office for further information.

The university will not reimburse for any mini-bar charges.

The university will not reimburse charges for laundry services or in-room movies for stays of four consecutive nights or less.
When it is convenient for the employee to stay with friends or relatives, the reasonable cost of a gift or meal is reimbursable. A receipt and an explanation of the gift or meal must be attached to the Travel Expense Summary report. The maximum amount is $50 and cannot be a “cash payment.” Only one gift or meal per trip to a host is permitted.
Meals and Entertainment
Meals and entertainment expenses are allowable expenditures if they are reasonable and necessary expenses directly related to the business or functions of the university and consistent with Colgate’s not-for-profit status. Departments may choose to be more restrictive than this policy due to budget constraints or other reasons; however, the maximum amounts set forth in this policy may not be exceeded unless there is an extraordinary circumstance.

While it is not encouraged, a limited amount of alcohol in connection with a traveler’s meal is reimbursable. Please note, however, that reimbursement for alcohol purchases is prohibited under government grants.

Meals While Traveling

Employees have the option of choosing one of two options: (a) the per diem allowance; or (b) actual expenditure reimbursement. The per diem allowance is a daily rate that may be selected in lieu of submitting receipts. The actual expenses method requires the submission of receipts to support expenses claimed.

Per Diem Allowance

Domestic Travel: An employee traveler may be reimbursed for meals and incidentals as indicated below:

Per-Day Reimbursement 
w/o Receipts 
High Cost*
w/o Receipts 
 High Cost*
w/o Receipts 
Breakfast  $7 $12 $11
Lunch  $11 $18  $17  $24  $11
Dinner  $18 $31
 $29  $42  $18
Incidentals  $3 $3  $3  $3  $3
Maximum total
 $39  $64  $60  $85  $39

* The university has determined the following to be "high cost cities" for Colgate employees: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.  Meal reimbursement for all other cities will be made at the standard per diem rate or based on actual expenditures with original receipts.

NOTE: The per diem rate must be reduced when a colleague, vendor, alumnus, or other third-party vendor pays for a meal. An example of a per diem rate adjustment is as follows:
  • When the conference attended provides some meals as part of the conference registration fee. For example: A traveler attends a 3-day conference. The conference provides breakfast for all attendees of the conference at no charge to participants. Since the cost of breakfast is part of the conference registration fee, the traveler is not entitled to reimbursement for breakfast during the days it is provided. If the full day rate is $39, the partial per diem allowed for the days the conference serves breakfast is $32 ($39 less $7).

Foreign Travel

Due to fluctuations in exchange rates, foreign travel reimbursement will be made based on (a) the standard per diem allowance above; or (b) actual expenditure reimbursement with submission of receipts using the exchange rate on the date of the expense.  A useful website is Oanda,

Actual expenses

The employee traveler may be reimbursed for the actual cost of meals and gratuities. Standard practice allows for tipping ranges from 15% to 20% of the bill. Tips for meals in excess of 20% of meal cost will not be reimbursed.
  • Original receipts are required for all meal expenses, regardless of amount, if this option is chosen. If a group of colleagues splits a bill and original receipts are not readily available, the traveler should document the cost of their individual portion of the bill as well as the circumstances.

  • Costs incurred for meals must be reasonable. Meals may not be either lavish or extravagant. For high-cost cities, the maximum that can be claimed per person in any single day is $85.00. For all other cities, the maximum is $60.00.

Non-travel business-related meals

  1. Meals with a clearly substantiated business purpose: In cases where university employees meet over a meal when not traveling, the cost of the meal is considered a non-reimbursable personal expense unless: 1) the primary purpose of the meeting is to conduct business, and 2) there is a clear and compelling reason to meet over a meal. Generally, these conditions are met when it is not possible for employees to meet during other working hours, and the purpose of the meeting is to conduct business in accordance with a formal agenda.

  2. Non-travel–related meals eaten alone do not qualify for reimbursement.

  3. Infrequent, occasional meals provided to a group of employees, such as a holiday party should generally serve the purpose of promoting goodwill, employee relations, morale, or to celebrate retirements, or major (e.g., 25 year) anniversaries of employment with the university. They must be reasonable and should not be extravagant. Meals which may be classified as personal events such as birthdays, weddings, showers, etc. are not allowable expenditures.

  4. Meals that do not fall into one of the classifications outlined above will be considered taxable wages with the appropriate federal, state and FICA taxes deducted from the employees wage payment.

  5. Required documentation for business-related meals includes the date, time, location, nature of the gathering, and names and titles of those in attendance. In cases where there are more than six people in attendance, the name of the committee or organization and the number of participants is sufficient. Original receipts must accompany the request for reimbursement of actual meal costs.

  6. Meal costs must be approved by the employee’s department head/supervisor whether submitted through the travel summary form or as part of the Colgate Chase card monthly statement of activity.

Business Entertainment

Individuals conducting fund raising are limited to a maximum of $100.00 per day for each person entertained. Entertainment expenses greater than $100.00 per day/per person must be approved by the vice president for finance & administration or the president of the university.

Personal entertainment expense (other than meals) is not normally reimbursable. If an employee is entertaining university guests for business purposes, names of those being entertained should be provided along with the purpose of the entertainment. Failure to provide that information may result in the IRS treating the reimbursement as taxable income to the employee.

Other Expenses

  1. Companions:  Expenses for a companion are not reimbursable unless the companion’s attendance is necessary for business purposes.

  2. Telephone:  For those employees not eligible for a university cell phone stipend, business calls made while away from the office will be reimbursed. Calls home will be reimbursed at the rate of one call per day (of reasonable length). Direct long distance calls from a hotel room can be expensive and should be avoided.

  3. Miscellaneous:  Any necessary expense over $10, not previously described must be receipted and described.

  4. Non-reimbursable Expenses: The following will not be reimbursed by the university:
    • Fines for parking or moving violations
    • Movies or other personal entertainment for stays of four consecutive nights or less.
    • Laundry services (for stays of four consecutive nights or less)
    • Lost or stolen personal property (including cash)
    • Costs incurred at home, such as childcare
    • Life, flight, or baggage insurance
    • Companion expenses

Travel Advances
Employees who travel regularly as part of their work responsibilities should use the Colgate JP Morgan corporate card to cover expenses associated with their business trip. For trips involving students that need a cash advance of $150 or less, such advances will still be provided through the cashier’s window. For all other advances, including student trips that require more than a $150 cash advance, requests must be made five (5) business days prior to the travel date and will be processed through accounts payable. In these instances, the cash advance will be sent directly to the employees’ bank account.
Travel Settlements
All requests for travel reimbursements must be approved by the employee’s department head/supervisor. Travel Expense Summaries will also be reviewed by the Accounting Office personnel. If a refund is due to Colgate, a check payable to Colgate University should be attached to the Travel Expense Summary Form. When travel occurs outside of the U.S. and foreign currency is involved, please indicate the exchange rate in effect during the travel period to expedite processing.
Reporting Requirements
The university must implement and adhere to regulations issued by the Internal Revenue Service and other governmental agencies. All travel expense summaries must include the following:
  • Information to establish the business purpose of the travel, entertainment, or other expenditure
  • The amount, date, and place for each expenditure
  • Substantiation of the expenditure with original receipts (except for per diem meal expenses).
  • The return of any unused cash advances within 30 days of completing the trip

Reimbursements for Third Parties
Expenses to be reimbursed by a third party (individuals, government, public or private entity) can be charged to the university if the expenses are for a purpose that fulfills the business purpose of the individual in carrying out their responsibilities as an employee of the University (business related). The third party verification form should be completed and forwarded to the Accounting Office for review.