Reimbursement Guidelines for CU-Affiliates: Faculty, Students, Staff

To ensure your reimbursement requests are processed in an efficient and expeditious manner, we ask that you please read and follow the guidelines listed below:

Key Compliance Matters:

  • All expenses must be for a valid business purpose that is necessary and reasonable in order to conduct University business and must provide a clear benefit to the University.
  • Expense reimbursements should be submitted to the Business Office in a timely manner, preferably within 10 days of your last expense
    – Receipts received by the department after 120 days of the last expense date may be considered taxable income
  • All receipts, including meal receipts, must be itemized and include proof of payment.
  • Purchase of equipment/supplies over $500.00 must be made through the Business Office – Contact Lawino Lurum with your order request

Travel and Lodging:


  • Always purchase the lowest cost economy ticket, unless there is a documented condition why an upgrade is necessary
    – Upgrades to business or first class travel are considered “segregated”, and are not always reimbursable
    – If upgrades are necessary and allowable, at the time of booking obtain a quote for a round-trip economy flight, and submit with your purchased ticket
  • Ensure proof of payment is clearly visible
    – Note that websites such as Expedia often show only an “estimated fare” or “quote”; this is not a valid proof of payment
  • If using a federal grant (NSF, NSA, DoD, etc.) you must comply with Fly America / Open Skies Act, which generally requires use of a US based air carrier
  • Arrive the day before your event begins, and depart the day after it ends. Extending travel beyond the minimum days for personal reasons requires additional documentation, or travel will not be reimbursed. Please consult the department before purchasing tickets involving extended stays.
  • Clearly document changes in travel plans, or other unusual circumstances

Ground Transportation

  • Local transportation should specify origin and destination (e.g., taxi from airport to hotel)
  • Car rentals should be purchased through Hertz when possible, using Columbia account CDP# 254158
    – When using Hertz, DO NOT purchase Liability or other insurance from the agency. Loss/Damage Waiver and Liability Insurance is included under the Columbia contract. Insurance may be reimbursed from other vendors, if Hertz is not available

    – Provide a copy of the rental agreement with proof of payment
  • Use of personal vehicles may be claimed, and are reimbursed based on mileage. Gas is not eligible for reimbursement when using a personal vehicle.
    – Provide an online printed map showing your origin/destination and total number of miles

    – List this expense as “Personal vehicle mileage” on your reimbursement form as a line item
          – For travel occurring in 2018, the formula for mileage is: Total miles * 0.545 = $ amt
          – For example, you drive 100 miles round-trip to attend a conference. 100 miles * 0.545 = $54.50 (can be claimed as reimbursement)


The University will reimburse travelers for the cost of their rooms and any applicable taxes and fees when traveling on approved University business. When possible, the University’s preferred hotel properties should be utilized and can be viewed at

The cost of a hotel stay in the US should not exceed $350 per night (excluding taxes). International travelers should obtain room rates that do not exceed $400 per night (US dollars, excluding taxes).


  • Provide an itemized receipt, showing all items purchased
  • Ensure proof of payment is visible on the receipt (“CASH”, “VISA xxxx”, or similar)
  • Provide the names of all participants at the meal

Business meetings involving only University personnel and students should not exceed the following thresholds (per person), excluding tips and tax:

  • Up to $35 for breakfast,
  • Up to $35 for lunch,
  • Up to $70 for dinner

List of Non-Reimbursable Expenses:

For more Travel and Business Expense Information:


Travel & Business Expense Report (TBER)

The Payee is responsible for completing and signing the TBER.
The Business Office can assist in completing the form on your behalf; however, a detailed list explaining each expense must be provided. Once the Business Office completes the form, it will be sent to you for your review and signature. Please note that this may delay the process.

You will find the worksheet online at: 

Please note the Extra Page for extra line items for large Business or Travel expense reports.

Please follow the instructions on the first sheet of the Workbook. You may leave Section 6 (“GL Unit—- Site”) blank.

Foreign travel (currency conversion)

Use Oanda to obtain conversions for any expense incurred in a foreign currency. Enter the amount and date of the expense. Choose your currencies. Be sure to print out a copy of the conversion and enter the USD amount on your worksheet. For expenses paid by debit/credit card, you may submit the debit/credit card statement indicating the USD amount charged on your card.

Assembling the Expense Report

Please submit the completed and signed TBER Form to the Business Office along with all of the corresponding receipts (and corresponding currency conversion pages) correctly labeled with the corresponding expense numbers on the worksheet(s). The receipts should be taped to a standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper. Please do not staple the receipts.


  • Provide a clear, specific business purpose
    • Acceptable: “Travel to _____ to participate in a conference on _______. July 1-5, 2017”
    • Not acceptable: “conference travel”
  • List each expense you are submitting, one item per line
    • Date of Expense is the date you purchased an item (NOT the date of travel, but the date the ticket was purchased; this may be several months before your trip)
  • Expenses in foreign currency must be converted to US Dollars.  Use a currency converter such as to convert all foreign receipts to US Dollars.
  • If you have more than 8 receipts, use the “Extra Page” sheet
  • Indicate the source of funding for your request in writing: via email or on the TBER
    • Example: “start-up funds” or “annual research funds”
  • Save a copy of the TBER excel file on your computer and enter your name and address for quick re-use
  • Take a copy of the expense sheet with you during travel, and record expenses as they occur
  • Submit local business expenses as receipts are collected, as opposed to accumulating multiple receipts throughout a semester
  • Please allow up to 4 weeks for processing before contacting the department for status or payment updates

Please contact Lawino Lurum with any questions or concerns at 212.854.7008 or