The university pays directly or reimburses individuals for expenses that are necessary and appropriate to conduct University business. This policy outlines the guiding principles, reimbursement and travel policies and examples of business-related expenses at Stanford University. This policy applies to all fund types and business expenses, including travel undertaken for university business and purchases of items to be owned by Stanford. It should be used in conjunction with resources and procedural information on the Gateway to Financial Activities (Fingate) website. This policy is based on and in alignment with the expectations set forth by AGM 1.1.1: Code of Conduct, specifically with regard to employing sound business practices and exercising prudent financial management in the stewardship of University resources.
This policy is applicable to direct payments and reimbursements of:
Additional information on purchasing methods can be found in AGM 5.3: Purchasing Goods and Services.
a. Supporting University Travelers
Stanford is committed to supporting domestic and international research, business and educational travel that advances the university’s mission, except when circumstances pose a significant risk to health or safety. Exigent circumstances may necessitate additional restrictions or guidance with regard to travel on behalf of the university.
Definition of University-Sponsored Travel
University-sponsored travel is defined as when the university pays directly or reimburses individuals for travel expenses that are necessary and appropriate to conduct university business. This includes the use of any funding source for which the university has financial responsibility and accountability, including operating budgets, donor gifts, federally-sponsored grants and awards, and any other restricted or unrestricted fund. Student and postdoctoral scholar travel that is directly related to their individual course of study, or for which academic credit may be awarded, is considered university-sponsored travel, even if the travel is funded via their base financial support.
Split or Partially Funded Travel
When travel expenses for Stanford faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars or students will be shared by Stanford University and one or more external organizations, even if only a minority of the travel expenses are sponsored by Stanford, the trip is considered split.
In terms of the booking policy, split travel is considered university-sponsored travel and must be purchased through a Stanford Travel booking channel following the Business and Travel Expense Policies detailed here and on the Fingate website.
If it is not easy to separate out the costs that will be covered by the external party, the Stanford Travel Card may be used to pay for the total cost of the trip, then Stanford must be reimbursed by the traveler or travel arranger for the external party portion. See How To Return Personal Expenses Charged to a Travel Card.
Any portion of travel that Stanford pays for must follow Stanford Travel policies and guidelines.
Fully Externally-sponsored Travel
When an outside institution or entity asks Stanford faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars or students to travel on that organization’s behalf and provides full payment for those travel expenses, the trip is considered fully externally-sponsored, also referred to as third party travel.
Stanford University resources may not be used to book, purchase or reimburse expenses for fully externally-sponsored travel. In these instances, the use of the Stanford Travel Card and advances is prohibited, and travel arrangements may not be booked via Stanford Travel booking channels.
The University reimburses individuals under the IRS Accountable Plan when the IRS regulations are met. Under this plan, the reimbursement is not taxable as income to the employee if the expense has a business connection and is also submitted in a timely manner (see sections below). In addition to expenses being reasonable and necessary, the requirements for reimbursement under the IRS Accountable Plan include the following:
a. Business Connection and Substantiation of Expense
Expenses incurred must have a business connection; that is, they must have been paid or incurred while performing Stanford business. The business connection must be adequately explained and documented in the University’s records. Documentation must include:
b. Timeliness of Transaction
Expenses should be submitted immediately and no later than 60 days after being incurred (e.g., return date from trip), or a reasonable explanation must be provided for an exception to be granted. Reimbursable expenses that are submitted after 60 days will be reported as taxable income to the IRS.
c. Non-employee Travel: Students and Visitors
In addition, if the individual incurring the expense is not an employee of the university, additional requirements apply:
Below are examples of reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses. For a complete list and more information, see Business and Travel Expense Policies on Fingate.
a. Examples of Reimbursable Business Expenses
b. Examples of Non-reimbursable Expenses