Accounting - Travel Reimbursement Policy



The purpose of this Policy on Travel Reimbursement is to establish Hudson County Community College’s (“College”) employee travel reimbursement policy guidelines for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in connection with approved business travel.


The College and its Board of Trustees (“Board”) are committed to ensuring that staff and faculty members traveling on official College business exercise the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business at their own expense. Expenditures for approved travel are reimbursable in accordance with College travel policies and procedures.
The Board delegates to the President the responsibility to develop procedures and guidelines for the implementation of this policy. The Finance Office will ensure compliance with this policy in all relevant actions. 

Approved: June 2021
Approved by: Board of Trustees
Category: Accounting
Subcategory: Travel Reimbursement
Scheduled for Review: June 2024
Responsible Office(s): Finance



Accounting Department Procedure on Travel Reimbursement

I. Introduction

The purpose of this travel procedure is to set forth the basic guidelines for all personnel, defined as employees of the State of New Jersey when traveling on official Hudson County Community College (“College”) business. The intent of this procedure is that the individual traveler neither gain nor lose personal funds while traveling on official College business. All reimbursable travel must be authorized prior to any travel. All approved travel must be essential to achieving the goals or fulfilling a particular department's responsibilities and is to be conducted in the most economical and practical manner for the College.

    1. The College’s policy is to reimburse employees for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in connection with approved business travel.
    2. An employee who needs to travel on College-related business shall, after receiving preliminary approval from the employee’s Supervisor, complete a Travel Request Form (if trip expenses are expected to exceed $100), and, if needed, a Check Request Form. The purpose for the travel, and the account number for the funding source(s) available to cover the cost of the travel, should be indicated where requested on the appropriate forms.
    3. The forms must be signed by the employee’s Supervisor and the responsible Dean or Executive Cabinet Officer prior to travel. These signatures indicate approval of the employee’s travel request and the availability of College funds. For travel by Trustees and Executive Officers, the forms must be approved by the President.
    4. When travel has been completed, a Travel Reimbursement Form must be completed along with the Travel Request Form (if needed), and all appropriate receipts must be attached. The employee shall submit the forms and receipts to the Accounting Department for processing. The Controller is the final reviewer/approver for all Travel Reimbursement forms.
    5. The following reimbursement allowances are in effect:

a. Meal Allowance – including gratuities, the college allows the federal rate per day as implemented by the General Services Administration (“GSA”). Receipts must support expenses. There should be no request for reimbursement for any meal costs included in conference or association registration fees. For more information on rates based on location, please review guidelines at
b. Auto Allowance – if the use of the employee’s personal automobile is required due to local or short distance travel, the employee shall be reimbursed at the appropriate mileage rate, plus tolls and parking, with proof of travel distance and receipt of expenses. The applicable mileage rate is typically the IRS approved rate.

c. Receipts – required for all expense reimbursements. No expenses shall be reimbursed without supporting receipts.

6. Prior to submitting the Travel Reimbursement Form to the Accounting Department, the employee shall submit the form and supporting documentation to the employee’s Supervisor and the appropriate Dean or Executive Officer for approval and confirmation that the claimed reimbursable expenses are within the limits and allowances of the College. It is essential that an employee’s Supervisor reviews and approves the reimbursement request for “reasonable and necessary” expenses only. The Supervisor is charged with utilizing business judgment if a particular item not listed in the policy or procedure is submitted for approval.

7. Travel Request (Appendix A) and Travel Reimbursement (Appendix B) forms are available on the College Finance Portal.

II. Approvals

This procedure covers all administrative employees, faculty and staff, and others authorized to travel on behalf of the College. Compliance with this procedure is the responsibility of the individual traveling on College business. This procedure applies to all travel regardless of the source of funds.

If travel reimbursement is from a grant or contract, the employee must receive prior approval from the Grants Office or College Accounting Department in order to establish that all anticipated travel costs will be allowed for reimbursement in accordance with the terms of the grant or contract.

Staff members traveling on official College business are expected to exercise the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business at their own expense. Expenditures for approved travel are reimbursable only in accordance with these College travel procedures.

A. Travel Approvals
All conference, convention, staff training, workshop and seminar travel require prior approval in accordance with this procedure.

B. Allowable Expenses
Reimbursement travel expenses are limited to those expenses essential to transacting the official business of the College. Only the actual and necessary expenses incidental to the traveler's ordinary comfort in the performances of his/her official duties will be reimbursed. Business expenses must be reasonable and necessary. Reimbursement for tips, gratuities and similar fees is permitted provided the amounts paid are within normal acknowledged standards.  

C. Extraordinary Expenses
Requests for reimbursement of extraordinary or unusual expenses that either could not have been anticipated prior to travel, or that exceed the maximum allowable rates, are subject to approval before reimbursement. A written justification must be completed on the Travel Reimbursement Form explaining the circumstances necessitating the expenses, along with all appropriate supporting documentation, which must be sent directly to the appropriate Department head, Dean or Vice President for approval. The President must approve extraordinary situations for Executive Officers or Trustees. The documented approval should then be attached to the applicable forms and submitted to Accounting for reimbursement. 

D. Special Conditions
Employees who have any special travel needs not explicitly addressed in these policies should contact the appropriate Department head, Dean or Vice President for approval, and the College President if necessary.

III. Process

A. The Approval Process

    1. An employee who needs to travel on College-related business shall, after obtaining the agreement of his/her Supervisor, complete a Travel Request Form.
    2. A Travel Request Form (Exhibit A) must be completed by the staff member for approval by the Supervisor and by the responsible Dean or Vice President prior to all overnight travel and rented vehicles, regardless of price. The President must approve forms for travel by Trustees and Executive Officers.
    3. No expenditures will be reimbursed when a Travel Request Form has been denied or rejected.
    4. When two or more staff members are expected to travel for the same purpose, each individual must submit a separate Travel Request Form. Other staff member(s) traveling for the same purpose must be referenced on the form.
    5. The approved reimbursement amount may be limited to a fixed amount at the Dean, Vice President or President's discretion.

B. Preparation and Distribution of the Travel Request Form

    1. The employee prepares the Travel Request Form and submits it to his/her Supervisor for approval.
    2. If approved by the Supervisor, the Supervisor shall forward the form to the Dean or Cabinet Member, as appropriate.
    3. If approved by the Dean or Cabinet Member, the Dean or Cabinet Member shall submit the form to the Business Office for validation by the Accounts Payable Officer and/or Grant Accountant, where applicable.

C. Staff Training

Staff training requested to enhance an employee’s skills, maintain current skills in technological developments, and/or gain knowledge/new information, requires pre-approval by the staff member’s Supervisor. If travel is involved, a Travel Request Form must also be prepared and submitted for approval in accordance with this procedure. As noted above, a Travel Request Form is required for rental vehicles and overnight lodging, regardless of cost.

V. Transportation

Wherever practical, travelers are expected to use the most economical means of transportation. Administrative travel may involve the use of a College-owned, private or rented vehicle, a public carrier, taxi, or car service.

A. College Vehicles
College vehicles may only be used for College-related travel and not for personal use unless specifically approved by the Board of Trustees. Operators must comply with all applicable vehicle laws and regulations, have a valid driver’s license, and are personally responsible for fines for all vehicle infractions and moving violations incurred during or as a result of their use of the College vehicle. 
Arrangements for reserving and picking up College vehicles are to be made with the College Facilities or Security Office. The Security Office maintains a list of authorized drivers for College vehicles. Extraordinary expenses (e.g., tire repair, repair of vehicular parts) while using the College vehicle are reimbursable provided an adequate written explanation and receipts are submitted and approved.  

B. Privately Owned Vehicles
Staff members using privately owned vehicles for official business will be reimbursed for mileage at the rate specified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Expenses for tolls and parking fees will be reimbursed at the cost incurred. 

C. Rental Vehicles
Certain unusual circumstances, such as the unavailability of public transportation or the non-feasibility of other modes of travel, may require the rental of a vehicle. In such cases, regardless of cost, the employee shall provide a written justification for the use of a rental vehicle on the Travel Request Form in advance of the travel date. The justification shall cite the need for the rental, provide reasons why other transportation is not available or feasible to use, and include the estimated total cost. Approval, if granted, shall be limited to the rental of an economy or mid-size vehicle. Rental vehicles must be at no greater cost than the prevailing market rates and original copies of the rental agreement odometer readings at the point of origin and the point of return, and proof of payment, must be attached to the Travel Voucher in order for this expense to be reimbursed. 

D. Public Carriers
Travel to and from the destination should be by the most direct and economical route. Reimbursement is based on the actual cost of travel by a public carrier (e.g., rail, bus, airplane). Original receipts are required for rail and airplane travel. Coach or economy class will be used for plane and train travel.

E. Taxis and Airport Car Service
Necessary taxicab charges are permitted, but only where public transportation is not readily available, practical, or in the case of an emergency. Regularly scheduled car services may be used to/from an employee’s home and the airport, and to/from the airport and the trip destination when public transportation is not available or practical, and only if the car service is less costly than a taxi. 

VI. Conventions, Conferences, Staff Trainings, Workshops

A. Definition: Conference travel and convention travel is defined as travel not directly related to the employee’s duties and responsibilities but which is undertaken for:

      1. The enhancement of professional skills.
      2. The exchange of information, ideas, and methodology.
      3. Promotion of the College’s image.

Travel outside the United States, regardless of the cost, requires approval of the Dean, Division Vice President, and the College President. 

B. Expenses: For conventions, conferences, staff trainings, workshops, training seminars and for trips in excess of 24-hour periods requiring overnight lodging (including situations in which a package arrangement includes lodging and meals as an integral part of the scheduled activities), the allowable (GSA) per diem reimbursements (per union contract) are limited to actual reasonable expenditures. 

C. Day Trips: Meals for one-day trips that do not involve overnight lodging are not reimbursed except under circumstances where the travel may be to localities where food costs exceed those at or in the vicinity of the College, or where the length of a day trip would exceed a typical working day.

D. Lodging Costs: Expenditures are fully reimbursable for lodging and meals that are an integral part of the scheduled activities of a conference, convention, staff training, etc. Meal reimbursements are limited to the Meal Allowance. When lodging is not an integral component of the event, employees are entitled to reimbursement for a single standard room at a business class hotel. 

E. Registration Fees: Registration fees for conventions or workshops are reimbursable. Original paid receipts must be submitted for the registration fee. 

F. Excluded Expenditures

      1. First-class air travel. Such accommodations are permitted only where less expensive accommodations are unavailable or not feasible. First-class air travel requires special approval of the President. 
      2. Expenditures of a personal nature such as a valet service, entertainment, alcoholic beverages and other charges of a similar nature.
      3. Fines incurred for parking, moving violations, or any expenses related to violations of applicable laws while driving a personal, College-owned, or rental vehicle.
      4. Where for the traveler’s personal convenience or through the taking of a leave, an interruption occurs in travel or a deviation from the most precise route, the reimbursement allowed is not to exceed the cost of the most economical route. 
      5. Hotel accommodations at above-market business rates are permitted only where other accommodations are unavailable or impractical considering the employee’s travel itinerary. Written justification and approval must be obtained for reimbursement. The College President shall approve this request.

VII. Prospective Employees and Guest Speakers

Travel expenses of prospective employees and guest speakers must be approved and reimbursed under the same conditions, limitations, and requirements of staff members traveling on College business as set forth in this procedure; however, travel reimbursements to prospective employees and guest speakers is discretionary.

Reimbursement for moving expenses will not be not authorized without Board of Trustees approval.

The Dean, Department Head, or Search Committee Chair is responsible for informing the individual of the policies and procedures governing travel, especially as they pertain to covered and excluded expenditures, and on how to obtain reimbursement for travel costs. For allowable expenses, the procedure is as follows:

    1. As soon as the candidate’s interview has been scheduled, the Department Head or Chair should prepare a Travel Request Form to obtain the required approval. The Travel Request Form must indicate the title of the position being interviewed. 
    2. Upon approval, the Department Head or Search Committee Chair shall advise the candidate to request any hotel or other vendor providing transportation, lodging or food service to bill the candidate directly. No College employee should pay for services connected to the candidate’s stay. Reimbursement will be made to the candidate within two (2) weeks of submission. 
    3. The Department Head or Chair shall obtain an itemized listing of all travel costs bearing the candidate’s signature. Submission of this form is to be made promptly to the Business Office.
    4. A separate invoice and purchase order form must be prepared for each candidate. 

VIII. Reimbursement of Travel Expenses

A Travel Reimbursement Voucher (Appendix B) is to be completed and submitted within two (2) weeks after the completion of the conference or trip. Approved Travel Expense Vouchers should be submitted to the Accounts Payable section of the Business Office together with all original receipts and supporting documents (certificate/sign-in sheet) for all expenses requested for reimbursement.

    1. IRS regulations on travel provide that any advances on travel not substantiated within sixty (60) days of the expenditure could result in taxable income reportable on Form W-2 of the individual who received the advance.
    2. The Travel Reimbursement Voucher must contain the following information:
      1. The ten-digit account number being charged.
      2. The name and address of the travelers.
      3. Approved Travel Request Form (if applicable).
      4. The date of travel, destination, mileage, tolls and other costs incurred. 
      5. Where lodging costs are shared with others, this fact should be stated on the voucher. In such cases, the reimbursement is limited to the traveler’s proportionate share of the costs.
      6. Mileage Cost: Commutation for business purposes multiplied by the mileage/reimbursement rate in effect per mile. Attach Google maps/directions or similar document to support the mileage traveled. 
      7. The voucher must be approved, as previously noted.
      8. Partial reimbursement of travel expenses: In some instances, staff members request reimbursement for only a portion of the expenses incurred for travel. In such cases, the total expenses incurred should be itemized on the voucher but only the actual amount requested should be entered in the “Total” block and the phrase “Requesting Reimbursement for Only” should be typed/written in the body of the voucher. 
      9. Vouchers submitted to Accounts Payable that do not comply with the reimbursement procedure set forth herein and/or are missing information will be returned to the requestor for revision.
      10. Only travel expenses submitted with original copies of the receipts are reimbursable. Any voucher submitted without the necessary supporting documents or copies of receipts will be returned to the originator to complete/submit the required documentation. 
      11. Unspent cash advances are to be repaid to the Business Office in cash or check within sixty (60) days of travel completion. Any unexpended advance not returned within this time period will be treated as taxable income reportable on Form W-2 in accordance with current IRS regulations. 

Travel Request Form  Travel Reimbursement Form

Approved by Cabinet: July 2021
Related Board Policy: Accounting, Travel Reimbursement

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