CG: TRAVEL POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
This policy establishes the regulations and rules for all travel approval and travel expense reimbursement for South Plains College (SPC) employees.
- All official business travel must be for the benefit of SPC only and must be related to the assigned duties of the employee.
- Authorization and reimbursement of travel expenses incurred by a SPC employee to conduct official business must be pre-authorized through the college Travel Requisition system (TR).
- All travel policies must be followed for all travel regardless of the fund source. Any travel funded by grant funds must be authorized and in accordance with the college policies and the activities set forth by the grant.
- The regulations specific for each fund group must be followed when preparing a travel request / expense form. If expenses are to be paid for one trip from both local funds and grant funds, the regulations for each type of fund must be followed.
- The official dates of a meeting, event, or conference are to be included in the Travel Requisition and the Travel Expense Form including a narrative of the reason for the trip. All brochures and agendas must be submitted with the travel expense form confirming the dates of the conference and any expenses that are provided with the meeting fees.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE TRAVELER
- A College employee is responsible for knowing the institutional travel policies and procedures prior to traveling. Each department is responsible for communicating sufficient information to each traveler in order to comply with institutional travel policies prior to the trip. If any employee is unsure of institutional policies, the traveler and/or department must seek assistance from the Purchasing Office prior to the trip.
- A college employee may not request authorization to travel or reimbursement for travel expenses that the employee has not actually incurred and should reasonably know are not reimbursable.
- A college employee that receives an overpayment for any travel expense must immediately reimburse the college for the overpayment. An overpayment is any amount of reimbursement that exceeds: (1. the limits authorized by policy, or (2. the amount of travel expense actually incurred during the authorized trip.
- The Travel Expense Form (See CGA.E) must be submitted to the Purchasing Office for processing within fourteen (14) days of the last date of travel to process the expenses for the trip including any approved reimbursements. Any travel completed within the last two weeks of August, the Travel Expense Form must be submitted for processing before the last day of August. Any expense form submitted after September 14th may be denied.
- In accordance with IRS regulations, any Travel Expense Forms received in the Purchasing Office that is over 60 days from the trip end date will be taxable to the traveler. The taxable date will be calculated based on the trip end date and the taxable expense will be reported to Payroll.
- The traveler is to pay all of his/her single share of expenses while traveling and seek any allowed reimbursement on a travel expense form.
- All travel must be approved through the online Travel Requisition process in the DPS system.
- All approvals must be acquired prior to your trip. Under no circumstance may an employee make reservations or pre-payments prior to receiving an authorized travel purchase order if the reservation cannot be cancelled without cost to the college.
GENERAL TRAVEL REQUEST PROCEDURES
- Travel Request
- The purpose of the online Travel Requisition (TR) is to:
- Seek approval for travel in advance prior to the trip.
- Initiate arrangements for coverage of classes/duties during absence.
- Schedule use of college vehicles.
- Verify that students are absent from classes while representing the college.
- Provide information regarding itinerary and place of stay in case of emergencies.
b. The submitted travel request will go through all approvals and the Purchasing Office will issue purchase orders to the various vendors to cover registration fees, lodging, personal reimbursements, transportation, etc. if requested. The employee may charge the trip expenses to their college-issued procurement credit card except for the rental vehicle once the traveler acquires an approved travel purchase order.
c. The Purchasing Office will provide the Dean of Students with the list of students who will be traveling and notify the Physical Plant Director of the need for an SPC vehicle.
d. When you are ready to travel, you will check out credit cards from the Purchasing Office, and upon your return the Travel Expense Form (See CGA.E), supporting documents and receipts will be returned to the Purchasing Office.
- Registration Fees
- If possible, all registration fees should be paid using the traveler’s college-issued procurement credit card.
- When requesting pre-payment of registration fees, the traveler must first complete a Travel Request detailing what is to be paid prior to their trip. The original registration form must be forwarded to the Purchasing Office for payment processing.
- If a fee is paid by the traveler in advance or at the conference site, reimbursement may be claimed on the Travel Expense Form when claiming all other expenses. Entertainment and other personal expenses are not reimbursable.
- Registration cancellation charges are reimbursable if a statement is given that includes the official business purpose for cancellation. If a traveler cancels for personal reasons and incurs cancellation charges, the charges may not be reimbursable.
- An SPC employee may charge or be reimbursed for transportation cost only when traveling on official business and only upon acquiring an authorized travel purchase order for the trip. The employee must select the most efficient method of transportation available. When traveling to another campus, the decision between a college vehicle, rental car, or personal vehicle should be evaluated and verified. Verification of cost to rent verses use of a college vehicle or personal vehicle should be considered. All employees must have a valid Texas Driver’s license to operate a college vehicle. The employee must pass the online driver’s course before being allow to drive a college vehicle.
- Commercial Airfare: Airline reservations may be made directly with an airline website and/or travel agency in advance with an approved travel purchase order. This expense should be included in the TR entered into the DPS system. The purchase order number will be called to the travel agency within 24 hours. If an employee prefers to pay airline reservations with a personal credit card, he/she may be reimbursed the approved cost after the travel has occurred. The College will reimburse an employee for the actual cost of commercial airfare only unless authorized otherwise. The amount of reimbursement shall not exceed the lowest available airfare, considering all relevant circumstances. First Class air is not allowed unless it is the last available seat and travel on that flight is a last resort.
- Rented Vehicles: The College has a direct bill service with Enterprise Rent-A-Car that includes all property damage and liability insurance through the State of Texas Contract. The direct link to the website is located on the MySPC website under Employees, Purchasing, and Shared Documents. This is the preferred service for rental cars. The College will reimburse an employee for the actual cost of renting a motor vehicle from a carrier other than Enterprise Rent-A-Car if Enterprise is not available at that location. Reimbursement costs include applicable taxes, and similar mandatory charges. Charges for collision damage should not be waived; liability insurance supplements, personal accident insurance, safe trip insurance and personal effects insurance are carried by the College insurance and should be waived. The College carries insurance to cover these expenses.
d. Travel by Mass Transit, Taxi or Limousine: The College will reimburse an employee for the actual cost of transportation by these modes of travel. The fares must be included in the Travel Request requisition. If actual fees are unknown, an estimated amount must be included. The fares must be itemized on the Travel Expense Form and receipts attached.
- Travel by College Vehicles: College vehicles reservations must be entered online as a Travel Request. In emergency cases, college vehicles may be reserved by calling the Director of Physical Plant. To ensure getting a vehicle, requests should be made well in advance. When using a college vehicle, the vehicle comes with a Comdata credit cards for fuel, oil, etc. The Comdata credit card is the property of the College and may be used only for the operation of a college vehicle.
- Travel by Personal Vehicle: The College may reimburse an employee for the mileage incurred during the use of a
personally owned vehicle with the exception of those employees receiving a car allowance
or a vehicle is provided by the College. With the exception of parking expenses, a
mileage reimbursement is inclusive of all expenses associated with the operation of
the vehicle. The term “all expenses associated” includes damage to the employee’s
personal vehicle from any cause, including any cost associated with the repair of
the vehicle. The College will not be liable for the employee’s insurance deductible.
- Personal Liability – Employees who choose to use their personal vehicles for College business are advised of the possibility of personal liability related to that use. The employee’s personal insurance will be primary for any damages in the event of an accident caused by a collision or weather related.
- Re-occurring Trips – Employees who travel repetitively in the performance of their duties to teach at other locations, clinics, or hospitals may summarize their travel by itemizing their trips by the date on a single Travel Expense Form. The maximum summarized report is 30 days.
- Fiscal Year End Requirements – Reimbursement for mileage up to August 31 must be processed by September 15 to be considered.
- Travel to Airport from Employee’s Residence – Mileage from an employee’s residence to nearest airport will be reimbursed. Mileage from workplace to airport will not be reimbursed. Example: For an employee who works in Levelland and resides in Lubbock, mileage will not be reimbursed from Levelland to the nearest airport, but instead will be reimbursed from the employee’s residence.
- Parking and Toll Reimbursements: The college may reimburse an employee for parking expenses incurred when traveling in a personally owned or rented vehicle. The parking expenses must be for official business only. Itemized receipts must be submitted with the Travel Expense Form. Actual toll fees may be reimbursed for personally owned, rented or leased vehicles during official college business. An itemized invoice must be submitted with your Travel Expense Form.
- Taxi or Limousine Reimbursements: Reimbursement for the actual cost of transportation by taxi may be allowed. A receipt will be required with the date of the expense. Limousine expense may be reimbursed only if the limousine cost is the lowest cost transportation available considering all relevant circumstances. A summary detailing the cost analysis will be required. Pre-approval for Limousine service is required. All receipts must be submitted with the Travel Expense Form.
- Mileage reimbursement - Mileage must be itemized by a point-to-point basis with all locations being identified on the Travel Request and Travel Expense Form. The mileage guides to be used are found at www.mapquest.com and www.randmcnally.com. The current mileage reimbursement rate for the college is $.40 per mile. A Travel Expense Form must be completed with an itemized Mileage Report (See CGB.E) and forwarded to the Purchasing Office for reimbursement processing. Requests for mileage reimbursement must be approved by the employee’s supervisor.
- Personal vehicle mileage will not be reimbursed for travel between an employee’s residence and their primary workplace location. Mileage while commuting from home to work or the return trip will not be reimbursed.
- Reimbursement for personal vehicle mileage can be claimed if an employee is required to travel to a secondary SPC location for college business. When traveling on college business, the departure point for determining actual mileage will be the primary workplace location and the termination point will be the secondary location. Maximum mileages between SPC locations includes the following:
Levelland to Lubbock Centers- 32 miles
Levelland to Reese - 22 miles
Levelland to Plainview - 75 miles
Lubbock Centers to Reese - 11 miles
Lubbock to Plainview - 48 miles
Reese to Plainview - 58 miles
Examples (for faculty): An instructor has a primary teaching location of Levelland, travels to Reese to teach a class, then returns to Levelland. Reimbursement = 44 miles (round trip Levelland to Reese)
An instructor who lives in Lubbock County has a primary teaching location of Levelland and stops at Reese, Lubbock Downtown Center, or Lubbock Career and Technical Center to teach on their way home. No reimbursement.
- Determination of mileage reimbursement will be made by the chairperson or supervisor with approval from the appropriate dean and vice president.
- Coordination of Travel (Four-Per-Car Rule).
When multiple employees are traveling from the same worksite to the same location, on the same date, they must coordinate travel. Only one of the employees riding in the vehicle may be reimbursed for mileage to the destination. Mileage may be reimbursed for traveling to multiple locations to pick up other employees. Only in a case where travelers are required to stay for official business later than the coordinated group will an exception be allowed. Personal business after the meeting will not be an allowed exception.
- Lodging Expenses
- Lodging for overnight travel.
South Plains College will reimburse an employee who travels with overnight stays for lodging expenses not to exceed the authorized travel reimbursement amounts set by the State Comptroller for both in-state and out-of-state travel. These reimbursement amounts can be found on this link: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/104711. For out-of-state destination cities and counties for which specific rates are not listed, the rate for the nearest city or county may be used. For in-state travel, if the city is not listed, a maximum rate of $85 for lodging must be used.
- Lodging Rate for Conference Site Hotel.
The present reimbursement limit for in-state lodging is $85 per night. If lodging is arranged through the conference/seminar provider, SPC will pay the conference/seminar rate per night per person regardless of the reimbursement limits published by the State Comptroller’s office if the additional cost benefits the College.
- Sharing Lodging.
When two or more employees share lodging, each employee must submit a Travel Request and Travel Expense Form for his/her share of the actual lodging expense. The College will pay each employee’s share of the actual lodging expense not to exceed the applicable maximum lodging reimbursement rate. Each traveler must obtain a lodging receipt with his/her name on the receipt or show other proof of payment, such as a charge card receipt, a credit card billing, or a memo from the person named on the receipt.
- Hotel Tax Information.
- SPC employees traveling on official business within Texas are exempt from paying the state hotel occupancy tax but not from paying the county or local hotel occupancy tax. To claim the exemption the traveler must provide the hotel with a completed Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption An employee who fails to exempt the tax may not be reimbursed for state hotel occupancy taxes.
- An employee may be reimbursed for all hotel occupancy taxes when traveling outside Texas at the maximum allowable hotel rate if not exempted.
- Prospective employees, participants and/or students are not exempt from any hotel taxes. If the lodging invoice is billed directly to SPC, the State hotel occupancy tax is exempt.
- Receipt Requirements.
Lodging receipts are required. The name of the employee, the single room rate and a daily itemization of the lodging charges must be included on the receipt. The receipt must have detail showing paid status with a zero balance and no Hotel Occupancy tax charges.
- Tip Allocation Regulation.
When traveling on a trip paid for by state and federal grant funds, all tips must be paid with local fund accounts. Tips, if allowed, must be separated on the Travel Expense Form with all tips allocated to your local fund account. Allowable tips include gratuity for meals associated with student travel or for meals incurred during official business meetings involving college employees and outside groups.
- Prohibited Lodging Reimbursement / Charges.
- Lodging that is not for official business.
- Personal charges. (room service, movies, alcohol, etc.)
- Any additional charges for any family member present on the trip that are not on official business or an employee of the college.
- Meal and Incidental Expenses
- Meals for overnight travel.
An employee may be reimbursed for meal expenses on a per diem basis not to exceed fourty dollars ($40) per day for in-state travel and fifty dollars ($50) for out-of-state travel. To qualify for per diem reimbursement, the approved trip must be an overnight trip for official college business. Lunches included as part of any conference or seminar fee, are not eligible to be reimbursed at the per-diem rate. Only in cases where an employee has a legitimate reason for not eating the conference provided meal will the employee be reimbursed at the per-diem rate listed below.
- Payment for Per-Diem Meals.
Employees must pay all meals while traveling on official business with personal funds. Per-diem meals may not be placed on the employee’s college issued credit card.
- Prohibited Meal Reimbursements.
- Meal expenses for travel without an overnight stay.
- Tips or gratuities unless allowed. (For allowable tips see Section 4-f.) If allowed, tips must not be paid with state or federal funds.
- Alcoholic beverages other than those purchased for a specific educational purpose, including but not limite to, Culinary instruction. A requisition for a purchase order must be submitted prior to puchases of this nature.
- Snacks for employee consumption during normal operational procedures, including but not limited to, candy, coffee products, and beverages.
- Bottles of water for consumption during normal operating procedures with the exception of water for South Plains College provided and maintained water coolers.
- Any purchases of a personal nature.
- Exceptions to Meal Reimbursements and Procurement Card Payment.
Trips that include students may be paid for with the employee’s college issued credit card or petty cash if approved. This includes the meal for the employee at the approved rate. Advisory meetings that include meals may be paid for with the employee’s credit card. This includes the meal for the employee(s) responsible for the meeting.
- Prohibited Travel Expenses
- Any expenses for personal benefit that do not relate to official business.
- Fuel or maintenance expenses for a personal vehicle.
- Hotel occupancy tax if not claimed by the traveler.
- Tips for any expense paid for by grant funds.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Any trip that has not been approved with an authorized purchase order before traveling.
- Upgrade rental vehicle to luxury without pre-approval.
- Per-diem meals for non-overnight stays.
TRAVEL PAYMENT METHODS
- College Issued Credit Card
- South Plains College provides a procurement credit card for use during job-related travel. These cards are to be used for hotel, parking and other miscellaneous expenses incurred during time away from the College. The card is not to be used for rental cars. Rules for use of this card can be found in the Travel Card Guide. (See CGC.E.)
- If use of the college procurement credit card is requested, this should be included in the TR entered into the DPS system when initial travel is requested and approved. Cards will not be checked out without prior approval from the Purchasing Office. The card must be picked up by the actual card holder or by the departmental administrative assistant. Cards will not be given to student workers.
- All travel expense charges must be itemized on the Travel Expense Form, with receipts attached and submitted to the Purchasing Office.
- Travel Advances
The college does not provide cash advances for meal expenses except when accompanying student groups. The cash advance will be for the anticipated cost of faculty/student meals only. This expense should be included on the TR and a note attached with the date funds are needed.
- Reimbursements for Travel with Personal Funds
- If an employee chooses to use personal funds while traveling on College business, he/she may be reimbursed for expenses after travel has occurred.
- Reimbursement for travel expenses paid with personal funds must be included in the Travel Requisition entered into the DPS system for initial travel approval. A travel expense form must be completed for reimbursement. This form must be forwarded, with original receipts, and supporting documentation to the Purchasing Office.
TRAVEL EXPENSE FORM REQUIREMENTS
- Complete documentation must accompany all Travel Expense Forms. This includes seminar itineraries, airline ticket receipts, lodging receipts, and receipts for other expenses, excluding meals. All forms must include reason for travel, the dates, times and places traveled and supporting documentation. Any meals provided by a conference in the fees to attend will be excluded from the employee’s per-diem request. Breakfast provided by hotel will also be excluded from the employee’s per-diem request. Incomplete forms will be returned to the employee.
- Receipt Requirements for all Travel except Per-Diem - Original receipts are required for reimbursement of travel expenses. Detailed on all receipts or the Travel Expense Form is the employee name, anyone traveling with the employee on official business. Internet charges are not an exemption for the detailed receipt.
- Missing Original Receipt - If lost or misplaced, a copy of the receipt must be obtained by the traveling employee. Failure to obtain a receipt, the traveler will not be reimbursed. If a copy of the original is submitted, a statement must be included on the Travel Expense Form explaining why a copy is submitted instead of the original.
TRAVEL INVOLVING STUDENT GROUPS
The College will reimburse student groups and their sponsors for travel when representing the College (such as judging teams, athletic teams, cheerleaders, music groups, etc.), provided specific budgetary funds have been approved.
- Prospective Employees
The college will reimburse prospective employees for travel expenses related to employment interviews if the prospective employee is offered and accepts the position. Travel expenses will be paid at the same rate as for college employees. Travel expenses will not be reimbursed if the job is not offered to the prospective employee or if the prospective employee is offered the job, but does not accept the offer.
- Reimbursable / Non-Reimbursable Expenses
The following is a partial list of reimbursable and non-reimbursable incidental expenses:
Reimbursable Expense - The following expenses are reimbursable if they are incurred for official college business reasons.
- Hotel occupancy and similar taxes that a college employee is not exempt from paying.
- Telephone calls.
- Gasoline and toll charges when rented vehicles are used.
- Repair charges when college owned vehicles are used. If charges are substantial, approval must be received from the Director of Physical Plant and/or Division Dean.
- Copying charges.
- Admittance fees to events related to the purpose of travel.
- Emergency medical or health costs incurred by students while traveling
- Tips and gratuities involving meals associated with student travel
- Expenses that do not relate to official college business.
- Any expenses, with the exception of parking expenses that are related to the operation of a personally owned vehicle.
- Personal expenses such as the rental or purchase of videotapes for personal entertainment, alcoholic beverages, and dry cleaning.
Date Issued: September 1, 2002
Revision Issued: February 1, 2016
Approved: Executive Council
Revision Issued May, 3, 2023