Photo: View of Stanford main quad archway and columns with perspective

The university pays directly or reimburses individuals for expenses that are necessary and appropriate to conduct university business. Expenditures must be consistent with the university’s purchasing policies and guidelines as well as the guiding principles and IRS regulations with regard to business and travel expense policies.

This article provides helpful guidance on recent updates and common questions that the Business Expense Team receives about expense reimbursement policies and processes. For common questions related to travel, visit Recent Updates on Booking University-Sponsored Travel.

For general help with business expense and reimbursement questions, contact the Financial Support Center

For questions about purchasing and contracts, visit Purchasing and Contracts Updates and Hot Topics. The page provides guidance on recent updates and common questions that the Purchasing and Contracts Team receives about purchasing policies and processes.

Updated June 2022

The following sections of the Airfare Policy page were updated in June:

  • The General Policy section:
    • A note was added about the use of ground transportation instead of air travel for round trips of 300 miles or less, in response to COVID-19.
    • Policy was clarified regarding taking the most direct route, class of fare, business class fare, and class of fare limitations with sponsored or restricted awards.
    • Policy was clarified regarding ancillary fees for extra legroom
  • The Payment and Reimbursement Methods section:
    • Policy was clarified regarding the most direct route and use of lowest fare, and incorporated into the General Policy section

Visit the Airfare Policy page for more information.

Added April 2022

Financial Management Services recently improved how Travel Cards (TCards) are requested and managed. These changes make the application process more efficient and user-friendly, and also provide more guidance on managing spending limits, which reduces the risk associated with these university-liability credit cards.
New and reissued TCards will also have a new design.
Learn more about these improvements in the Fingate Announcement.

Added April 2022

Starting April 8, 2022, Stanford will align its international lodging reimbursement maximums for actual expenses to the federal per diem rates, meaning that the same maximum applies for international lodging whether the traveler uses the per diem or actual expenses reimbursement method.

This new guidance, now updated on Fingate’s Lodging policy page, applies to all university-sponsored travel that is booked on or after April 8, 2022.

To learn more about the new international lodging maximums, and see an example of how to use the federal per diem rates to calculate maximums, visit the Fingate Announcement.

Added March 2022

Faculty, staff or students who need access to many Oracle Financials systems, such as Expense Requests, OBI Financial Reporting, and the Purchasing Card (PCard) module, must complete the new Financial Stewardship Expectations course. The course helps ensure that university resources are used appropriately, in support of the mission, and comply with policies, laws, and sponsor or donor intent.

New employees should take the 10-minute course as a part of their onboarding process, and current faculty, staff or students must take the course by May 9, 2022 to maintain access to these systems. Those who have been identified as needing to take the course have been notified by FMS Communications and pre-enrolled in Stanford’s Training and Registration System (STARS).

The Financial Stewardship Expectations course requires annual recertification, which helps foster a shared understanding amongst the university community of the key concepts that are foundational to our stewardship of university resources. Learn more about the course in the Fingate Announcement.

Added March 2022

Several business and travel expense reimbursement maximums have increased, effective March 15, 2022.  Business meal maximums increased by $5, round-trip ground transportation to a Bay Area airport increased by 15%, and domestic hotel and lodging rate maximums increased by 10% (excluding Palo Alto and vicinity). International hotel and lodging rate maximums will be revised later this spring.  

The relevant Fingate pages are currently updated with these new reimbursement maximums. For reference, reimbursement maximums for business meals, ground transportation, and domestic lodging prior to March 15, 2022 will also remain on Fingate for several months.

Added March 2022

For employees in a hybrid work arrangement, travel between their telecommuting work site and their Primary Stanford Work location is not reimbursable. For employees in a remote work arrangement, travel to their Stanford Work Location is reimbursable if they live outside the 10-county area, the travel is necessary, and they receive prior approval from their department/manager. For more information about employee travel to a Stanford Work Location, see Administrative Guide Policy 2.1.20: Hybrid (Telecommuting) Work Arrangements and Administrative Guide Policy 2.1.21 Remote Work Arrangement, or visit  Business and Travel Expense Policies.

Updated March 2022

Home Office Equipment
University HR’s Cardinal at Work website features guidelines for home office equipment for employees with hybrid or remote work arrangements. Guidelines include:

  • Hybrid Work Arrangements:  Reimbursement program of up to $250 for basic necessary ergonomic equipment for their telecommuting/home worksite only to the extent that such equipment is recommended by Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) following an ergonomic assessment.
  • Remote Work Arrangements:  A one-time taxable payment of $750, included as part of the employee’s paycheck, to purchase basic home office equipment to ensure a productive and safe home work environment.  

Employees should review the guidelines on Cardinal at Work and consult with their manager or local Human Resources for specific procedures for home office equipment.

Updated January 2022

Mileage Reimbursement Rates  for 2022 are now available on Fingate. For reference, the 2021 rates are also included on the Resource page.

Added December 2021

Airfare hold fees, which lock in an airfare price for several days, are a non-reimbursable expense. For the full list of reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses, visit the Business and Travel Expense Policies page on Fingate.

Added December 2021

Purchases such as supplies, books, and equipment costing less than $2,500 are eligible for reimbursement under the Miscellaneous Expenditure type. The preferred purchasing methods for purchases of more than $2,500 are iProcurement, which provides users with access to shop from Amazon Business and SmartMart Catalog Suppliers, or the Purchasing Card (limited to purchases of $4,999 or less).

This guidance is included in the Reimbursable Expenses section of the Other Business Expenses Fingate page.

Added December 2021

The Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2, Business and Travel Expenses was updated in December with guidance on payment and reimbursement for travel that is partially or fully sponsored by an external organization. This guidance is also published on the Business and Travel Expense Policies page on Fingate.

The updated AGM 5.4.2 guidance is as follows:

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.

Updated November 2021

In June 2020, the university implemented a new travel booking policy to support university travelers. This policy, now codified in Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2: Business and Travel Expenses, requires the use of a centralized travel booking program when faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students are booking air fare, hotels, or rental cars for university-sponsored travel.

Use of a Stanford Travel booking channel automatically registers travel reservations in the university’s Travel Registry, which connects to Stanford’s provider of medical, personal, travel and security assistance. This allows the university to locate and support its travelers in the event of an emergency.

There are instances where faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students are not required to be booked through Stanford Travel booking channels but should manually enter and update their reservations in the university’s Travel Registry. Expenses associated with booking policy exemptions (exclusions) are still reimbursable as long as they are in accordance with their respective travel policies. For more information, see Travel Booking Policy and Exemptions and the new Resource: Stanford Travel Policy and Exemptions Desk Guide.

Back to newsroom
Back to Top