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.
Mileage Reimbursement Rates to be Updated in Q1 2022
Airfare Hold Fees a Non-reimbursable Expense
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.
Miscellaneous Expenditure Type Capped at $2,500
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.
AGM 5.4.2 Updated with Guidance on Paying and Reimbursing Travel that is Sponsored by an External Organization
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.
Remote and Hybrid Employee Expense Reimbursement Policies
In September 2021, the university updated its policies on AGM 2.1.20: Hybrid (Telecommuting) Work Arrangements and AGM 2.1.21: Remote Work Arrangements. There have been two areas specific to business expense that were clarified to support these new policies.
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.
Remote employees must be provided with appropriate reimbursement for required and approved Stanford-related business travel, including required travel to and from the Stanford Campus, Stanford Satellite Office or Hub, or Stanford Alternative Worksite, in accordance with Stanford’s travel reimbursement policies.
A summary of reimbursable expenses includes:
- Airfare - The university pays for reasonable and necessary airfare along with certain ancillary fees and charges.
- Ground transportation - This includes the costs such as parking, mileage and bridge tolls when the remote employee is traveling to a Stanford work location. Hybrid employees are not eligible to be reimbursed for parking fees, permits or transportation expenses related to their commute to their Primary Stanford Work Location (as defined in AGM 2.1.20).
- Lodging - If the approved travel includes the employee traveling outside of their local area (defined as 50 miles from home).
- Meals - If the approved travel includes the employee traveling outside of their local area (defined as 50 miles from home).
Travel Booking Policy
In order to be able to effectively support university travelers, Stanford 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. The centralized booking program, Stanford Travel, automatically registers travel reservations in the university’s Travel Registry, which connects to Stanford’s provider of medical, personal, travel and security assistance. This provides the university with the ability to locate and support its travelers in the event of an emergency. More policy details and information describing the limited exclusions to the booking policy are available in the Business and Travel Expense policy overview.
Updated Travel Booking Policy and Reimbursement Guidance
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.
Updates to Beneficiary Step for SU Payee Transactions
In order to support compliance with tax reporting regulations, changes have been made in the system to gather information on the Beneficiary of the expense. A Beneficiary is defined as the individual or individuals who have “benefited” from the expense. For example:
- The individual who traveled on a business trip
- The individuals who participated in a business meal
Collecting beneficiary information for SU Payee transactions ensures that Stanford has accurate information about who benefits from each transaction.
Every SU Payee transaction now requires a response to the question “Is the payee the only beneficiary?” If the response is Yes, all reimbursed expenses will be attributed to the Payee. If the response is No, then the preparer must add a line to enter information about everyone who benefited from the expense.
On the new line, the preparer must enter the Type of beneficiary (Faculty, Staff, Student, Visitor, or Other) and provide the beneficiary name and other information.
When entering beneficiary Type, the preparer must select Other for certain types of transactions, such as business meals that exceed five beneficiaries. Learn more about beneficiary Types on the Expense Request System Help webpage.
On the final page of the transaction before selecting Submit, the preparer must check a box to attest that the beneficiary information is accurate and supporting documentation will be attached.
New Travel Booking Information Required for SU Payee and Non-SU Payee Expense Reports
In order to support the monitoring of and compliance with the new Travel Booking policy, preparers must now select the Stanford travel booking methods for the airfare, lodging, and car rental expense types in both SU Payee and Non-SU Payee Expense Reports.
This ERS change ensures that (with limited exceptions) payment and reimbursement for Stanford-sponsored travel only occurs when the travel is purchased through one of the Stanford Travel booking channels. This requirement was implemented in June 2020.
If a Stanford travel booking channel was not used to book travel, preparers should choose the option Other (Not a Stanford Travel Booking Method), enter an explanation in the transaction line remarks, and attach the pre-approval for this option to the back-up documentation for the transaction.