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 Stanford Travel Updates and Hot Topics.
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.
As of September 1, all new, renewed, or reissued PCards and TCards will now be delivered to the cardholder's Stanford business address since many cardholders have returned to working onsite on a Stanford campus. Cards that are mailed to an alternate address (such as an employee’s home) can be difficult to track, which increases risk to the university.
Cardholders: review and update your Stanford business address
To ensure delivery to the correct address, cardholders should use the Credit Card Profiles Change Request tool to review their business address for card delivery and update it if necessary. Be sure to provide your full mailing address, including any building or suite numbers, etc.
If you work remotely
PCards and TCards for remote employees will be delivered to their Stanford business address. Cardholders should coordinate with their departments to have their cards sent to their location.
For more information, including how to request a one-time card delivery to an alternate address, visit Change to PCard and TCard Delivery as of September 1.
The Business and Travel Expense Policies page was updated in September to clarify that the Stanford Travel Card (TCard) is the recommended payment option for any travel costs that will not be reimbursed through the per diem method. When the per diem reimbursement method is available and selected by the traveler (i.e., for meals or lodging), the traveler should not use the TCard for these expenses. Reimbursing per diem expenses charged to a TCard creates an administrative burden for both the preparer and the university.
For easy reference, a chart was added to the Purchasing and Reimbursement (Per Diem and Actual) Methods section of the Business and Travel Expense Policies page showing which travel expenses are recommended for purchase with the TCard depending on the selected reimbursement method.
To support responsible financial stewardship, and ensure reimbursement by Stanford, tips to drivers should not exceed 20% and should be based on the total that excludes tax, discounts, and fees. This information has been added to the General Information section of the Ground Transportation Policy page.
The use of the per diem reimbursement method for Stanford-sponsored travel was clarified recently on Fingate to ensure compliance with federal rules and Stanford policy and to reduce the administrative burden of paying for travel.
Per diem reimbursement and sponsored awards
If travel will be charged to a sponsored award:
- Lodging expenses: Stanford travelers may now choose either the actual reimbursement method or the per diem reimbursement method for lodging. The Lodging Policy page on Fingate was updated with this guidance in June.
- Travel meal expenses: As before, Stanford travelers must use the per diem reimbursement method for travel meals.
Note that all Stanford Travel booking policies apply regardless of the reimbursement method that is chosen.
Travel Card Reminder
The Travel Card (TCard) is the preferred payment method for travelers who choose the actual reimbursement method. When the per diem reimbursement method is available and selected by the traveler (for meals or lodging), use of the TCard is not recommended due to increased administrative burden when submitting expense requests.
To learn more about travel reimbursement methods, visit the Business and Travel Expense Policies page.
eReceipts officially rolled out to campus on July 18. This optional app allows Stanford travelers or Purchasing Card (PCard) cardholders to take and upload pictures of business and travel expense receipts with a mobile device, tag them with an expense type, add comments if needed, and share them directly with their preparers and verifiers.
In response to feedback from users, the eReceipts app rolls out to campus with enhanced features:
- Reduced the number of expense type options displayed for TCard and personal expenses
- Provided a drop-down menu to view expense types more easily on a mobile device
- Added a help link to the top of the mobile device screen used to add receipt
Learn more about the app, check out updated resources and join a live demo on the eReceipts news page.
To accommodate increases in gasoline prices, the Internal Revenue Service increased the business mileage reimbursement rate for private automobiles by 4 cents per mile as of July 1, 2022. These rates are usually only updated at the beginning of each calendar year.
To see the new rates, visit the Mileage Reimbursement Rates page on Fingate. Rates for the first half of 2022 will also remain on Fingate for reference.
In June, the Card Services team made two additions to the permissible expenses for a Purchasing Card (PCard) to better align with campus needs:
- Marketing and advertising services provided by social networking service/media companies such as Facebook and Twitter became a permissible expense (previously these expenses had been non-permissible).
- Please note that this does not include payment processing and fintech pay sites such as Paypal, Venmo, GooglePay, Square, etc. These remain as non permissible and the PCard may not be used on these sites to pay for products or services.
- Deposits of $4,999 or less for event venues are a permissible expense. The remainder of the contract must be paid on a purchase order.
To learn more about permissible and non-permissible expenses, please visit the Purchasing Card Policy page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.