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Travel Expenses (policy)

Office of Origin: Finance
Responsibility: Executive Director, Finance
Original Date Adopted: 3-5-24
Dates Reviewed: 3-5-24
Last Date Board Approved: 3-5-24

General Information

Authorization to Travel

Travel at Lake Michigan College (the College) must be for a valid business reason and must be approved by the supervisor. For travel that includes an overnight stay, a Travel Authorization Form (TAF) must be completed/approved prior to travel (a TAF is not required for travel without an overnight stay.)

Fiscal (Budget) Year of a Charge

In terms of which fiscal year an expense is recorded (relevant for faculty PD and budget management), only conference registration fees are included in the fiscal year in which the cost is paid. All other costs are recorded as an expense (and to faculty professional development fund use) in the fiscal year in which the travel occurs.

Non-Employee Travel

Non-employees (i.e., guest speakers, employment candidates) asked to travel for the College may request reimbursement for travel expenses. The applicable budget manager must advise the non-employee of allowable expenses and approve the request.

International Travel

Employees traveling outside the U.S. must notify the Manager, Purchasing & Risk Management prior to departure so that the insurance company can be notified. Employees must also notify Manager, Purchasing & Risk Management of any non- employees traveling along as a matter of record; the

College will not, however, provide insurance coverage for these travelers. The College will not sponsor an employee or group to travel to those countries that the federal government has issued a Travel Advisory, federal employees are prohibited from traveling, or where special permission is required to travel.

Employees traveling outside of the US are strongly advised to call the number on the back of their pro card prior to leaving to alert the credit card company of their travel; having them add this note to the account will avoid having the pro card flagged as having fraudulent expenses and rendering the card unusable.

Incurring Unallowable Expenses

If it is determined that an employee was reimbursed in excess of allowable amounts, the employee may be asked to repay the excess within 30 days of notice. If repayment is not made, the College may withhold the excess from the employee’s payroll (based upon approval provided when an Expense Report form is signed by the employee) or may include the amount in employee taxable wages reported to the IRS, at the College’s sole discretion.

If it is determined that an employee charged an unallowable expense on a pro card, the employee may be asked to repay the excess within 30 days of notice. If repayment is not made, the College may include the amount in the employee taxable wages reported to the IRS, at the College’s sole discretion.

Allowable Travel Expenses

Expenses must be for official College business and in accordance with this policy and the Purchasing policy.

Transportation is limited to the most direct and “usually-traveled” route and by the most economical means of transport considering the expense as well as the employee’s time. That portion of travel that is not in the best interest of the College (e.g., a detour for personal reasons) will not be approved/reimbursed.

Conference Registration Fees

Early bird discounts should be taken advantage of whenever possible. A copy of the registration, schedule, etc. is not required unless an itemized receipt cannot be provided as documentation supporting the registration expense.


Allowable lodging expense is limited to a reasonable amount for the geographic area. A receipt showing itemized lodging charges must be submitted for the expense to be reimbursed.

Transportation - Airfare

  • Flight arrangements should be purchased by the employee using their procurement card (pro card) or using personal funds.
  • Flight arrangements must be made to obtain the lowest available logical fare. This is generally travel in coach class via the most logical and efficient route taking into consideration employee time constraints and airline restrictions.
  • Travelers may incorporate weekend travel if the cost savings exceeds the additional lodging and estimated per diem costs.
  • If an airline charges a bag fee, the allowable expense is limited to 1 bag only.
  • If a paper ticket is obtained and there is a charge, the charge is not allowable.
  • Airfare change fees, if change is required by College business needs, is reimbursable.
  • Charges for selecting a seat in advance of check-in (seat selection fee) is allowable. Charges only for extra room/legroom, seats in the Emergency Exit row, and the like are not allowable.

Transportation – Local

Tolls, taxis, Uber/Lyft, parking, and buses are classified as local transportation, the cost of which can be submitted for reimbursement. The most economical means of reasonable transportation must be used when taking local transportation (e.g., taking a taxi instead of a limo, but taking a bus instead of a taxi is not required.) Local transportation for personal activities such as sightseeing is not reimbursable.

Transportation – College or Employee Vehicles

See the Vehicle Use policy for information on requirements and insurance coverages.

If using a College vehicle, reservations must be made through the Facilities Office Manager. The College’s gas credit cards must be used with College vehicles; pro cards or personal payment may not be used. No mileage reimbursement is allowable when using College-owed vehicles.

If using the employee’s vehicle, approved mileage will be reimbursed in accordance with the Mileage Reimbursement policy.

Use of an employee’s vehicle and reimbursement for mileage in lieu of flying is limited to no more than the reasonable cost of airfare and must be approved prior to travel.

Transportation - Rented Vehicles

Renting a vehicle is limited to instances where it is to the College’s advantage and not for the personal convenience of the traveler. Rented vehicles must be of standard/mid-size class whenever available.

College insurance provides coverage to authorized drivers of rented vehicles when on official College business. Passengers must be on official College business to be eligible for coverage. Personal property stolen or damaged in an accident in any vehicle is not covered by the College’s insurance.

If using a pro card, the employee must ensure that the rental is in the pro card holder’s name and that the pro card holder signs the rental agreement. The pro card holder must decline the collision/damage waiver offered by the rental company. The pro card company provides certain secondary coverage to the College auto policy if these steps are taken.

Employees using rented vehicles cannot claim mileage. Reasonable gas purchases may be made using a pro card or will be reimbursable if receipts are provided.

Rental expense may be charged on a pro card or submitted for reimbursement. The rental agreement showing the amount charged must be included when submitting the expense.

Business Meals – Overnight Stay

In lieu of reimbursement for actual expenses, employees attending an approved event (conference, meeting, etc.) that requires at least one overnight stay will receive a per diem (i.e., per day) allowance for meals and incidental expenses in accordance with published federal rates. Incidental expenses are gratuities and other minor costs that are incurred while travelling, in addition to major expenses such as hotel and travel. Detailed instructions for submitting are included on the Expense Report.

Per diem rates are set each October 1 by the US General Services Administration (GSA.) Certain cities have a differential per diem rate; all others are assigned a standard rate. Rates and other info can be found on the GSA website at or the GSA mobile app at .

Per diem does not necessarily apply to the College Board of Trustees, who may elect to receive reimbursement for expenses actually incurred (in accordance with other sections of this policy) or through per diem, at the trustee’s discretion.

Use of Pro Card

Except for business meals described following, a procurement card (pro card) cannot be used to pay for meals for which an employee could receive a per diem allowance. Repeated use of pro card in this way will result in loss of pro card privileges. The only time a pro card can be used to pay for a meal subject to per diem is for a business meal with a non-employee. In this situation, per diem would not apply and instead the entire amount of the business meal could be paid with a pro card as an expense (or reimbursed via expense report.)

Meals Provided at the Event

If a meal is provided at the event, the employee cannot receive a per diem for that meal. However, if the event includes a “Continental Breakfast” (i.e., coffee and donuts) and the employee considers that to be inadequate, the employee may receive a per diem for that breakfast meal. In addition, in certain circumstances, an employee may be unable for work reasons to participate in a meal provided by the event, they can claim the per diem amount associated with that meal by noting the exception clearly on the reimbursement request. Otherwise, the per diem paid will be the number of meals not provided based on the event agenda.

Medical conditions that require special dietary constraints will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Per Diem on Travel Days

For travel days, per diem should be claimed according to the below.

Departing for an event:

  • 9:00am or before – breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • 9:00am until 3:00pm – lunch and dinner
  • 3:00pm or after – dinner

Arriving back from an event:

  • Before 12pm – breakfast only
  • 12pm until 6:00pm – breakfast and lunch
  • 6:00pm or after – breakfast, lunch and dinner

Business Meals – No Overnight Stay

Business meal expenses incurred during a trip not requiring an overnight stay are subject to the below restrictions:

  • Allowable cost is limited to a reasonable amount for the geographic area.
  • Tips over 20% and tips in addition to pre-applied gratuity are not allowable.
  • Business meals may be purchased for others with whom the College has business dealings only when it is in the best interest of the College.
  • Meal costs for meetings with other employees are only allowable if the meal is necessary to carry out College business. Charges for a friend or family
  • member are not allowable expenses.
  • When submitting for reimbursement, documentation must include names of those present, company affiliation, purpose, place, and date of meeting.

Business Meals – Alcoholic Beverages

See Purchasing policy.

Incidental Expenses

Incidental travel expenses are gratuities and other minor costs incurred in addition to the primary costs for travel (e.g., meals, transportation, conference registration.) Incidental expenses incurred during travel requiring an overnight stay are covered by the per diem rate. Incidental expenses incurred during travel not requiring an overnight stay must be substantiated with an explanation and receipt, if available.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Allowable miscellaneous travel expenses include:

  • Business phone calls, faxes, internet charges
  • Fitness center access
  • International travel costs related to required activities (passports, visas, vaccinations, currency conversion fees)
  • Laundry expenses for travel lasting 7 calendar days or more
  • Office expenses (copy services, postage, limited supplies)
  • Parking (valet services are not allowable when self-parking is available, unless there are safety or business reasons)

Unallowable travel expenses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Air travel expedited security clearance memberships (e.g., TSA Pre-Check)
  • Bank charges for ATM withdrawals, except during international travel
  • Child and dependent care costs
  • Clothing

Gifts, other than meals as defined herein

  • Insurance of any type other than trip cancellation insurance approved in advance by supervising Cabinet member
  • Laundry costs for trips of less than 7 days
  • Lost baggage
  • Luggage, bags, briefcases
  • Medical expenses (exceptions may be made for ADA compliance)
  • Membership dues and club fees, including daily club fees
  • Movies and pay-for-view entertainment
  • Non-insured loss of cash/personal belongings
  • No-show/cancellation fees or fees for hotel late check-out unless business or weather related
  • Personal entertainment (see Purchasing policy)
  • Personal reading materials (magazines, newspapers, etc.)
  • Repairs, maintenance, gas, insurance, etc. on personal vehicle
  • Spa treatments
  • Toiletry items
  • Traffic citations, parking tickets, court fees, or other fines
  • Travel expenses for family or friends
  • Upgrade fees, when fees are personal choice rather than business need
  • Valet services for parking, when self-parking options are available, unless there are valid security reasons


College Owned Vehicle Use procedure
Expense Report
Expense Reimbursement procedure
Mileage Reimbursement policy
Procurement Card procedure
Purchasing policy
Purchasing procedure
Travel Authorization Form (found at
Vehicle Use policy

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