NDSU Coronavirus Travel Expense Accounting Guidelines

NDSU Coronavirus Travel Expense Accounting Guidelines –

The Coronavirus has led to many questions regarding travel accounting rules surrounding cancellations and refunds.   Here are some goals and guidelines: 

Goals –

1)     Employees shouldn’t personally gain or lose resources due to changing university travel plans because of the Coronavirus.  

2)     University expenses should be appropriately applied to funding sources.

·        A general rule on grant awards is that only expenses that directly benefit the award are allowable expenses.  When expenses are charged to a grant for planned meetings or conferences that are subsequently canceled, it will be necessary to redistribute expenses away from the grant.

3)     University departments must attempt to minimize additional travel or meeting/conference expenses (such as cancellation fees); but if necessary, in order to fulfill goal # 1, document as best as possible (using screen shots, notations, etc.) the reason for the expense.  Do not charge these additional expenses to grant funds if the expense does not directly benefit the grant.

P-card -

Expenses incurred for future conferences (such as: airfare, hotel, and conference fees) are ideally paid by the university’s P-card.   When these expenses are incurred before a conference and either the conference is canceled, or the employee decides to not attend because of Coronavirus concerns, any refund should be pursued by the employee and/or department. 

·        Ideally refunds should credit the P-card and in the accounting system the P-card refund should be applied against the original source of funding.

·        If a credit for future use is provided by an airline, the department’s administration needs to keep track of the credit to ensure it is used for an appropriate business purpose.  If it is ultimately used for another business purpose that is more appropriate on another funding source, the department should initiate a Cost Transfer Request to apply the expense properly on the university’s books.

 

Employee Reimbursements –

Although P-cards are the recommended payment method, employees may be reimbursed by the university after personally paying future travel or meeting/conference expenses.  If the conference is canceled, or the employee decides to not attend because of Coronavirus concerns, any refund should be pursued by the employee and/or department.

·        If the employee personally receives a cash refund, the money received by the employee must be paid back to the university, crediting the original source of funding via a deposit at Customer Account Services.

·        If a credit for future use is provided by an airline, the employee should report the credit to the department’s administration.  The department’s administration needs to keep track of the credit to ensure it is used for an appropriate business purpose.  If it is ultimately used for another business purpose that is more appropriate on another funding source, the department should initiate a Cost Transfer Request to apply the expense properly on the university’s books.

Trip Insurance and Cancellation Fees –

Trip insurance is an extra fee paid for the capability to change flights at a future time at a lower rate.    This insurance is still an unallowable university expense.   At this time airlines are most often waiving cancellation fees because of the Coronavirus.

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