Travel Guidelines

The SUNY Cobleskill Business Office is dedicated to assist travelers and process travel-related payments in a prompt, accurate, and courteous manner. This office processes travel payments consistent with policies, procedures, and guidelines established by SUNY Cobleskill, the NYS Office of the State Comptroller, SUNY, and the NYS Office of General Services. We recognize the complexity of travel policies, procedures and guidelines and strive to make travel experiences as positive as possible for members of our campus community.


It is important to note that these policies, procedures, and guidelines are recognized by the IRS as an Accountable Travel Plan. In the absence of this recognition, travel payments could be considered additional compensation which could cause extra, unnecessary tax burdens. Strict adherence to the policies, procedures, and guidelines is therefore required.


We look forward to working with you and assisting with your travel needs.

 

Travel Forms, Necessary Approvals,
and Responsibilities

Approval of documentation is required at different levels and stages depending on the type of travel and needs of the traveler:

1. Before Travel Takes Place:

An employee must complete a Travel Order for every trip whether they are in overnight status, or simply taking a day trip. Travel Orders identify who is traveling, where they are going, what they are doing, when they leave and return, what expenses they expect to incur, and the funding account. The traveler's supervisor, Director, Dean, Vice President, Provost or President should approve an employee's travel plan and funding source before travel takes place. Completed and approved Travel Orders must be sent to the Business Office. It is important that all employees plan their travel and submit their Travel Order at least two weeks in advance of the date of departure. The dollar limit is the maximum amount that will be reimbursed to the traveler.

Please note: Out of state travel requires approval from a Dean or a Vice President. Professional development funding requires additional approval from the department chair of Professional Development.

2. After Travel Takes Place:

After travel takes place and if the traveler is due reimbursement, the traveler must complete a Travel Voucher, attach all of their itemized receipts, obtain the signature of their supervisor, Director, Dean Vice President, Provost or President, and send everything to the Business Office. If a fleet vehicle is not available, and a personal vehicle is used during a trip, personal mileage will be reimbursed. The traveler must complete and attach a Statement of Automobile Travel Form to their Travel Voucher.

The traveler is responsible for knowing and complying with all travel guidelines. Please note: travel reimbursement will be directly deposited into the travelers account at their financial institution.

Travel Status: Official Work Station

An employee is considered to be in travel status and eligible for reimbursement of travel expenses (including lodging, meals, transportation, and miscellaneous travel expenses) when an employee is assigned at a work location more than 35 miles from both his/her official work station AND his/her home. The assignments must meet a necessary business purpose as directed and approved by appropriate personnel.

The official work station for the majority of our employees is SUNY Cobleskill, 106 Suffolk Circle, Cobleskill NY 12043. Traveling from SUNY Cobleskill to home or vice versa is considered commuting and is not reimbursable.

Lodging and Meals

Employees may choose one of two methods for reimbursement for overnight travel. Breakfast and dinner are reimbursable meals, lunch is not.

The Unreceipted Method (Method 1) and provides a flat rate allowance for meals, lodging and incidental expenses regardless of where lodging is obtained, including lodging with relatives or friends. Rates are established based on the city or county where lodging is obtained or the location to which the employee is traveling (whichever is less), and such location must be indicated on the Travel Order. No receipts are required when using this method. Current rates are as follows:

Location                                                               Per Diem

New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and         $50
Westchester Counties

Cities of Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester,         $40
Syracuse and their respective surrounding
metropolitan Areas

All other locations in New York State                            $35

Out of State (this includes any out of state tax)             $50

Travelers using this method may also be eligible for an additional $5.00 for breakfast on the day of departure, if they leave at least one hour before their normal work start time. They may also be eligible for an additional $12.00 for dinner on the day of return if they return at least two hours later than their normal working time.

The Receipted Method (Method 2) provides reimbursement of actual lodging costs and an allowance for meals based on federal reimbursement rates for the county of lodging. Since rates are based on location of lodging, the city and state must be indicated on the Travel Order. Itemized receipts are required for lodging, but not for meals.

For each day the traveler is in overnight status, the traveler is eligible for reimbursement for lodging up to a maximum lodging per diem and a per diem allowance for meals. The meal per diem is for dinner the first night and breakfast the following day.

Travelers using this method are also eligible for an additional per diem breakfast if they have to leave at least one hour before their normal work start time the first day, and/or dinner if they return at least two hours later than their normal work ending time on the last day of travel. In these cases, breakfast and/or dinner will be reimbursed up to the maximum amount of the meal per diem allowance specified for the particular area of lodging.

Maximum lodging rates exclude taxes. For travel within New York State, travelers must provide a New York State Tax Exemption Certificate (ST-129) to the hotel. For travel outside of New York State, state and local taxes are NOT included in the maximum lodging rate and will be reimbursed in addition to the per diem amount.

On occasion, travelers may be unable to find a hotel at a rate that does not exceed the maximum federal lodging per diem rate for the location of travel. If that occurs, travelers must obtain prior approval from his/her finance office to exceed the federal rate using the SUNY Cobleskill Request to Exceed Max Lodging Rates.

Day Trip Reimbursement

Travelers may be reimbursed for breakfast and/or dinner for day trips based on departure and return times. Travelers are entitled to reimbursement for breakfast if they have to leave at least one hour before their normal work start time, and/or dinner if they return at least two hours later than their normal work ending time.

Travelers without meal receipts are reimbursed $5.00 for breakfast and/or $12.00 for dinner.

Travelers with meal receipts are reimbursed up to the maximum amount of the meal per diem allowance (Method 2) specified for the particular area of travel.

Day trip meal reimbursements are reportable as income to the IRS.

Conference Considerations

On occasion, travelers must attend conferences sponsored by other organizations at facilities which exceed the maximum lodging rate. Travelers must obtain approval from his/her finance office to exceed the federal rate using the SUNY Cobleskill Request to Exceed Max Lodging Rates. Social activities such as sightseeing and golf outings are considered personal expenses and will not be reimbursed.

When meals and/or lodging are provided as a part of a conference or event, additional reimbursement is not permitted.

Transportation and Cost Efficiency

A fleet vehicle must be used for all state travel is one is available. Only SUNY Cobleskill employees over 18 who meet the License Event Notification (LENS) requirements are eligible to drive fleet vehicles. Fleet vehicle reservations can be made on Employee Sharepoint. Vehicles will not be assigned to a traveler until the Travel Order is received by the Business Office and a copy faxed to Facilities.

Personal Vehicles may only be used when a fleet vehicle is not available, a rental vehicle is not available, or when the traveler is not seeking reimbursement for mileage or gasoline.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Travelers frequently incur miscellaneous expenses during their travel. In all cases, in order to be considered reimbursable, these expenses must be reasonable, actual, and necessary. To be reimbursed, original documented proof of payment of the miscellaneous expenses must accompany the travel voucher.

Examples of reimbursable items are:
   1. Business-related telephone calls
   2. Internet connection fees
   3. Baggage transfer and storage
   4. Parking (Please check in advance to see if parking charges
        would exceed taxi or shuttle charges.)
   5. Taxi or shuttle charges

Examples of non-reimbursable items:
   1. Parking tickets
   2. Laundry service
   3. Valet service
   4. Seat upgrades
   5. New York State taxes
   6. Personal charges
   7. Fees associated with flight or train changes for personal reasons
   8. Personal travel VISAs and passports

Conference Registration Fees

Registration fees may be required for attendance at business events. The payment of registration fees has changed significantly as a result of the mandatory implementation of the Statewide Financial System (SFS).

SUNY Cobleskill offers three options for registration fee payment:

Option 1, Procurement Card (P-Card):
Registration costs should be discussed, and planned with a supervisor before a purchase is made. Amounts should be listed on the Travel Order. All P-Card policies and procedures must be followed.

Option 2, Reimbursement:
When you pay a registration fee directly, obtain a receipt of payment and also keep a copy of the completed registration application form. To request reimbursement of the registration fee following the event, submit the completed Travel Voucher along with the original receipt and a copy of the completed registration application, including information about what expenses were covered by the fee.

Option 3, Direct Payment to the Conference:
This option is usually not practical in situations where there are time constraints.
The attendee must inquire of the conference organizer whether the organization is, or is willing to become, a NYS Vendor.

- If the organization is already set up as a NYS Vendor, the attendee must request an invoice from the organizer with attendance information included as well as their required NYS Vendor information.

- If the organization is not set up as a NYS Vendor, the attendee should inquire if the organization is willing to complete a NYS Substitute W-9 so this may occur. Then the attendee must request an invoice from the conference organizer with attendance information included.

- The attendee should take the documentation, along with a Purchase Requisition to the Business Office to be processed.

Foreign Travel

Occasionally, employees may have to travel outside of the continental United States for the benefit of the university. When seeking reimbursement, Travelers must:

1. Seek reimbursement based on the maximum per diem allowance established by the U.S. Department of State, www.gsa.gov. The foreign per diem rates are published monthly. Expenses must be converted to American currency based upon the exchange rate in effect during the period of travel.

2. Must breakdown meal per diems, if needed, (20 percent of total meal per diem for breakfast and 80 percent total per diem for dinner).

Travel Credit Cards

New York State authorizes the issuance of Visa Travel Cards, and Non-Employee Travel Cards to certain employees for the specific purpose of paying travel related expenses. These credit cards are separate from state procurement cards. Employees who anticipate traveling in overnight status once a year may wish to request a Travel Card. If an employee chooses not to request a Travel Card, they will be required to pay all of their expenses out of pocket and seek reimbursement when they return from their trip.

A traveler must complete and submit a Travel Order to the Business Office prior to placing any charges on the credit cards. All travel receipts, including meals, must be turned into the Business Office as soon as the traveler receives their monthly travel statement from the Business Office. All credit card receipts must show an itemized detail of all charges. A credit card slip showing only the amount of the charge authorization is not sufficient. All expenses charged will be charged to the account listed on the corresponding travel order.

The Business Office has issued list of allowable Travel Credit Card expenses, and Non-allowable Credit Card expenses. All travelers will receive a copy of this document when they sign for and pick up their cards. If travelers lose this document, they may view it on the Forms link above.

Non-Employee Travel

In certain circumstances, SUNY Cobleskill may reimburse travel costs incurred by non-employees traveling on college related business. In most cases, non-employees may be reimbursed up to the rates that are available to employees.

Travel reimbursements to non-employees of SUNY are processed through a Standard Voucher. The payee or department should complete the voucher to specify the exact purpose for the payment, as well as dates of the activity.

The payee's signature must be entered in the "Payee Certification" block on the voucher. Travel expenses for lodging and meals for non-employees must be via Method 2 guidelines which require receipts for lodging (not for meals). All original receipts should be stapled to the Standard Voucher and forwarded for appropriate approval signatures and processing by the Accounts Payable Office.

Types of non-employee travel include travel for interviews, travel by students, and travel by vendors including lecturers, evaluators, and those receiving honorariums.

 

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