Travelers must obtain an approved Authorization to Travel prior to departure that includes an estimated cost of travel. Traveler and approver will sign off on the Travel Authorization form that they will follow the state guidelines for travel arrangements and cost (including airfare, etc). Determine your mode of travel and either reserve a University vehicle or complete a car cost comparison (if fleet vehicle is not available) and/or flight cost to determine and choose the most efficient mode of travel prior to departure. The traveler will print a copy of their submitted expense report and attach receipts and car cost comparison, or flight listing if applicable, substantiating that they have followed the state guidelines and utilized the most cost effective travel arrangements. This information will then need to be forwarded to their approver, who will use this to certify expenses. Expense reports must be submitted no later than 60 days following completion of the trip (including travel advances). For overnight trips, traveler will receive 75% of allowable per diem on the day of departure and return. For non-overnight trips: travelers will receive 100% of the allowable per diem if travelers are away for more than (12) hours and travel more than 50 miles from home or headquarters.
Generally, an employee traveling on official VSU duties as a consequence of their employment must:
Submit an approved Travel Authorization (T-Auth) in advance of the travel (unless traveling on a Standing Authorization to travel within the State of Georgia - remember that a Standing Authorization is only intended for travel within the State of Georgia and is for July-June every Fiscal Year). The Budget Approver(s) will forward to firstname.lastname@example.org upon approval. Paper copies will not be accepted. It is the employee’s responsibility to ensure that the T-Auth is approved prior to travel, therefore it is suggested to prepare the T-Auth at least 14 days prior to departure for approval by the Budget Approver. If you are unsure if your T-Auth has been approved and received by the travel department, please give us a call at 229-333-5708.
Next, determine the method of travel via car or flight.
TRAVEL VIA CAR
Mileage Reimbursement is based on the most cost advantageous method of travel being used by employees traveling on official state business. Employees must continue to reserve a university fleet vehicle when they are available using the VSU Fleet Vehicle Reservation Form. If a fleet vehicle is not available, the traveler should compare the cost of travel in their personal vehicle,and a commercially rented vehicle using the statewide contract with Enterprise Car Rental or The Hertz Corporation using the Car Cost Comparison Tool. Mileage reimbursement for travel in a personal vehicle will be based on the tier rates below:
Tier 1 Rate - When it is determined that a personal motor vehicle is the most advantageous form of travel, the employee will be reimbursed for business miles traveled as follows:
The Mileage Reimbursement Rate for Travel using a personal vehicle on 1-1-2013 and thereafter is $0.565 cents per mile.
Tier 2 Rate - If an agency owned vehicle is available and its use is determined to be most advantageous to the state, OR if it is determined that a rental vehicle is the recommended method of travel, but a personal motor vehicle is used, the employee will be reimbursed for business miles traveled at the rate of $0.235 per mile.
VSU now has a direct billing account setup with Enterprise to eliminate employee out-of-pocket expenses associated with car rentals. Employees must still complete a Request for Authority to Travel for all travel- unless Standing Authority to travel in Georgia exists. If you have completed the Car Cost Comparison and the most adventageous method travel is through Enterprise, visit the Enterprise car rental webpage to make reservations.
Please note that the following information will be required when making reservations:
- Your first and last name
- Home Phone- but please enter your work phone instead
- Credit Card Type
- VSU email
- Employee number- this is the 7 digit employee id number located on your pay stub
Normal commuting miles must be deducted when calculating business miles if the employee departs from his/her residence or returns to his/her residence. If travel occurs on a weekend or holiday, mileage is calculated from the point of departure with no reduction for normal commuting miles. Employees must report odometer readings on travel expense form.
Travel from Residence - If an employee departs from his/her residence, mileage is calculated from the residence to the destination point, with a reduction for normal one-way commuting miles. If an employee returns to his/her residence, mileage is calculated based on the distance to the residence with a reduction for normal one-way commuting miles. Exceptions include:
- Travel occurring on a weekend or holiday: mileage is calculated from the point of departure with no reduction for normal commuting.
- Travel originating from the employee's home rather than headquarters when the employee's home is closer to the destination than headquarters: no reduction will be made for normal commuting if the employee chooses to leave from home, resulting in a net savings to the institution. (For example: an employee lives in Tifton and normally commutes to VSU daily, but has to travel to Athens for business and leaves from Tifton rather than Valdosta. Mileage will be calculated from Tifton to Athens.
Travel from Residence to Multiple Locations - Employees traveling from their residence to multiple locations in a given day for business purposes (i.e. clinical supervision) must deduct the lesser of 1) commuting miles to and from headquarters (campus) or 2) commuting miles to the first destination of the day and commuting miles from the last location visited to his/her residence. Miles traveled to obtain un-reimbursable meals cannot be claimed.
Please refer to the University System of Georgia Business Procedures Manual section 4.1.11 for more detailed information and examples.
TRAVEL VIA FLIGHT
Employees should utilize commercial air transportation when it is more cost effective and efficient to travel by air than by vehicle. Employee should obtain the lowest available airfare and include documentation justifying the lowest cost with the travel authorization form. For example visit sites such as: Orbitz, Expedia, Cheap Tickets, or Travelocity to obtain the lowest available airfare possible. Print a copy of your flight searches for your flight cost documentation to attach for travel reimbursement. Only coach travel fares will be paid or reimbursed. The prohibition against reimbursement of first-class travel is expanded to all non- coach travel.
- Tickets Purchased by Employee – can be reimbursed prior to travel. For reimbursements, submit a T-Auth, copy of ticket or proof of purchase/receipt, and a travel expense statement.
- Airfare Paid via the Direct Bill Process:
- Employee must submit a T-Auth prior to contacting the travel agency.
- Determine the best airfare rate available.
- Instruct the Travel agency to contact the Accounts Payable Office at 229-333-5708 before issuing the ticket to get approval.
The traveler should select the least expensive option available taking into consideration proximity to the business destination and personal safety. The traveler or the travel arranger must inquire about the government rate availability, or the conference lodging rate, and select the lowest available rate. When the hotel or motel is the conference or convention site, reimbursement will be limited to the conference rate, if available. Additionally, as an employee traveling on official State business, the lodging is eligible for exemption from State of Georgia Sales Tax when the payment method being used is either direct bill to the agency, or a State of Georgia issued credit card. Be sure to print a copy of the Georgia State Tax Exemption Certificate (if traveling in Georgia).
If a hotel refuses to accept the state tax-exempt form from the employee, the employee should obtain a written statement from the hotel, but pay the tax and claim it as an "unusual expense" on the travel expense statement. The institution must then forward the name, address and telephone number of the hotel to the Department of Audits.
Generally, meals are reimbursable on a per diem basis (not actual expenses) for overnight official business travel. Employees traveling overnight are generally eligible for per diem amounts designed to cover the cost of three (3) meals per day for all days on travel status other than the day of the departure and the day of return.
Please be sure to review the “Per Diem- Maximum Allowances” for meal and lodging allowance. Don’t forget to click the First/Last Day button on ALL meals for the first and last day of travel on your expense report.
Employees on State business who travel more than 50 miles from their Residence and primary work station on a work assignment, and are away for more than twelve (12) hours, may receive the total day’s per diem rate, even when there is no overnight lodging. The per diem allowance must, however, be adjusted for any meals provided to the traveler.
The concept of high-cost areas within Georgia has been reinstated in the new regulations with a maximum daily meal allowance of$36.00 (compared with a maximum daily allowance of $28.00 for non-high cost areas in Georgia). HIGH COST AREA means any area within Georgia within which meal expenses may be reimbursed at a higher amount than the limits that otherwise apply to travel within Georgia. High Cost Areas are limited to the following areas: metropolitan Atlanta (Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett Counties), Brunswick (Glynn County) and Savannah (Chatham County).
Meal Pier Diems
Non-High Cost Areas
High Cost Areas
The regulations further clarify that the general meal limits for breakfast, lunch and dinner (for high cost and non-high cost areas) may be considered as a single daily total, allowing for variances in the amounts for different meals. Outside of Georgia, please refer to the US General Services Administration (GSA) website to find our meal per diem rates. Remember that meals are reimbursed based on the city you are in at a particular meal time.
Payment for food outside the allowable travel meal per diems is generally considered a gratuity which is disallowed under state law, unless it meets the following exception: The purchase of Group Meals is allowed when employees are not on travel status or otherwise eligible for the reimbursement of meals but when employees are required to remain at work during mealtime and in emergency situations. Expenses charged to this category (account 727700) should be rare and infrequent and must be pre-approved by the University President unless the meals occur during an emergency situation. Further, these expenses will be subject to audit each year. For more in-depth details, please refer to the University System of Georgia Business Procedures Manual.
Please read the STEPS FOR TRAVEL as it will assist all University faculty, staff and students to prepare, plan and process travel requests and reimbursements prior to departure.
After returning from a trip, fill out the PeopleSoft Expenses Module online expense statement. The Expense statements will be routed via workflow for Department Budget Manager approval. When the Expense statement is approved, the amount of the travel will be posted as an expense.
Submit original receipts and cost comparisons to the Travel Department and keep copies for departmental files.
If a conference was attended, include a copy of the conference agenda. If per diem is being claimed for any meal provided by conference, include a receipt for the meal along with an explanation of why it is being claimed.
Itemize every expense by date and type including but not limited to hotel, lunch, breakfast, dinner, etc.
Employees should not pay for another employee's travel expenses. The employee will be reimbursed for their expenses only. Auditing regulations require each employee to submit an Expense statement attesting to the charges incurred.
In order to ensure prompt reimbursement and clarity of accounting and audit trails, all Expense statements should be submitted for reimbursement within sixty (60) days of the completion of travel. Be sure to sign and submit for approval with original recipes. Expense statements received after 60 days of the completion of travel may be paid with Cabinet Level approval, but in the knowledge that said payment will affect the Strategic Initiative Process.
Common Errors on Expense statements to Avoid:
- Travel Authorization must have been approved prior to completing the online expense report or the expense statement will be denied and send back to you.
- If you were issued a Cash Advance, make sure to link the Cash Advance to the expense statement. House Bill 1113 requires us to report names of employees who received cash advances that have been outstanding for more than 30 days.
- Itemize all expenses by type (hotel, lunch, breakfast, dinner) and by date. For example, if the hotel bill was $500 for 5 nights, the bill should be itemized by day to show $100 per day.
- Save all original receipts, including airline itinerary and agendas. An original receipt must be submitted for all expenses with the exception of mileage and per diem. If you were unable to obtain a receipt make sure to document the reason. Then obtain the budget managers approval and submit all documentation.
- Do not claim Tier 1 reimbursements if you did not complete the car cost comparison. The expense statement will be sent back to you to claim the Tier 2 reimbursement rate.
Expense Reports are usually processed within 5 working days of the Travel Department receiving both an approved Expense report and original receipts. For more specific information on reimbursing employees for business travel, visit the Statewide Travel Regulations Webpages. Appendix B of these regulations refers specifically to high cost areas and federal per diem rates.
FAQ & Common Mistakes
- P-card cannot be used for travel
- Present “Certificate of exemption of local hotel/ motel excise tax” upon arrival at hotels in Georgia.
- Turn in conference agenda with expense report
- Turn in car cost comparison/ Flight cost comparison with expense report
- The 1st and last day of travel, only 75% of allowable pier diem
- Be sure to take paper copy of expense report for signatures before submitting to travel department
Forms and Links Needed for Travel
- Car Cost Comparison Tool
- Prepaid Registration
- Flight Cost Documentation - print out list of flight options from Expedia, Orbitz, Delta, etc.***
- Mileage Chart for GA
- Georgia Hotel State Tax Exemption Certificate
- Expense Reimbursements- PeopleSoft Expenses Module (Self Service)
Travel Helpful Links
- Travel Training (Works best with Firefox and Google Chrome)
- Travel Expense Flowchart
- Expense Definitions
- Currency Converter
Per Diem Rates & Meals