Traveling at the University of Georgia's Expense
Some Advice for Graduate StudentsRevised 2008 February 4
Michael A. Covington
Institute for Artificial Intelligence
The University of Georgia
Note that in addition to departmental funds, the VP for Research provides financial assistance for international travel by graduate students and faculty. You must apply in advance. Details here.
When the University of Georgia pays for your travel, here's the procedure:
Travel expenses include:
Remember that these regulations aren't just for academics going to conventions. They apply to all state employees, some of whom drive around all the time doing agricultural or law enforcement work. Thus, parts of them will not fit you very well. In particular, we rarely visit small Georgia towns, but many state employees do so all the time.
The basic idea behind travel expenses is that you should neither gain nor lose money:
You will need receipts for everything except meals.
Cost limits and per diem rates: There are cost limits for travel by government employees. Quite often, when traveling internationally or to meetings in major cities, we exceed these limits and have to justify exceeding them. The most common justification is that you are staying in the hotel where a meeting is being held. Keep careful records and have your supervisor or department head write a letter to the Dean.
For details of the cost limits check here. Currently, the limits are based on the following official per diem rates:
Meals, in low-cost areas of Georgia: $28 per day (for partial days click here.Meals or lodging charges that exceed these rates by more than 25%, and meal charges in Georgia that exceed them at all, must be justified by a letter accompanying the expense report, signed by the appropriate dean or vice president.
Lodging: You are expected to limit costs and to ask for the government employee rate whenever available (unless of course you get an even lower rate some other way).
Traveling in Georgia, you are exempt from local hotel/motel taxes; bring this form with you.
If you share a room with someone who is not traveling for the state, such as your spouse, you are entitled to reimbursement at the single room rate (which is often the same as the double room rate). Get a hotel employee to note the single room rate on your receipt.
Meals: Although we don't require receipts for meals, we expect you to avoid excessive expenditure. If your meals cost more than the per diem rate, explanation will be necessary. This very commonly happens with AI Center personnel traveling to major cities; keep careful records, don't be extravagant, and write a letter detailing the reason for the high costs. This letter will be submitted to the Dean for approval.
Recent change: You are no longer required to keep exact records of the cost of each meal. Instead you can claim the per diem rate for meals.
In my opinion, it is usually better to record the exact cost of meals and claim it. Tips and service charges are included, and snacks can be lumped with the adjacent meal.
Your car: If you use your car for any part of the trip, keep records of exact odometer readings at the beginning and end of each journey. The rate for mileage reimbursement is given on the expense form, which is revised frequently.
Recent change: If your trip begins or ends at your home, then from your mileage you should subtract the distance you normally travel to the University. The intent is to reimburse you only for mileage you would not ordinarily drive.
Side-trips: If you make personal side-trips, the principle is that at every moment you are either traveling for the University, or not. You will have to determine which parts of your trip are official state travel. The University will reimburse only those parts. You will need receipts that distinguish cleanly between personal travel and official travel.
On the expense report form, you should report your travels on personal days, but not report any expenses for them. A personal side trip need not span a complete day.
Complex mixtures of personal and official travel should be planned in advance, in consultation with your supervisor.