Policy Statement

Employees and contractors of Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) may charge against appropriate HWS accounts for normal and reasonable travel (applies to local transportation as well as out-of-town travel) and travel-related expenses incurred for a HWS business purpose.


The intent of the policy is to ensure individuals traveling on HWS business have proper parameters and guidance concerning travel and other related activities. As funds to support travel are limited, it is necessary that clear and unambiguous reimbursement and expenditure guidelines be in place before funds are committed or expenses incurred. It is also critical all employees traveling on HWS business understand the compliance requirements established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other oversight agencies.

In general, the IRS looks for expenses that are allowable, business related, and are substantiated within a reasonable period of time. HWS will use 45 days after the expense is incurred for IRS safe harbor rule substantiation compliance. Also, any advances made to employees that are not substantiated must be returned within a reasonable period of time, and HWS will use 90 days (see Expense Reimbursement Guide).

To Whom This Policy Applies

  1. Individuals traveling on HWS business, regardless of the source of funds
  2. Individuals who make travel arrangements for themselves or for others
  3. Individuals who review, approve, process or record travel documentation


The President, Vice Presidents, Deans, Directors and Budget Managers are responsible for assuring that within their administrative areas:

  1. Budgeted funds are available to meet all travel related commitments.
  2. Proper authorization for travel is obtained before any commitments are made.
  3. Travel expenditures must be supported by detailed costs and merchant payment or credit card statement receipts, unless the Federal per diem rate is used or the individual expense is less than $25.
  4. The potential benefits of the trip justify its time and expense after considering more cost-effective alternatives (such as teleconferencing).

Caution: Grants or other non-operating programs may have more restrictive policies and procedures regarding travel, but in no case will any area be less restrictive than this policy. It is the responsibility of the traveling employee to ascertain the restrictions under which their travel is covered.

Travel Authorization

Obtaining Authorization

Before making any travel commitments, an employee should be aware of this HWS policy (and/or sponsor’s travel policies, as they may be more restrictive than those contained herein). Appropriate departmental approval to travel should be documented via email, meeting minutes, or a detailed plan covering any required cost-effectiveness documentation. In the case of grants, unless specifically included in the approved grant budget, the travel must get prior approval from a Grants Manager.

Special Topics

Fund Raising, Advancement, and Recruitment Activities - Meals and Entertainment Expenses

HWS will reimburse reasonable meal and entertainment expenses for employees authorized to carry out a special event or activity. Pre-scheduled events or activities should utilize the requisition process through Unimarket. Approval by a divisional Vice President along with the CFO (in cases where the activity expense exceeds $10,000) must be obtained. In the case of the President’s activity, expenses are approved by a designee of the Board of Trustees.

Business and Personal Travel Combined

HWS will only reimburse the business portion of a trip if it is combined with personal vacation travel. Only receipts from the business portion of the trip must be submitted. Appropriate paid time off should be recorded for any personal travel incurred by employees during normal work schedule. In the event personal/vacation travel, combined with business travel, results in airfare and/or hotel costs that save HWS money, their costs may be reimbursed subject to approval by appropriate supervisor and area Vice President.

Spousal Travel

As a general rule for employees and guests of the Colleges, HWS does not reimburse for spousal travel unless the spouse is required to perform a specific business function. Under no circumstances will expenses for spousal travel be reimbursed unless approval was obtained in advance by the appropriate divisional Vice President. In the case of the President’s activity, approval is performed by a designee of the Board of Trustees. Should an employee’s spouse accompany the employee for personal purposes, only the amount spent for the employee’s expenses will be reimbursed.