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Graduate Travel Fund Reimbursement Guidelines

Who processes reimbursements?

A student’s home department processes reimbursements through Workday as Expense Reports. Students should provide all documentation directly to their home department within 30 days of the completion of travel to give administrators time to process and submit the reimbursement request in advance of University reimbursement deadlines. Make sure to provide your administrator with a copy of the official award confirmation email from UFunds, which specifies which award you received, the amount of funding you have been awarded, and the worktags your administrator should use when submitting the reimbursement.

Please note that while the information below is kept as up to date as possible, it may not immediately reflect new policies and updates. All current policies can be found at www.policy.brown.edu.

Overview

Brown’s Controller’s Office mandates that funding can only be provided on a reimbursement basis (AFTER a purchase has been made), based on submission of appropriate receipts. For travel reimbursements, students do not need to wait until their after travel is complete to submit reimbursement requests for airline tickets, train tickets, conference registration, and other pre-paid trip expenses - the Controller allows for reimbursement of these receipts as soon as the purchase is complete. If you are able to wait for reimbursement until you return, submitting only one request for reimbursement helps to reduce costs and effort on the part of the Controller's Office (and your program administrator!), but certainly submit your request for reimbursement in advance if waiting would cause you financial hardship, or if your advance purchases will use up the full amount of the award you have received. Any remaining receipts should be submitted to your program administrator within 30 days of completion of travel to allow time for processing. Delay in submitting receipts to your program administrator can put you in danger of missing the university reimbursement deadline and result in having taxes taken out of the money you receive.

Brown University reimbursement policy specifies that requests for reimbursement must be submitted in Workday within 60 days of purchase or, if the expense is part of a trip (airline tickets, train tickets, conference registration, etc.), within 60 days of the completion of travel. An expense not submitted in Workday within 60 days is considered gross income subject to tax withholding and will be processed through payroll and reported on the employee's W-2 form.

Check with your program administrator for any specific instructions on submitting materials for reimbursement - they may request that you send materials to them via email or might ask you to use a reimbursement form or other method of submission. If you’ve set up direct deposit for your stipend through Brown, your reimbursement will be deposited directly into your account. If you have not set up direct deposit, a check will be mailed to the address you have on file with Brown. You should allow at least 2-3 weeks for processing the reimbursement.

If your plans change and you are not able to complete your trip:

If you have received an award for travel funding from the Graduate School, but have not used the award, please send an email to [email protected] to let us know that you will no longer need the award. This allows us to make the funds available for other students in need and will reset your eligibility for receiving the award during that fiscal year. 

If you received and used an award for travel funding from the Graduate School, you will need to repay the funding you've received (e.g. if you purchased and received reimbursement for an airline ticket, but your travel has now been canceled and you received a refund from the airline, you will need to return the money that Brown gave you for that airline ticket). This is usually done by writing a check to the Graduate School, but please be in touch with both your program administrator and gradu[email protected] for details.

What you need to submit when requesting reimbursement

Your program administrator may request additional information when you are requesting a reimbursement, but you should always submit the following:

  • All receipts as pdfs, ideally combined into one chronological document
  • An expense spreadsheet totaling costs, if you have more than two items
  • Currency conversions for any purchases that were not in US dollars (USD)
  • A copy of the official award confirmation email from UFunds

Receipts

  • Whenever possible, provide receipts as a single pdf, rather than submitting each receipt individually.
  • The receipt(s) must include a date and show that you have paid (e.g., “Paid by Mastercard: xxxxx1212”).
    Airfare: You must provide both the full itinerary AND the receipt that shows payment. If you have purchased plane tickets online through Expedia or other similar sites, it may be necessary to log back into your account and request a receipt for your trip.
    Car Rentals: A final receipt is required for reimbursement - agreement estimates (provided when you reserve the car) do not qualify as receipts. *If you're renting in the US, Brown has special deals with preferred rental car providers which you can use for personal rentals (http://www.campustravel.com/university/brown/carrental.html).
    Hotels: You must provide the detailed hotel bill (folio) or Airbnb confirmation - something that shows where you stayed, how long you stayed, and in the case of hotels, a breakdown of charges. You will also need to provide proof of payment (the receipt) showing the total cost and how it was paid.
  • If you do not have a receipt (or have a receipt that doesn't show payment) and the purchase is for airfare, hotel, train, or car rental (in any amount) OR is any purchase of $75 or more, you must complete and sign a Missing Receipt Affidavit and provide that in lieu of the receipt. If possible, also provide whatever invoice or other documentation of the purchase you have, even if it does not qualify as a receipt.
  • If you'd like to be reimbursed for a payment that you've made to an individual (for your share of a hotel room, for example), you can provide a written/email receipt signed by the person you've paid or a payment confirmation from an electronic payment system like Venmo or PayPal. 

Meals

  • Graduate School travel fund awards allow for reimbursement of meals while traveling. 
  • You can request either a reimbursement of receipts for meals/food OR a per diem payment - not both. 
  • Reimbursement for meals or per diem can only be requested after you have completed your trip - it cannot be requested as a prepaid expense. 
  • To find the Meal and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) rate for the city/region/country where you're traveling check the GSA Travel per diem rate website (for domestic travel) or the the US Department of State foreign travel per diem rate website (for international travel). You will need to provide the rate and the number of days for which you're requesting a per diem.

Expense Spreadsheet

  • If you are submitting more than two receipts, create an expense spreadsheet totaling your purchases by category (e.g., airfare, hotel, taxi/bus, car rental, etc.). When your reimbursement information is entered into Workday, it's entered by category (not by date), so having your expenses grouped by category is important for efficient processing! Here is an example of an expense spreadsheet, which you can download and modify with your own expense subtotals: Reimbursement Expense Spreadsheet Template
  • If you're not sure what category to use, provide an explanation of the expense in the Notes column so that your program administrator can determine what category is most appropriate.
  • If all of the expenses you are submitting for your trip are in USD, use the ‘Travel - USD only’ tab. If some or all of your expenses are in a foreign currency, use the ‘Travel with foreign currency’ tab. 

Currency Conversions

  • If expenses have been paid in a currency other than US dollars (USD), you'll need to provide a conversion into USD.
  • If a credit card was used to pay the expense(s), you can provide a copy of your credit card statement (black out other charges) showing the amount paid in USD.
  • If you don’t have or don’t want to use a credit card statement, use a currency conversion calculator (the OANDA converter is preferred) to convert the expense to USD and provide a pdf of the conversion with your other documentation.
  • If you have only one expense to convert, use the date of purchase (as reflected on the receipt) as the currency conversion date. 
  • If you have multiple expenses to convert, use the last date of the trip as the currency conversion date for all expenses. Find the conversion rate for the last date of the trip using the OANDA calculator and add that rate in your expense spreadsheet to calculate the USD value for each of your purchases. Click the ‘Travel with foreign currency’ tab of the Reimbursement Expense Spreadsheet template to see an example of what the spreadsheet should look like
    NOTE: If your foreign currency purchases fall into more than one category (e.g. airfare, hotel, train, taxi/bus, etc), do not just total all foreign currency purchases and then convert that total to USD - expenses are entered into Workday by category and totals for each category must be calculated separately!

Helpful Links 

  • OANDA Currency Converter (be sure to find the conversion rate for the date the purchase was made, not for the date you're submitting your reimbursement request!)
  • Brown Policies (use the search bar to find policies and forms related to reimbursement, travel, etc)
  • Miscellaneous Expenses Policy (some examples of what is and is not reimbursable)