Expense and Reimbursement Guidelines

Expense and Reimbursement Guidelines


All purchases and expenditures made with College funds must meet the business standard of ordinary, necessary and reasonable and have a legitimate business purpose in relation to Gettysburg College department and/or program activities. These determinations are defined by government regulations (IRS, federal, state and local) and are supported by not-for-profit accounting standards. This applies to all payment types; check, pcard, or ACH/EFT.

Please see the Accounts Payable Information webpage for additional information on expense reimbursements (including gift cards) and tax exempt purchases.


Restricted Expenses

Individuals incurring expenses under external funding should adhere to Gettysburg College expense guidelines except where the grant terms are more restrictive. The federal government has mandated that no alcohol may be charged as either a direct or indirect expense of federally sponsored projects.

At their discretion, departments and/or divisions may impose more restrictive guidelines for budgetary or control reasons, but no department or division may set forth less restrictive guidelines than those stated herein.

Expenditures Not Allowed or Reimbursable by the College

The following expenses are not permitted for payment or reimbursement with College funds:

  • Personal expenditures
  • Political contributions, payments to elected officials or political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office
  • Honorariums paid to elected officials (ie payment for speaking engagement)
  • Cost of care for family members, pets, houses, etc.
  • Cost of commuting to/from normal work location
  • Non-allowable expenses related to sponsored projects (grant restrictions)
  • First class airfare
  • Unapproved charges for upgraded travel, lodging, or rental vehicle
  • Mileage reimbursement in excess of commercial transportation cost
  • Spouse or other companion travel expenses when the spouse or other companion's presence is not required by the College
  • Costs associated with deviation from original travel itinerary for personal reasons
  • Membership fees for benefits derived from travel
  • In-flight or in-room entertainment
  • Insurance for rental vehicles sold by vendor
  • Traffic fines
  • Towing fines
  • Hotel charges for auxiliary services (e.g. exercise rooms, dry cleaning)
  • Locksmith fees/charges
  • Optional conference activities not included in conference fee
  • Host/hostess gifts > $50
  • Replacement of damaged, lost, or stolen personal property
  • Personal items required during business travel (e.g. umbrella, luggage, clothing, prescriptions)
  • Personal services required during business travel (e.g. hair, car wash)
  • “No show” charges

Expenditures Not Allowed on Purchasing Cards

The following types of purchases should not be charged to any College purchasing card:

  • Charitable contributions other than benevolences
  • Gift cards/certificates – Please submit a check request to purchase directly from vendor or reimbursement request for a purchase made with personal funds. In order for a check to be processed the name of each recipient, amount and employee/student id number if applicable is required to be attached to the check/reimbursement request. Accounts Payable may request a W-9 if the recipient is not affiliated with the College. Recognitions of this nature are additional compensation to an employee and taxable to a non-employee and must be processed through payroll or accounts payable. Purchases of gift cards from internal sources (bookstore, dining, Majestic Theater) should be made via department charge. See additional information relating to the taxability of prizes, gifts and awards on the Accounts Payable webpage.
  • Fuel for employee personal vehicles - Mileage reimbursement should be requested when using a personal vehicle which includes an allocation for fuel. Fuel when using a fleet or rental vehicle may be purchased with a pcard.
  • Personal preference travel upgrades – Please make your reservations with personal funds and submit for reimbursement for the allowable standard charges.
  • Family member or guest travel expenses when accompanying employee as companion and booking and sharing as convenience - Please make your reservations with personal funds and submit for reimbursement for the allowable business related charges.

By using your Department Charge tool for purchases at campus locations such as the College Store, Majestic Theater, and all dining venues instead of your pcard, we will save the credit card fees on the card transaction.

In addition, the College has blocked card usage with some groups of merchants, typically those consumer oriented and/or unrelated to higher education. Card transactions with vendors registered with VISA under certain classifications will be rejected at the point of sale. These include but are not limited to:

  • Any transaction with a financial institution (e.g. cash withdrawal, bill payment, savings bond, wire transfer, foreign currency)
  • Medical and legal services
  • Judicial fees
  • Insurance payments
  • Real estate rental payments
  • Numerous specialty consumer retail merchants selling products or services rarely purchased by the College (e.g. jewelry stores, cruise lines, department stores, apparel boutiques)

Cardholders may on occasion be declined when attempting to make an appropriate business purchase with a merchant who falls into a blocked classification code. The program structure protects the College from external fraud and undue risk. You may contact Financial Services to proceed with the purchase via override pcards or you may use your personal card and submit for prompt reimbursement.

Expenses Requiring Pre-Approval and Special Considerations

Funding for the expenses below need to be approved, in writing, before the expense is incurred, by the individual with organizational oversight for the employee. This may be a Department Chair/Director, an Academic Dean, a Divisional Vice President or in some cases the Executive Vice President for Human Resources and Risk Management. The approval should be attached to the check request or pcard packet. If approved, the non-business portion of the expenditure will usually be considered additional compensation to the employee and taxed accordingly.

  • Upgrades to reservations for transportation and lodging - The least costly means of transportation and lodging that meet the requirements of the trip should be reserved. In order for the College to fund the incremental increase, the approval is needed. Employees may personally pay for upgrades.
  • Reservations for employee lodging within a 50-mile radius of the College
  • The College does not provide funding for the travel and/or entertainment expenses of a spouse, dependent or other personal guest who accompanies a College employee on business related travel except when specifically provided by an employee contract or in relation to an off campus program assignment.
  • Entertainment and/or meal expenses for a spouse, partner, dependent, or another accompanying an employee to a College event (unless the event is a campus wide sponsored event). Examples of generally non-allowed activities include a spouse going to dinner with an employee and a guest speaker or spouses attending a department holiday luncheon.
  • Housing may be provided to specific individuals as a condition of employment and for the convenience of the College in order that he/she to be able to properly perform official roles and required duties. The value of College housing meeting these conditions is not taxable compensation to the employee. The requirement for College provided housing for an employee must be recommended by the appropriate divisional Vice President and approved by the President. A Housing Agreement, created in accordance with Internal Revenue Code, Section 119 criteria, will specify services the College, as landlord, will provide to the employee, as tenant. Such services are limited to the general maintenance of the property consistent with the general maintenance of all College owned properties.
  • The College does not support the business use of an employee's personal residence with any form of payment. An employee who is authorized to work from home must have a telecommuting agreement in place. Please contact the HR office.

Attach copy of written approval to either the request for reimbursement or the monthly pcard packet.

Business Travel, Meals, Lodging & Entertainment Guidelines

When more than one cardholder is present, the most senior member of the hosting department should charge the expense to his or her purchasing card.

The purpose of these guidelines is to establish uniform standards of expense for all members of the College community regardless of the source of funds and to ensure that all members of the campus community, traveling on authorized College related business, are reimbursed appropriately for allowable business expenses paid out of pocket and are not unduly enriched or suffer financial losses as a result of such expenses. All reimbursements are considered in accordance with IRS regulations regarding Accountable Plans. Discretionary spending accounts are not provided. Please review the sections above regarding non-allowable and restricted expenditures.

Travel Charged to Sponsored Projects

Employees whose travel is funded by grants or other external funding are responsible for adhering to all terms of the grant or other requirements relating to expenses. The terms of the funding govern allowable expenses and the College will not fund expenditures restricted by the sponsored project even if ordinarily allowable under the College's guidelines.

Spousal/Partner Travel

As stated above under Expenses Requiring Pre-Approval, travel, entertainment, and/or meal expenses of a spouse, partner, dependent, or another who accompanies an employee to a business related event are not allowable unless their attendance is beneficial to the College and has been authorized.

When as a matter of personal preference, the employee chooses to have a spouse, partner, dependent, or another individual accompany them to a business event, the reservations are to be made with personal funds followed by a submission for reimbursement for the allowable business related charges.

Guests of the College

The College will pay for the travel and related expenses for individuals who are not employees or students (e.g. job applicants, lecturers, other visitors). Travel expenses for these individuals may not be prepaid, advanced, or directly billed to the College unless they are 100% refundable and meet allowable expense criteria. Otherwise, these expenses are reimbursable, in arrears, by submitting a check request form.

It is highly recommended that guests make and pay for their own travel, lodging, etc. arrangements. Providing this personal service can be worrisome to campus departments considering the College does not utilize a travel service. Additionally, guests are not covered by the College’s insurances until they arrive on campus and they may derive personal benefits from direct payments to travel providers.


Gettysburg College Transportation Services

Transportation Services is a provider of ground transportation for employees and guests of the College to facilitate College related travel to and from area centers of transportation such as airports, train, bus and subway stations. Transportation Services is the preferred provider (when possible) of vehicles and/or drivers for students and employees to satisfy the logistics of regional, College related travel. Students or employees may request and drive a College provided vehicle for regional College related travel.

Privately Owned Vehicles

Use of a privately owned vehicle is discouraged for insurance considerations, particularly when the driver is transporting other passengers on College related business. The College's insurance does not provide coverage to its students or employees while traveling in a private vehicle. In the event of an accident or loss involving a privately owned vehicle on College business, the coverages on such vehicle prevail and may not provide adequate protection.

When a privately owned employee vehicle is used for local or regional travel, mileage reimbursement at the College's current IRS rate per mile is required. Current rates and information regarding calculating a mileage reimbursement can be found in the Mileage Reimbursements section of this document.

College purchasing cards or College gasoline cards should not be used to fuel privately owned vehicles.

Automobile Rentals

Rentals should be limited to situations where other means of transportation are unavailable, more costly or impractical. The use of a rental must be justified as a business need and not as a matter of personal convenience. All employees are expected to read, understand and abide by the rental agreement terms.

Gettysburg College and the name of the employee should appear on the rental agreement and Loss Damage Coverage, and/or Personal Accident Insurance, and/or Additional Liability Insurance should be declined. The College will not pay for these excess coverages since the College maintains comprehensive, collision and liability insurance on all vehicles rented or leased in its name.

Rented vehicles may be driven only by the employee signing the rental agreement.

Commercial Air and Rail Travel

Standard air and rail travel accommodations with the least costly fare that realistically meets scheduling needs are required unless exceptional circumstances exist.

First class travel is not an allowable College expense. Business Class travel must be pre-approved by a divisional vice president. Other upgrades need to be pre-approved to be allowed.

The College will not pay any of the costs, including incremental fare increases, of a traveler's participation in frequent flyer programs.

Mileage Reimbursements

Receipts are not required for mileage. Please provide a mileage calculation on reimbursement requests.

For calendar year 2019, the mileage reimbursement rate is 58 cents per business mile driven (54.5 cents in 2018) and 20 cents per mile for moving (18 cents in 2018).

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which went into effect on January 1, 2018, greatly narrowed the moving expense deduction and will be available only for certain moves by members of the Armed Forces on active duty. Any reimbursed moving expenses are taxable to the employee.

When using an odometer reading as basis for reimbursement please provide as part of the calculation the starting and destination locations, beginning and ending odometer readings, College’s reimbursement rate (same as IRS mileage rate), deduction for normal commute if the employee did not begin or end the trip at the College (see below), and the business purpose for the travel. When using a MapQuest printout (or similar online program) as basis for reimbursement please provide as part of the calculation the printout (with the starting and destination locations and the total number of miles), College's reimbursement rate (same as IRS mileage rate), deduction for normal commute if the employee did not begin or end the trip at the College (see below) and the business purpose for the travel.

Please keep in mind that the IRS regulations state that your daily commute mileage from home to work is to be subtracted from any mileage reimbursement.

Please note, in some circumstances the employee may not be eligible for mileage reimbursement after the calculation is done. Documentation for reimbursed mileage amounts must include the mileage calculation.

An employee lives in Littlestown and travels from Littlestown to Harrisburg for a conference

Total miles


Less daily commute miles


Mileage for reimbursement


An employee lives in Camp Hill and travels from Camp Hill to Harrisburg for a conference

Total miles


Less daily commute miles


Not eligible for reimbursement





Standard business lodging accommodations at mid-market establishments are required unless unusual circumstances exist. Regional price variances are acknowledged. All reserved rooms should be guaranteed for late arrival. Employees should be mindful of cancellation policies.

As noted above in the Expenses Requiring Pre-Approval and Special Considerations section, reservations for lodging within a 50 mile radius of the College must be pre-approved by a Department Chair/Director and may still be considered taxable compensation to the employee.

Upon check –out, employees are expected to pay for any personal expenses charged to their room. The guest folio bill, with evidence of payment, is required as the supporting documentation for lodging expense.


Personal meal expense, those incurred by an employee when traveling out of the local area on College business, and business meal expense, those incurred by an employee for meals taken with a guest of the College, a colleague, student, prospect, etc., during which a business discussion takes place, may be paid for with a College purchasing card or reimbursed at actual cost. All meal expenses should be reasonable. Regional price variances are acknowledged.

All meal expenses should be supported by original receipts with the order details, names of all attendees, and a notation regarding the business purpose.

Per diem meal allowances are permissible for student groups only. Amounts are determined by the program budget but are not to exceed IRS guidelines. Funds are available in advance of an event or trip.

Approved department events providing meals or refreshments to celebrate or recognize significant department accomplishments as related to the College community should be of modest expense.