To set the policy for employees traveling on official college business.
1. Travel Policy Statement
The purpose of this Travel Manual is to help employees understand and apply New York State’s travel rules and regulations and to provide instructions regarding reimbursement of expenses while in travel status. The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) sets rules and regulations for reimbursement of expenses incurred while traveling on official state business. While these policies reflect the guidance provided by the State Comptroller regarding expenses charged against State and IFR accounts; these guidelines also establish standards for travel reimbursement charged to Empire State College Foundation (ESCF) and Research Foundation (RF) accounts. These rules and regulations are also included by reference in collective bargaining agreements. When traveling on official New York State business, only actual, necessary and reasonable business expenses will be reimbursed. The OSC travel manual can be found at: OSC Travel Manual
2. General Guidelines and Responsibilities
Employees are in travel status when they are more than 35 miles from both their official station and their home.
The designation of official station is determined by the College management in the best interest of the State and not for the convenience of the employee. OSC reserves the right to request justification from an agency to support their designation of official station. Official station designation belongs to the position, not to the person.
Travel between the employee’s home and official station is considered commuting and is not reimbursable. Employees working from two locations will only be reimbursed if they travel between the two locations on the same day. Travel to one location in a day will not be reimbursed since this is considered commuting. See Travel in the Proximity of Official Station or Home below.
Vouchers must be submitted in a timely manner usually within thirty days of the completion of the trip. OSC will not allow reimbursement for employees travel expenses when the college’s fiscal year has lapsed (June 30th).
3. College Responsibility
4. Supervisor’s responsibility
5. Traveler's responsibility
All parties have a responsibility to ensure that reimbursement for the same travel expenses are not charged to multiple funding sources. Knowingly submitting duplicate travel expenses or making false statements on travel vouchers constitutes a fraudulent act and such matters will be referred to the University for counsel on action to be taken, including possible dismissal of employee and/or criminal charges. The College requires original documentation and appropriate supervisory authorization in order to avoid both intentional and unintentional duplicate payments.
6. Travel Advances
Travel Advances are a mechanism to avoid undue financial hardship for an employee when in travel status.
When requesting a travel advance, the traveler fills out a Travel Authorization at least 14 days prior to the trip. This must be signed by the supervisor/account administrator and forwarded to Accounts Payable.
Travel advances for professional staff will be authorized only when the traveler stays overnight and travel is reimbursable through state funds. Travel advances for less than $50 will not be granted. The authorized maximum cash advance is $400 unless there are unusual circumstances.
If necessary, recovery of funds may include deductions from the employee’s salary or other monies due him/her.
7. Official Station
The official station is the employee’s usual work location. The official station is designated by the college and must be in the best interest of the State. The purpose of an official station is to establish when the employee is in travel status and eligible for reimbursement of travel expenses. Travel between the employee’s home and official station is considered commuting and is not reimbursable. The employee’s home is considered to be in the city or town in which the employee primarily resides when working at his or her official station. The employee’s home generally may not be considered their official station.
Travel in Proximity of Official Station or Home
When an employee is assigned to work at an alternate work location which is less than 35 miles from either his or her home or his or her official station, the employee is not considered to be in travel status, but rather is considered to be traveling in proximity of his or her official station. Employees traveling less than 35 miles from home or official station will not be reimbursed for overnight lodging or meals. When traveling in proximity of home or official station, an employee using a personal vehicle, is, as outlined below, entitled to reimbursement of transportation expenses associated with travel:
When travel is from an employee’s home to an alternate work location, or from an alternate work location to home, at a minimum, transportation expenses must be reimbursed using the lesser of 1) mileage between the employee’s home and the alternate work location, or 2) mileage between the employee’s official station and the alternate work location, times the Internal Revenue Service mileage reimbursement rate. This reimbursement method is called the lesser of mileage rule.
When travel is between an employee’s official station and an alternate work location, or between two or more alternate work locations in the same day, transportation expenses must be reimbursed by payment for the actual mileage between such locations, times the Internal Revenue Service mileage reimbursement rate. Parking expenses will be reimbursed if the employee is traveling to a location that is not the employee's official station. Public transportation is recommended where practical and will be reimbursed.
The expense of meals or lodging within the proximity of the official station will not normally be reimbursed. Reimbursement for travel in the proximity of the home or the official station is subject to the audit of the Comptroller. No transportation costs will be allowed between any employee's home and his or her official station. Click here for examples: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/agencies/travel/lesser.pdf Empire State College has created a mileage chart for travel between Centers and Units, please refer to this chart when completing your Mileage form AC160.
Mileage Chart (file 11kB)
8. Pre-Approvals for Out-of-State Travel, Over-the-Maximum Per Diem, and/or Air Travel
Employees planning on traveling on College business (including College sponsored professional development opportunities) out-of-state or seeking reimbursement for over-the-maximum per diem allowance or traveling by airplane as described in subsequent sections of these guidelines must seek approval prior to making travel arrangements. Employees should seek pre-approval from their Associate Deans, Deans from the Provost, Administrative employees from their Director or Assistant Vice President for Administration. In making determination as to approval of out-of-state, over-the-maximum, or air travel Centers and Offices must stay within their total travel budget allocation for the fiscal year. Per Diem rates for meals for specific areas may be found on www.gsa.gov/perdiem Lodging at governmental rates may be found on www.FedRooms.com.
When submitting a request for pre-approval the following information must be provided:
If requesting approval for over the maximum per diem rate, the employee must include a statement reflecting that governmental rates are unavailable in the specific area of travel; listing specific lodging rates of area hotels.
Once pre-approval is authorized, the employee may proceed with travel arrangements.
When submitting your completed travel voucher, documentation of the pre-approval notice must be attached to the travel voucher, without documentation the travel voucher will be returned.
9. Receipt Requirements
Travelers must provide receipts with expense reports in accordance with the chart below*:
Charge on the State Travel Card
Transportation by Common Carrier (e.g. train, bus, airplane, subway)
Ticket stub if purchase price is printed on the stub: receipt and ticket stub if purchase price is not printed on the stub
Receipt showing return time
EZ pass statement with applicable charges indicated
Day Trip Meals-Receipted
Miscellaneous and incidental expenses
*Business Units have the discretion to, on occasion, allow reimbursement if a receipt is misplaced or illegible and there is no reason to question the legitimacy of the expense.
For unreceipted expenses, such as mileage and unreceipted per diems, receipts are not required. However, travelers may be required to document these expenses in other ways (e.g. the AC-160s and AC-132s).
10. Transportation By Common Carrier
Travelers should use the most efficient and cost effective method of transportation available. Often times, this means using a common carrier such as a train, bus, taxicab or airplane. This is especially true when traveling between Albany and New York City. Where possible, travel should be scheduled using NYS travel services contracts, coach accommodations and excursion fares. When traveling by commercial air, the contract established by OGS for airline travel must be used.
When choosing a method of transportation several factors should be considered:
Train travel on Amtrak will be reimbursed at the current Amtrak government rate, and the original ticket must be provided with the travel voucher. Amtrak should be used between Rensselaer and New York City whenever possible by Coordinating Center employees. When a common carrier is available but a more expensive method is chosen without sufficient justification, the college may reimburse only the common carrier rate. If a trip is cancelled at the direction of the College, the traveler will not be responsible for any costs incurred. If cancelled for the traveler’s convenience, he/she may be responsible for any costs. Charges for traveling by common carrier between a transportation terminal (airport, bus or train station) and home or official station may be incurred and are reimbursable for actual costs. Personal car mileage is reimbursable in accordance with collective bargaining agreements. MetroCard and other Forms of Public Transportation
Procedure for Reimbursement:
When traveling on College business, staff members accept the responsibility of traveling via the most economical means.
To determine the most economical means of transportation between the use of a rental vehicle or
personal vehicle when traveling over 100 miles round trip, please use the OGS calculator found on:
Upon completion of the calculations, please print the screen and attach it to your travel voucher.
Saratoga Employees may reserve a State car whenever possible. To reserve a state car, please contact Charlotte Nicoll x 2367 for availability. When using State cars, the State credit card must be used for the purchase of gas at State and authorized facilities. Repair costs need advance approval by the Bookstore Manager, who must also receive approval from the State University or State Bureau of Fleet Management. Insurance costs will be charged by the Accounts Payable Office to the central automotive budget. The credit card is in the packet of information pertaining to that car located in the glove compartment. The packet contains registration, insurance identification card, credit card, maintenance log, and (in case of need) accident report forms. Emergency expenses, if justified, will be reimbursed.
A personal vehicle may be used when a State vehicle or common carrier is not available, is not cost effective or is otherwise not appropriate.
When a personal car is used, a statement of automobile travel (AC-160) must accompany the travel voucher specifying reasonable mileage between stations. MC, UUP, CSEA and PEF employees will be reimbursed at the established rate of .53.5 cents per mile (effective 1/1/17). All reasonable and necessary parking and toll charges will be reimbursed whether paid in cash or with personally issued EZ Pass.
When using a personal auto, no charges for gas, repairs, accessories, depreciation, anti-freeze, towing, insurance and other expenditures can be made by the College. These are considered operational costs and are part of the mileage reimbursement.
In case of an accident, the individual involved or their supervisor should contact the Office of Business Services as soon as possible. A copy of any accident report is to be filed with the Office of Business Services in Saratoga Springs as well as with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the insurance carrier. If someone is sued as a result of an accident while on State business in their own personal or rented car and the amount of the suit exceeds their personal insurance limit or the limit of the rental car company’s policy, the employee must ask the Attorney General in writing within five days of the notification of the suit for Section 17 coverage. If granted, the State is responsible for the additional amount awarded above the individual’s personal car limit of liability or the limit of the rental company’s policy.
Current mileage reimbursement rate is .53.5 cents per mile (1/1/17)
Renting a vehicle is preferred over using a personal vehicle when it is the most economical means of transportation. Please use the calculator on the GOER site to determine the most economical means of transportation between the use of a personal car or a rental vehicle.
Travel Calculator A satisfactory explanation for use of a rented automobile is required for reimbursement. The appropriate receipt and justification must be submitted with the Travel Voucher. The receipt must include the type of vehicle rented, miles traveled, license plate number, and time of pick up and return. Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental have the state contract for car rentals. When renting, use Enterprise if available in your area.
Enterprise charges are directly billed to the college, National Car Rental is not directly billed to the college. Always rent in the name of the State of New York (SUNY Empire State College). Gas expense for a rental car requires a receipt. If the traveler arrives back after hours, Enterprise has a drop off box for the return of keys. To save money, be sure to use this drop off option when arriving home after hours. Enterprise preferred hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. If there is no Enterprise facility within 30 miles, Enterprise must offer night pick up or after hour drop off at no additional charge.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the NYS contract rental agency. When reserving a rental, one must use the Account number and Discount Code found on the ESCnet website for the expense to be directly billed to Empire State College:
Travelers please provide the following when picking up the rental vehicle:
The traveler no longer needs to purchase additional insurance; the new contract includes the insurance in the price of the rental vehicle. (7/20/11) In case of accidents, travelers should notify the Office of Business Services as soon as possible. A copy of any accident report is to be filed with the Office of Business in Saratoga Springs as well as with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the insurance carrier. Any gasoline purchases and other direct costs associated with the vehicle will be reimbursed, with receipts. Reimbursement for personal car mileage when using a rental vehicle under the State Contract will not be allowed.
When using Enterprise or National Car Rental for out-of-state travel there is no direct bill to the college, therefore the traveler will be charged for the rental and the college will reimburse the traveler.
12. Trains – see Section 10 - Transportation Common Carrier
The cost of airline tickets can no longer be billed to the College’s Central Travel Account (CTA). A traveler may continue to order an airline ticket through the State’s travel agent, Direct Travel, but will need to charge the cost to their personal credit card. A CTA number is no longer required.
Air travel between New York City and Albany is NOT allowed.
Employees should seek pre-approval from their Associate Deans, Deans from the Provost, Administrative employees from their Directors or Assistant Vice President for Administration. The traveler must have approval documentation prior to submission to the Accounts Payable Office for payment. The approved request must accompany the voucher for payment.
Airfare reimbursement may be requested any time after ordering your tickets by submitting a Travel Authorization Form and the receipt showing the actual amount paid. The traveler does not need to wait until after the trip to receive reimbursement. A Travel Advance may also be requested up to 4 weeks prior to the anticipated date of the airline ticket purchase. A completed and approved Travel Authorization should be submitted to Accounts Payable along with three price quotes.
To utilize the State authorized agent, any new traveler must have a completed the Travel Preference Profile on record with the travel agency. Please contact Karen Kamal at ext. 2203 for at form.
Once this form is on file, then the traveler will be able to make arrangements for air travel directly with Direct Travel, asking for the New York State Reservations Department.
All others must call Direct Travel at the following 800 number: (1-800-245-8459)
Travel by Personally Owned Airplane
Authorization by the Vice President for Administration is required for the use of the traveler’s privately owned plane while on State business. A liability insurance policy must be currently in force and provide coverage of at least $1,000,000.00 with the State of New York as a named insured. The insurer must be licensed by the State Insurance Department to conduct business in New York State and a copy of the policy must be filed with the Vice President for Administration.
Travel by privately owned plane would be reimbursed at the lesser of the personal car mileage rate (regardless of the number of passengers carried) or the published coach fare for each passenger on State business (if commercial air transportation is available between points of travel).
14. Lodging and Meals
When staying overnight in NYC the traveler may be required by the hotel to submit a NYC Tax Exemption Certificate in addition to a NYS Lodging Tax Exemption Certificate ST-129 this form is available on MYESCnet (contact Karen Kamal, ext. 2203 with questions).
Overnight Travel Reimbursement
Employees may choose one of two methods for reimbursement for overnight travel. Travelers may not, however, combine the two methods on the same trip. Breakfast and dinner are reimbursable meals; lunch is not.
Unreceipted Method (Method 1)
This method provides for a flat rate allowance for meals, lodging and incidental expenses regardless of where lodging is obtained, including lodging with relatives or friends. Rates are established based on the city or county where lodging is obtained or the location to which the employee was traveling (whichever rate is less), and such location must be indicated on the travel voucher. No receipts are required when using this method. Current rates are as follows:
Location Per Diem:
Travelers using this un-receipted method are also eligible for an additional $5.00 for breakfast on the day of departure if they have to leave more than one hour before their normal work start time. They are also eligible for an additional $12.00 for dinner on the day of return if they return more than two hours later than their normal work ending time. For example, a traveler leaves Albany before 7:00 a.m. heading to NYC. The traveler stays overnight at a friend’s house in NYC and arrives back in Albany the next day after 7:00 p.m. The traveler’s scheduled work hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The traveler is entitled to the un-receipted per Diem of $50 for the one night stay in NYC. In addition, the traveler is entitled to an additional $5.00 for breakfast and $12.00 for dinner.
Receipted Method (Method 2)
This method provides reimbursement of actual lodging costs and an allowance for meals based on federal reimbursement rates for the county of lodging. The per diem rates for locations within the continental United States are revised annually. Click here for current rates. http://www.gsa.gov/perdiem
Since rates are based on location of lodging, the county and city must be indicated on the travel voucher. Receipts are required for lodging, but are not required for meals when using Method 2.
Each day the traveler is in overnight travel status, the traveler is eligible for reimbursement for lodging up to a maximum lodging per diem and a per diem allowance for meals. The meal per diem is for dinner the first night and breakfast the following day. Travelers using this method are also eligible for an additional per diem for breakfast if they have to leave more than one hour before their normal work start time the first day, and/or for dinner if they return more than two hours later than their normal work ending time on the last day of travel. In these cases, breakfast and/or dinner will be reimbursed up to the maximum amount of the meal per diem allowance specified for the particular area of lodging. The meal per Diem allowance is apportioned for breakfast and dinner. See http://www.osc.state.ny.us/agencies/guide/MyWebHelp/Content/XIII/4/D.htm for current meal allowances.
Departure and Return Requirements for Meal Reimbursements:
Depart prior to: 7:00 A.M. Breakfast; 6:00 P.M. Dinner Return after: 8:00 A.M. Breakfast; 7:00 P.M. Dinner
Meal allowance: (by County)
Maximum lodging rates exclude taxes. For travel within New York State, a Tax Exemption Certificate Form ST-129 should be used, or contact Karen Kamal in Business Services for a form ext.2203. For travel outside of New York State, state and local taxes are not included in the maximum lodging amount and will be reimbursed in addition to the per diem amount. Some out of state hotels will accept the tax-exempt certificate. Check at the hotel to see of the hotel will accept the tax-exempt status.
On occasion, travelers may be unable to find a hotel at a rate that does not exceed the maximum federal lodging per diem rate for the location of travel. If that occurs, the traveler must obtain prior approval to exceed the federal rate (see Section 15 for Pre-Approvals for Over-the-Maximum Per Diem).
Day Trip Reimbursement
Travelers may be reimbursed for breakfast and/or dinner for day trips based on departure and return times. Travelers are entitled to reimbursement for breakfast if they have to leave at least one hour before their normal work start time, and/or for dinner if they return at least two hours later than their normal work ending time.
Travelers without meal receipts are reimbursed $5.00 for breakfast and/or $12.00 for dinner. For example, a traveler leaves Albany before 7:00 a.m. for NYC. The traveler arrives back in Albany the same day after 7:00 p.m. The travelers scheduled work hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The traveler is entitled to $5.00 for breakfast and $12.00 for dinner.
Travelers with meal receipts are reimbursed up to the maximum amount of the meal per diem allowance specified for the particular area of travel. The meal per Diem allowance is apportioned for breakfast and dinner.
See Meal Allowances for current meal allowances.
Day trip meal reimbursements are reportable as income to the IRS.
Meals and Lodging Provided by the College
If the College or another agency or organization provides meals and/or lodging without charge to the traveler, that information including the name of the agency or organization must be indicated on the voucher. Lodging and/or meals when provided at no cost to the employee by the College or another agency or organization as part of an assignment to duty are not reimbursable. If only lodging was provided, meal allowances based on location of lodging may still be claimed.
Travelers are allowed lodging and meals for weekends when their agency deems it necessary for them to be in travel status. An additional reimbursement over and above the per diems may be allowed in accordance with the travelers bargaining agreement if the traveler is 300 miles or more away from home and official station.
15. Miscellaneous Expenses
Only actual, reasonable and necessary business related expenses will be reimbursed and must be properly indicated, itemized, and justified on the voucher. Please see section 9 on Receipt Requirements.
16. Reimbursable Expenses
Business related expenses such as: Telephone Calls, internet connection fees, baggage transfer and storage expenses, and supplies and materials.
17. Non-reimbursable Expenses
Expenses for speeding fines, parking tickets, laundry, valet services, entertainment (e.g., theater tickets, in-room movies), and other personal charges.
18. Conference Considerations
Whenever possible, college sponsored conferences should be arranged at facilities honoring the federal per diem rates for meals and lodging. The cost of meeting room rentals, equipment, luncheons and breaks are normally paid directly by the college. In selecting the conference site, the college will consider cost, location and other special requirements. Standard procurement procedures will be followed.
On occasion, travelers must attend conferences sponsored by other organizations at facilities that exceed the maximum lodging rate. Travelers must obtain prior written (via e-mail) approval to exceed the rate. Prior approval will come from the employees Associate Deans, Deans from the Provost, Administrative employees from their Directors or the Assistant Vice President of Administration. When considering an employee request to exceed government rates, the approver will consider the following:
Social activities such as sightseeing and golf outings are considered personal expenses and will not be reimbursed. When meals and lodging are provided as a part of a college sponsored conference or event, additional reimbursement is not permitted.
If meals are paid by another employee, such as a Dean or Vice President, and reimbursed to the Dean or Vice President from other than State funds such as the ESC Foundation or the Research Foundation, no additional reimbursement shall be made by the State.
19. International Travel
Individuals traveling abroad on official college business must adhere to all existing guidelines with regard to travel authorizations, advances and receipt requirements.
Travel outside the continental United States is reimbursed based on the maximum per diem allowance established by the U.S. Department of State. The foreign per diem rates are published monthly and are available on their website at Foreign per diem rates
International travel rates provide for lodging costs up to a maximum amount and an allowance for meals and incidental expenses. Similar to Method 2 above, the meal per diem is for dinner the first night and breakfast the following day. Travelers are also eligible for an additional per diem for breakfast if they have to leave more than one hour before their normal work start time the first day, and/or for dinner if they return more than two hours later than their normal work ending time on the last day of travel. In these cases, the traveler would be entitled to 20 percent of the foreign meal per diem for breakfast or 80 percent for dinner. Expenses directly related to lodging and meals are included in the foreign per diem allowance, however, some expenses unique to foreign travel may be reimbursed at the discretion of the college.
Travelers requesting reimbursement for expenses made in foreign currencies must document the exchange rate for the time of travel and provide the conversion to U.S. dollars with the request for reimbursement. Faculty and administrative staff teams traveling to regularly scheduled residencies and graduation ceremonies may be pre-approved by including a summary list displaying all travelers, travel dates and applicable locations. Current college policy allows for these Faculty/Administrative groups to receive a travel advance of 75% of anticipated lodging and meal expenses prior to pre-approved travel with the remaining 25% to be reimbursed with appropriate documentation submitted within a reasonable amount of time upon return.
20. IRS Requirements
The Internal Revenue Service generally requires withholding and W-2 reporting for the following types of travel reimbursements:
21. Interviews for Employment
The appointing officer of the college may authorize reimbursement for travel expenses necessarily incurred by candidates attending interviews for positions for which there is a shortage of qualified candidates. Positions in the competitive class for which there are shortages of qualified candidates shall be determined by the State Department of Civil Service. For positions outside the competitive class the Vice President for Administration of the College shall make such determination. Reimbursement will be allowed to candidates who reside over 50 miles from place of interview in accordance with the rules detailed above. Expenses may include transportation, food, and lodging.
OSC Travel Manual: www.osc.state.ny.us/agencies/travel/manual.pdf
Per Diem rates: www.gsa.gov/perdiem or www.state.gov/travel.