Travel policy change offers per diem rates for meals

Policy changes set to go into effect Aug. 1 will allow faculty and staff traveling on university business to be reimbursed for meals and incidental purchases at a set rate without submitting receipts.

Allowing meal reimbursement on a per diem basis instead of actual cost is a standard industry practice and will reduce the complexity of expense reports, a common request from faculty and staff, said Jake Wilson, director of divisional business operations in the division of operations and finances.

Travel within Iowa will pay $7 for breakfast, $10.50 for lunch and $17.50 for dinner. The in-state total of $35 per day is an increase over the previous maximum for meal expenses of $31 per day. Per diems for out-of-state travel will be based on rates set by federal agencies, such as the General Services Administration (GSA).

Per diem rates also set the maximum allowable expense for meals purchased with a travel and hospitality (T&H) card. As of July 1, receipts aren't required for T&H card allowable purchases of $75 or less. Employees are responsible for paying any portion of T&H card purchases that exceeds allowable limits, either by deductions from personally paid reimbursement amounts or U-bill charges. Supervisors may set more restrictive limits on allowable expenses.

The maximum rate for lodging will be $96 per night in Iowa, where many hotels offer special rates to state employees. Out-of-state lodging maximums will be tied to GSA rates. Exceptions are possible in some situations, such as conferences that require attendees to stay on-site. Receipts are required for lodging expenses.

The changes effective Aug. 1, which affect the travel policies pertaining to reimbursement, foreign travel reimbursement, airfare, and travel authorization and funding, also clarify that coach class airfare is the lowest-price ticket available including baggage fees.