Business & Travel Expenses

In a collaborative effort across the UMass five campus system, a new business and travel expense (BTE) standard has been created for all campuses.  This new standard has been in effect since July 1, 2022. Here is a link to the standard:  University of Massachusetts Business and Travel Expense Policy Effective 7/1/22.

There is a New Standard University Mileage Reimbursement Rate – Effective 1/1/2023

An exciting new project is underway, to utilize new technologies to improve travel and expense registration, booking, and expense reporting, information can be found here: 

Here is a recording of the first kickoff meeting for "project fast lane."

For questions, email UPST at upst [at] or the Controller’s Office at bte [at]

Will there be ONE document/standard for business and travel expenses?

Yes, we have one document for administering travel and business expenses for all campuses. Some processes or approvals may be different between campuses but all campuses are using the same standard.

What are some of the changes to the Amherst Campus with the new standard?

UPST has highlighted some of the impactful changes to the campus on their website.  

Can we receive out of pocket reimbursements for non-travel expenses?

Buyways is considered the the preferred method for purchasing.  When Buyways is impractical, the bank card can be used.  In the new standard, out of pocket reimbursements for non-travel related expenses are restricted and require an exception form.  

The exception form (power form) can be used at UPST or you may use the exception form in DocuSign templates.  Here is a job aid for how to complete the form in DocuSign.  The benefit to using the DocuSign template is that the preparer can track the signing of the document to completion.


Can we continue to reimburse for travel expenses in FY23?

Yes, out of pocket reimbursements are allowed for travel expenditures (post trip).  

Does this mean all employees should have a bank card?

It is up to the department and an employee’s supervisor to determine if an employee should have a bank card based on purchasing needs.  The bank card does allow the cardholder to purchase for others.

Buyways is considered the preferred method for purchasing. When using Buyways is impractical or if the item(s) are not available, then the University Bank card can be used. What are some resources to learn more about Buyways and Bank card?

UPST offers guidance and training for Requisitions (Purchase Orders) and has information available about the bank card program.  Also, UPST has various resources (forms and job aids) and trainings.

Is there additional guidance for purchasing Gifts and Awards?

The Controller's Office has developed some additional resources for purchasing gifts and awards per the requirements of the new standard.

How do I purchase gift cards?

The US Bank Declining card (USBDC) is the only allowable mechanism to purchase gift cards as allowed in the standard (retirement, employee recognition, raffles and door prizes, volunteers, human subject participants etc.).  The USBDC is different from a standard University bank card in that it is a pre-loaded credit card that is automatically reconciled to one G/L account (no reallocation is available).  There are three accounts available (727100 Employee recognition, 743015 Gift cards, and 742000 human subject compensation).  The card remains active until the funds are exhausted or the card expires.  In order to apply for a USBDC, complete an application.  There is an application for human subject gift cards and an application for all other gift cards.  Please note:  for human subject payments, we also offer a cash advance option which is outlined in the question "How do I pay Human Subjects."

What is a US Bank Declining Card (USBDC)?

The US Bank Declining card is a pre-loaded credit card issued to employees which is automatically reconciled to one G/L account (no reallocation is available).  There are three accounts available (727100 Employee Recognition, 743015 Gift cards, 742000 human subject compensation).  The card remains active until the funds are exhausted or the card expires.  This card can be used to purchase gift cards as allowed in the Uniform Standard (Employee retirement, raffles and door prizes, volunteers).  In order to purchase gift cards for human subject participants with a USBDC, we have a card application specific for purchasing human subject participant gift cards.  

How do I pay human subjects?

In order to purchase gift cards for human subject participants, the US Bank Declining Card (USBDC) can be used.  This card application can be completed.  This card is different from the University standard Bank Card in that it is a pre-loaded credit card that is automatically reconciled to one G/L account 742000.  There is no encumbrance and charges hit the account when gift cards are purchased.  Any unused funds on the card will expire when the card expires.  

In addition to the US Bank Declining Card, the Controller's Office offers cash advances which can be requested with the Controller's Office advance request form.  

For more information, please see this PPT presentation.  

How to Pay Human Subjects: A PowerPoint Presentation

**Purchase Order and Bank card should not be used to pay human subjects


Is there guidance for paying students?

Students can be refunded through accounts payable SFAMH business unit. Students who are US citizens can be reimbursed through the SFAMH business unit. Foreign students need to be vetted through Glacier for anything except a refund because even reimbursements can be taxed for them in some circumstances. If determined taxable the transaction must be entered in Buyways.

All prizes and awards which are given to students for educational expenses or which are educational in nature are considered scholarship and require Financial Aid reporting.  Only travel reimbursements related to a student’s employment/work should be processed in the PS expense module.

Visit the President's Office for guidance for student payments

Refunds: If the student has no balance due to the University they will receive a refund processed by the Bursar’s Office.  Refunds are processed via Excess Express. Students designate a US checking or savings account for deposit for refunds in SPIRE. When a refund is available, the student will receive an email from the Bursar’s Office. If a student has not set up Excess Express, they have a “To Do” on their SPIRE account to set up the account for refund deposits.

Graduate Assistantship Office, Katie Mooney, Graduate assistantships, non-working fellowships, prestigious fellowships: gradappt [at]

Financial Aid, Suzanne Schilling, educationally-related, travel awards, scholarship processing, sschilling [at]

University Advancement/Development Office, Academic Works, Jennifer Beane, acadworks [at]

Bursar’s Office, scholarship awards from organizations outside of UMass Amherst (i.e. Big Y, community foundations), Scholarship Coordinator, bursar [at]

What exactly is the dinner limit, is it per person, business meal, group meals etc.?

The Dinner meal limit is per person for business meals and catered events and is not inclusive of tax and tip.

Itemized receipts are required for all purchases, including restaurants. What do we need to do if a restaurant doesn’t provide an itemized receipt?

Cardholders should specify up front to the restaurant server that they need an itemized receipt for the business meal.  If the cardholder cannot obtain an itemized receipt from the vendor, a missing receipt form can be completed if the receipt total is $25 or more.  If the meal is being charged to a sponsored grant, an attestation that no alcoholic beverages were purchased must be included on the missing receipt form.

Has the alcohol policy changed?

The language has changed slightly.  Alcohol consumed at a business meal or meeting must be reasonable (generally not to exceed 25% of the total bill or a single beverage per person that is reasonably priced) and must be served with food.

How does the new standard impact travel?

The impact to travel related expenses are minimal.  

The changes are:

1.)The wording for allowable mileage has been updated to reflect IRS requirements

2.) Pre-travel authorization in Terra Dotta is no longer required for same-day out of state travel.

Please be sure to register travel in Terra Dotta, including travel which has a blanket pre-approval.  Include the Terra Dotta number on the expense report.

There are no additional requirements for prior approval with the new standard.

Will we be able to request blanket approval for domestic travel FY23?

Yes, for domestic travel only.  All domestic overnight travel must be registered in Terra Dotta.

Has anything changed with Airbnb?

Travelers are expected to incur the least expensive lodging option for rooms and rates available.  Travelers may stay in rental accommodations (Airbnb) if the total cost is equal to or less than a standard hotel single room occupancy rate.  Documentation must be provided to show the cost comparison.  If Airbnb is used and the cost of the Airbnb exceeds the standard hotel room rates, the traveler can claim the lowest rate for reimbursement OR complete an exception form and provide a justification to support how the Airbnb was the lowest cost lodging available which could meet the travelers business and safety needs.  Airbnb is allowed on the bank card as a travel expense.

Will travelers who get per-diem need to turn in receipts?

No, a traveler who submits for per-diem is not required to turn in receipts.

Are meals going to be allowed on the bank card for employees in travel status?

No, meals per-diem should be reimbursed post trip per the allowed GSA per diem rates.

Is the Campus still requiring the use of a business expense form?

Yes, the Amherst campus requires the use of a business expense form for business purchases which could be considered entertainment or personal / dual use (meals, events, gifts/flowers) etc.  The business expense form is to be used to document purchases in Buyways (Purchase Orders or Bank Card) and also for Campus recharges.  Employee reimbursements do not require a business expense form because the People Soft Expense report requires the same information.  Here is a link to the campus form .

What account codes are available to reallocate travel expenses purchased on Bank Card?

There are three account codes available to reallocate employee travel expenditures purchased on bank card. 

737100-Out of State

737150-Foreign Travel

737200-In State Travel

Why is it necessary to submit travel expenses purchased on bank card in the PS Expense Module?

All receipts for employee travel purchased on bank card must be uploaded in Buyways with the credit card statement for the month.  In addition, employee travel needs to be submitted in the People Soft Expense Module with the other receipts for the trip.  This is important that all travel expenses are captured on the expense report for the trip regardless of out of pocket or card payment.  Travel audit reviews including Fly America are driven by the submission in the expense module.  Having all travel related expenses submitted in PeopleSoft is required to prevent duplicated travel reimbursements. The additional requirement to process an expense report is to ensure Compliance to the standard and IRS requirements.

Does an expense report need to be filed for student, guests, or non-employee travel in the expense module?

No.  Non-employee travel should be documented on the Non-Employee Travel Document Form and retained with the purchase documentation.



When do I need to obtain Prior-Approval for business and travel expenses?

Prior approval is required for 1.) events in excess of $500 and alcohol at events 2.) employee recognition gifts 3.) gifts and awards provided to external organizations (contributions) 4.) gift card purchases 5.) cash advance requests 6.) cell phone purchases 7.) International travel and out of state /overnight travel 8.) Most exceptions to the standard also require prior approval-see the Amherst approval Matrix.


How do I obtain prior approval for business and travel expenses?

All out of state overnight and international travel is pre-approved in the travel registry.

Events in excess of $500 and events with alcohol are pre-approved with this form. This form must be retained with purchase documentation.

Employee recognition gifts are pre approved with this form. This form must be retained with purchase documentation.

Gifts and awards provided to external organizations (contributions) are pre-approved with this form.  This form must be retained with purchase documentation.

Prior approval forms can also be located in DocuSign templates, which will allow preparers to track the signing of the forms.  Here is a job aid for how to use the templates.

Gift cards are pre-approved with either of these two forms:

US Bank Declining Card Application for Human Subject Participant Gift Cards
US Bank Declining Card Application for Purchasing Gift Cards

Cash advances used to pay human subject compensation are pre-approved with this form.

Cell Phone's-Each department has an official cell phone representitive who will request a cell phone and plan to IT.  If you do not know who your cell phone represetative is, email cellphones [at]  Cell phones require a  Business Use Statement form to the Controller's Office.

When is an exception form required and where do I find this form?

An exception form is required whenever purchasing limits are exceeded, when a purchase is made which would normally be unallowable, and when an employee reimbursement is being requested for a non-travel expense.  This form must be attached to purchase documentation for justification/approvals.

Here is a link to the exception form at UPST.  This is a powerform. 

You can also locate the exception form in DocuSign templates, which allow preparers to track the signing of the forms.  Here is a job aid for how to use the template to complete the exception form.

Can preparers of the business and travel expense power forms track the signing of the forms?

No, however, the power forms will send all signers a fully signed version upon completion.  Power forms cannot be tracked. 

In order to help preparers track these forms, The Controller's Office created DocuSign templates for the required forms.  These are optional and preparers can either use the power forms at the UPST site OR the templates in DocuSign which have been shared out to the Campus.  The job aid will assist preparers to utilize the templates.