Spending Guidelines and Reimbursement Policies

Allowable Business Expenses

The following Main Campus policy is an addendum to University policies, Business Travel and Entertainment (FA 550), which can be found on the Officer of the Financial Officer’s (OCFO) website (new window). Please ensure that you are familiar with these policies. Please note that in some cases the policy listed below is more strict than University policy. Departments must abide by these policies. However, they may enforce stricter guidelines if they so choose. Such stricter guidelines should be in writing.

Reimbursement requests for the types of expenses listed below have come up frequently and the following is intended as clarification of what the Main Campus will and will not reimburse – regardless of funding source (gifts, grants, operating budgets, etc.).

All reimbursements must have a business connection (new window) and substantiated within a reasonable amount of time (new window), which is 60 days per University policy. Exceptions to the reasonable amount of time policy must be approved by the CFO/designee in GMS. For Main Campus, the expense must have been incurred in the current fiscal year to be considered for a one-time exception.

Pre-approval for employee travel reimbursements via Spend Authorizations in GMS is a requirement determined at the School level. Please consult with your unit’s Financial team as needed.

Types of Expenses

Academic Regalia: Main Campus policy permits a faculty member to use his/her research funds towards purchase or rental of academic regalia as described in the Use of Research Funds Policy (new window) Additionally, to encourage faculty attendance at University functions, the Office of the Provost will facilitate the rental of academic regalia for New Student Convocation. In such cases, the rental cost is to be borne by the faculty member.

Airphone: The expenses incurred while using a telephone on-board an airplane are not allowable at this time. This policy may be subject to change in the future; however, the current cost of this service is prohibitive.

Child Care/Pet Sitting: The Main Campus does not allow for the reimbursement of childcare or pet sitting expenses. An exception has been made for faculty on research travel, but requests must be approved by the Office of the Provost. Please see the Dependent Care Fund Policy (new window) for more details.

Cellular Phones:

  • “The University will not reimburse individuals for costs associated with non-university owned or provided mobile devices used for business. This includes, but is not limited to, monthly service, feature charges, usage charges, taxes, fees, and surcharges…” The full policy is available here (new window).
  • If the expense only occurs once in a while, please consult with the Main Campus Finance Office to determine the best way to proceed.

Clothing/Business Attire: Appropriate business and/or evening attire is the responsibility of the individual and is not an allowable expense.

Commuting expenses: Commutes to/from home are a personal expense per the IRS and are not an allowable expense.

Computers/Software/Printers: Desktops and laptops are not reimbursable expenses. All purchases for institutional use must be purchased in accordance with the computer (new window), software (new window), and printer (new window) guidelines set up by UIS.

Data Plans/Line Connections (Internet Service): In accordance with the University Human Resources’ teleworking policy, all expenses related to the internet service for the employee’s home, even if used for business purposes, are not reimbursable.

Donations: Donations are not reimbursable expenses. Donations from University funds to charitable or other organizations outside the University must be approved by the area Dean, Vice President, or fiscal officer of the department making the donation. Written approval should be obtained prior to making the donation and should accompany the request for payment. The donation must be made in the name of the University on an Expense Voucher submitted to Accounts Payable using account code 74808 “Donations and Contributions.” Donations to any political campaign are not permitted.

Dry Cleaning/Laundry: These expenses will only be reimbursed if an employee has been on University business travel for a continuous period of 7 days or longer. All other dry cleaning/laundry expenses, including those for academic garb, are not allowable.

First-Class Travel: University policy is very clear – this is not an allowable expense. Business-class travel is allowable but only for flights off the continent.

Fitness Center: Fitness center fees for University employees will only be reimbursed if an employee has been on University business travel for a continuous period of 7 days or longer. All other fitness center fees while on business travel are not an allowable expense – either for University employees or guests of the University.

Foreign Currency: In addition to the receipt, conversion rates based on the dates of the transactions are required to be attached to the Expense Report in GMS for expenses paid with foreign currencies, unless the conversion was calculated directly in GMS.

Gift Certificates / Gift Cards: The purchase of gift certificates / gift cards is strongly discouraged. They are readily convertible into cash and are therefore considered taxable. They are not to be purchased using a ProCard, and they should not be given in lieu of an honorarium or additional compensation.


  • Airline Clubs: Reimbursement for airline clubs such as the Red Carpet Club are allowable only for those who travel a minimum of 20 trips per year and who have approval from the Unit Head or his/her designee. Any frequent flyer miles accumulated should be applied to the purchase of the membership first.
  • Club Memberships: With pre-approval from the Provost, reimbursement for other clubs such as Cosmos or The Georgetown Club are allowed for Unit Heads who do extensive fundraising. Where not prohibited, membership should be in the University’s name.
  • Roadside Assistance: Reimbursement for roadside assistance such as AAA is only reimbursable for those who travel frequently on University business by car or van such as Admissions or Athletics. Prior approval from Unit Head or his/her designee required.
  • Discount Stores: Reimbursements for discount clubs such as Sam’s Club, BJ’s or Costco are only allowed if the membership is in the University’s name and with prior approval from the Unit Head or his/her designee.
    • It should be noted that University memberships in discount clubs are generally discouraged. Office supplies should be purchased from the University’s preferred vendors. There needs to be a clear cost benefit to purchasing a discount store membership.
    • NOTE: Consumable products purchased from discount stores and prepared by employees for consumption at University events are not covered by the University’s umbrella insurance policy.
  • Other Memberships: Reimbursement is only allowable with the prior approval of the Unit Head.

Movies: In-room movies while on business travel are not an allowable expense – either for University employees or guests of the University.

Newspapers: Newspaper subscriptions for individuals are considered a personal expense and are not reimbursable or allowable on a ProCard.

Parking for University Employees: Regular daily parking of personal vehicles by employees at their place of employment (either on- or off-campus) is considered by the IRS as a personal expense and not reimbursable or allowable on a ProCard. This does not include parking while traveling on University business.

Spa Fees: Reimbursement of spa fees are not allowed.

Spouse/Other Family Expenses: Reimbursement of expenses for spouses, other family members, or friends while accompanying an employee on University travel are not allowed. Any surcharges or additional fees or expenses as a result are the responsibility of the employee.

Theater Tickets: Georgetown employees may be reimbursed for theater tickets only when they are used for fundraising purposes and with prior approval of the Unit Head.

Traffic Tickets: Traffic tickets (moving violations and/or parking) are not allowable expenses.

Train Tickets: Main Campus allows booking of Acela business fares, also known as Premier Coach. Acela first class fares are still prohibited.

Computer Equipment

Computer Equipment – Purchases

In general, computers and other computer equipment purchased with University funds, including grant funding, are considered University property. All computer equipment must be in compliance with current standards as set by University Information Services.

For questions regarding the Main Campus Computer Replacement Program, please click here.

Computer Equipment – Disposal

The proper disposal of computer equipment is essential to maintaining data security. For this reason, computers must be wiped by University Information Services and then recycled through Facilities Management.

Facilities Management will also recycle used printers and digital cameras. You may either drop the equipment off or call Work Management at 202-687-3432 to arrange a pick up.

ProCard Policies

Cardholders should be familiar with university policy (new window), which is clear that transactions must be allocated within 30 days. If transactions remain unexpensed for 60 days, the ProCard may be suspended until outstanding transactions are resolved. If a ProCard is suspended, any transactions greater than 30 days must be allocated on an expense report and routed for approval. Please note that Officer of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) will not activate a ProCard until transactions greater than 60 days are allocated on an expense report and approved.

Missing Receipts

While every effort should be made to retain receipts for purchases, the Missing Receipt Form can be used in instance where the receipt is not available. Please complete the form and include it with your expense report. Repeated use of this form to circumvent financial controls is a violation of the University ProCard Policy. You can find the form here (new window).