Office of Sponsored Programs
The Ohio State University

Sponsored Program Travel Policies

The Office of Sponsored Programs adheres to university travel policy for travel on sponsored program funds. Additional sponsored program requirements are outlined below.

General Guidelines
Airfare
Use of U.S. Flag Air Carriers
Lodging
Meals
Business Meals
Registration
Wire Transfers for International Travel
Cash Advances
Split Funding
Payment by Procurement Cards
Cancelled Trips
Approved Travel Agency
Travel Links

General Guidelines

All travel by faculty, staff, students, and guests utilizing sponsored program funds administered through the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) must be pre-approved and processed by the OSP Travel Office.

Persons traveling on sponsored projects are typically appointed to the sponsored project. When this is not the case, the travel and the traveler must be justified with a business purpose description prepared with enough detail by the PI as project related and consistent with sponsor regulations.

Upon receipt of the etravel request, the OSP Travel Office will check for cost allowability, availability of project funds, and that the travel occurs within the project period of performance. Once these are verified, it will process prepayment requests; e.g., airfare, conference registration, and lodging.

After the trip, the traveler submits original receipts to the department’s travel arranger. For auditing purposes, faxed receipts and photo copies are not acceptable. The traveler must sign the etravel payment request form printed by the travel arranger/payment requester. The completed form and original receipts are sent to the department’s travel approver for review. After approval the payment request is sent to the OSP Travel Office. The payment request form must be returned upon completion of the trip, even if no reimbursement is requested, in order to close out the travel request. Requests for reimbursements submitted after the end date of the project may not be processed.

The university travel policy applies to travel on sponsored program funds. And there are additional sponsor requirements contained in the award terms and conditions.

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Airfare

Upon receipt of the etravel request, the OSP Travel Office will authorize prepayment for airline tickets if designated travel agency is utilized. Note – reservations will not be ticketed until approval has been received from the OSP Travel Office. Reservations must be booked as coach or economy fare, unless it is unavailable at the time of the required travel. A memo of explanation should be attached if there is any deviation from economy fare.

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Use of U.S. Flag Air Carriers

Federally funded research requires the use of U.S. Flag Air Carriers.

The Comptroller General of the United States, by Decision B-138942 of June 17, 1975, as amended March 31, 1981, provided guidelines for implementation of Section 5 of the International Air Transportation Fair Competitive Practices Act of 1974.

Any air transportation to, from, between, or within a country other than the U. S., of persons or property, the expense of which will be assisted by this award, must be performed on a U.S. flag carrier if service provided by such carrier is “available.”

The following rules apply unless the result would be use of a foreign air carrier for the first or last leg of travel from or to the U. S.:

  • A U.S. flag air carrier (“U.S. Carrier”) shall be used to destination or, in the absence of through service, to farthest interchange point.
  • If a U. S. carrier does not serve an origin or interchange point, a foreign carrier shall be used to the nearest interchange point to connect with a U. S. carrier.
  • If a U. S. carrier involuntarily reroutes the traveler via a foreign carrier, the foreign carrier may be used.

EXCEPTIONS: In the following situations, use of a foreign carrier is permissible:

  • Travel to and from the U. S., use of a foreign carrier is permissible if:
    • The airport abroad is the origin or destination airport, and use of a U. S. carrier would extend the total travel time 24 hours or more than would travel by foreign carrier; or
    • The airport abroad is an interchange point, and use of a U.S. Carrier would require the traveler to wait six (6) hours or more to make connection or would extend the total travel time six (6) hours or more than would travel by foreign carrier.
  • Travel Between Points outside the U.S., use of a foreign carrier is permissible if:
    • Travel by foreign carrier would eliminate two (2) or more aircraft changes en route; or
    • Travel by U.S. carrier would extend the total travel time six (6) hours or more than would travel by foreign carrier.
  • Short Distance Travel. For all short distance travel, regardless of origin and destination, use of a foreign carrier is permissible if the elapsed travel time on a scheduled flight from origin to destination airport by foreign carrier is three (3) hours or less and service by U.S. carrier would double the travel time.

The Comptroller General has issued a decision regarding the Code Sharing (Airline Alliances) of flights by U.S. and foreign flag carriers utilizing the equipment of the foreign flag carrier. If a U.S. flag air carrier has an arrangement to provide passenger service in international air transportation on the aircraft of a foreign air carrier under a “code-share” arrangement with a foreign air carrier this could meet the requirements of the Fly America Act. Federal regulations have been revised to indicate that the ticket (or documentation for an electronic ticket) must identify the U.S. Flag air carrier’s two letter designator code and flight number, which is located on the right hand section of the passenger receipt. This indicates that the flier is in a U.S. Flag carrier seat, regardless of the air carrier, which owns the aircraft. The key to meeting the requirements is whether the ticket is purchased through the U.S. air carrier. If the ticket is issued through the U.S. air carrier the expense will, in most cases, be eligible for reimbursement, provided the U.S. air carrier is identified on the ticket. If the ticket is issued by a foreign air carrier, (even under a code sharing arrangement), the ticket is not eligible for reimbursement on a Federal award.

A travel agent may, with the best of intentions, attempt to persuade you that because the flight is code-shared it doesn’t matter which company you buy the ticket from: for example, KLM or British Airways or Air France, especially because these are generally less expensive. However it does matter. For example, if you buy a ticket from Lufthansa the flight numbers will be preceded by the code “LH” and you cannot be reimbursed for this on a federally-funded award. The flight numbers must have the code from the U.S. airline (e.g., “UA” for United Airlines, “DL” for Delta, etc.).

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Lodging

The actual cost of overnight lodging at a commercial facility will be reimbursed if an itemized receipt is submitted with the travel request, the cost is deemed reasonable, and the travel point is further than forty-five miles from the traveler’s home or primary university work site.

Travelers will be reimbursed for the single room rate only, unless the other occupant of the room is a university employee on authorized travel. If the lodging receipt states more than one-person occupancy, the single room rate should be indicated on the receipt. In the event that there are two individuals on authorized travel sharing a room, the travel orders should be cross-referenced for auditing purposes.

All lodging is reimbursed at the actual/reasonable rate with submission of the original receipt.
Upon receipt of the etravel request, the OSP Travel Office will authorize prepayment for lodging if the designated travel agency is utilized. Reservations are to be made by the traveler or travel arranger.

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Meals

Per diem allowances for meals and other incidental costs are reimbursable for in-state overnight travel or out-of state travel that is 45 miles or more from the traveler’s home or primary work site.

Daily per diems are based upon location and on the entire 24-hour period. If a meal is served on an airplane or is included in the price of the conference registration fee, the per diem rate must be reduced based upon the provided meal. Meal receipts are not required. Note that meals, laundry, dry cleaning and any associated tips are included in the federal meal and incidentals per diem.

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Business Meals

Business meals constitute an exception to the federal per diem rates. Expenses may be reimbursed for properly documented business meals while on travel status. The primary purpose must be a business discussion:

  • At least one non-university employee, whose presence is necessary for the business discussion, must be present.
  • Expenses may be incurred only for those individuals who are necessary to the business discussion.
  • In addition to an itemized receipt, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules require documentation of the time, date, place, business purpose and attendees.

Documentation must include the original itemized receipt and the completed Business Meals Documentation For Sponsored Projects Form. The per diem allowance must be reduced appropriately. Gratuities not exceeding 20% of meal cost for business meals are reimbursable. Alcoholic beverages and entertainment costs may not be charged to a research project.

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Registration Fees and Related Expenses

Registration fees will be prepaid if the eTravel System payment request is completed and the registration form is attached or faxed to the OSP Travel Office. Be sure to include the T number on the registration form. Fees should not include the cost of activities such as golf outings, fun runs, and museum tours, see the travel policy for additional restrictions.

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Wire Transfers for International Travel

If prepayment by wire transfer for payments is needed, the Authorization of Payment and Request for Domestic/International Wires Form must be completed instead of using the eTravel System, this form is included with the registration form.

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Cash Advances

You may pre-pay hotel, air, and conference fees for project-related travel by using the designated travel agency. Cash advances on project travel may be requested a few weeks before the travel to defray out of pocket expenses on the trip. Faculty and staff are eligible to apply for 80% of non-prepaid expenses as travel cash advances when engaged in international travel. Students may request 100% of non-prepaid expenses as a travel cash advance. The cash advance may be obtained by submitting an etravel payment request (using the eTravel System cash advance form). Cash advances are limited to staff, faculty, and students. They are not available to non-employees.

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Split Funding

Travel requests involving a combination of university and sponsor funding and/or between two different sponsored projects will be processed through the eTravel System. Always include the sponsored project ChartField information as the first entry when charging costs to university accounts and the sponsored project. It is helpful to provide a justification for the percentage of charge to each funding source in the comments section of the payment request.

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Payment by Procurement cards

Office of Sponsored Programs issued procurement cards cannot be used for any sponsored programs travel expenses.

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Cancelled Trips

Travelers or travel arrangers need to cancel trips within ten working days using the eTravel System. Depending on the type of ticket, airline, and circumstances the cost of the ticket may or may not be reimbursable.

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Designated Travel Agency

Find information about the university’s designated travel agency.

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Travel Links

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