Travel Expense Guidelines

Generally travel expenses paid by the Research Foundation must adhere to Research Foundation guidelines regardless of the source of funding. However, depending on the terms specified in the grant or contract, variations may sometimes exist in rules for reimbursement of travel expenses. In such instances, the travel rules of the issuing agency and those in the award itself, should be carefully reviewed. If at variance with Research Foundation policy, the terms of the applicable program contract or grant will take precedence. 

The Research Foundation will reimburse travelers for allowable expenses using one of the three methods listed below. 

Per Diem Only

Receipts are not required when this method is selected. Travelers will be reimbursed based on the established daily allowance for expenses. Visit the websites below for the current rates.

Within Continental United States Travel (CONUS)
U.S. General Services Administration

Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS) 
i.e. Alaska, Hawaii, US Possessions and Territories
Department of Defense

Foreign Travel
U.S. Department of State


Actual Lodging Expenses and Per Diem for Meals and Incidentals

When this method is selected, travelers must submit original receipts for actual lodging expenses with the request for reimbursement.

Actual Expenses Only

This method requires that travelers include original receipts for all expenses with their request for reimbursement.

Meals and Incidentals

To receive an allowance for all three meals and incidentals, a traveler must be on travel status for a full 24-hour period. The 24-hour period is calculated from the time of departure on day one to the same time on day two, and to the same time on each succeeding day. 


To be fully reimbursed by the Research Foundation for transportation expenses, the traveler must use the most economical mode of transportation available, consistent with the authorized purpose of the trip. This includes charging no more than the rate for the most direct or frequently traveled route. Airfare can only be reimbursed at coach rates or less. Where mileage reimbursement between two points of travel is claimed when airfare would be most economical (i.e. San Jose to Los Angeles), the traveler will be reimbursed the amount of airfare only.


Airfare can only be reimbursed at coach rates or other discounted rates (whichever is most economical). The traveler’s expense claim portion of the Travel Expense Claim Form [pdf], must be accompanied by the flight itinerary when airfare is being claimed.

Commercial Automobile Rental

The Research Foundation provides insurance coverage for vehicles rented by Research Foundation employees, PIs, and project staff who are employed by the Research Foundation and are participating in Research Foundation-related business activities. All rented vehicles for business purposes should be rented through Enterprise Rental Car using the CSU Business Account. General vehicle liability coverages are covered under the CSU Enterprise Business account. All uninsured losses will be charged to the department or project.

Use of Private Vehicles

Reimbursement for the use of a private automobile will be allowed for the owner of the vehicle only, provided that the travel was necessary for business purposes. Toll fees and reasonable parking fees are also reimbursable. Mileage may be claimed at the current IRS standard mileage rate.