Financial policies and practices

Purchases while on student group travel have complicated rules. As a trip leader or field assistant, it's your responsibility to be familiar with the rules detailed on this page. Always ask questions when something is unclear.

Only the group leader, not the assistant, may pay for group expenses, since the system only allows us to reimburse the group leader for those expenses.

Cash advances

We prepay as many expenses as possible, but often there are foreseeable expenses that must be paid in person (for example, tips and museum entrances). In order to avoid placing the burden on the trip leader to pay up front and wait for reimbursement for these expenses, we can request a cash advance in the trip leader’s name.

Group leaders for international trips may be eligible for a cash advance. Cash advances are not available for domestic trips.

If you are eligible to receive a cash advance, the student services program coordinator will contact you about one month before your trip to confirm a cash advance budget that lists amounts and descriptions for all items you plan to pay for in cash.

These requests must be specific, and you will be responsible for providing documentation of all spending and reimbursing any unspent amount. It takes approximately three weeks for the request to be approved and a check to be produced. The check will be in the name of the trip leader.

Travel credit card

The travel credit card (i.e., group meeting card) is to be used for group travel expenses.

The travel card may only be used for transportation, lodging, excursions and meal expenses. If other emergency items are needed, such as batteries, SD cards, etc., the group leader should pay for these with personal funds and then submit an original, itemized receipt for reimbursement for these out-of- pocket expenses.

On long trips (particularly during summer), the group leader must keep good records and monitor transactions online with US Bank, since we only have 60 days to dispute a fraudulent charge.

You must get an itemized receipt that shows proof of payment for every transaction, regardless of whether you are paying with the travel card or submitting for reimbursement.

Group v. personal expenses

Determining whether an expense is a group expense or the leader/assistant’s trip expense is important, but can be tricky.

Examples of group expenses that may be charged to the travel credit card or paid for with the cash advance include:

  • admission tickets to a museum for the group.
  • subway fares for the group.
  • tours for students.
  • a group meal.
  • tips for tour guides.

Examples of expenses that are considered the trip leader/assistant’s expense are:

  • internet service in the group leader’s or the assistant’s hotel room.
  • fees for the group leader’s or the assistant’s luggage.
  • taxi costs for the group leader or the assistant to attend a personal meeting (not a meeting for the group).


You may not use IU funds to pay for:

  • alcohol.
  • souvenirs.
  • internet for student hotel rooms.

You may not put these expenses on travel credit cards, and if you pay for them out of pocket, you will not be reimbursed.

Per diem

IU pays per diem for faculty and staff meals and incidentals. The rate is set by the U.S. General Services Administration.

Learn more about IU's per diem policies

While traveling, you must request a document from each hotel or accommodation that lists your name, the date(s) of your stay and the location of the hotel. This document may come in the form of a receipt, an invoice or a hotel folio.

After you return

If you received an advance, you'll reconcile your expenses against the amount you received. Actual expenditures and receipts will determine whether you will receive additional reimbursement or if you will need to pay back a portion of the cash advance.


Contact Katie Higgins.