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Section 9: Travel

Travel Advances

Effective Date:

06/01/10

Approved By:

Lenora Chapman, Associate Vice President for Financial Affairs

Last Revised On:

11/01/16

For Assistance Contact:

PURPOSE/SCOPE

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) may advance funds to minimize financial hardship for employees or students traveling on official UTSA business.
 

AUTHORITY

University of Texas (UT) System Board of Regents’ Rules and Regulations Rule 20801 requires institutions to issue regulations covering authorization for travel and reimbursement for approved travel. 

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations (IRC §162 and various rules) stipulate the expenditures that may be treated as non-taxable reimbursements and the corresponding documentation requirements.   

Travel advances are processed in accordance with IRS accountable plan rules, Internal Revenue Code sections 62(a)(2) and 62(c).


UNIVERSITY GUIDELINES

Table of Contents

A. Requirements and Eligibility

Travel advances may be issued to faculty, staff and eligible student employees based on a determination made by the Department Manager or traveler’s supervisor that the out-of-pocket travel costs will create a financial hardship to the employee.  Travel advances should be minimal and other payment methods should first be pursued by using a Corporate Liability Individual Billed Account (CLIBA) card. If an individual travels more than three times per year, it is preferred that they apply for a CLIBA card. For information on CLIBA cards see Financial Management Operational Guideline (FMOG) – Travel Cards. 

Prospective employees and prospective students are not eligible for travel advances.

A travel advance must only be used for allowable expenses that are reasonably expected to be incurred out-of-pocket for domestic or international (foreign) travel conducted on behalf of UTSA (official business).  The amount of the travel advance depends on the estimated out-of-pocket travel expenses to be incurred.

Travelers must use the currently contracted UT Systemwide travel and car rental agencies.

1. Advances on Behalf of Students Traveling on Official UTSA Business

A UTSA employee may be issued a travel advance on behalf of students traveling to and from activities or events that advance UTSA’s mission (research and discovery; teaching and learning; community engagement and public service). 

Eligible activities and events include, but are not limited to, study abroad, national student exchanges, student teaching internships, practicums, observations, research and athletic related travel.

Travel advances issued on behalf of students must be requested by a Department Manager who will identify the employee with custodial responsibility of the funds while the students are in travel status.  This individual is referred to as the Student Advance Responsible Party and will typically accompany the student travelers on the trip.  The Student Advance Responsible Party is responsible for the usage and reconciliation of all funds disbursed for this purpose.

The Department Manager and Student Advance Responsible Party must:

NOTE: The preferred travel advance payment method is the TAC.

    • Obtain the travel advance and provide it to the student(s), if applicable, prior to the trip departure date.
    • Explain requirements to students and ensure funds are used for allowable travel costs in accordance with UTSA guidelines. 
    • Settle the travel advance(s) after the trip return date within the timeframes established by UTSA.

NOTE: Travel expenditures must be settled within 120 days after travel has been completed in accordance with FMOG - Travel Reimbursement .

2. Athletic Team Travel Allowances

The Athletic Director or designee is responsible for compliance with National Collegiate Athletic Association regulations when requesting reimbursement for expenses not typically allowable by UTSA.  When such expenses are included in a travel advance, the Athletic Director or designee signature certifies compliance.

B. Allowable Expenses

A travel advance can be used to pay for the following expenses, regardless of how the travel advance is issued to the traveler (travel advance payment method):  

  • Meals and incidental (M&IE) and lodging expenses: Funds for M&IE and lodging expenses may be advanced up to the General Services Administration (GSA) per diem reimbursement rate for the travel destination.  See Reimbursement Rates, a section of FMOG - Travel Reimbursement for more information.
    • If the Department Manager authorizes an advance for M&IE and/or lodging expenses that is lower than the GSA per diem rate, the lower rate must be entered in the appropriate field(s) of the TAR form.
    • If the lodging expense exceeds the GSA per diem rate, the traveler must substantiate the reason for the higher rate when completing the TAR form. See Lodging Rate Increases, a section of the Travel Reimbursement FMOG for more information.
  • Lodging
  • Registration
  • Transportation: Including mass transit, parking/tolls, airfare and car rental and fuel.
  • Student Athletic Team/Group Travel
  • Other expenses: See Other Expenses, a section of the Travel Reimbursement FMOG for examples.

C. Travel Advance Payment Methods

For detailed instructions on processing travel advances see UTSA MyTraining course PS 0309 - Travel Advance Process.

Disbursements and Travel Service (DTS) notifies the travel advance recipient by phone or email when the travel advance is available for pickup, or when it has been processed (typically three business days before the travel start date).
1. Travel Advance Card (TAC)

The TAC is the default travel advance payment method and is issued in:

  • The name of the traveler
  • Whole dollars only (rounded up to the nearest whole dollar)

The traveler must specify the TAC pickup location — DTS office or Fiscal Services — when completing the TAC form. The traveler must present a photo ID upon pick up and cannot send a proxy.

If the TAC is issued on behalf of a student, the Student Advance Responsible Party must pick up the TAC(s) in person. For more information, see Advances on Behalf of Students Traveling on Official UTSA Business.
If the traveler requests to reload an existing TAC, the traveler must provide DTS with the last six digits of the existing TAC when completing the TAR form.

The TAC may be requested up to 60 days in advance of the travel departure date to allow the traveler time to confirm or book travel arrangements such as lodging and airfare.

Travelers must ensure the TAC is paid in full by the established due date, regardless of the travel departure or return date.

The traveler must provide DTS with the begin date, end date and reason for the temporary activation when completing the TAR form. The TAC must be used during the temporary activation period to confirm or book travel arrangements. 

 

2. Direct Deposit

An employee who requests a travel advance for group travel will be paid via direct deposit according to the employee’s PeopleSoft HCM (Human Resources/Payroll) system profile.

Travel advances issued on behalf of students and paid via direct deposit are made payable to the Student Advance Responsible Party and not the traveling student.  The Student Advance Responsible Party is responsible for providing travel advance funds to the student(s) when needed. 

3. Check (exception)

Checks are only issued to faculty, staff and student employees as an exception and must be approved by the Assistant Controller or designee for extraordinary circumstances. 

If the traveler requests a check, then a Supplier Information Form must be completed for the traveler to be set up as a vendor.  

If payment by check is approved, the traveler must select the check delivery method when completing the TAR form – mailed to the traveler’s address on file via U.S. mail or picked up in person at the DTS office or any Fiscal Services office. The traveler must present a valid photo ID upon pickup. A proxy may pick up the check; however, the proxy must present a valid photo ID and sign for receipt of the check on behalf of the traveler.

Travel advances issued on behalf of students and paid via check are made payable to the Student Advance Responsible Party, not the traveling student.  The Student Advance Responsible Party is responsible for providing travel advance funds to the student(s) when needed.



D. Account Codes

A travel expense Account code listing can be found in the Expense Account Code Listing for Transactional Use document on the Accounting Services Tips and Tricks website.

E. Requesting a Travel Advance

It is recommended that you submit the advance request at least 10 business days prior to the trip departure date to assure sufficient time to process the request.

An approved Travel Authorization (TA) must be processed prior to requesting a travel advance.  Once approval of the TA has been completed in UTShare/PeopleSoft, the department prepares a Cash Advance request in UTShare/PeopleSoft. 

If the request is greater than $10,000, then the department must prepare a Travel Advance Request (TAR) form to obtain the additional approval of a Vice President, Dean, Associate/Assistant VP/Dean.  The approved TAR must be scanned and attached to the PeopleSoft Cash Advance.  If the request is not greater than $10,000, the TAR is not required and should not be attached.  The cash advance request routes electronically in UTShare/PeopleSoft to the following:

  • Traveler/Employee Certification – Employee receiving the advance is required to log into UTShare/PeopleSoft to certify and agree to the terms of the promissory note.
  • Supervisor approval
  • DTS approval

Travel advances will generally be paid to the traveler at least three business days before the travel departure date.  

F. Settlement

The traveler must settle the travel advance after returning from travel via a properly executed Expense Report and must include all required documentation (including receipts, if applicable). See FMOG - Travel Reimbursement for more information.

If a travel advance is issued in the form of a TAC, the TAC must be paid in full by the internal due date, even if the traveler has not returned from the trip. See How to Make a Payment, a section of the Travel Cards FMOG for more information.

IRS regulations § 1.62-2(h)(2) allow an employer to treat unresolved travel advance amounts as taxable income if the traveler does not reconcile and substantiate the advance within a reasonable time period after the travel has been completed.   See FMOG – Travel Reimbursement for travel settlement deadlines. 

In the event the advance is reported as income and then later cleared, UTSA is not required to return any withholding that may have been deducted from the employee’s paycheck.

A traveler with an outstanding travel advance must settle the outstanding travel advance before a new advance will be authorized, so the traveler should ensure an Expense Report for the previous trip is completed as soon as possible.

Travelers who require multiple travel advances for a given month are encouraged to apply for a CLIBA card.

Departments may authorize CLIBA card holders to receive a TAC card to pay for meals and incidental expenses. 

Excess Travel Advance Funds

Travelers who receive travel advance funds for M&IE based on GSA Per Diem Rates are entitled to retain the entire per diem, including any unused funds, regardless of how the travel advance was issued.
Except for meal expenses less than the GSA per diem, travelers are required to settle the reimbursement owed to UTSA when an advance was received in excess of authorized expenses.
 
A check or money order must be made payable to UTSA and must be deposited at either Fiscal Services office (Main or Downtown office). The check should include the traveler’s Employee ID and RTA or TA number.

The traveler must also complete a Deposit Transmittal Form and scan and attach the deposit receipt to the Expense Report in addition to any other supporting documentation. The Deposit Transmittal Form must include:

  • Name of Traveler
  • Departmental Cost Center/Project ID
  • Account code 11704 (only applicable for advances)


To return excess travel funds via cash, visit Fiscal Services (Main or Downtown Campus) and complete a Deposit Transmittal Form. Fiscal Services will provide a receipt that must be attached to the Expense Report.


DEFINITIONS

Term

Description

Student Advance Responsible Party

  • For an activity or event planned by UTSA faculty: The organizing department’s chair, dean/associate dean or designee.
  • For an activity or event planned by UTSA staff: The organizing department’s director, assistant director, associate/assistant vice president or designee. 
  • For an activity or event planned by a registered or sponsored student organization: The registered or sponsored student organization’s faculty or staff sponsor, the director of student activities, assistant/associate vice president or designee.

Request for Travel Authorization (RTA )

A request for Travel Authorization (RTA) is completed in UTShare/PeopleSoft and is used to authorize travel for employees, students and non-employees who are traveling for UTSA.

Student

Undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in, admitted to, and attending classes at UTSA at the time of the activity or event.

Student employee

A student employee is eligible for a travel advance if the student is traveling for the purpose of his/her employment, such as Graduate Research Assistants.

 

REFERENCES/LINKS

(http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Documents/GAA/General_Appropriations_Act_2016-2017.pdf)

(http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p5137.pdf)

(www.irs.gov)

(http://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=5&ti=34&pt=1&ch=5&sch=C&rl=Y )

(http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/GV/pdf/GV.660.pdf)

  • UT System Board of Regents’ Rules and Regulations Rule 20801 - Travel

(http://www.utsystem.edu/board-of-regents/rules/20801-travel )

(www.gsa.gov/perdiem)

(http://utsa.edu/hop/chapter5/5-18.html)

RELATED FORMS/WORKSHEETS

    1. Declaration of Missing Evidence
    2. Direct Deposit – Non-Payroll
    3. Motor Vehicle Rental Exemption Certificate
    4. Travel Advance Request (TAR)
    5. Travel Advance Request (TAC)
    6. Travel Reimbursement/Settlement (TRS)
    7. Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate

REVISION HISTORY

Date Description

11/01/16

Updated for workflow.

10/22/14

Updated Section D Funds and Account IDs to be Charged. Update to Section E Travel Advance Request (TAR). Updated REFERENCES/LINKS section.

05/01/14

Updated DEFINE information for transition to PeopleSoft.

05/30/13

Update UTSA Travel Advances FMOG with new System-wide requirements.

10/24/12

Change the signature approval for Official Occasions on the CMR form to: the Assistant Controller or designee's signature to approve in lieu of the Associate VP. Unit Administrator, Account Administrator, or Traveler's supervisor are also added to list of individuals who can make final determination of requirements and eligibility.

07/06/12

Added instructions when requesting the items below to the Travel Advance Payment Methods section to comply with changes made to the Travel Advance Request (TAR) form:

  • Reload an existing TAC.

  • Temporarily activate a TAC prior to the trip departure date.

02/17/12

Updates published on 02/17/12 are effective immediately, however, Financial Affairs encourages users to submit comments and/or concerns regarding these updates to financialaffairs@utsa.edu within the next 60 days.

  • Replaced contact information for this guideline from Financial Affairs email address to Assistant Vice President & University Controller, Assistant Controller and Director, Disbursements & Travel Services.

  • Added a new section - Advances on Behalf of Students Traveling on Official UTSA Business - that provides instructions for issuing a travel advances for the benefit of a student.

  • Added lodging and student athletics team/group travel to the list of allowable expenses.

  • Modified the Travel Advance Payment Methods section as follows:

    • Added the Travel Advance Card (TAC) as the default travel advance payment method and is issued in whole dollars only (rounded up to the nearest whole dollar).

    • Added additional instructions when a travel advance is issued for the benefit of a student.

    • Added the Fiscal Services office as an additional location to pick up a Travel Advance Card (TAC) or check (exceptions only).

  • Modified instructions to complete the Travel Advance Request (TAR) form to mirror changes made to the form.

  • Modified the Settlement section as follows:

    • Added the Assistant Vice President, Financial Affairs and Controller to Settlement section as the primary contact for any travel advances that are not settled within 30 days from the travel return date.

    • Added instructions for expediting outstanding travel advances when a new travel advance requires authorization.

    • Added a new subsection - Excess Travel Advance Funds.

  • Added Student Advance Responsible Party, student and student employee to the DEFINITIONS section.

  • Added the following to the REFERENCES/LINKS section:

    • How to Complete the Travel Advance Request (TAR) Form (revised on 02/17/12) Presentation.

    • UTSA Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP) – 5.18 Travel or Events that Involve Students and Other Non-Employee Participants.

05/16/11

Updates published on 05/16/11 will become effective on 07/18/11. Email financialaffairs@utsa.edu for any questions related to these updates.

07/23/10

Lodging expenses that exceed the GSA per diem rate must be substantiated via a completed Lodging Rate Increase Request. Added new section, Accounts To Be Charged.

06/16/10

Added sub-account 78 to be used for all student athletic team travel. Also added sub-account 68 to be used for all student athlete recruitment travel beginning September 1, 2010.

06/04/10

Guideline published.


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