Charging Travel to Sponsored Projects

Federal Awards

Travel is typically an allowable expense under the Uniform Guidance when done for project-specific purposes. However, it is important to review each award’s terms and conditions as individual sponsors may be more restrictive. When travel is allowable on the project, travel must be pre-approved in Concur via a Travel Request per UNT policy.

Travel Justification

Sponsored travel must be justified, well documented, in compliance with the sponsor requirements, and incurred within the period of the award. If this travel is either a requirement stated in the call for proposals, or clearly documented in the budget justification, no further documentation is required. Travel documentation must provide sufficient clarity so that anyone reviewing the transaction can verify that it is allowable, allocable, and reasonable.

  • The travel is necessary to fulfill the research objective of the project and it directly benefits the project being charged.
  • The cost for travel is reasonable and represents prudent use of the sponsor’s funds.
  • There is a clearly defined relationship between the traveler and how he/she supports the work of the project that is provided in the travel documentation.
Multiple Projects

Travel that benefits two or more projects must demonstrate how the trip specifically benefited each project respectively. See CFR Reference §200.405 part d for information on allocation of direct costs. Costs may not be allocated based on:

  • Amount of available funds on a given award;
  • Budgetary convenience (to accommodate an award that is either over or under budget, budget is ending soon, etc.);
  • Avoidance of restrictions imposed by regulations or terms of a given award;
  • Offset (costs charged to budget A one-time and budget B the next time).
Foreign Travel

On federally funded projects all foreign travel, including that which is cost shared, should utilize US flag air-carriers whenever possible and regardless of cost or convenience. These costs need to be fully justified in the budget and any exceptions to the “Fly America Act” requirements may only occur under exceptional circumstances. Exception criteria is listed in the Federal Travel Regulation guidelines (FTR sections 301-10.135-138). Exceptions must be documented via the Fly America Act Exceptions Form along with supporting documentation.

To better understand flag carriers, code sharing, and exceptions, please review this handout.

A list of U.S. Certified Air Carriers is available from the US Department of Transportation

Allowable Travel-Related Expenses

The Uniform Guidance specifically allows expenses for lodging, subsistence, and related expenses as long as they follow university policy and procedures. Reimbursements for food may be per diem or actuals (which require a detailed receipt).

Travel guidelines are outlined on the Business Support Services webpage.

Persons traveling should normally have an active HR appointment on the award. Otherwise, their participation must be necessary to the federal award and should be well documented.

Travel must be completed within the period of performance of the sponsored project (award end date). Prepaid travel costs (airfare, registration fees, etc.) should not be charged when the actual travel will occur after the end date of the award.

Unallowable Travel-Related Expenses

The Uniform Guidance identifies specific instances when travel expenses are unallowable.

  • Business-Class or First-Class Airfare: This is unallowable except for travelers whose medical needs require these accommodations. These situations are analyzed by the university on a case-by-case basis.
  • Travel Costs for Dependents: These are unallowable unless the travel is for six months or more and has sponsor prior approval.
  • Temporary Dependent Care: Federal standards allow these costs only when provided for all qualified employees of the university. UNT does not have such a policy, therefore these are unallowable costs to a project.

UNT and System travel policies must also be followed

  • Alcoholic Beverages: Reimbursement for alcohol purchases as part of an actual meal reimbursement is unallowable on grant/sponsored funds.
  • Cash Advance: This is unallowable on grant/sponsored funds.

Non-Federal Awards

The basic criteria for charging travel expenses are similar for non-Federal sponsored projects, but it is also important to be familiar with the particular requirements or restrictions of each non-Federal sponsor. When travel is allowable on the project, travel must be pre-approved on a Travel Budget Authorization per UNT policy.