Office of Travel Services

Procedures

C. ALLOWABLE TRAVEL COSTS
  1. Subsistence
    1. Subsistence - Meals. (Section F) Pursuant to Section 25-3-41, Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, the Department of Finance and Administration must act every six months to establish the maximum daily rate for meal reimbursement of State and local government employees while on official travel. These same daily rates will remain effective until otherwise notified by the Office of Travel Services.

      Officers and employees of the State and political subdivisions shall be reimbursed the actual cost of meals incidental to official travel, not to exceed the following daily maximums for the specific location or assignment:

      • In-state $41.00
        *High Cost Area $46.00, $51.00, $56.00
      • Out-of-state $41.00
        *High Cost Area $46.00, $51.00, $56.00
      • Out-of-country Actual and necessary

        Meal tips should be included in the actual meal expense unless the inclusion of the tips would cause the meals to exceed the maximum daily limitations placed on meals by the Department of Finance and Administration. If the daily limitation would be exceeded, the employee is allowed to record meal tips for each day under other authorized business expenses. Total meal tips shall not exceed 20% of the maximum daily meal reimbursement claimed on the travel reimbursement voucher.

        All travel outside the continental limits of the United States (Canada, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Mexico), must be approved by the President prior to departure.

        Travel to Alaska is considered within the continental limits of the United States and meals would be reimbursed at the maximum daily meal allowance of $56.00.

        *Information on high cost areas is given as needed, by Travel Services when the Federal Register is published.

        Reimbursement for meals is allowable if one of the following criteria is met:

      • Travel involves an overnight stay.

      • Any conference or meeting meal expense which causes the employee to exceed the daily meal allowance, if supported by a receipt from convention officials (documented), the meal expense will be reimbursed. Meals shall not be claimed as a separate item of expense on the travel voucher when included in the conference registration fee. If any meals are included in registration fees, these should be noted by an asterisk in the proper place on the form.

      • The meal expense is incurred while discussing business with others. To qualify, the meal expense must be directly related to the active conduct of the University's business and the meal must be during, or directly before or after, a substantial and bona fide business discussion. Business meals that occur in travel status should be claimed on the travel voucher under Section G: Other Authorized Expenses. If you are requesting reimbursement for a business meal, you must submit an itemized business meal receipt with an Entertainment Form (C-4). A receipt and an Entertainment Form (MSU Form C-4) explaining the nature of the business meal must be attached to the travel voucher.

        Per Board policy, reimbursement will not be made on any meal expense not referenced above. The Board's decision was based on new and developing Internal Revenue Service regulations concerning the taxability of meals and the withholding of taxes on reimbursable meals.

        NOTE: Alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable under any condition(s).

      • Meals shall not be claimed as a separate item of expense on the Travel Voucher when included in the conference registration fee. If special circumstances exist, for example, a food allergy prohibiting one from eating the meal provided, an exception will be made if noted by the employee and signed by the department head or designee and reimbursement will be provided for that meal.

    2. Subsistence - Lodging. (Section F) The University shall reimburse the actual cost of lodging incurred by an employee traveling in the discharge of official duties. Original itemized receipts/statement must be provided for lodging. The receipt should show the name of the person, number of people occupying the room, date(s) of stay, and amount(s) of expenses incurred.

      It is recommended, for in-state lodging, that hotels with a contract with the State of Mississippi be utilized, whenever possible, to facilitate the most efficient use of budget funds. See Travel Contracts under In-State Hotel/Motel Contract Rates for a list of in-state contract hotels.

      If no lodging expense is claimed for the trip, write in "No charge" under the hotel room column (Section F, MSU Form A-03 or Form A-05).

      Lodging other than hotels/motels, such as apartments, dormitories, etc., may be used when they result in a lower cost. An itemized receipt is still required (i.e. itemized daily room charges, applicable taxes, phone charges, etc.).

      Always list the city where lodging occurred.

      NOTE: An employee is required to have all travel arrangements (transportation, lodging and rental cars) handled by the contracted travel agency - Travel Leaders, Inc., when traveling by public carrier. If public transportation is not used, the traveler is free to make lodging arrangements without the use of Travel Leaders.

      When hotel rooms are blocked for a conference, seminar, etc., and a special discounted hotel rate provided, the employee should go through the conference housing bureau, or, when appropriate, go directly to the hotel to obtain lodging. However, when employee's mode of transportation is public carrier, A COPY OF THE CONFERENCE LITERATURE SHOWING THE CONFERENCE HOTEL AND RATE MUST BE ATTACHED TO THE EXPENSE VOUCHER IN ORDER TO BE REIMBURSED. If such literature does not exist, a required documentation waiver must be obtained from Travel Services.

      In the event that two or more persons share the same room, and the additional persons are employees traveling in an official capacity, claims for reimbursement should be made on the travel form of the employee who incurred the lodging cost. The other employee's name and MSU id number should be submitted with the reimbursement claim. If two or more employees split the room cost, they should request, from the hotel, individual receipts showing the charges for each separate person. If the additional persons are not authorized travelers, the employee must obtain single room rate documentation from a lodging official and reimbursement will be limited to such rate.

  2. Transportation
    1. Travel Routing: Reimbursement will be made for the most direct, practicable route, regardless of the method of travel utilized.

      If the employee would normally be expected to arrive the day before, or remain in the area of official business overnight and return the following morning, and does so, expenses for either/both night(s) and the appropriate meals will be allowed.

      Business travel and vacation/personal leave may be combined when ALL of the following conditions are met:

      • The primary purpose of the trip is official state business.
      • The employee uses his/her approved leave for the vacation/personal part of the trip.
      • The state agency does not incur any expenses beyond what it would normally incur had the trip occurred without any personal use coupled to the trip.

      Travel Leaders, Inc., should be advised of the dual purpose of the trip and ticket the employee appropriately at the time public carrier reservations are made if the ticket includes a destination other than that for business purposes.

    2. Concerning travel in a privately owned vehicle, (Section F) Section 25-3-41, the MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, mandates that State officers and employees traveling on official State business in their private automobiles be reimbursed at the same rate federal employees are reimbursed for official federal business in private automobiles. Effective April 17, 2011, the rates are changed as shown below.

      Please note, there are now two rates. One rate will be paid if there is not a MSU vehicle available. The second rate is to be used when there is an appropriate MSU vehicle available but the employee chooses to take their personal vehicle. The employee and the appropriate department head will be responsible to determine the availability of an appropriate MSU vehicle. By signing the reimbursement request, the employee and department head are making a declaration of the availability of a MSU vehicle.

      If no appropriate MSU vehicle is available and the employee is required to drive their personal vehicle for business purposes, the employee will be reimbursed at the rate of $0.535 per mile.

      If an appropriate MSU vehicle is available and the employee chooses to drive their personal vehicle for business purposes, the employee will be reimbursed at the rate of $0.17 per mile.

      Commentary: It is the intent of mileage reimbursement of travel in a private vehicle to ensure the employee is not required to use their personal resources to perform their job duties. It is also the intent of mileage reimbursement of travel in a private vehicle to ensure MSU does not subsidize the employee's personal travel expenses. Therefore, it is incumbent upon each department to have a valid record of each employee, who potentially will travel, with the following information: Name, home address, and Regular Place of Work.

      If an employee is required to travel for their job, and are beginning and/or ending their trip from home, they will be reimbursed for their mileage for the lesser of miles calculated starting and finishing the trip from work or starting and or finishing the trip from home as calculated by Google Maps or a similar tool.

      When determining such reimbursable expenses for out-of-state travel, the "total cost of driving" must be compared with the "total cost of flying."

      "Driving total cost" shall include enroute meals, enroute lodging, and the official rate for mileage reimbursement when a private vehicle is used for state business.

      "Flying total cost" shall include the lowest unrestricted air fare, any charges for shipping of equipment and/or supplies required at destination, and all required ground transportation at destination, e.g., taxis to/from meeting site. If a vehicle is deemed by the agency head to be required at the destination, then the cost of a rental vehicle will also be included in this total cost for comparison.

      If the driving expenses will be held to the lowest unrestricted air fare, that fare should be checked and noted that reimbursement is being restricted to that amount, or if it is evident that driving is cheaper than flying, such as (to/from New Orleans, Memphis, Mobile, Birmingham), no further authorization is required.

      If a cost comparison must be made between driving vs. flying cost, the cost of flying should be multiplied by the number of passengers and compared to the cost of driving.

      This comparison is only required when mileage reimbursement is going to be claimed. Each department is required to keep on file a Mileage Reimbursement Authorization Form (MSU Form A-09) which has been completed and signed by the Department Head/Budget Administrator. It should also be noted on the travel form (MSU form A-03 or A-05) under Section A, marked appropriately [ X ], "Form A-09 has been completed and is on file with this department."

      Section 25-3-41 further states: "Where two (2) or more officers or employees travel in one (1) privately- owned automobile, only one (1) travel expense allowance at the authorized rate per mile shall be allowed for any one (1) trip." The following notations should be made on the travel form (MSU Form A-03 or Form A-05): As transportation provider, identify the passenger(s) by name and MSU id number, for example, "John Smith - passenger, MSU ID Number."; as transportation recipient, identify the person(s) with whom you rode, for example, "Rode with Joe Doe, MSU id number".

      Please note the reimbursement for mileage is claimed to defray the expense associated with the private vehicle used . Mileage may not be "split" and claimed by both travelers - it must be claimed by the traveler whose private vehicle was used.

      Point-to-point mileage shall be determined from the STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE or Mapquest at http://www.mapquest.com. Travel in and around the vicinity of official duty should be specified separately. Deviations from the STANDARD HIGHWAY MILEAGE GUIDE or vicinity travel in excess of 25 miles per day will require written explanation on or attached to the Travel Authorization and Reimbursement Form (MSU Form A-03 or Form A-05).

      Official Duty Station
      The city, town, or other location where the employee's regular place of work is located, or the city, town or location where the employee's primary work is performed on a permanent basis. If the employee regularly works in two or more areas, his official duty station shall be where the regular place of work is located. The regular place of work should be determined by the department head or authorized official based on total time ordinarily spent working in each area and the degree of business activity in each area.

      Travel Status
      The official status of an employee when away from the employee's Official Duty Station and Official Residence on official MSU business. The employee who works in two or more offices or regular places of work may claim mileage reimbursement to travel from one office or regular place of work to another place of work, but not between any regular work site and home, regardless of the distance of the commute. An employee is not in travel status and shall not receive lodging or meal reimbursement while at his Official Duty Station. Departments determine when an employee is in travel status. There are no regulations set by DFA as far as how many miles one must travel to be eligible for meal reimbursement or lodging reimbursement.

      Regular Place of Work
      The city, town or other location at which the state employee works or performs services on a regular basis as determined by the agency head. Mileage is not reimbursed between any regular place of work and home.

    3. Travel in a rental vehicle (Section H) will be reimbursed by the University provided:
      • the rental is in conjunction with a public carrier and reservation is made by Travel Leaders, Inc.,
      • the rental is necessary due to the use of a state-owned vehicle, or
      • another similar circumstance that requires the use of the rental.

      A mid-sized rental car is normally the largest rental that will be reimbursed. Naturally, there will be occasions for which a larger car will be required in order to carry out the state's business. A written statement on or attached to the Travel Authorization and Reimbursement Form (MSU Form A-03 or Form A-05, from the traveler documenting the reason a larger vehicle was required must accompany the travel expense voucher. This includes the rental of vans or luxury vehicles (i.e. transportation of equipment, adequate room for all travelers, group travel, or other extenuating circumstances)

      The University will allow use of rental cars when there is a demonstrated cost saving over other modes of transportation and use of the rental car is not strictly for the traveler's convenience. If an employee uses a rental car instead of a private vehicle for travel to their destination, state guidelines require documentation of the total rental expense compared to the total mileage expense from using a private vehicle. Reimbursement of the lesser expense shall be claimed on the Travel Reimbursement Voucher.

      The current vehicle rental contracts include unlimited mileage and free CDW/LDW insurance. The option to purchase insurance should always be declined when a vehicle is rented utilizing the state contract. The state is self-insured. Travelers should purchase CDW only when a rental vehicle is rented not utilizing the state contract as the state provides the liability portion of the coverage.

      Rental cars should always be paid for in the traveler's name and gas purchases require an itemized receipt (date, establishment name, number and price per gallon, amount paid). The option to purchase "Fuel Service/Option Charge" should be declined before submitting the reservation.

      Special Note: The University will not reimburse for rental cars obtained for personal use, such as sightseeing or optional travel to/from restaurants, while on official business travel.

      For primary and secondary rental car contract information, see online Travel Contracts.

    4. Travel in state-owned vehicle (Section G) is not reimbursable on a mileage basis to an employee. Nevertheless, the traveler shall list an itinerary under Section F of the travel form (MSU Form A-03 or Form A-05) and indicate that a state-owned vehicle was used, by showing "SO" next to the miles traveled. By showing travel in a state-owned vehicle, the claim for meals and lodging will be substantiated. The state-owned vehicle mileage should be excluded from the total of privately-owned automobile mileage while calculating the reimbursement amount.

      In the event the traveler is required to purchase gasoline, oil, tires, etc., or to have the vehicle repaired away from the University, claims for reimbursement for such costs should be entered under "Other Authorized Expenses" on the travel form (see Section G, MSU Form A-03 or Form A-05), and supported by receipts which show the name and address of the vendor and the date and amount of purchase.

      Note: While in travel status, some circumstances necessitate the purchase of equipment, auto repairs, supplies, exhibit booth space (otherwise processed by Purchase Order), etc. In pursuit of proper/consistent expense coding, these expenses will be coded the same regardless of the location of the purchase. For example, purchase of battery for state owned vehicle made out of state will still be coded the same as a battery purchased while at MSU.

    5. Travel by public carrier (Section H) is defined as a commercial airline, train, or interstate bus line carrier. An employee is required to have all travel arrangements (transportation, lodging and rental cars) handled by the contracted travel agency - Travel Leaders, Inc., when traveling by public carrier. Travel Leaders will send the traveler an itinerary which will include airline, hotel and rental vehicle confirmations. A copy of the itinerary(s) must be attached to the Travel Authorization and Reimbursement Form for reimbursement. NOTE: IT IS THE USE OF A PUBLIC CARRIER WHICH TRIGGERS THE REQUIRED USE OF Travel Leaders, INC.

      The University shall reimburse the actual cost of properly authorized transportation by public carriers at the coach fare unless such space is unavailable. The employee shall certify that coach accommodations were not available in order to claim reimbursement for first-class fare, or the employee shall determine and claim only the cost of coach fare if the first-class travel was for personal convenience.

      When an involuntary airline reservation change results in additional reimbursable cost (delayed flight requiring overnight hotel/meals), a note of explanation should be attached to the Travel Authorization and Reimbursement Form (MSU Form A-03 or A-05).

      Voluntary en route changes in travel arrangements shall be handled through Travel Leaders, Inc. If the traveler is outside the continental United States and changes are extemporaneously required, call the toll-free number on Travel Leaders invoice itinerary. If you are unable to reach this number, call the toll free number 1-888-MSU-7708.

      If a traveler makes his/her own airfare reservations with another agency or online, the traveler WILL NOT be allowed to get an early advance for an airfare ticket purchase through online reservations. The EBTA process was originated to reduce the cost of out-of-pocket expenses for the traveler on MSU business. If the traveler choose to purchase an airfare ticket early with his/her personal credit card, the airfare cost will be reimbursed when the traveler returns from the trip.

      The traveler must provide documentation of a prior price (higher) quote from Travel Leaders before purchasing an airfare ticket online. After comparison of airfare costs, the online airfare ticket cost should be a cost savings to the university. The traveler should process an online Travel Services Waiver Form with an explanation for purchasing an airfare ticket with another agency.

      When attending a conference, always check conference materials to see if special airline discounts are offered. When a special airline discount rate is offered and conferees are instructed to go directly to an airline or a specific travel agency to obtain the discount fare, all fare and file number information should be given to Travel Leaders, Inc. The agent will then attempt to obtain the conference rate, or lower rate, for the employee. If this is not possible, contact Travel Services for assistance.
      Special Notes:

      1a) Itinerary(s) are required for travel by public carrier. Receipts for taxis and limousines are not required but should be obtained if possible. Expenses in excess of $10 must be justified on the back of the travel voucher. Taxi, limousine, and subways are reported under "Public Carrier" but are not defined as "Public Carrier" and are exempt from contract travel agent requirements.

      1b) Note: Airline passenger receipts are no longer required for documentation.

      2) On domestic flights the airlines automatically insure each ticketed passenger's luggage for $1,250.00. This is the limit of their liability whether you have one bag or more. On international flights the airlines insure each piece of luggage at $640.00. Travel Leaders, Inc., provides $200,000.00 life insurance with each ticket issued.

    6. Electronic Ticket Travel (ticketless) Some airlines do not issue physical tickets. It is the traveler's responsibility to follow the procedures to obtain the proper documentation. Travel Leaders, Inc. will offer appropriate instructions and procedures depending on which airline issues the electronic ticket.

      Travel Leaders will make reservations on these airlines for you as with any other airline. They will then send to the passenger all reservation and price information, including a confirmation number with the airline. Tickets may be charged to credit card accounts as with any other airfare purchase. If you will not use your reservation, it should be canceled by Travel Leaders according to the rules established by the issuing airline. The agent will fax to the traveler the cancellation notice with the name of the person making the cancellation. If this is done, the credit for the unused transportation may be used at a later time subject to airline rules and administration fees.

      It is the sole responsibility of the state employee to obtain the cancellation notice from Travel Leaders. If the employee cancels but does not have the agent's notice of cancellation with names of those who canceled, then the employee has no proof that Travel Leaders was instructed to cancel and the employee is liable for the cost of the ticket.

      If you "No-show" or fail to cancel at least one hour before scheduled departure, you will not be allowed to use the credit at a later date. You have forfeited the entire ticket charge. If the employee has been negligent in failing to cancel, the employee is responsible for the cost of that transportation.

      If an employee should miss his flight by just a few minutes because of an "emergency", such as a flat tire on the way to the airport, or some similar circumstances, check with the airline counter to see if they will simply book you on their next flight. Check with Travel Leaders on the rules of the airline concerning transferring to another airline and refunds on the ticket. Each airline has differing rules regarding refunds and missed flights.

  3. Other Travel Costs.
    1. Other Authorized Expenses (Section G): The University shall reimburse the actual cost of other necessary expenses incurred by the traveling employee in the discharge of official duties. Use Section G, Other Authorized Expenses, on the back of the travel form to claim such expenses (MSU Form A-03 or Form A-05). Examples of other authorized expenses are:
      1. Vehicle Parking: expenses in excess of $10, receipts are required. The employee may claim equivalent mileage of two (2) round-trips to Golden Triangle Regional Airport in lieu of parking fee(s) in the mileage Section F of MSU Form A-03 or Form A-05.
      2. Official Phone Calls: receipts are required (personal phone calls are not reimbursable). Travelers will not be reimbursed for any business calls made on their personal wireless communications while in travel status.
      3. Baggage Handling: will be reimbursed at a rate of $1 per bag per level of handling (no receipt required).
      4. Gas receipts are required when state-owned vehicles or rental cars are used and gas is purchased while in travel status. Gas receipts are also required if claiming gas in lieu of mileage in private vehicle, not to exceed the reimbursable amount allowed for mileage. Each receipt should show the date and place of purchase, amount, and for which type of vehicle it was used. The dates on the receipts should coincide with travel dates.
      5. Business Meals: A receipt and a completed, approved Entertainment Form(MSU Form C-4) explaining the nature of the business meal must be attached to the travel voucher. If you are requesting reimbursement for a business meal, you must submit an itemized business meal receipt with an Entertainment Form (C-4).
      6. Other Miscellaneous Expenses: expenses in excess of $10, receipts are required. Some examples include:
        1. Laundry charges: If a traveler is required to be in travel status for a period greater than seven (7) consecutive days, one reasonable laundry/cleaning expense is allowed for reimbursement. For example, if the employee will be away from home 14 days, one reasonable laundry/cleaning expense will be reimbursed.
        2. Toll charges
        3. Tips - over $10.00 without a receipt must be itemized with dates, amounts, and payees
        4. Postage (USPS) and/or Package shipment (UPS, Fed Ex)
        5. Copier services
        6. Taxis and Shuttles - Requires to and from destinations

    2. Registration Fees/Workshop Tuition (Section G): When registration fees are paid by the traveler, receipts are required in the traveler's name, indicating the date, the amount paid, and that the payment was received by a meeting official. Personal dues are not reimbursable. Registration fees may be processed as described in the "Prepaid Registration Fees" section of this document.

Contact Information

640 McArthur Hall
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, MS 39762

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday

Phone: 662-325-8817
Fax: 662-325-0840