Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Undergraduate Student Life

Travel Expense Guide

Managing Travel Expenses

The Travel Card must always be used to make payment for:

  • Airline/rail/bus reservations to and from your travel destination
  • Lodging
  • Conference registrations
  • Conference room and equipment rental charges

You should never purchase the above reservations out of your own pocket as you will likely not be reimbursed.  They must be paid using the Travel Card.

Once you have Adviser approval, have researched your reservations and are ready to purchase online, please contact Lauren Iannia, the Senior Associate Director of Student Financial Advising, at to schedule a meeting.

If it is determined the Travel Card cannot be used you should then use STA Travel, which accepts FTF's (Financial Transaction Forms).

You can also request a small Travel Advance for food and local transportation once you arrive at your travel destination.

Please refer to the sections titled Travel Card, Travel Advance, and Travel Guidelines, including vehicle rentals and use of personal vehicles in Club Finance 411 for the full details, restrictions, and timeline.

All payment options begin with an Adviser-approved FTF. Do not purchase any travel without an Adviser-approved FTF.

Note: For ABC groups, expenses associated with hotel and travel to a destination can only be paid up to 50% through allocation; the balance must be paid with revenue or personal contributions.  For IGB and SGB groups, up to 100% of the hotel and travel to a destination expense can be paid through allocation.

Please also note the following maximum expenditures:

  • Lodging - check with Student Financial Advising
  • Meals - breakfast = $25, lunch = $35 and dinner = $50
  • Tipping when justified = up to 20%

Miscellaneous Expenses that are Not Allowed

The following is a list of travel expenses that are not allowed

  • Airline or VIP club membership dues or one-day admission fees
  • Air-phone usage
  • Baby-sitting
  • Barbers and hairdressers
  • Clothing or toiletry items
  • More than 3 personal calls each day, unless emergency circumstances are documented
  • Excess baggage costs related to personal property
  • Expenses related to vacation or personal days taken before, during, or after a business trip
  • Frequent flyer mile(Travelers will not be reimbursed for airline tickets purchased, partially purchased or accommodations and upgrades obtained using frequent flyer miles.)
  • Helicopter services for local travel/entertainment
  • Laundry or cleaning expenses on trips lasting five (5) days or less, unless emergency circumstances are documented
  • Loss or theft of cash advance money or airline tickets
  • Loss or theft of personal funds or property
  • Lost baggage
  • Luggage and briefcases
  • Magazines, newspapers, personal reading materials
  • Medical expenses while traveling
  • Mini-bar alcoholic refreshments
  • Movies
  • “No show” charges for hotel or car service
  • Personal entertainment
  • Pet care
  • Recreational expenses
  • Saunas, massages, spa visits
  • Shoe shines
  • Souvenirs or personal gifts
  • Snacks

University policy considers these expenses to be either personal, unnecessary, or avoidable expenses incurred during travel.  As a result, there may be tax consequences to the travelers if reimbursed. These are the common travel expenses most students experience, but not all of them. If you have a question about a travel expense not listed here, please see your Adviser for help.

Undergraduate Student Life


510-515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-3612

Fax: (212) 854-9801

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