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Payment Method Guide

Undergraduate Student Life's Travel Card

Acceptable Travel Expenses

Use of Undergraduate Student Life's "travel card" is required for approved student organization purchases of the following travel expenses:

  • Airline/Rail travel to and from your destination 
  • Bus travel to and from your travel destination, unless using Columbia University Transportation Services
  • Lodging 
  • Conference rooms rental
    • Note: If this involves a contract or agreement, please speak to Financial Advising before moving forward

Conference registrations should be purchased using the purchasing card of the group's Advisor. Please note, some group travel will be required to use STA Travel for hotel and airfare booking.

Procedure for Utilizing the USL Travel Card

Advisors should make student groups aware of the following procedures and guidelines for utilizing the USL travel card:

  1. Student group discusses their travel plans with their Advisor and seeks out guidance on how to proceed. If the trip is allowable and is aligned to the group’s mission, the Advisor should have the group submit an FTF.

  2. Group shares travel details with their Advisor that include the destination(s), the travel dates, and any other applicable details

  3. Advisor emails Undergraduate Student Life to register the trip on the Travel Form

  4. Once the trip has been registered, Advisor informs the trip coordinator to have each traveler complete the Student Travel Form at

  • If international travel, please speak to Advisor

What is Needed to Arrange an Appointment?

Once all travelers have registered, please contact Student Financial Advising at to schedule a travel card appointment. The following information is needed prior to scheduling an appointment:

  • Advisor-approved FTF
  • A complete list of traveler names
    • USL needs this to confirm that all students attending the trip have completed the Student Domestic Travel Form prior to using any student organization funds
  • List of alternate travel itineraries:
    • If flying, be prepared with 2-3 flight options and be sure to have that information available. You should know the airports, airline(s), flight number(s), and dates of travel.
    • If lodging is needed, come prepared with 2-3 lodging options. It is helpful for you to research and understand cost efficient options at your destination prior to making the travel card appointment.
  • If flying or taking rail or Greyhound trips, dates of birth are required*

*Important: We cannot collect this information electronically due to FERPA, so this information will need to be collected by the trip coordinator prior to the scheduled travel meeting with Financial Advising.

Please plan ahead, appointment times can be fully booked for up to two weeks.

Governing Board Spending Restrictions

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. Please refer to the ABC Bylaws for more information.  

For IGB and SGB groups, up to 100% of the hotel and travel to a destination expense can be paid through allocation.  If your group will be using personal contributions to pay for a portion of your travel please consult with Financial Advising to discuss your options.

When the Travel Card Cannot be Used

The travel card cannot be used for the following:

  • Food
  • Items charged to a hotel room
    • Incidentals include room service, movies, parking, etc.
  • Local transportation (i.e. cab fare)
  • MetroCards or Movie Tickets
    • USL offers one-way & round-trip MetroCards and single use movie tickets for purchase with an approved FTF or e-form
      • See your Advisor for more information

Please also review the list of travel related expenses that are not allowed by Columbia University.

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, see your Advisor for assistance.

Undergraduate Student Life


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

Call: 212-854-3612

Fax: 212-854-9801

Office Hours
9:00 a.m.5:00 p.m.

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