Employee Travel

This information is intended to provide a brief overview of the rules and regulations that apply to employee travel and the processes for procuring travel and requesting reimbursements. Travel must serve the best interest of the university, have a legitimate business purpose, and be related to the employee’s job duties. Except as otherwise noted, these requirements apply to all employees engaged in university business travel and all funding sources used to procure such travel. For a more in depth review of the Travel Regulations and Travel Voucher requirements, please also review the Business Procedure Manual Numbers 4-30 and 4-31.

Authorization to Travel

Policies regarding authorization to travel are made at the department level. Please consult your Business Manager for information on departmental policies. View a sample Request for Authorization Form.

Receipt Requirements

  • Original detailed receipts and/or invoices are required for all expenses over $10
  • The Receipt/Invoice must show that the expense was paid in full (documentation/substantiation for reimbursement cannot show an amount due)
  • Receipts are not required for per diems (see Per Diems below for eligibility)


Unless approved in writing by the controller, there are no exceptions to the travel rules or regulations. Exception requests must be made in writing and include an adequate explanation and justification of the exception when submitted to the controller. The controller may be required to forward the requests to the Higher Education Travel Control Board for approval.

Allowable Travel Expenses

The Travel Regulations require that the travel be by:

  • The most economical mode of transportation available considering travel time, costs, and work requirements
  • The most direct route.

A quick reference guide for common travel expenses can be found below, and below that are more detailed descriptions for the allowability and considerations of various travel expenses.

Common Travel Expenses Commercial Card Travel Reimbursement Unallowable Expenses
Alcohol     X
Business/First Class Airfare     X
Coat Check     X
Conference Registration X X  
Entertainment Expenses     X
Extra Baggage Fees (exceptions may apply)     X
Fines, Late Fees, or Penalties Including Parking and Other Traffic Tickets     X
Gasoline for Personal Vehicle     X
Gasoline for Rental Car (see Rental Car below for specific requirements) X X
Items for Personal Use or Non-University Purposes     X
Late Check-Out, Early Check-In, and Room Guarantee Charges     X
Lodging (up to limits) X X  
Meal Allowance/Per Diem (exception for Graduate Assistants)   X  
Check-In     X
Parking (outside of DeKalb) X X  
Transportation (most economical) X X  
Transportation to Procure Meals     X

Travel advances are available for group travel by athletic teams and for students participating in events where travel is supported by university funds.

Travel advances are not available for individual travel. It is expected that employees traveling on university business will use their personal credit card or corporate credit card for expenses associated with such travel. Not having a credit card is not an acceptable reason for requesting an advance.

Visit Business Procedure 4-34 for additional policies and procedures governing Travel Advances.

Commercial airfare is an allowable travel expense when it is the most economical mode of transportation.

  • Travel on airplanes shall ordinarily be coach class.
  • Reimbursement for first-class or business-class accommodations are permitted only when:
    • regularly scheduled flights between authorized origin and destination points provide only first-class or business-class accommodations,
    • space is not available in coach accommodations in time to carry out the purpose of the travel, or
    • the president or the president's designee authorizes or approves the use of other than coach accommodations as necessary for the conduct of the mission or for reasons of the traveler's health.
  • One checked bag per flight is reimbursable. An exception can be made if excess baggage is required to transport items needed for a presentation or equipment for research, etc. The business purpose for the excess baggage should be included on the travel voucher.
  • Optional seat fees and early check-in, etc., are not reimbursable expenses.

The use of employee-piloted aircraft for university business is not permitted.

Expenses associated with commuting between an employee's residence and headquarters are not reimbursable.

Note: A Form TA-2 must be completed for employees looking to establish a headquarters as a location other than that at which official duties require the largest part of the individual's working time to be spent.

Allowable if in travel status for at least seven (7) consecutive days.

  • Lodging is an allowable travel expense subject to the found state-issued daily limits.
  • Lodging rates can exceed the state lodging limit when staying at a conference-recommended hotel. Documentation from the event should be provided listing the established recommended hotel.
  • If a lodging limit is exceeded for other reasons, and reimbursement is requested, the lodging overage will need to be submitted to the Illinois Higher Education Travel Control Board as an exception for review. This would not delay your reimbursement. The board meets quarterly. They may require additional information from you to make a ruling on your request, such as confirmation you contacted several hotels and chose the most economical available. If the overage is denied by the travel control board the overage plus taxes would be to be refunded to NIU by making a deposit at the Bursar Office. A copy of the deposit slip to be provided to APS.
    • Note: the limits are reviewed on a per-day basis, not an average rate for the trip. For example, if an employee procured lodging in Cook County during April 2021, the maximum daily limit of $216 would apply. If the traveler stayed overnight two nights, with the first night paying $200 and the second night paying $220, the $220 would still exceed the daily limit and require additional exception approvals even though the average of the two nights was $210, which is below the daily limit of $216.
  • Detailed lodging receipts are required, breaking out the daily rates, taxes and other charges.
  • The State has negotiated special rates with certain hotels in Illinois. Employees should review the list of hotels when lodging is required and attempt to obtain the discounted rate before reserving a hotel room at the State's maximum allowed rate. The rates listed do not include applicable taxes. Identification as a State of Illinois employee may be required at check-in. The preferred hotel listing can be found on the CMS website.

Meals for employees in travel status may be reimbursable if they qualify for either per diems or meal allowances. Per diems and meal allowances cannot be mixed on the same trip or day:

Per Diems

  • An employee is eligible for meal per diems if:
  • The travel included an overnight stay; or
  • The travel period is 18 or more continuous hours.
  • Effective February 1, 2024 meal per diems should be verified through the GSA Per Diem rates based on location using fractional parts of the day. Prior to this date, meal per diems used a flat rate of $44 per day for in-state travel and $48 per day for out-of-state travel.
    • Days are defined as a unit of time from midnight through 11:59.
    • Per diems for fractional parts of a day are calculated in quarters, as shown in the below charts.

GSA per diem rates effective February 1, 2024. Incidentals per diem of $5.00 not reimbursable.

Day of Departure
Depart Between Hours of Per Diem Allowance $59.00-$5.00 Per Diem Allowance $64.00-$5.00 Per Diem Allowance $69.00-$5.00 Per Diem Allowance $74.00-$5.00 Per Diem Allowance $79.00-$5.00
Midnight-5:59 a.m. $54.00 $59.00 $64.00 $69.00 $74.00
6:00 a.m.-11:59 a.m. $40.50 $44.25 $48.00 $51.75 $55.50
Noon-5:59 p.m. $27.00 $29.50 $32.00 $34.50 $37.00
6:00 p.m.-11:59 p.m. $13.50 $14.75 $16.00 $17.25 $18.50
Day of Return
Depart Between Hours of Per Diem Allowance Per Diem Allowance Per Diem Allowance Per Diem Allowance Per Diem Allowance
Midnight-5:59 a.m. $13.50 $14.75 $16.00 $17.25 $18.50
6:00 a.m.-11:59 a.m. $27.00 $29.50 $32.00 $34.50 $37.00
Noon-5:59 p.m. $40.50 $44.25 $48.00 $51.75 $55.50
6:00 p.m.-11:59 p.m. $54.00 $59.00 $64.00 $69.00 $74.00
Meals provided should be deducted from requested per diem
Meal type  
Breakfast $13.00 $14.00 $16.00 $17.00 $18.00
Lunch $15.00 $16.00 $17.00 $18.00 $20.00
Dinner $26.00 $29.00 $31.00 $34.00 $36.00

Per Diem rates effective January 20, 2023 through January 31, 2024

Day of Departure
Depart Between Hours of Per Diem Allowance (within Illinois) Per Diem Allowance (outside Illinois)
Midnight-5:59 a.m. $44.00 $48.00
6:00 a.m.-11:59 a.m. $33.00 $36.00
Noon-5:59 p.m. $22.00 $24.00
6:00 p.m.-11:59 p.m. $11.00 $12.00
Day of Return
Return Between Hours of Per Diem Allowance (within Illinois) Per Diem Allowance (outside Illinois)
Midnight-5:59 a.m. $11.00 $12.00
6:00 a.m.-11:59 a.m. $22.00 $24.00
Noon-5:59 p.m. $33.00 $36.00
6:00 p.m.-11:59 p.m. $44.00 $48.00
  • When the cost of meals for approved conferences is a part of the registration fee the traveler shall deduct the following amounts from the per diem or per meal allowance:
Meal type In-State Out-of-State
Breakfast $8.50 $9.50
Lunch $12.50 $13.50
Dinner $23.00 $25.00

Meal allowance - if a traveler is not eligible for a per diem, the traveler may submit a detailed meal receipt and be eligible for breakfast and dinner, including gratuities, up to the maximum meal allowances as shown in above tables. A meal allowance may be given for breakfast or dinner if:

  • Breakfast – the traveler leaves headquarters or residence (if reporting directly to the destination) at or before 6 a.m. and works for more than ten (10) consecutive hours.
  • Dinner – the traveler works for more than ten (10) consecutive hours and arrives back at headquarters or residence (if reporting directly from the destination) at or after 7 p.m. If employee commences travel after close of business but before 6:30 p.m., dinner reimbursement is allowed if the traveler would not be eligible for per diem.

Meals purchased for non-State employees while on travel status and in connection with State business are reimbursable in reasonable amounts. A statement specifying the name and affiliation of each guest should be included with the Travel Voucher.

Mileage is a reimbursable expense when the use of a privately owned vehicle is the most economical mode of transportation. Mileage should be calculated as the distance between the originating location and the destination using the most direct route. Any significant deviations must be explained on the travel voucher.

Mileage is reimbursed at the rate established by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) at the time of travel*. Mileage is only payable to one of two or more passengers traveling in the same vehicle. The names of all travelers and their employing agencies should be stated on the Travel Voucher.

When in travel status, employees must subtract commute mileage from the total business mileage if the trip begins or ends at a location other than the employee's primary worksite. See Commuting above for additional information.

* The Athletics department mileage reimbursement rate may be different. The Traveler or Preparer can reduce the reimbursable amounts to the athletics rate in the electronic travel voucher with a comment about the lower amount. Please review the electronic travel voucher instructions for more information.

Non-reimbursable expenses include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Coat Check
  • Commuting expenses between a residence and official headquarters
  • Domestic motor vehicle rental insurance
  • Entertainment/Social Functions
  • Expenses for other state employees
  • Items covered by Per Diem Allowance
  • Gasoline for personal vehicle
  • Late check-out
  • Lost/stolen cash or personal property
  • Optional airline seat fees or preboarding
  • Parking or traffic citations or other fees
  • Personal items such as toiletries, luggage, clothing, etc.
  • Repairs, towing service, etc., for a personal vehicle
  • Transportation to procure meals
  • Wait time charges for ride share services

Please contact accountspayablesrvs@niu.edu for questions about other non-reimbursable expenses.

Parking fees are an allowable expense. However, parking at an airport or other terminal while away for NIU business is only allowable if the parking fees plus the reimbursable mileage to and from the terminal is less than the estimated cost of a limousine or taxicab.

See Meals – Employees in Travel Status above.

The use of privately owned vehicles for NIU business travel is generally not encouraged unless necessary or the most convenient or advantageous mode of transportation for the university. See also Mileage Reimbursement above.

The use of rental cars should be kept at an absolute minimum and rented only in an emergency or when it can be demonstrated to be more economical in terms of total travel costs. Every effort shall be made to obtain other suitable transportation rather than to use rented vehicles. If a rental vehicle is required, the most economical vehicle available and suitable for the conduct of the university's business shall be obtained. The collision damage waiver and personal accident insurance on rental vehicles are not reimbursable. An explanation for the use of a rental car must be included on the Travel Voucher and additional documentation supporting the explanation may be required.

Tolls are an allowable expense.

Travel by train is an allowable expense when it's the most economical mode of transportation.

  • Sleeping car accommodations: one standard roomette when night travel is involved.
  • Parlor car and coach accommodations: one seat in a sleeping or parlor car will be allowed unless the travel order or other administrative determination specifies that coach accommodations be used. Where adequate coach accommodations are available, officials authorizing travel will assure that coach accommodations are used to the maximum extent possible on the basis of advantage to the agency, suitability and convenience to the traveler, and nature of the business involved.