Department of Statistics
Carnegie Mellon University
Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Reimbursement Frequently Asked Questions

Travel Questions

Is there funding available to students to attend conferences?

Yes. Students are advised to check in a couple of places: 1) CMU’s GSA (Graduate Student Assembly) to apply for a conference attendance grant; 2) with the conference that they are planning to attend to see if there are any scholarship/grant opportunities; 3) with any faculty member with whom they work with to see if there are travel funds available from a grant; and 4) from department sources. The department has some funds to help with travel for students who are presenting research at meetings. Talk to Business Manager Laura Butler about these possible funds. If you receive word that a faculty member’s grant or the department will fund a portion of your trip, we will reimburse you for the (eligible) expenses you incur while on your trip.

It is important to keep in mind that there is no guarantee of funding until you have confirmation from your potential source (such as the department’s Business Manager or Department Head or the GSA). Remember this before you begin to make travel arrangements.

Do I need to present a talk at a conference to be funded to attend it?

Not necessarily. Many prestigious and valuable experiences may be gained while attending a conference that you are not speaking at. However, the more unique the opportunity, the more likely that it is to get funded.

I would like to save money by sharing a hotel room with friends that are attending a conference with me. Can I do that?

Yes. When you checkout, however, you must insist that your portion of the bill be charged to your credit card and that you receive a receipt showing this. (The receipt will usually display the last four digits of your credit card.) This becomes especially important when your friend books the room in their name and they are the only one whose name and address is listed on the receipt. We must have proof that YOU paid for YOUR portion of the room.

Can students use a per diem for food?

No. Students are not permitted to use per diem. They must turn in all receipts for daily meals.

How much money are students allowed to spend on food per meal?

The university will reimburse travelers for the reasonable cost of their own meals incurred during the time they are away from home. What is reasonable? If you really have any doubts, check out the per diem rates that the U.S. General Services Administration and U.S. State Department sets for travelers:

Domestic Per Diem rates

International Per Diem rates

While on my trip, I went out to dinner with a group of colleagues. How do I get reimbursed for that?

Insist on separate checks. You can pay in cash, but a receipt must be accountable that displays a reasonably-priced meal for one person paid by one person.

I don’t have ANY money to pay upfront for travel expenses in order to attend this conference. Can I receive funding BEFORE I take my trip?

Yes. Talk to Business Manager Laura Butler about this possibility. The same rules apply for securing the funds (talk to faculty you work with or the Business Manager to see if department funds would be available). Once you know you have funding available to you, we can set up booking airfare through the university’s travel agent or simply advancing you the money. Important: advancing the money to you through the department acts as though a scholarship has been awarded. If you are an international student this money will be taxed at a rate of 14%.

I went out to dinner while on my trip and had an alcoholic beverage. Can this be reimbursed?

Yes. Make sure you receive an itemized receipt displaying what you ordered (instead of simply a credit card receipt). However, keep in mind that alcohol cannot be charged to a Federal grant. Remember this if you are receiving reimbursement from a faculty member’s grant. Otherwise, stay within the scope of a reasonably-priced meal.

Are gratuities reimbursable?

Gratuities that are recorded on a receipt (restaurant, taxi paid with a credit card) are reimbursable.

If I drive my own car to attend a conference/workshop/etc., can I be reimbursed for mileage?

Yes. Mileage is reimbursed at the IRS rate of 55.5 cents per mile.

Non-Travel Related Reimbursement Questions

We are taking a few PhD recruits out for dinner when they visit CMU/Pittsburgh. Is there anything we should know in advance?

Business meals of 2-5 people should not exceed $75/person; for groups over 5, total cost shouldn’t exceed $375, including alcohol, tax, and tip.
If you order alcohol, ask the server to put the alcohol on a separate check. Pay for it just the same. It is reimbursable but needs to be split from the rest of the bill.

General Questions

What kind of receipts to are needed for reimbursement?

ALL original receipts! More specifically, if you fly, please turn in your boarding passes. If you go out to dinner, make sure to submit the ITEMIZED receipt (not just the credit card slip–but turn in the credit card slip too!) If your receipt is the kind of receipt that lists a name/address (such as a hotel , airfare, or conference receipt), the name/address MUST BE YOUR OWN. Also, the credit card used must be IN YOUR NAME. If you would like to keep copies of receipts, just copy them before you submit the originals.

Will my reimbursement be taxed?

A reimbursement will be taxed if : 1) funding is provided up front (so, it’s not necessarily being reimbursed) and the student is an international student, or 2) If the reimbursement is processed more than 90 days after the trip has been completed. (After 90 days, the IRS views reimbursements as taxable and the university will withhold tax.)

When do I submit the summary form?

1) After you’ve talked to our Business Manager Laura Butler and/or a faculty member you work with about whether there is money available for you and where it will be coming from; 2) After you’ve completed your trip; and 3) When you have all of your original receipts accumulated.

Who do I bring my form and receipts to?

You can bring them to me, Kira Bokalders, in Baker Hall 132D or put them in my mailbox upstairs in the 132 wing.

How would you like me to bring in my receipts? Should I do anything special to /with them such as stapling, etc.?

No, you don’t have to do any of that. Some people like to put the little receipts (from restaurants or taxis) in an envelope. That might minimize them getting lost en route, but it’s not necessary.