SP 8-61c – Travel Procedure

Colorado Community College System / System Procedure

SP 8-61c

APPROVED: November 1, 2005
EFFECTIVE: November 1, 2005
REVISED: July 1, 2020

Board Policy on Delegation of Signature Authority, BP 8-60; Board Policy on Accounting and Internal Controls, BP 8-61; System Procedure, SP 8-60b; State of Colorado Fiscal Rules; State of Colorado Commercial Card Program; Mileage Reimbursement State Controller Policy; Taxability of State Travel Reimbursements; State Controller Travel Policy; Internal Revenue Service Regulation; Template Form on System Finance Web-page


/ Joseph A. Garcia /
Joseph A. Garcia, Chancellor


This procedure applies to all travel-related disbursements to employees, students, and vendors within the Colorado Community College System (CCCS or System), including its Colleges, paid through the System Office, regardless of funding source.


The purpose of this procedure is to establish and document travel processes for employees, including student employees, requesting, approving, and reimbursing expenses incurred for and during College related business travel that are consistently applied across the System in accordance with Board Policy BP 8-60 and BP 8-61. In addition, this procedure provides direction for processing travel costs associated with: employees traveling with students; students traveling on their own for programmatic needs and student life; non-employees traveling to interview for employment with the System; or non-employees/vendors traveling to attend programs and activities administered through the System.

Template forms can be found at https://internal.cccs.edu/finance/. These documents reflect the minimum requirements under this procedure. Additional information may be required by the Colleges, as deemed necessary.

  • Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form
  • Liability Waiver Form
  • Employee Travel Advance Request Form
  • Cardholder Agreement – Individual Travel Card Form
  • Cardholder Agreement – Central Travel Card Form
  • Fiscal Rule Waiver Form
  • Audit Checklist for Centrally Billed Travel Card Transactions Form
  • Payment Methods Matrix Form
  • Reimbursement Request Form


For definitions applicable to this procedure, refer to Appendix A.


Travel Authorization

Travel is considered a sensitive expenditure and easily perceived to provide a personal benefit, thereby warranting appropriate internal reviews of the travel and associated costs. It is expected that all travel costs incurred are reasonable, necessary, and provide benefit to CCCS.

Travel on behalf of CCCS at no cost to CCCS is required to have pre-approval through the requirements of this process for the purpose of liability and accountability of time.


The following chart outlines what documentation is required from employee prior to travel depending on the scope of the employee’s travel.

Pre-Travel Authorization Request FormLiability Waiver Per StudentEmergency Contact ListDocumented Estimate of Travel CostsProposed Travel ItineraryConference or Event Information (i.e. Cost, dates, location, agenda)
Travel overnight, employee onlyYesNoNoYesYesYes
Travel single day, employee onlyOptionalNoNoOptionalOptionalOptional
Travel overnight, employee with studentsYesYesYesYesYesYes
Travel single day, employee with studentsYesYesYesYesYesYes
  1. A Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form (ARF). If a College chooses to adapt their own form, it must include:
    • Business purpose;
    • Location (city/state);
    • Dates of travel;
    • Name of traveler(s) (i.e. class or team roster if applicable);
    • Org code to be charged;
    • Authorizing signatures;
    • Estimated costs for airfare, lodging, and other travel expenses planned. Any requests for alternative arrangements due to personal preference are limited to reimbursement based on the most efficient and reasonable transportation cost available;
    • Calculation of expected per diem, excluding the cost of meals provided in conference.

This Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form must be submitted to the College or System signature authority for approval and completed prior to registration and date of travel. The Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form must also have documented approval from the College employee’s division Vice President, the Vice Chancellor of Finance & Administration if employed at the System office, and the employee’s supervisor, if different from the signature authority. All out-of-state travel or travel outside of the United States must be approved by the employee’s College President or by the Vice Chancellor of Finance & Administration if employed at the System office.

Any in-state travel by a College President must be approved by another member of the College’s executive team and any out-of-state travel or travel outside of the United States by a College President must be approved by the Chancellor or Vice Chancellor of Finance & Administration.

  1. Any grant-funded travel by an employee must also have documented authorization by the grant approving authority for allowability under the grant.
  2. Liability waivers and emergency contact information are to be provided by employees traveling with students or students traveling as employees. An employee must certify that the student liability waivers and the student emergency contact information will be collected and retained.

A student traveling as an employee or a student traveling for programmatic and/or student life purposes must submit the following documentation:

Pre-Travel Authorization Request FormLiability Waiver Per StudentEmergency Contact ListDocumented Estimate of Travel CostsProposed Travel ItineraryConference or Event Information (i.e. Cost, dates, location, agenda)
Student Employee Traveler (Overnight)YesNoNoYesYesYes
Student TravelerYesYesYesOptionalYesYes
  1. Student employee travelers must obtain a Pre-Travel Authorization form for both in-state and out-of-state travel in the same manner as a College or System employee.
  2. Students traveling for programmatic and/or student life purposes should submit a Pre-travel Authorization Request Form approved by the appropriate division’s Vice President and the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration.
  3. The liability waiver, emergency contact list, estimate of cost, proposed travel itinerary, and event information must be submitted by both the student employee and student traveler to the approving authority.

Certain programs and activities administered through CCCS require travel by parties not employed by CCCS and, therefore, are not covered under the System’s accountable plan. These programs and activities would include non-paid speakers, Board members, and interview candidates. A Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form and other forms may be requested by an employee for payment of travel for non-employees. Where payment for travel of a vendor is being requested, a Purchase Order/Contract is required as set forth in State Fiscal Rules.

A non-employee traveling for CCCS must submit the following documentation:

Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form (ARF)Liability Waiver Per StudentEmergency Contact ListDocumented Estimate of Travel CostsProposed Travel ItineraryConference or Event Information (i.e. Cost, dates, location, agenda)
Travel by nonemployees (nonpaid speaker, board members, interview candidates, etc.)OptionalNoNoOptionalOptionalOptional
Travel by vendors (paid speaker, etc.)PO, ContractNoNoNoNoNo

Employee Request for Travel Advance

Travel advances are the advance of funds to a traveler for approved travel expenses. Travel advances are approved on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the appropriate division Vice President if a College employee or the Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration if a System employee.

A travel advance may be requested for 75% of eligible per diem, up to the $2,500 statutory limit. Please include the per diem calculations with this request. Request for advance must reach Accounts Payable at least 2 weeks prior to travel departure. Advance will be direct deposited to the employee’s account on the Thursday of the week prior to departure.

The scope of approval for a travel advance must be documented in accordance with the information in the Employee Travel Advance Request form. Approval should be documented in this form prior to the first day of travel and with sufficient time for processing the advance through accounts payable.  The settlement of travel advances with Accounts Payable department is required within ten (10) business days after returning from travel. Employees may settle travel advances by completing the Travel Expense Reimbursement Form and attaching itemized receipts with all necessary documentation. Failure to settle a travel advance within the specified timeframe will result in recognition of the advance as taxable income to the employee and revocation of the privilege for receiving future advances. Travel reimbursements must be reduced by any advances made and meet the documentation standards required.

Commercial Cards for Travel
Once employees are approved for travel, there are three types of commercial cards available for payment of employee travel expenses:

  1. Individually billed travel cards –- These may be requested for a permanent employee based on the need determined by the traveler’s supervisor and the travel card administrator. Individually billed travel cardholders must submit an application and sign the “Cardholder Agreement – Individual Travel Card” form. Payment on the individually billed travel cards is the personal responsibility of the cardholder and must be made within 59 days or they will be held personally liable. Colleges should also establish procedures for monitoring to ensure timely payments.
  2. Centrally billed travel cards –- These may be requested for a permanent employee who travels frequently and/or who has responsibility for booking travel (hotels, airfare, and commercial transportation) on behalf of other authorized travelers. Generally, centrally billed cards may not be used to pay for meals with the exception of employees purchasing group meals with students in which case a Fiscal Rule Waiver form has been obtained. Centrally billed travel cardholders must submit an application and sign the “Cardholder Agreement – Central Travel Card” form. Payment must be made no later than the due date stated on the bank invoice. Colleges are expected to develop a documented process for reconciliation, audit and violation action for the centrally billed travel cards, similar to the requirements of the PCard. See the Audit Checklist for Centrally Billed Travel Card Transactions form for minimum requirements.
  3. Ghost cards –- These may be requested by a College for a specific travel vendor used frequently, such as travel agencies. Ghost cards are centrally billed and can only be used at the specified vendor. Payment must be made no later than the due date stated on the bank invoice.

Administrative or program costs necessary to purchase while in travel status should be paid for using a PCard. For example, purchase of any office supplies, copies, or business related postage. Reference Payment Methods Matrix form for more information.

CCCS does not offer the State option to issue One Cards. Colleges are expected to develop a documented process, based on College needs, for reconciliation, audit and violation action for the travel cards, similar to the requirements of the PCard.


Scope of Employee Travel Reimbursement
Employees may be reimbursed for the following travel expenses:

  1. Lodging

Traveler may be reimbursed for actual costs of commercial lodging. The first night reserve/advance hotel charge may be reimbursed prior to travel, when advance payment is required by the resort. Proof of payment and itemized invoice is required. No reimbursement will be given for stay at personal residences exclusive of commercial bookings through Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO), Airbnb, etc.

  1. Meals and Incidentals – Per Diem for Employee Travel Overnight
  • CCCS reimburses the standard per diem rate and not actual costs due to the additional administrative burden.
  • Employees at conferences and trainings, where the meal is provided and is considered sufficient by the traveler, must show adjustment in per diem requested.
  • Employees traveling away from home overnight are reimbursed 75% of the destination city’s per diem rate, including incidental expenses, for the day of departure and 75% of the departing city’s per diem rate, including incidental expenses, on the day of return.
  • Tips cannot be claimed separately on a reimbursement request.
    • Tips paid to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel maids, and skycaps for airport check-in during individual travel are included in the incidental expense per diem.
    • Tips paid in conjunction with individual meals are included in the standard meal allowance.
    • Tips for commercial transportation, such as taxi and shuttle drivers, shall be reimbursable as part of and shall be included in the cost of transportation.
  1. Meal Reimbursement for Employee with Students Travel Overnight
  • Employee with students –- Employees that have meals with students are reimbursed for actual costs capped at per diem, rather than per diem for that employee, under the same reimbursement request as the students.
  • Tips paid in conjunction with group meals with students are reimbursed at a maximum at 20% of meal cost.
  1. Transportation

A traveler shall be reimbursed only for the dollar equivalent of the most economical means of transportation available to the traveler that satisfactorily accomplishes state business. Reimbursement shall be limited to the actual cost of commercial transportation.

  1. Airfare & Fees
  • Airfare should be purchased through designated travel agencies of state price agreements. Travelers shall use the most advantageous airline based on cost, time, and schedule.
  • The traveler shall be reimbursed for fees not included in the airfare, only if pre-approved. This includes reimbursement of one carry-on bag plus one checked bag, if charged by the airline. Luxury items such as early boarding fees, first class, trip cancellation insurance, etc., will not be reimbursed. Seats with extra legroom shall only be reimbursed if there is a justifiable reason and it is approved in advance by approving authority.
  • Airline travel requires submission of the boarding pass and the airline passenger ticket copy or airline travel itinerary with the travel expense reimbursement request.
  1. Personal Vehicles and Mileage Reimbursement

Mileage is reimbursed from the traveler’s home to a temporary work location, less the traveler’s normal commute to work. Travel to a temporary work location includes conferences, meetings, training sessions, etc., from the traveler’s home. Traveler must provide documentation, such as online web mapping (Google Maps or Mapquest), of the traveler’s normal home to work commute and the temporary work location mileage.

  • Example: The distance between the traveler’s home and the temporary work location is 35 miles; the traveler’s normal commute is 15 miles, so the traveler’s reimbursement of mileage to the temporary work location is 20 miles.
  • Exception: Travel to and from the airport is reimbursed based on actual miles traveled between the traveler’s residence and the airport.
  • Distinction: If an employee travels from/to their personal home and a state location within a metropolitan area, this is considered commuting and the college shall not reimburse the employee for these travel expenses.
  • If an employee travels within the metropolitan area from one work location to another work location for business purposes, the college may reimburse the employee for mileage only. A college may establish a minimum threshold for mileage, such as mileage must exceed two miles for transportation within a metropolitan area for administrative efficiency.
  • If an employee travels outside the metropolitan area for business purposes and the employee is considered to be traveling away from home, then the college may reimburse the employee for mileage, meals, and lodging.
  1. Rental Cars, Fleet Vehicles

Travelers are encouraged to use state fleet vehicles when they are available and meet the needs of the traveler, unless the traveler’s college has a more restrictive practice.

  • Travelers shall use state price agreements for automobile rentals in order to ensure adequate liability insurance coverage unless the price agreement does not meet the needs of the traveler. For instances where a state price agreement is not used for the automobile rental, the traveler shall purchase liability insurance in the amount of $1,000,000 through the automobile rental company. A traveler shall submit receipts for rental vehicles as documentation of the expense and shall be reimbursed for the actual costs of rental vehicles. Personal liability insurance is not a substitute. Various upgrades provided at extra cost by vehicle rental companies are not reimbursable.
  • When using the centrally billed travel card for automobile rental reservations for another individual and using one of the State price agreements, the card being used must be registered with the awarded auto rental agency. This process allows rentals to be placed on a centrally billed travel card without having the card present at the time of rental, while ensuring all associated contract terms/conditions apply. The secure process of registering the centrally billed travel card varies by merchant.
  • Gas and fuel for the fleet vehicles must be paid on the State fleet card. Gas and fuel used for rental vehicles will be reimbursed at actual costs with itemized receipts.
  1. Taxi, Shuttle and Ride Share

Travelers may require transport, such as taxi or ride share, when traveling away from home on business. Gratuities would be included in the cost of this transportation and a receipt will be required for reimbursement.

  1. Bus, Passenger Rail, Mass Transportation

In certain instances, chartering a bus or procuring group transportation is necessary and allowable when pre-approved and reasonable.

  1. Programmatic and/or Student Life Related Entertainment with Students

Entertainment costs must be approved in advance on a Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form. Entertainment costs are only allowable when in travel status with students and may include tickets, tours, and other activities that align with the program or curriculum for which the students are traveling.

Non-Reimbursable and Non-Chargeable Items

The following expenses incurred while in travel are not reimbursable and not chargeable on ghost cards or centrally billed cards:

  1. Alcohol;
  2. Entertainment expenses (personal entertainment, magazines, hotel in-room movies, etc.);
  3. Political expenses;
  4. Travel insurance;
  5. TSA pre-check, global entry or priority seating fees;
  6. Traffic fines and parking tickets;
  7. Personal expenses paid by the traveler that are primarily of benefit to the traveler are not reimbursable. Examples include the purchase of personal hygiene items, and other miscellaneous items;
  8. Roadside assistance; and
  9. Any upgrades, such as seat assignment, rental car upgrades, lodging upgrades, etc.

Certain other limitations and exceptions exist and a more complete list of reimbursable and non-reimbursable items is noted in State of Colorado Fiscal Rule 5-1 (http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/dfp/sco/rules/8-1-05/Chapter%205.pdf).

Receipt Requirement

All employee travel-related expenses greater than $25, except for per diem, require a receipt for reimbursement or support for payment on a travel card. If a receipt cannot be obtained, written notification by the traveler should be prepared documenting the details of the expense and why the receipt could not be obtained.

All requests for reimbursement or support for travel card transactions for which there are no receipts will need approval by the Vice President if a College employee or the Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration if a System employee.

Type of Travel ExpenseReimbursementReceipt Required?
Meals Individual (Employee)Per Diem RateNo
Meals Group (Employee(s) with Student(s))Actual cost capped at per diem per meal, if employee pays directly to vendor for the group.Yes
Incidental ExpensesPer Diem RateNo
Transportation for business purposes (other than airfare and including tips)ActualYes, if over $25
Rental VehiclesActualYes, if over $25
Mileage for Personal VehiclesState employees shall be allowed mileage reimbursement of 90% of the prevailing IRS rate per mile for each mile actually and necessarily traveled and authorized. See §24-9-104, C.R.S.No, but refer to mileage documentation requirements below
Other Allowable Travel Expenses (not paid with a commercial card)ActualYes, if over $25

Scope of Student Employee Travel and Student Travel Reimbursement

The scope of what can be paid to students traveling as employees is the same as what is outlined under the “Employee Travel Reimbursement” section.

Students traveling for programmatic or student life purposes can be paid taxable stipends based on consideration of estimated or actual costs incurred by the student. For example, if payments are intended to offset meal costs, they cannot exceed the individual meal per diem paid to employees.


Reimbursement for Employee Travel

Upon completion of travel, the traveler must submit a travel reimbursement request form, which will be reviewed for the following:

  1. Timing: For full reimbursement, the request must be submitted no later than 60 days from the last day of travel. Any reimbursement requests submitted beyond 60 days from the last day of travel will be considered taxable income to the employee, if reimbursed. Any reimbursement requests submitted after 90 days from the last day of travel will not be reimbursed per State Fiscal Rule 5-1.
  2. Appropriate expenditures: The employee’s supervisor and the delegated signature authority, if different, are required to review expenditures and approve where appropriate.
    • If the amounts requested for reimbursement are acceptable and do not exceed the Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form, no further reviews are required and reimbursement will be approved and processed.
    • If final travel costs exceed the Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form, additional review from the original org approver is required. Secondary approval from the Vice President if a College employee or the Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration if a System employee is recommended for differences over 5% of the original Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form.

Reimbursement Request -Travel Expense Form
Reimbursement Form and must be used for the purposes of reimbursement. The following information must be included on this form:

  • Amount – The amount of each separate expenditure incurred while traveling away from home, such as the cost of transportation or lodging;
  • Travel Dates – Dates of departure for and return from the destination city and the number of days spent on state business while traveling away from home;
  • Place – Destinations or locality of travel, described by name of city or town or other similar designation;
  • Purpose – Reason for travel or a description of the business being conducted during the travel;
  • Additional supporting travel documentation is outlined below in the section titled, “Employee Travel Documentation”; and
  • Signed certification by the traveler and supervisor or org owner authority.

Reimbursement for Student Employee Travel
Students traveling as employees for purposes of CCCS employment are covered under the System’s accountable plan and must be treated consistent with employee travel guidelines. Upon approval, student employees will receive reimbursement for travel expenses and will not be taxable if submitted within the required time frame.

Reimbursement for Student Travel
Students traveling for programmatic or student life purposes are not covered under the System’s accountable plan and may receive a stipend if the travel request is approved. This payment will be considered 1099 eligible. Approval should be documented in the Pre-Travel Authorization Request Form prior to the first day of travel and with sufficient time for processing an advance stipend through accounts payable or otherwise will be reimbursed to the student after travel.

Reimbursement for Non-Employee/Vendors
When non-employee travel is negotiated as part of a contract or statement of work, such as paid speakers or other hired independent contractors, an invoice should be generated from the vendor. The invoice should include their personal services fees and the total of travel costs. These non-employee payments may be subject to a 1099.


CCCS reserves the right to change any provision or requirement of this procedure at any time and the change shall become effective immediately.


Accountable Plan:  A plan that follows IRS Regulations for reimbursing employees for business expenses in which reimbursement is not counted as income.

Approving Authority:  An employee who has authority to approve travel for state business and related matters.

Commercial Card:  State issued payment cards including procurement cards and travel cards (including ghost cards and event cards).

Commercial Card Program:  All commercial card accounts and services provided to the State and participating entities by the bank to the State.

Employee:  Individuals employed by CCCS.

Expenses Incurred for the Benefit of CCCS:  Expenses incurred that enable an employee or official to perform assigned duties or enable CCCS to carry out responsibilities required by law.

Foreign Travel:  Travel to any out-of-country destination not included within the definitions of In-State Travel or Out-of-State Travel.

Ghost Card:  Type of card account whereby an account number is issued or provided to a specific supplier for the payment of purchases made by CCCS employees.

Incidental Expenses:  Tips given to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel maids, and skycaps for airport check-in.

In-State Travel:  Travel within the State of Colorado and to the immediate area outside the state that is a necessary part of an otherwise “in-state” trip, such as travel immediately outside of the state border.

Lodging:  Any commercial accommodations available or offered for use for which a rate schedule has been established and payment is required, as described in the State Controller Travel Policies.

Metropolitan Area:  A region including a city and the densely populated surrounding areas that are socially and economically integrated. For the State of Colorado, metropolitan area shall be defined as the 35-mile radius surrounding the traveler’s regular work location, regardless of the location of the traveler’s residence.

Official Function / Student Function:  A meeting, conference, meal, or other function that is hosted by a College President or System Chancellor, or a representative, attended by College students, guests and/or state employees, and held for official state business or programmatic purposes and is considered reasonable and necessary.

Out-of-State Travel:  Travel within the United States, other than in-state travel, including travel to the District of Columbia, Alaska, or Hawaii.

Per Diem:  An allowance for payments to employees made each day in travel status as required by fiscal rules.

Price Agreement:  A state contract between the Department of Personnel and Administration, State Purchasing and Contracts Office, and a contractor, which allows state agencies and institutions of higher education to order goods or services from the contractor, pursuant to the terms of the price agreement, by issuing a purchase order, task order, or other approved order form.

Procurement Card (PCard):  A procurement card is a corporate liability card, centrally billed, tax exempt and used for small purchases (under $5,000) of general merchandise and services as governed by state law.

Reimbursement Request:  A request for reimbursement of travel expenses submitted by an employee traveler.

Single Day Travel:  Travel completed wholly within a single day.

State Business:  Official state business or other duties undertaken for state purposes and for the benefit of the state.

Student Employee Traveler:  Students working hourly or as work-studies within CCCS and authorized to travel on CCCS business.

Student Traveler: Student authorized to travel for programmatic and/or student life purposes.

Student Stipend:  Payments made directly to students to support or defray expenses (1099 reportable).

Temporary Work Location:  A location whereby employment continues for no more than a period of one year at that location. If terms of employment require employee to work consistently beyond one year in two separate locations, neither location is considered temporary.

Travel Card:  Card for travel-related purchases that may be individually billed (individual or joint and several liability/not tax exempt) or centrally billed (corporate liability/tax exempt).

Traveler:  An employee who receives required approvals to travel on CCCS business.

Traveler’s Regular Work Location:  Generally, the primary location where the traveler works, including the entire metropolitan area of the traveler’s regular work location. See State Controller Travel Policies for exceptions.

Traveler’s Residence:  The location where the traveler maintains the traveler’s primary family home.

Traveling Away from Home:  A traveler is traveling away from home and considered in travel status if the traveler’s duties require the traveler to be away from the traveler’s regular work location overnight or within a single day substantially longer than an ordinary day’s work. For travel within a single day, the traveler needs to sleep or rest to meet the demands of the traveler’s work while away from the traveler’s regular work location.

Vendor:  Third party paid under contract, which may include costs incurred for travel.