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Guidance on Reimbursements for Research-Related Travel COVID-19

——– Forwarded Message ——–

Subject: Guidance on Reimbursements for Research-Related Travel
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2020 11:01:53 -0400
From: Ellen Binder <eb337@columbia.edu>
To: asfac-senior@lists.columbia.eduasfac-junior@lists.columbia.eduasfac-lecturer@lists.columbia.edu
CC: asadas2b@columbia.edu <asadas2b@columbia.edu>

I have received numerous inquiries from faculty who have purchased airfare, booked accommodations, and/or incurred other costs for research-related trips that have been or may be canceled due to COVID-19.  I am writing to provide clarity and guidance regarding University and A&S policies around these trips and reimbursements.

Due to COVID-19, the University will temporarily allow for the reimbursement of expenses that cannot be credited back to the employee’s personal credit card, even if the business purpose has not been satisfied as a result of the novel coronavirus.  The originally planned funding source of the expense will need to absorb those charges.   This temporary policy applies to A&S sources of funding as well, including individual research allocations, FRAP and start-up funds.  A&S will require that back-up documentation for the trip’s cancellation, including the reason for the cancellation, be uploaded into ARC with the TBER.  (If you are using sponsored funds as the source for research-related travel, please check the SPA website for the latest updates on what is acceptable.)

For A&S-funded travel, if faculty or other A&S employees successfully received a cash credit for trip expenses on his or her personal credit card after having been reimbursed by A&S, the employee will be expected to reimburse A&S for the amount refunded.  For credits from airlines, A&S will not immediately seek reimbursement.  The employee is encouraged to use that credit toward another research-related flight, either before the end of FY20 or during FY21, within the one-year window provided.  If the credit is ultimately used for personal travel, we expect the faculty member to reimburse A&S during the fiscal year it is used.

We recognize that many faculty have already, or will soon, cancel plans for forthcoming research travel during the final months of FY20 for which their research or FRAP funds had been earmarked and for which, at present, they have no other use.  Unspent balances will not automatically roll forward, although A&S will keep track of all unused FY20 balances.  The EVP Office will entertain, on a case-by-case basis, preserving some or all of those resources for use in FY21.  If this situation applies to you, please wait until the new fiscal year to reach out.  All such requests must include as much documentation as possible about the costs of the cancelled trip, as well as some form of proof that the travel’s purpose was either postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19.

Finally, if you are still considering arranging for research-related travel, we ask that you abide by the following recommendations:

  • Do not purchase Basic Economy airfare, which is not refundable.
  • For conferences, attendees should check on the refundability of registration fees.
  • For hotels, faculty should check on cancellation policies and fees.

As always, please let me know if you have any further questions.

All the best,  Ellen

-- 
Ellen Binder
Associate Vice President
Budget Operations and Financial Planning
Executive Vice President’s Office of Arts and Sciences
Columbia University
475 Riverside Drive (Interchurch Center), Room 316C MC8122
New York, New York 10115
646-745-8579 or 212-854-6107 voice
1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)
Mail Code 3308  
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)

Mail Code 3308

420 West 118th Street

New York, NY 10027

Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.