January 29, 2016

Grad Travel for Dummies

So your supervisor is sending you on a trip to a conference, collaboration meeting, or data collection in some exotic location.  That’s cool!  You might be thinking “Maybe grad school was worth it after all!”.  But wait, there’s paperwork…  here is a breakdown of the various stages you need go through.

1) Apply for supplemental funds.

First of all, you shouldn’t be paying a dime out of pocket. There is money set aside for this and your advisor should not be sending you at all if they can’t afford it separately out of their grants.  In order to ease the cost on them, there are various supplemental funding sources. The best time to apply for the various awards is a few months before your travel. You may apply at the last minute, however, the funds have typically already be allocated to other grad students (CUPE/FGS). 

1) FGS/GSS Travel Award -> Here

2) CUPE Travel Award -> Here

3) Criswick Award -> Department-specific award handed out to Astronomy grads once per year of ~$150.  Just email Susan Gnucci and say you want the Criswick award.

2) Pre-pay/Advance some of your expenses.

Airline tickets often cost more than rent. Conference registration is often months in advance from when you actually go. So pay for them as soon as you can and apply for that money so you get reimbursed as soon as possible (Pre-paid form here).  Another benefit of doing this is that it often takes less time to get reimbursed from a pre-paid claim. Include the receipts, including an image of your credit card statement if the cost was in foreign currency (just blackout any irrelevant info).

Or maybe you have multiple trips planned that are closely spaced together and won’t be able to handle all the costs at once? Make a price estimate including per diem and hotel and apply for all the money ahead of time. This is done using the advance section of the form above.

The Per Diem, as of July 2019 is 14/16/30 (either CAD/USD/EUR/GBP) for breakfast/lunch/dinner.

Conferences are a great opportunity to see places of the world you otherwise might not go to! In this sense, it is often a great idea to plan a personal vacation around the conference. If you book personal flights on the same ticket, make sure to find a quote for the business portion of the flight. This will be attached with your expense report, and you will only claim this amount.

3) Go on your trip!

Don’t miss your flight! Rebooking fees the day of is an added expenditure you don’t want to have to explain to your advisor.

Remember to keep ALL of your receipts. You don’t necessarily need food receipts, as that will be covered with Per Diem, which is a predetermined amount. Remember to ask for itemized receipts, showing what cost what, not just the total. The exception is that taxis, gas, parking, and/or shuttles can be claimed with only the receipt from the credit/debit machine. That way you can be sure to recoup all of your expenses and, most importantly, not have to fill out more paperwork! (Lost receipt form)  

Also, remember to take some time off as it’s the best chance you get to travel the world (although expenses accrued during this time will be out-of-pocket). If part of a receipt you are submitting has personal travel make sure to make a note of it.

4) Submit the paperwork.

Now that you’ve made it back safely, and haven’t decided to run off to join a band of pirates and take your chances rising through the ranks on a ship at sea, you can submit the last bit of paperwork to settle your claim. (The big one found here)

– Include a description of how the trip is necessary to your supervisor’s NSERC-funded research project. “Required for thesis/dissertation/Ph.D.” is NOT acceptable, as these are considered education expenses (and thus ineligible on NSERCs). You must explain how the research itself relates to your supervisor’s research project – be specific.

–  Make sure to include the conference itinerary

– Submit all original receipts with the form (use a vanilla envelope from the office).

– Include Per Diem for all the days you were traveling, including travel days, but not including personal time off. This way you don’t need to submit food receipts but if there was a conference dinner, or was in some way a social/work-related dinner, submit the actual receipt for it if it costs more than the allotted per diem. 

– Have your supervisor sign it.  If they can’t you can have the department chair sign it on their behalf, just let them know that’s what you’re going to do.

– If you got supplemental funds, distribute that money first to them and then put the rest on your supervisor’s FAST account (they should give you the number)

– Remember poster printing is a conference cost, so add that in on your travel claim as well.

When you are done turn in into the accounting office front desk.

5) Twiddle your thumbs for 4-6 weeks!

Now you can wait for the exorbitantly long time it takes to get reimbursed. In the summertime especially, expect it to be the full 6 weeks.  One day, you’ll wake up to a ddap@uvic.ca email and rejoice at receiving a large lump sum of money you already spent!

 

References:

UVic Accounting Forms Page