Slice 1Created with Sketch.

Index > Operations Policies > Business Expenses Policy – Reimbursable Expenses Policy

Business Expenses Policy – Reimbursable Expenses Policy


The purpose of this policy is to provide departments, supervisors, employees, and non-employees with specific policies and procedures regarding Rhode Island School of Design’s business expense reimbursements to ensure the appropriate use of college funds and compliance with IRS regulations.


This policy covers miscellaneous expenses that occur when doing business on behalf of Rhode Island School of Design (“RISD”). The policy applies to all faculty, staff, students and others who incur expenses while engaged in RISD business or related travel.

Policy Statement

RISD is a non-profit institution and a charitable tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Because of this special tax-exempt status, RISD must ensure that its funds are used to further its charitable purposes and that all expenses are reasonable both in nature and amount. Students and their parents, donors, governmental parties and the public are increasingly sensitive about appropriate activity and expenditures on behalf of tax-exempt organizations, and it is very important that RISD manage its resources in an appropriate manner.


Please refer to the Procure-to-Pay Policies Glossary for the following terms:

  • Accountable Plan
  • Business Expenses
  • Expense Report
  • Personal Expense
  • Proof of Payment
  • Receipt
  • Sponsored Project
  • Substantiated Expenses
  • Sufficient Documentary Evidence


Whenever possible, all goods and services acquired on behalf of the College should be planned and purchased using Workday or other accepted college-wide purchasing methods, using preferred suppliers and approved methods of payment. However, when unforeseen circumstances arise and an employee spends their own money on business-related expenses, RISD will reimburse the individual. All such expenses must be substantiated and documented in accordance with this policy. Expense reimbursements are not intended for the routine purchase of business-related goods.

Payments to Individuals

Payment of independent contractor services (including guest speakers), by an employee, will not be reimbursed. Payment of travel expenses for individuals not employed by or enrolled at RISD will not be reimbursed.

Memberships, Dues and Subscriptions

RISD’s affiliation with an organization or group is based upon the business benefit to be derived by RISD from such affiliation. In the case of certain civic, community, and educational organizations that serve a broader purpose and constituency, RISD typically joins as an institutional member and, as such, designates employee representatives. Institutional memberships often provide certain benefits (such as reports, studies, etc.) to RISD at large and may also provide news updates and magazines that are routinely sent to a specified number of individual employees on the membership mailing list. Employees who attend meetings or functions as representatives of RISD are eligible for reimbursement of travel expenses if approved by their respective departments.

Fees for individual memberships in business associations as well as fees for magazine, newspaper, or newsletter subscriptions are generally not allowable business expenses; however, Vice Presidents/Provosts, Deans, and Department Heads may elect to cover these costs on a case-by-case basis. Individual membership in professional associations or other costs incurred to maintain professional certifications or licenses that are required as part of the employee's job responsibilities at the college and have a clear business benefit to the college may be considered appropriate business expenses.

Memberships in athletic clubs, faculty clubs, social clubs, shopping clubs, fraternal orders, or other similar organizations do not qualify as a business expense. Employees must pay for these memberships personally.

Unallowed Expenses

RISD will not reimburse or pay for expenses that are inherently personal in nature. The following list of personal expenses serves as a guide and is not to be considered all-inclusive:

  • Personal grooming service, such as barbers, hairdressers, toiletries massages, manicures/pedicures, and saunas
  • Childcare costs, babysitting, and housesitting costs
  • Pet care, including fees for boarding pets and other animal care costs
  • Any personal clothing and accessories
  • Prescriptions, over-the-counter medication, and other medical expenses
  • Personal reading material, such as non-scholarly magazines, books, and newspapers
  • Personal recreation or entertainment such as greens fees, sightseeing fares, theater tickets, entry fees, lift tickets, etc.
  • Credit card delinquency fees and finance charges
  • Amenities such as movies, in-room bars
  • Personal costs such as life, medical, personal automobile loss of personal effects and baggage insurance
  • Business travel accident insurance beyond the college’s policies
  • Loss or theft of travel advance money, airline tickets, personal funds, and/or other personal property
  • Parking tickets, traffic violations, auto repairs, or the cost of vehicle towing
  • Excessive meal costs that are not substantiated by a complete and explanatory business purpose
  • Individual meal expenses for one-day travel
  • Expenses not properly documented (non-itemized)
  • Membership fees for priority boarding, expedited screening or customs processing (Global Entry, PreCheck, Nexus, Sentri)
  • Lost/damaged baggage or personal items
  • Carbon offset credits
  • Donations
  • Room-upgrade fees
  • No-show fees
  • In-room movies
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fees for personal expenses, such as: golf, exercise room/health-club
  • Rooms paid with frequent-guest-program credit
  • Expenses related to an employee's spouse or other family members
  • Gift card/certificates
  • Home office furniture
  • Sales tax for items purchased in/shipped to MA, RI, and NY

If the item being considered is not on this list, please contact Procurement to find out its eligibility for reimbursement.

Reimbursing a Non-Employee

Non-employees may be reimbursed for out-of-pocket travel-related and business expenses in accordance with RISD policies. Non-Employee reimbursement requests must be submitted within 90-days of the expense date.Submissions exceeding 90-days from the date of expense will not be reimbursed. Submissions made via Miscellaneous Payment function in Workday.

Non-compliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action. Actions that may be taken include, but are not limited to:

  • reduction of purchasing card limits
  • termination of purchasing card privileges temporarily or permanently
  • removal of travel privileges temporarily or permanently, and/or
  • further disciplinary action up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment, in accordance with applicable disciplinary procedures.


Pre-Approval Requirements

All business travel must be pre-approved by the department head.

Timing of Reimbursements

Travel expenses will be paid only after the trip is complete. Expenses should be submitted within 30 days of completing the travel or incurring the expense. Expenses processed within 60 days of completing the travel may be reimbursed, but the expense will be taxable to the individual. Expenses submitted for reimbursement longer than 90 days after completing the travel or incurring the expense will not be accepted.

Substantiated Expenses

All expenses must be properly substantiated and include proper receipts and proof of payment; traveler is required to provide sufficient documentary evidence to justify the expense as Business Travel.

Procedures and definitions for this policy can be found on the Accounts Payable and Procurement pages of

Additional Notes

This policy pertains to travel and business expenses supported by any source of RISD funds including, but not limited to, general operating budgets, designated funds, restricted gifts, endowment income, sponsored agreements and student organizations. Where sponsor, agency, or other regulations are more restrictive than prescribed by this policy, the sponsor, agency, or other regulations will apply.

International Travel

All of RISD’s policies and procedures pertaining to travel apply to foreign travel. Actual costs are reimbursable, to the extent reasonable and necessary, provided valid business purposes and appropriate documentation are submitted with the expense report. Any travel by students or faculty conducted outside the US should be reported to and coordinated with the Director of Global Partners and Programs.

Business Travel Accident Insurance

RISD provides business travel accident protection for all active full and part-time faculty and staff members on RISD-approved and directed business travel. Prior authorization of travel is important to support claims made under this policy. Specific questions regarding the RISD business travel accident insurance coverage should be directed to the Office of Risk Management and Compliance.

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A LIVING DOCUMENT. This document discusses policies/procedures meant to establish an operational reference point. As data is gathered and risks assessed, the policies/processes in this document will be revised as needed and any and all updates will be communicated to the RISD community. No policy can account for every single scenario one may encounter. If a situation arises requiring an exception to the policies/procedures outlined in this manual, a letter of authorization from the Senior Vice President Finance and Administration or their delegate will be required.

Revision history

This policy was created on: November 1, 2013, as part of the original Travel and Expense policy

This policy was last reviewed/modified on: 10/5/2021

This policy was approved as of: 10/4/2021 and republished 6/8/2023

Next scheduled review: As needed.


Issuing Office

Controller’s Office

Responsible Officer

Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Director of Procurement Services

Credit Card Services and Reimbursement Administrator