Travel on Sponsored Projects

The University of Iowa
Travel on Sponsored Projects
Last updated: 10/31/2022

Travel costs include expenses for transportation, lodging, subsistence, and related items incurred by individuals who are in travel status on official business of the University.  Travel costs must adhere to University travel policy.  Any costs charged to federally-funded sponsored projects are subject to the Federal costing principles in 2 CFR 200.474.  Sponsor guidelines or specific award terms and conditions may include additional restrictions.   

General considerations of allowability include:

  • Travel costs are reasonable and are consistent with the University’s travel policy.
  • Travel must provide a direct benefit to the project. 
    • The proposal or budget justification should clearly state how the travel is directly related to the project.
    • For unbudgeted travel, the benefit to the project should be documented and retained.
  • Persons traveling should normally have an active HR appointment on the award.
    • Otherwise, their participation must be necessary to the federal award and should be well documented.
  • Travel must be completed within the period of performance of the sponsored project
    • Prepaid travel costs (airfare, registration fees, etc.) should not be charged when the actual travel will occur after the end date of the award.

The following items may require additional information or consideration to determine allowability:

  1. International Travel/Fly America Act
    • For any international travel, review the University Travel website for important considerations.
    • International travel under Federal awards is subject to the Fly America Act.  When making travel arrangements, the traveler must adhere to the requirements of the Fly America Act/Open Skies Agreements, otherwise the travel costs may not be allowed on the award. 
    • Under the law, U.S. flag air carrier service must be used even if:
      • Comparable or a different kind of service can be provided at less cost by a foreign flag air carrier;
      • Foreign-flag air carrier service is preferred by or is more convenient; or service by a foreign-flag air carrier can be paid for in excess foreign currency.
    • See UI Travel-Airline Open Skies Agreements - Fly America for more information.   
    • Due to the complexity of Open Skies Agreement/Fly America, travelers are encouraged to use University Preferred Travel Agencies when planning international travel.  Be sure to advise them that the trip is business related and should be validated on an American carrier.
    • Any allowable exceptions to Fly America must be documented with the Fly America Act Waiver Checklist and retained by the Department. 
  2. Prior Approval
    • Some sponsors require prior approval for domestic and/or foreign travel.  Departments should always review the award and agency regulations to determine if there are any specific approval requirements. Contact the GAO Contact for the award with questions. 
    • NOTE: While some sponsors may define domestic and foreign travel differently, the Federal Travel Regulations consider foreign travel to include any travel outside the US and its territories and possessions. 
  3. Additional sponsor restrictions
    • Some sponsors further restrict travel costs.  Departments should be familiar with the requirements of the award regarding travel.  For example, the maximum lodging and meal allowance for a sponsor may be less than UI policy and/or Federal per diem rates.  In those cases, expenses exceeding the allowable rates must be covered by other funds.
  4. Business Meals
    • In addition to the University’s business meal policy, the following requirements apply:
      • Only for individuals who are necessary to the business discussion, and,
      • At least one non-university employee, whose presence is necessary for the business discussion, is present.
  5. Economy Upgrades
    • Charges for extended leg room accommodations on airlines or advance seat selection (unless required by the airline) are not allowed under the University’s travel policy.
  6. Cancelled Travel Costs or Change Fees
    • These costs may be an allowable expense under extenuating circumstances, but it should always be reviewed with the GAO Contact before costs are charged.

Questions or additional assistance:

  • Regarding University Travel guidelines:
  • Regarding allowability of travel on sponsored projects, contact the GAO Contact as listed on the Award’s monthly Grant Summary Report/Award Information tab.