Travel and Entertainment

All travel expenses charged to federally sponsored projects are governed by the Uniform Guidance cost principles of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 2 CFR 200.474, and therefore require all of the following three criteria to be met:

  • the cost must be allowable under both the OMB Uniform Guidance and under the terms of a specific award; AND
  • the cost must be allocable—that is, the expense can be associated to a project with a high degree of accuracy; AND
  • the cost must be reasonable—that is, the cost reflects what a “prudent person” would pay in a like circumstance.

Certain expenditures—for example, commuting costs, limousines, travel costs when not on “travel status,” and airfare above “the lowest economy fare class” or “customary standard (coach or equivalent) airfare” —are clearly unallowable. Except for some extenuating circumstances, travel must be on a US flag carrier if charged to a federal award under the terms of the Fly America Act.

Additional Guidance on Travel Charged to Federal Awards
Harvard has revised the University Travel Policy to include additional clarification around travel on federal awards. The following clarification has been made: No business class or economy class upgrades are allowable on federal funds without an approved and documented exception.  Details on the federal airfare exceptions and other considerations when traveling on federal awards can be found in the Travel Policy Appendix G.

When an exception request involves federal funds, please complete both the FAS exception form and the federal exception form and submit them to FAS Finance. The form and instructions can be found on the FAS Office of Finance website. Completed forms must be forwarded electronically only by Department/Center Administrators or Financial Officers to for approval. Each request will be evaluated individually on the basis of University policies and external regulation and federal travel exception requests will be forwarded to RAS for approval. 

Communication Tools for our departments
Several email templates are available to help meet the needs of our departments in communicating the changes in the travel policy to the various travelers in departments including faculty, faculty assistants, postdocs/students, and non-Harvard travelers. 

Travel Resources – When using Federal Funds

General Resources

  • The University Travel Services website has policy information and resources for convenient, safe, and cost effective travel.
  • For clarification around fellowship payments and reimbursements for students and non-employee Postdocs/Fellows please see the University-wide policy.