Source: Office of the Vice Chancellor, Administrative Affairs


The University has established a goal of increasing foreign exchange programs to create international learning opportunities for students. As a result, there has been an increase in visiting faculty from these exchange institutions. Oftentimes our staff has already visited the foreign institution during which some of their travel expense may have been offset by the foreign institution through the provision of meals and entertainment. When the foreign guests visit our University there is an expectation for our faculty to reciprocate in order to develop the needed relationships to build an exchange program.

Depending on the type of reciprocating activity, the expenses may or may not be eligible for reimbursement from University funds. Therefore, a policy is needed to clarify the category of expenses by a funding source that can be incurred to enhance the visiting guest's stay, and to ensure adequate reimbursement to staff who incurs the expenses.


Several policies promulgated by the University of Wisconsin System Administration already exist for defining the types of expenses that are eligible for reimbursement from University funds. The most applicable policy is the Travel Regulations contained in Financial and Administrative Policy (FAP) #36. In addition, other specific policies are:

FAP #36, Appendix A Headquarters City and UW Sponsored Events
FAP #6, Official Functions
FAP #46, Prizes, Awards and Gifts

Rather than reiterate word for word from the above guidelines, the following policy section of this paper provides overall direction on interpreting these guidelines when determining the category of expenses that are eligible for reimbursement from available funding sources. The guidance in this paper does not supercede UW System Administration policies, and does not apply to visiting students. However, university staff should review and familiarize themselves with the above FAPs. The FAPs are available on the UW System Administration web site at


The primary controlling factor which determines eligible expenses by funding source is whether the expense is business related or entertainment related. Business related expenses are subject to the policies contained in the constraint section of this paper and can be paid from University funds with the appropriate approval. For example, the reimbursement of business travel expenses using a department's funds.

Entertainment expenses are not eligible for reimbursement from University funds with some limited exceptions defined in FAP #6, Official Functions, and FAP #46, Prizes, Awards and Gifts. With prior approval from the University's Foundation, entertainment expenses, such as tickets to sporting or cultural events, can be reimbursed by the Foundation. Contact the Executive Director of the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater Foundation to request prior approval.

The following section provides further guidance on determining and documenting business related expenses and entertainment expenses for reimbursement.

Business Related Expenses

The fact that your division head, dean, director or department chair (supervisor) directs you to entertain visiting guests does not mean that every expense you incur is automatically business related. Business related expense means the expense was incurred while official business was actually conducted. Justifying that business was conducted while attending a sporting event, cultural event or nightclub is not possible. These types of events and their expenses, such as the ticket price, food and refreshments are always considered entertainment related.

The business related expenses that are typically reimbursed from department funds are usually incurred while traveling on university business or while conducting a business meeting in the city of Whitewater or on campus. For example, you wish to take guests to lunch or dinner to discuss the exchange program. These expenses can be reimbursed. However, because you are a university employee, your meal reimbursement is subject to the meal maximums allowed under the travel regulations.

In addition, documentation is required to justify that the meeting and the meal costs were business related. The following documentation is required:

A meeting agenda which includes the name, purpose, date and time (beginning/ending) of the meeting.
A list of meeting participants for whom the expenses are to be paid, indicating name and affiliation.
Original invoices/receipts itemizing the cost per meal and showing the total amount to be paid or reimbursed.
Justification for holding the meeting over the meal period.

Alcoholic beverages can never be reimbursed from university funds even if the expense is incurred while business is conducted.

Two limited exceptions to the "conducting business" rules were noted on page one:

FAP #6, Official Functions, applies to expenses that are associated with hosting events that are social in nature, but directly related to the University's function or activity. These events are receptions in nature, such as an alumni homecoming reception or a reception for officials from other universities. A specific budget for official functions is provided for in the Chancellor's Office from which these expenses can be paid, excluding alcohol. However, the event must have prior approval from the Chancellor's Office. Contact the Chancellor's Office to request prior approval.
FAP #46, Prizes, Awards and Gifts can be used to provide gifts to distinguished visitors to campus. The gifts must be of nominal value and bear the name of the University or its logo. No cash gifts are permitted and GPR funds cannot be used to pay for the gift. GPR funds are funds 102, 104, 105, 114, 115 and 402.

Entertainment Expenses

Basically, an expense that cannot be justified as business related or included in the limited exception in FAP #6 and #46 is considered entertainment related. The University's Foundation may reimburse a university employe for expenses that are entertainment related. However, prior approval from the Foundation is required. Contact the Executive Director of the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater Foundation to request prior approval.

Therefore, if you are being asked to entertain visiting guests, you first need to plan out the visit to determine which expenses you incur are business related and entertainment related. Then review the plan with your supervisor for approval and acquire other prior approvals where needed. Failing to properly plan and obtain needed approvals may result in being under reimbursed.

Rule of Thumb

A rule of thumb to apply when determining whether an expense is business related or entertainment related is the "60 minutes" rule. For example, given the constraints on business related expenses would you be able to justify to 60 minutes in an interview that the expense you incurred for visiting guests was indeed considered business related.

Keep in mind while conducting university business that every expenditure the University incurs is subject to the scrutiny of the press, legislature and general public.

As amended May 2002
Last Reviewed:  October 2015