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Travel and Policies

The Department of Geography provides research/travel funds for PhD students to go to conferences. Each PhD student will be awarded a one-time fund from the Department in their first year. The actual amount of the fund depends on funding availability. Currently 4-year PhD students will receive $1,000 and 5-year Direct-to-PhD students have $1,250. They can use this fund at any point during their graduate studies in the Department.

The Department does not provide funding for conference/research travel to Master’s students. However, we support all first-year students (masters or PhD) to attend the annual meetings of the ELDAAG (East Lakes Division of the AAG) and encourage participation at all levels in this conference. 

Below are the general travel guidelines for all graduate students in the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences Program. Please keep in mind that you should follow this procedure any time you are travelling. That goes for whether you are travelling for your research or a conference; if you have funds, think you’ll have funds, or are applying for funds to cover the expenses. Please also keep in mind that the level of detail outlined below is what the department is required to provide to the Arts & Sciences Business Service Center (BSC).

Before You Go:

  • If you are doing any kind of travel that you want to be reimbursed for, you need to have it pre-approved. If you don’t have funds when you leave, but can reasonably expect to have them by the time you get back, the travel still needs prior approval.
  • For your travel to be approved, you need to fill out the appropriate travel form and submit it as soon as you can, but no later than two weeks before your departure date. If you are travelling for field work, fill out the International Fieldwork Travel Form or the Domestic Fieldwork Travel Form. If you are going to a conference, accompanying a faculty member on grant work, or other travel, fill out the Conference Travel Form.
    • Fill out all the applicable fields under the following headers:
      • Travel Locations: Include everywhere you’re going. If you’re going more than 2 places, please include them in the notes sections with the dates you’ll be in each location.
      • Federal Per Diem Rates: As you are booking lodging, please pay attention to the federal lodging per diem rates. The BSC will not reimburse beyond the per diem rate for your city unless there are extenuating circumstances. Please make sure to check the federal per diem rates.
      • Cash Advance: You can request a cash advance if you are doing international fieldwork for an extended period of time, pending chair approval. There’s a significantly higher level of scrutiny when it’s an advance and there’s much more burden on you to collect receipts for every dollar spent. Also keep in mind that if you cannot account for every cent, you will have to pay back the university. Ultimately, the approval of a cash advance is up to the department chair. Cash advances will not be approved for domestic travel.
    • Other:
      • Receipts: Make sure you get itemized receipts with proof of payment (last four digits of your credit card).
      • Flight itineraries: Full flight itineraries are required for both per diem and to show that you selected the proper class of flight.
      • Conference hotels: If going to a conference, please check the conference hotels first before booking elsewhere. If they are sold out, please take a screenshot and include it. If you find somewhere cheaper, please provide a comparison.
      • Splitting travel costs is complicated, but possible. If you intend on splitting costs with another individual traveler or group, please submit a Splitting Travel Costs Agreement

When You Get Back:

  • Bring/send me all your receipts ASAP, and within 60 days of returning. The sooner you get me things, the sooner the reimbursement will be started.
    • Confirmation vs Receipt: Once you book a flight or hotel room, you will likely receive a confirmation with the amount. However, this is not a receipt and you cannot be reimbursed with it. If you do not get an itemized receipt showing proof of payment (usually the type of credit card and the last four digits of the card number), you will need to request one.
    • Receipt vs. bank statement: Bank statements may be requested to corroborate a receipt that does not show proof of payment, but they are by no means an alternative to a receipt.
    • Receipts in a foreign language: We have to have translations in order for the reimbursement to be processed.