663  Education Abroad Financial Procedures

Approved by President
Effective Date: June 5, 2017
Responsible Division: Business and Finance
Responsible Office:  Business and Finance
Responsible Officer:  Associate Vice President, Business and Finance

I. Purpose

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University) establishes this policy of budgeting and accounting procedures for education abroad programs.

II. Scope

This policy is not applicable to third party programs.

III. Definitions

A.  Education Abroad Programs. Short-term programs led by MTSU faculty member(s) who teach MTSU courses specifically designed for an overseas location.

B.  Faculty Leader. The MTSU employee approved to provide instruction for the education abroad course and leads the education abroad course.

C.  Course Fees. Include tuition and mandatory fees related to the student’s actual registration for the education abroad course.

D.  Education Abroad Travel Fee Revenue. Fees paid by the student to cover specific travel expenses which include, but are not limited to, transportation, lodging, meals, event fees, student supplies, exchange rate variances, and may include the faculty leader’s travel expenses.

IV. Budgeting

A.  The University expects each education abroad program to be financially self-sustaining over time and accountable for good financial management practices.

1.  The Office of Education Abroad Program Director must complete a projected budget and submit it to the Vice Provost for International Affairs or designee.

2.  Budgeting for instructional costs paid from the general fund may consider both tuition revenues and state appropriations generated by student enrollments in education abroad programs, consistent with budgeting for other academic programs.

3.  The budgeting process should include the establishment of a contingency fund, appropriate to the size and scale of the University’s programs, to ensure that the University can meet reasonable contingencies that may arise during the operation of the program. The recommended  budget amount for this fund should be between five percent (5%) and twenty percent (20%) of the annual education abroad travel fees.

B.  Faculty leaders should base the budgeting process on a reasonable projection of operating costs in the host country, including consideration of projected currency exchange rates.

1.  In the program budget, the faculty leader should clearly identify which expenses are associated with course fees and note which expenses are associated with student-specific travel, which is collected as education abroad travel fee revenue.

2.  The program budget should specify if the expense is for the employees or students.

3.  The faculty leader should only use education abroad travel fee revenue for student expenses, which may include the faculty leader’s travel.

V. Registration and Fee Payment

A.  Education abroad fees paid to the University generally consist of three (3) components: course fees, education abroad travel fees, and an administrative fee.

1.  The University will assess the course fees through the regular student information system when registration occurs.

2.  The University will collect the education abroad travel fee revenue via direct receipt to the restricted fund. The payment deadlines and refund schedules for these fees will vary from program to program.

3.  The administrative fee is paid by the education abroad participants to the Office of Education Abroad per program. This fee contributes to the broad range of services available to the participant before, during, and after the program, including, but not limited to, advising, application processing, orientations, emergency support, maintaining MTSU student status while abroad, and transcript processing.

B.  The Office of Business and Finance should assess tuition fees to students who participate in approved education abroad programs, similar to any other academic program. The Education Abroad Office and faculty leaders should avoid the direct receipt of payments from students, whenever possible.

VI. Accounting

A.  Financial activity attributable to education abroad programs is recorded as either Educational & General (E&G) funds or restricted funds.

1.  When the University assesses the course fee for an education abroad program, the Office of Business and Finance records associated payments in E&G funds as tuition revenue. Departments pay the salaries and benefits of program faculty and staff from applicable departmental E&G funds.

2.  Education abroad travel fee revenue and related expenses are recorded in a restricted fund, specific to the responsible education abroad program. Faculty leaders must complete a Travel Authorization Request for the program before receiving or renewing a restricted fund and accepting participant deposits. The faculty leader must pay education abroad travel expenses from the restricted fund. 

3.  If a restricted fund for an education abroad program has been inactive for eighteen (18) months, with no deposits or expenditures, the Office of Business and Finance, with approval of the Vice Provost for International Affairs or designee, will transfer any excess funds remaining to another education abroad program restricted fund or to the contingency fund.

B.  The Office of Education Abroad or the Provost’s designee should monitor and regularly reconcile the restricted funds for the education aboard programs with the Office of Business and Finance making the final review.

1.  The faculty leader should only charge education abroad travel expenses to the restricted funds.

2.  The University may refund residual balances in the restricted fund among program participants, within sixty (60) days of completion of the trip, or may use the funds to establish and maintain a contingency account.

3.  For education abroad programs, the Office of Education Abroad and the Office of Business and Finance must grant prior approval before faculty leaders may use contingency funds.

VII. Acquiring Goods and Services Abroad

A.  To the maximum extent possible, the faculty leader should initiate direct payments to vendors for goods and services from the restricted fund index. The faculty leader should process these payments through the University’s procurement system. Situations arise where faculty leaders must make payments for goods and services at the time of acquisition. In these situations, the faculty leader may utilize several methods to make payments while abroad.

B.  Any of the following can be used for purchases and expenses associated with an education abroad program:

1.  Procurement card;

2.  Check request;

3.  Stored value/pre-paid card;

4.  Wire transfer;

5.  Traveler’s check;

6.  Cash advance to the faculty leader; and/or

7.  Direct payment by the faculty leader from personal funds, with a reimbursement request to follow.

C.  Education abroad programs should comply with all applicable University policies regarding procurement and use of these payment methods.

D.  Travel Advance

1.  The University may authorize travel advances to pay for large expenses.

a.  All travel advances should follow current University policies.

b.  The faculty leader must include the estimated expenses that require cash payment, along with a written explanation of why a credit card or direct billing arrangement is not a feasible option.

c.  The faculty leader must provide supporting information to show the business purpose of the expenses and documentation to support the expenses claimed.

2.  Within thirty (30) days of return, the faculty leader must complete a Travel Expenses Claim and submit itemized receipts for all expenses paid from the advance.

a.  If the expenses were less than the amount of advance received, the faculty leader must return all remaining funds to the Bursar’s Office.

b.  If costs were more than what was provided in the travel advance for expenses that are approved or integrally related to the educational aspects of the program, the faculty leader may receive reimbursement for these expenses.

VIII. Reimbursement

A.  Faculty leaders are responsible for keeping original receipts to verify that expenses were valid and related to the program.

1.  If it is not possible to obtain original receipts for specific program related expenses, the faculty leader must keep a log, listing all expenses, and ask the person providing the service to sign and document what is provided.

2.  The University will hold the faculty leader financially responsible for all charges for which there are no receipts or log entries.

3.  The faculty leader must personally pay for all expenses that are not approved according to University regulations, as well as those not integrally related to the educational aspects of the program.

B.  Whether the faculty leader owes money back to the University or is eligible for reimbursement, he/she is responsible for completing the Travel Expenses Claim and submitting it with all appropriate receipts within thirty (30) days following their return to the U.S. The Internal Reenue Service considers reimbursement requests not submitted within a reasonable amount of time as taxable wages. The University will process non-timely requests through the payroll system.

C.  The faculty leader must complete a travel claim, including the following items, and submit to the Office of Business and Finance no later than thirty (30) days after the conclusion of the education abroad trip:

1.  A travel expense summary and a summary of travel advances;

2.  All bank statements, if applicable to the program; 

3.  Documentation of foreign exchange rates used;

a.  This applies when the faculty leader exchanges funds during the program. (www.oanda.com is a good resource for currency conversion.)

b.  When a faculty leader purchases currency in advance, the faculty leader should provide documentation of the rate as of the currency purchase date.

4.  Required documentation of expenses, including receipts for goods and services purchased, and signature sheets for cash allowances distributed during the program. Do not include disallowed expenses on the travel expense summary and travel expense report. Examples of disallowed expenses include personal items, alcohol, etc.

5.  The faculty leader should complete the Travel Expenses Claim in U.S. dollars and obtain approval from the Director of the Office of Education Abroad or designee, as well as his/her Department Chair, before submitting to the Office of Business and Finance.


Travel Authorization Request

Travel Expenses Claim

Revisions: none.

Last Reviewed: March 2022.

References: none.