Managing Program Finances

This information is intended to assist Program Directors in managing the finances for a Study Abroad Program. The Study Abroad Finance Team is available to assist you at every step of the process and encourages you to reach out to your Programs Budget Specialists with any questions that you have.

  • New programs submit an initial budget setup sheet with quotes based on real and anticipated program expenses as a part of the program proposal process.
  • Renewing programs should submit new quotes and any requested changes to the Study Abroad Office to incorporate into a new draft budget, to be developed by the Study Abroad Office.
  • Program Directors should identify vendors, obtain estimates (documented in billed currency), and work with their program budget specialist to clarify payment currencies and exchange rates.
  • The program price will be set together with the Study Abroad Office through the program development process.
  • NC State has a Program Development Agreement that must be signed with all primary program vendors (typically for housing, emergency response, instructional support/course offerings). The Study Abroad Office will share the agreement with the program director to send to the relevant vendors for review. The Study Abroad Office will then coordinate formal review and signature with Contract Management. Program Directors are not authorized to sign contracts on behalf of the University.
  • Payments towards program expenses and logistics will be approved and/or managed by the Study Abroad Office.
  • It is important to convey any changes in program expenses and budget line items to the Study Abroad Office as soon as possible. This includes salaries, compensation, and reimbursements for potential co-directors and program assistants.

  • During a pre-departure budget meeting, the Study Abroad Office will review specific details and amounts of the budget and the program’s on-site funds. This is the time to make final edits and additions to the budget. Once travel advance on-site funds are finalized, those funds will be made available by direct deposit to the program director prior to departure.
  • The Study Abroad Office strongly discourages on-site rebudgeting of the program. This refers to adding unplanned program additions such as excursions, meals, etc. to the program while the program is in progress and often is the result of a perceived budget surplus.
    • Exchange rate fluctuations, vendor payments, and last-minute student withdrawals may affect the funds available in a program budget. There is also a potential for unseen costs and emergencies at any time during a program.
  • Please be aware that a program is limited to the funds that are available in the program budget (unless there is an on-site emergency).
  • Please consult with the program coordinator or program budget specialist regarding unanticipated expenses that may occur on-site to every extent possible prior to incurring expenses. Items that have not been budgeted may not be reimbursed (unless there is an on-site emergency).
All program expenses should be planned through the program budget process and accurately receipted. Expenses considered allowable may not be reimbursable if not included in the budget initially. University Accounting and the Study Abroad Office will only approve allowable expenses, which include the following:
  • Airfare for designated program personnel (program director, co-director, assistants) and ground transportation for all participants and personnel (bus, metro, taxi, parking, tolls, etc.)
  • Lodging for students and designated program personnel
  • Banking fees related to other allowable program expenses (transaction, conversion, currency exchanges, and service fees)
  • Group excursion tickets: please remember that all group opportunities must be made available to all students on the program.
  • Group meals: Restaurant receipts should be itemized whenever possible. Program Directors and assistants may be included in group meals with students. If so, the group meal will be deducted from the Per Diem allowance per the University Travel Policy.
  • International calls & data: Program Directors must have access to a cell phone throughout the duration of their program for risk management purposes. Acceptable options include adding an international calling/data plan to your personal device, purchasing a local SIM or pre-paid card, or purchasing a basic, cost-effective cell phone on-site. Phones that are purchased on-site become the property of NC State University. Please note that the Study Abroad Office and Program Directors must adhere to the University Controller’s Office policies on international phone charges, and are subject to change at any time. Please feel free to contact the Study Abroad Office if you have location-specific questions about your best phone and data options.

This is not an exhaustive list, please contact your program budget specialist with any questions that you have.

Any items not budgeted in advance of the program may not be reimbursable. It is important to plan, as much as possible during the program budget and pre-departure consultations, providing as much detail as possible. Please consult with your program coordinator or program budget specialist regarding unanticipated expenses that may occur on-site.
  • Alcoholic beverages of any kind are not an allowable expense and will not be reimbursed under any circumstances (NC State PRR – POL 04.20.2)
  • Expenses of any kind for friends or family
  • Per diem or individual travel expenses for program participants (group meals are permitted and the director may make purchases directly for the group using the group receipt form, but cash cannot be provided directly to students)
  • Memorabilia/souvenirs: This includes gifts for members of the Study Abroad Office staff or student participants
  • Car rental (NC State Study Abroad & University Risk Management policy)
  • Individual student expenses: For example, a specific over the counter medication that is needed by one student. This also includes payment to doctors or medical establishments.
  • Reimbursement to students for lost or stolen items, or for refunds of any on-site expenses. If you would like to request an exception, please contact the Study Abroad Office upon your return.
  • Personal expenses: This includes clothing, laundry, flight or traveler’s insurance, grooming and hygiene items, personal entertainment, or anything else of a personal nature. If you aren’t sure if an expense is personal, please check with the Study Abroad Office before purchasing.
  • Electronics: Electronics are generally not allowable expenses. If you have program-specific purchasing requests, please reach out to your Program Coordinator or Budget Specialist. If deemed allowable, electronics that are purchased for program use become the property of NC State University.
  • Specific research equipment exceeding $50.

This is not an exhaustive list, please contact your Programs Budget Specialists with any questions that you have.

  • Except for longstanding programs where arrangements have been discussed, program directors should wait to purchase their airfare until after minimum enrollment numbers have been confirmed. This typically doesn’t occur until February or March or later.
  • Students will need to pay for their flights directly (they are not included in the program cost). Some program directors choose to organize a group flight with an agency that can receive individual payments from students, some suggest a flight for students, and others provide an onsite meeting date and latest arrival time. The Study Abroad Office does not endorse any travel agency, but here are some agencies students have used in the past to purchase their tickets: Student UniverseSTA Travel (check out their Book Now, Pay Later program!), Beeline TravelWorld Travel ServiceMTS Travel.
  • After confirming enrollments, program personnel may pay for their individual flights directly and then submit a receipt for reimbursement or request an invoice to come to the study abroad office from a vendor. Receipts should only include the flight information for program personnel (not spouses, children, or other program visitors). Program visitor flights should be purchased separately, but can be bundled with the airline to ensure you sit next to one another by contacting the airline directly. 
  • If program personnel are flying via any routes outside of duty station (RDU) to duty station (study abroad site) due to other business or personal travel that may occur adjacent to program travel, the individual must submit a comparison flight along with the flight reimbursement request. Comparison flights are necessary for flights that include extended layovers (overnight), departure from another location other than RDU (or home duty station), a return flight back back to another location (not returning to RDU/home duty station), a return flight from another location (not the Study Abroad host country), or for other similar scenarios.
    • Comparison flights should include a round trip ticket from duty station (RDU) to duty station (study abroad site) with a list of flights and prices printed from google.com/flights or similar. The dates should correspond to how far in advance the ticket was purchased. (i.e., if the ticket was purchased 80 days in advance, the airfare dates should be 80 days from date pulled) and should take into consideration the day of the week travel began and ended.

Most large program expenses are paid by invoice. Other program expenses that cannot be paid by invoice can be paid on-site by the program director. Travel Advances are requested following the pre-departure budget meeting and are made available approximately one week prior to departure.

  • The funds are direct-deposited. The funds are a loan from the university and all expenses must be appropriately documented. Funds not spent and receipted must be returned to NC State.
  • Receipts and any other documentation (currency exchange fees, group meal forms, etc.) will be required one week following your return to the U.S.
  • The Study Abroad Office strongly advises against exchanging Travel Advance funds at an international airport, but rather to use a credit card or ATM withdrawal in increments during the program to ensure reasonable exchange rates.
  • On-site management of Travel Advance funds should not be delegated to co-directors, program assistants, or students. If the program has more than one director/assistant, each individual should each have their own Travel Advance.
  • Student per diems will no longer be provided onsite due to added scrutiny and complications in processing. In other words, any additional program funds can be used for group meals, excursions, or other receipted expenses, not in cash per diem provided to students. 
  • Please reach out to your Study Abroad Program Coordinator or Budget Specialist with any questions regarding allowable distributions of Travel Advance funds.
  • The Study Abroad Office prefers to pay program expenses through invoice whenever possible. Travel advances are available to cover other program expenses on-site, not payable by money wire.
  • Depending on the nature of a program, Directors may be eligible to use a university-issued purchase card (‘PCard’) for on-site expenses in limited cases. Please notify your program budget specialist during the budget development phase if you are interested in obtaining a PCard.
  • The Study Abroad Office requires that Directors remain aware of and upload receipts in advance of the PCard transaction reconciliation deadlines. Receipts for purchases should be uploaded to the PCard system as soon as expenses are incurred. (This timeline can be challenging to fulfill while also managing a program on-site.)
  • Uploaded receipts should have an assigned identifying merchant that allows the Study Abroad Office to match the receipts with expenses. Cardholders should also provide the date of expense, description, and business purpose. Once program receipts have been uploaded, the Study Abroad Office will reconcile the purchases.
  • Receipts that are rendered in other languages should be translated either by-hand on the receipt, or via email to your program’s budget specialist.
  • If PCard policies and requirements are not fulfilled, the program finances must be handled through the travel advance and invoice processes rather than with a PCard.
Please be sure to follow the receipt submission guidelines according to the method of purchase.
  • Submit timely submissions for PCard purchases; receipts must be uploaded in advance of the PCard transaction reconciliation deadlines.
  • Travel Advance receipts must be organized, taped on single-sided 8.5×11 paper, and submitted in hard copy.
  • Lodging receipts should be itemized to convey the name(s) of guests, dates of stay, rate per night, room number, and proof of payment.
  • The Study Abroad Receipt Form should be used only for occasions when a formal receipt is unavailable. Please be conservative in the frequency of this form as this is a formal exception request from the Study Abroad Office; be sure to complete all lines on the form.
  • Separate activities and expenses require separate receipts. For example, if lodging and meals are at the same place, please request separate receipts or document the distinction using the Study Abroad Receipt Form.
  • Please avoid combining personal purchases with allowable program expenses. If you purchase a personal item while also buying items for the program, recalculate a new total, including any applicable taxes.
  • Tips should be documented using the Receipt Form and signed by either the recipient of the tip, or a program participant.
  • The Study Abroad Office will use an average exchange rate for the duration of the program. If there is a one-time larger purchase for which you would prefer to use the single day exchange rate, please provide a printed copy of the daily rate from Oanda’s Currency Converter using the specified date.
As soon as possible, but no later than one week of return, please submit all program-related receipts, expense worksheets, and program expense summaries to the Study Abroad Office. Receipts for expenses that were paid using Travel Advance funds should be submitted to the Study Abroad Office according to the following stipulations:
  • Receipts must be labeled according to the appropriate expense category (i.e. group meal, metro tickets, specific excursion information, etc.)
  • Receipts must be translated to English if rendered in a different language.
  • Tape receipts single-side on 8.5×11 paper. Do not layer receipts on-top of one another, or staple them to the paper. The receipts will be photocopied and scanned by various on-campus units.
  • The Study Abroad Office will use an average exchange rate for the duration of the program. If there is a one-time larger purchase for which you would prefer to use the single day exchange rate, please provide a printed copy of the daily rate from Oanda’s Currency Converter using the specified date.
  • Receipts that are not submitted following these guidelines may require further follow up and can often delay reconciliation for the University. We appreciate your detailed adherence and timely submission.

Travel Advance expense reports are due to the University Controller’s Office 30 days after the date of your return to the United States. The Study Abroad Office will need additional time to process the forms. Please note that the University has the legal right to garnish your payroll for the entire amount of a Travel Advance if your reconciliation is not received within the 30-day time period.