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 and renewing programs should submit an initial program budget to the Study Abroad Office for review.
  • Program Directors should identify vendors, obtain estimates, and work with Study Abroad Program Budget Specialists to clarify payment currencies and exchange rates, and set the program cost.
  • Any contracts that are received from vendors should be forwarded to the Study Abroad Office who will forward to Contract Management for review and signature.
  • Program Directors are NOT authorized to sign contracts on behalf of the University. Payments towards program expenses and logistics should be approved and/or managed by the Study Abroad Office.
  • Please be sure 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.

  • The Study Abroad Office strongly discourages on-site rebudgeting of your program. This refers to adding details such as excursions, meals, etc. to your program while the program is in progress and is often the result of a perceived surplus of funds at the time that your program is starting.
  • During your pre-departure budget meeting, we will discuss the specific details and amounts of your budget bottom line and your on-site funds. This is the time to make final edits and additions to your budget. Once your on-site funds are determined, those funds will be made available to you prior to departure.
  • Exchange rate fluctuations, vendor payments, and last-minute student withdrawals may affect the amount of funds available in your budget. There is also the potential for unseen costs and circumstances at anytime throughout your program.
  • Please be aware that your program is limited to the funds that are available in your budget (with few exceptions in case of an emergency). Adding budget items without a detailed conversation or email exchange with your Program Coordinator or Budget Specialist could lead to expenses that the University will not be able to reimburse. 
All program expenses should be planned for in 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 program directors and ground transportation for students and program directors (bus, metro, taxi, parking, tolls, etc.)
  • Lodging for students and program directors
  • Banking fees (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 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. Cell 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.
  • 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
  • Memorabilia/souvenirs: This includes gifts for members of the Study Abroad Office staff.
  • Car rental (SAO & University Risk Management)
  • 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, 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 – With the exception of cell-phones that are purchased on-site, electronics are generally not allowable expenses. If you have program-specific questions or 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.

Please be sure to follow the receipt submission guidelines according to the method of purchase (timely receipt submission for PCard purchases, and taped, organized receipts for Travel Advance Purchases).
  • 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 when a formal receipt is unavailable. Please be conservative in the frequency of this form, and be sure to complete all lines on the form.
  • Separate activities and expenses require separate receipts. If you have lodging and meals 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. 
  • Depending on the nature of a program, Directors may be eligible to use a university-issued purchase card (‘PCard’) for onsite expenses. Please notify the Study Abroad Office as soon as possible if you are interested in obtaining a PCard.
  • The Study Abroad Office requires that Directors remain aware of and adhere to the University P-Card billing and statement cycles.
  • Receipts for purchases must be submitted to the Study Abroad Office in PDF format as soon as possible after the transaction has occurred in order to facilitate the timely reconciliation of expenses.
  • Receipts that are rendered in other languages should be translated either by-hand on the receipt, or via email to your Programs Budget Specialist.

Travel Advances are requested following your pre-departure budget meeting, and are made available approximately one week prior to your departure dates. The funds are direct-deposited unless a physical check is formally requested. Please remember to provide receipts and documentation for any currency exchange rates and fees. The Study Abroad Office advises against exchanging Travel Advance funds at an international airport.

  • On-site management of Travel Advance funds should not be delegated to co-directors, program assistants, or students. If your program has more than one director/assistant each should each have his/her own Travel Advance.
  • Program Directors may provide students, co-directors, and program assistants with funds to independently purchase meals or transportation to group excursions providing funds are made available to all participants on the program, and do not exceed Per Diem allowances.
  • Distribution of funds for the purposes of meal or transportation to group excursions should be documented using the Group Receipt form, and signed by everyone who receives funds.
  • Please reach out to your Study Abroad Program Coordinator or Budget Specialist with any questions regarding allowable distributions of Travel Advance funds.

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. 

As soon as possible, but no later than two weeks of your return, please submit all of your 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.
  • 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. Receipts that are not submitted following these guidelines may be returned to Program Directors for correction.

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.