Implementing the New EDGAR: Travel Costs

Implementing the New EDGAR: Travel Costs

September 7, 2023 | Financial Management, Grants Management

For any program to be successful, having well-trained teachers to implement it is a must. For this reason, travel is often necessary in federal programs. However, there are many rules and regulations about paying travel expenses using grant funds. The LEA must have written travel procedures and detailed documentation of travel expenses. Travel can be heavily scrutinized if it is called into question, so careful consideration (as outlined in this article) should be given.

The CSS “Implementing the New EDGAR: Travel Costs” online course is an excellent resource for any charter district wishing to review your current policies and procedures on travel, and it is also great for training staff who are involved in planning and approving travel.  CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Considerations for Travel with Grant Funds

Paying for travel with state/federal grant funds is not a “want to,” it is a “need to.” The travel must be necessary to achieve the goals of the organization that are written in the DIP/CIP. In addition, it must be aligned with the intent of the grant fund source. The costs of the travel must be reasonable in price (within limits set by the GSA rates).

If the travel is reasonable and necessary, then the following types of expenses can be paid (keep receipts):

  • Registration fees
  • Transportation (mileage, car rental, gas, airfare)
  • Meals
  • Lodging
  • Dependent care expenses (if allowed by your LEA’s policy)

Current Reimbursement Rates

  • The automobile mileage reimbursement rate increased from .586 cents per mile to .655 cents per mile effective 1/1/23.
  • The meal reimbursement rate for overnight travel is listed by city on the federal per diem rate map. If the city you are traveling to is not listed, use the daily rate for the county. If the county to which you are traveling is not listed, use the current maximum daily reimbursement rate of $59.
  • The meal reimbursement rate for non-overnight travel is up to $36.
  • Lodging reimbursement rates for in-state and out-of-state travel are listed on the federal per diem rate map.If the city you are traveling to is not listed, use the daily rate for the county. If the county to which you are traveling is not listed, use the current maximum daily reimbursement rate of $98.

The mileage, lodging, and meal reimbursement rates published by the comptroller apply to all grants administered by the Texas Education Agency regardless if the funding source is state or federal.

Connection to EDGAR

If your charter uses federal funds to pay for allowable travel, be sure:

  • You have in place written policy and proceduresfor travel paid from state funds AND written policy and procedures for travel paid from federal funds.
  • The two policies must specify which set of travel costs to follow — state rates as listed in the TEA letter or rates as published in the Federal Per Diem Rate Map (GSA) website. Federal reimbursements may never exceed the GSA rates.
  • The policies are consistent, regardless of fund source, in paying the cost of travel. You cannot reimburse federally funded travel at a rate higher than state-funded travel.
  • Advances of any kind are not allowed with federal funds. Travel must be reimbursed after it takes place. This includes air fare. Registration fees for conferences or workshops are considered contracted services and can be paid in advance. Keep in mind that short workshops do not generally meet the definition of effective PD for federal. Short workshops must be related to a larger DIP/CIP goal or PD plan with follow up activities.
  • Although the GSA website establishes a meal per diem, paying flat per day meal rates is not allowed in federal grants. You must reimburse actual costs of travel to the penny, and tips are not allowedout of federal grants. For this reason, collecting receipts is a best practice and highly recommended to avoid audit findings.
  • Out of state travel paid by federal grant funds is not allowed unless it has been approved by TEA before the travel happens through the grant application. If it is not currently approved in your grant application, an amendment would be required to BS6401 for ESSA (or the applicable schedule in other federal grant applications). In addition, the Out of State Travel Justification Form must be completed, retained locally, and be ready in case of audit.
  • Contractors/contracted service providers whose travel is paid by federal funds must also abide by these travel rates.

Required Documentation for Grant-funded Travel

  • Written policies/procedures for state funded and federally funded travel (APM or Federal Procedures Manual)​
  • Travel request in advance of travel (written) – should contain justification for the travel in line with the DIP/CIP. The request should be approved by a person trained in grants management.
  • Approval documents with all required signatures ​
  • Reimbursement requests (as described in the APM) with all required receipts and required signatures​ (gratuities and tax not included)
  • Documentation of payment
  • Can be digital providedyou can access the records for 7 years after the grant ends.​

Other Types of Travel

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