Policy Steward: 
Manager of Analytical Ops
Format Updated: 
University Policy & Standards Converted: 
Priority Level: 
Pending Approval
Revision Date: 
Friday, May 31, 2019

* This information replaces FIS 410-01 Alcoholic Beverages & FIS 410-05 Hosting Groups and Official Guests & FIS 410-07 Non-Travel Meals and Refreshments & FIS 410-09 Graduation Event Expenses & FIS 410-29 Meals on One Day Trip


Alcoholic Beverages

Effective: 01/01/2003
Revised: 08/15/2013

Institutional funds cannot be expended for alcoholic beverages. 

When the full cost of alcoholic beverages is recovered through charges to the participants or sponsoring group, alcoholic beverages may be served at banquets or other special group activities conducted as part of a workshop or conference. Income and costs are to be accounted for in Designated Operating Funds (05xxxx), Auxiliary Enterprise Funds (1xxxxx), or Agency Funds (9xxxxx) only. 

If alcoholic beverages are purchased in the course of entertainment or recruitment activities, the cost must be separated from the meal charges that are to be paid for by OSU.  The separate bill for the alcoholic beverages should be sent to the OSU Foundation for payment.


Hosting Groups and Official Guests

Effective: 01/01/2003
Revised: 03/11/2016

This policy only includes hosting of non-employees. See FIS 410-07 Non-Travel Meals and Refreshments at Unit Functions for employee-only functions.  See FIS 410-29 Meals on One Day Trip for employee and student group meals when not in over-night travel status.


The University or an employee, in the normal conduct of a program/activity, may serve as host for official guests of the institution by paying for their meals, refreshments, transportation or other expenses with university funds.  An official guest is a person who has been invited to an OSU facility or function for a specific purpose that benefits the university’s mission.  Official guests include, but are not limited to, candidates to fill positions [with possible accompanying family member(s)], prospective students, visiting scientists/ scholars/artists, dignitaries, guest/seminar speakers, advisory board members, prospective student athletes within appropriate athletic association guidelines, and other guests whose visit provides a clear benefit to the institution.  A clear benefit to OSU must be documented when requesting payment of invited guest expenses and approval by appropriate program personnel or budget authority should be received prior to extending an invitation.

If a meal of an invited guest is not hosted, the guest can be reimbursed as a non-employee under the same travel policy as employees of the University. Employee family member(s) meals are not normally reimbursable; however, sometimes a job candidate or official guest is accompanied by a family member(s). Only in these cases is an employee family member(s) meal an allowable cost. Employee requests for reimbursement of accompanying family member expenses should be evaluated for their reasonableness and necessity prior to being approved.


When meals or refreshments are arranged in advance for an entire group of persons, these are hosted groups.  Examples of university activities involving hosted groups are conferences, departmental retreats, commencement events, community or public relations events, and student activities.  Refreshments may also be provided at a focus group working session or when hosting an appreciation event for students or volunteers in recognition of specific accomplishment.  See FIS 410-08 Employee Recognition policy, FIS 410-09 Graduation Event Expenses and FIS 410-21 for Conference Expenses for further information.


Employee reimbursements – complete a Personal Reimbursement (form) with required attachments and submit to the appropriate Business Center.

Vendor invoice payment (caterer or restaurant) - submit to the appropriate Business Center with required attachments


1. 5 W’s (Who, What, When, Where, Why) -

Who:    Names of the individuals hosted and the individuals doing the hosting. Also, describe the title/relationship to the University for each attendee to help understand the business purpose.

What:   What was the nature of the hosted event? Was it lunch, dinner, breakfast, entertainment, or something else?

When: The dates and times of hosted events.

Where: Location or locations that the hosting took place.

Why:    Purpose and reason for hosting. Must describe what the benefit gained to OSU was from conducting the hosting.

Note: Names are not required when hosting large informal group gatherings; however, the announcement or agenda of the group gathering indicating the University purpose is to be attached to the reimbursement or invoice payment request.

2. Receipts - meals, gratuities, alcoholic beverages and any charges for room use are to be separately itemized. A "tear tag" showing only the total charge is inadequate for reimbursement. The employee should insist on an original itemized receipt. Credit card charge slips provide proof of payment, but may not provide necessary itemization. In the case where a receipt has been lost, contact the appropriate Business Center.

3. Average Amount - the calculated average cost per person for refreshments or meals must be included on the first line of TEXT of the Banner invoice or journal voucher. The average is determined by dividing the total cost (meal/refreshments including tip and delivery charge) by the number of attendees.


1. Meal and refreshment costs should be reasonable for the occasion. Approved OSU travel per diem rates will be used to check for the reasonableness standard. The 15% allowable gratuity is included in the per diem rate. Meal expenses significantly exceeding the OSU per-diem rates require documentation explaining the reason for the excess and the approval of the department head. The following is considered a best practice for determining what rates may be appropriate when Business Center personnel identify a departmental pattern of significant departure from per diem rates:

Business Center management should consult with the department head, administrative head, or Dean to come to an agreement in determining reasonable meal reimbursement rates based on the unique circumstances of a specific or recurring situation.

The agreement should be documented and should include an explanation that supports why per diem rates are not sufficient and higher rates are justified.

A copy of the agreement should be submitted to Business Affairs.

2.      Gratuities/tips - reimbursement for a tip of up to 15% of the charge is allowable when hosting groups or guests.  The 15% limit does not apply when the establishment adds a service charge for larger groups in lieu of gratuity. In this case, the amount of the service charge is not within the control of the customer.  Tips or fees for alcoholic beverage service are not reimbursable.  These costs need to be separated and included with alcoholic beverage purchase.

3.      Alcoholic beverages -reimbursement of alcoholic beverages is not allowed on institutional funds.  When an alcoholic beverage is served at banquets or group activities conducted as part of a workshop or conference where the full cost of such beverages is recovered through charges to the participants or sponsoring group, the income and costs must be accounted for in the appropriate fund (only allowed on 1xxxxx Auxiliary or 05xxxx Designated Operating funds).  The institution is responsible for compliance with all laws and Oregon Liquor Control Commission regulations, including obtaining a one-day license for serving beer and wine. Expenses for alcoholic beverages must be separately identified and billed directly to OSUF.

4.      Room use charges - establishments may charge a room use fee when there is a large gathering requiring a separate room.  Process payments using account code 28606 Conference Facilities or 24151 Building Rental as appropriate for the occasion.


The employee can request reimbursement for food and supplies purchased for the function.  The Personal Reimbursement form must include an itemized sales slip of the items purchased, a list of attendees, and a clear statement of the business purpose.  Alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable from E&G funds. When requesting reimbursement through OSUF, additional documentation/justification must be included to demonstrate the appropriateness of the request.


Account code 28611 Refreshments and Food – Departmental is for costs associated with business, instructional, or informational departmental meetings where attendees are OSU employees, the business purpose is appropriate, and justification for serving food has been approved.  See FIS 410-07 Refreshments or Meals at Unit Functions for policy.

Account code 28612 Hosting Groups and Guests is for costs of non-alcoholic beverages and food served at a function associated with group gatherings or official guest hosting for the purpose of instruction, information dissemination, or faculty/staff recruiting.  The business purpose stated with the reimbursement request needs to clearly distinguish the function from those activities listed for account code 28613 Public Relations. Note:  University funds should not be used to purchase food served as refreshments during a for-credit class.

Account code 28613 Public Relations is for authorized expenditures made in connection with public relations activities.  These include graduation activities; recognition events for students, volunteers, dignitaries, or donors; recruiting of students; student group meetings; or other functions where there is no instruction or information formally presented.  It is recommended that costs be submitted directly to OSU Foundation whenever possible.  It is not required for these expenses to be recorded at OSU. 

Account code 28603 Conference Meals is for meals that are catered or served as part of an OSU-hosted conference or workshop.  Use account code 28604 Conference Refreshments for food, drinks and supplies for refreshment breaks.   Note: Use of conference expense account codes (28602 - 28606) is limited to organized conferences, workshops, and meetings sponsored by OSU, and when persons from outside OSU are in attendance.  This could be a conference held at OSU-owned facilities or at other locations where a program agenda and information is disseminated.  Generally, these account codes are used on Designated Operating workshop funds (05xxxx) where the participant has paid a registration fee.  Conference account codes are not to be used for departmental retreats.  See FIS 410-21: Conference Expenses for further information.

Account code 20300 Student Meals should be used for athletic training meals where the cost is allowed per appropriate athletic association guidelines and special student group meals while at normal campus locations. When these students are in travel mode the 39xxx account code series should be used. Note: special student group activities are part of a self-support instructional program and the participant is charged a fee to cover the cost.


Non-Travel Meals and Refreshments

Effective: 01/01/2003
Revised: 10/22/2016

Refreshments, meals, or affiliated supplies (ie paper plates, cups, etc) at unit functions can be paid with University funds when the activity meets one of the following criteria:

  1. Training or workshop lasting at least two hours
  2. Unit staff retreat held away from the normal work location with a written agenda and in a private room
  3. Employee working meal with required attendance where business is conducted during the meal period (as documented in meeting agenda) and location is not at a restaurant (unless in a private room)
  4. Employee meal provided at worksite during an overtime period that is two or more hours beyond the end of employee’s work shift and when duties prevent the employee from taking a meal break (must be clearly documented)
  5. Refreshments or meals for a Department Student Organization and/or Recognized Student Organization when engaged in an educational activity.

University funds cannot be used to pay for employee meals or refreshments for regularly scheduled unit meetings.

Use of the employee working meal option by a unit should be infrequent.

The request for payment on non-travel meals or refreshments must:

  • Document the purpose of the function, agenda, names of the attendees, and why that time of day requirement (if a meal).
  • Include the average per person cost on the first line of TEXT in the Banner document and  may not exceed the current OSU per diem.  The cost includes the price of the meal, delivery, and tip.
  • Use account code 28611 Refreshments and Food–Departmental to process invoice payments or reimbursements.
  • Use account code 28502 Overtime Meal Allowance to process invoice payments or reimbursements for employee meals provided during an overtime period.

NOTE: Meals and refreshment costs cannot be paid with Petty Cash funds.

For additional information see:

Hosting Groups and Official Guests section of Fiscal Policy-Rule #03-140-506 Social Events
Fiscal Policy 56.100 Non-travel Meals, Refreshments and Hospitality Expenses


Graduation Event Expenses

Effective: 01/01/2003
Revised: 07/06/2017

Departmental graduation event expenses cannot be paid from E&G funds and are most appropriately paid directly by the OSU Foundation (OSUF). Send invoices to OSUF for direct payment without entering into the OSU Banner system.

If catering is provided by OSU Catering, these costs should be submitted through OSUF's Direct Pay system.

Cap and gown rental is an appropriate charge to the general fund, if the faculty or staff member is required to attend the graduation ceremony as part of his/her official duties. The appropriate account code is 28613 - Public Relations.

Note: Purchase of either a cap, gown, an academic stole, an honor cord, or any item considered personal in nature would be an unallowable expense on any institutional funding source.


Meals on One Day Trip (no overnight stay)

Effective: 01/01/2003
Revised: 12/30/2014

Employee overtime meal allowance  

When an employee travels departing and returning the same day, the IRS considers breakfast and dinner allowances, figured on the basis of hours worked, to be taxable to the employee.  If such breakfast and dinner allowances are paid, use account code 28502 Overtime Meal Allowance (W-2 Reportable).  Payment is made using the current in-state meal per diem rate.

  1. Breakfast allowance can be paid when an employee leaves their official station two or more hours before their regular work shift.
  2. Dinner allowance can be paid when an employee returns to their official station two or more hours after their regular work shift.

Classified employees may be similarly compensated when required to work at their station two (2) or more hours beyond the end of his/her regular work shift when such additional work causes the employee to miss his/her regular meal.  Current in-state per diem rate for the meal is used for the allowance.

Employee meals when officially representing the University

These meals are away from the work location, but the employee is not in travel status.  The meal can only be reimbursed when all three of the following are met:

  1. The claimant is attending a conference, seminar, convention, board meeting, or committee meeting as a representative of Oregon State University where non-OSU employees are present;
  2. The meeting is not a social or fundraising function; and
  3. The menu and cost is arranged by the event organizers and beyond the control of the claimant.  These meals are considered an employee working meal and are not taxable to the employee.  Reimbursement is paid as account code 28611 Refreshments and Food–Departmental.  An itemized receipt or similar documentation and a copy of the meeting announcement which shows a clear business purpose and the meal as partof the agendaare required.  Alcoholic beverages cannot be reimbursed.

See above section FIS 410-07 Meals and Refreshments at Departmental Functions for other information on payment of employee meal or refreshment costs.

Athletic team or student group meals

When athletic teams or special student groups are on day trips and meals are provided, use account code 20300 Student Meals.  The actual cost of the meal is reimbursed with receipts, not travel per diem.  University funds cannot pay for meals or refreshments at for-credit classes unless the activity is part of a self-support instructional program where the participant is charged a fee to cover the cost.For meal costs when athletic teams or student groups are in-travel status, use 39119 Group Travel-Domestic, or 39646 Foreign Group Travel as appropriate.