Meal Expenses While Traveling

University travelers are expected to make reasonable selections when purchasing meals or buying groceries.  Travelers may be reimbursed for up to three (3) meals per day in compliance with requirements for State of Nebraska governmental agencies. Ideally, each meal should be represented by a single receipt; however, multiple receipts for a given meal may be submitted so long as the transaction times shown on the receipts are within a 60-minutes of each other and consist of items typically included in one meal. The total cost of daily meal receipts, including tips and taxes, may not exceed the General Services Administration (GSA) daily per diem rate. This rate is based off of the last travel destination for each day of an extended trip or the last travel destination prior to returning to the Traveler’s home or work location from a one-day trip. Daily meal expenses in excess of the stated GSA daily per diem rate are the sole responsibility of the Traveler and will not be paid for or reimbursed by the University. The number of meals allowed and their associated allowances (breakfast and lunch at 25% and dinner at 50% of the GSA daily per diem rate) will be deducted from the daily allowance if such meals are included in conference rates, lodging offerings, cost of transportation and other registrations. Deductions will also be made in accordance with the Traveler’s Departure Times and Return Times. For more detail, please see “Meal Allowances” in the University of Nebraska Travel Policy.

Snacks in addition to three meals are considered personal maintenance items and are not allowed for reimbursement.

Meal tips will be capped at 20% of the meal cost. 

In most situations, meal expenses incurred in the city or town in which the residence or primary work location of the employee is located are not reimbursable.

Alcohol, and its associated tips and taxes, will not be paid for by the University and is not a reimbursable expense. These expenses must be deducted from all submitted expenses and receipts.

Detailed receipts are required for all food/meal expenses equal to or greater than $5.   Each request must be fully itemized, including the amount, date, place, and essential character of the expense incurred.  This applies to all employees.  If you have questions, please call Accounting at (402) 472-2881.

Use this chart to determine qualifying reimbursable meals


One Day Trip*

First Day
of Multiple Day Trip

Last Day
of Multiple Day Trip


Yes, if departure time is at or before 6:30 am

Yes, if departure time is at or before 6:30 am

Yes, if return time is at or after 10:00 am.


Not allowed

Yes, if departure time is at or before 11:00 am

Yes, if return time is at or after 2:00 pm


Yes, if:

Departure time is at or before 5 pm and return time is at or after 7 pm

Yes, if departure time is at or before 5:00 pm

Yes, if return time is at or after 7:00 pm

*Note: Meal reimbursements for one day trips are taxable income and must be reported by the University to the IRS after the traveler exceeds $200 in a twelve month period (December 1 through November 30).

Groceries may be reimbursed, in lieu of meals. The grocery purchase should be equivalent to a reasonable amount of food for the number of people and the total number of meals which the purchase covers. For each meal covered with the grocery purchase, the corresponding GSA daily per diem rate (breakfast and lunch at 25% and dinner at 50% of the GSA daily per diem rate) will be deducted from each individual Traveler’s total meal allowance for their respective day(s) of travel. The Traveler may split the total purchase over multiple days if the purchase covers meals for multiple days of travel.

Official Functions

Expenses for official functions, conferences, hearings, interviews or group meetings while in Travel Status are allowed for various business purposes. The business purpose, an agenda and a list of attendees including the place of employment/headquarter city if attendees are University employees must be provided in addition to the required receipts for approval. These expenses should be reasonable for the business purpose, specific function and the number of individuals in attendance.

Travelers using personal vehicle or privately owned aircraft on official travel will not be reimbursed for food or lodging expenses incurred while en route.