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Handbook of Operating Procedures


Policy Number: 13


Reimbursement of travel expenditures and requirements for student travel


University employees, students and other trainees (including residents and fellows)

Date Reviewed:
September 2021
Responsible Office:
Expense Reimbursement; Office of the Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer; Auxiliary Enterprises
Responsible Executive:
Senior Vice President, Finance and Business Services; Executive Vice-President & Chief Academic Officer; Vice-President and Chief Auxiliary Enterprises Officer


The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("University") permits the reimbursement of certain travel expenditures incurred by employees and other trainees in the course of their official duty and responsibility to the state, as authorized by the legislature and The University of Texas System Board of Regents.

The University also supports the educational, research and service activities of its students by sponsoring and reimbursing certain travel activities and expenditures. The University, however, has special concerns as to how students travel on official University business or activities. This policy includes information on seeking approval for travel, reimbursement for travel expenditures, and safety rules that apply specifically to student travel. 

This policy applies to travel on all common carriers as well as by private transportation.


A. General Travel Requirements

For policies and procedures related to travel authorization and reimbursement, refer to the Travel Guide.  It is mandatory to use the contracted travel agency and car rental companies for all travel, using the appropriate corporate identifier for car rentals.  Contract details and additional information related to booking travel can be found on the Auxiliary Enterprises, University Travel website.  Special requirements apply to international travel (see below).

Further, the University follows all state and federal wage and hour laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act non-exempt travel time guidance.  Refer to the Travel Guide for additional details.

B. International Travel

Employees, students and other trainees planning to travel outside the United States on University-related business or activities must meet additional requirements, including registration with On Call International.  Detailed information on international travel can be found on the Auxiliary Enterprises, University Travel website.  See also the Student Travel  website for information about international student travel.

C. Specific Requirements for Student Travel

The specific requirements in this section are applicable to student travel undertaken by one or more currently enrolled students in conjunction with an activity or event. Travel is defined as: (1) participation in a University program or activity more than 25 miles away from the University campus that is organized or sponsored by the University and (2) either (a) travel to the activity or event is funded or undertaken using a vehicle owned or leased by the institution or (b) attendance at the activity or event is required by a registered student organization and approved in accordance with Section II.C.1 below.  An activity or event is considered to be organized and sponsored by the University if it has been planned and/or funded by the University and approved by a designated school or University administrator.  All student travel funded or to be reimbursed by the University must use the contracted agencies to purchase airfare or rent a car as provided by University Travel. If a student purchases airfare or rents a car outside of policy, they must obtain an exception to policy from Auxiliary Enterprises.

          1. Common Types of Student Travel

Travel by students is most commonly associated with the work of sponsoring faculty members, such as participating in assigned practica or rotation experiences, conducting field studies, and attendance and/or presentations at conferences or meetings of professional organizations. Student travel by representatives or officers of school or University student governance organizations (i.e. the Student InterCouncil) is approved and/or coordinated by the responsible school or University office. In these situations, it is the responsibility of the sponsoring faculty member and his or her department or other University sponsor to assure that students traveling are aware of, and abide by, University travel rules and regulations.

Students may voluntarily participate in activities sponsored by charitable, religious or other organizations that are not officially sanctioned University functions (e.g., “mission” trips).  In such cases, expenses are generally not reimbursable, and students must take care not to create the impression that the activity is sponsored or organized by the University. 

If a student is a member of a registered student organization and travel is required as a function of his or her role in that organization, the student must obtain prior written approval for the proposed travel from the appropriate associate dean for student affairs, or equivalent.

Travel arrangements are processed by the sponsoring department or school at the request of the responsible faculty or administrator on behalf of the student.

          2. Motor Vehicle Travel by Students

All student travel undertaken by motor vehicle to reach an activity or event organized and/or sponsored by the University must meet the following requirements as well as the applicable requirements contained in HOOP 205, Automobile Insurance Coverage for Employees and Requirements for the Use of University Owned and Operated Vehicles

               a. Seat Belts

Occupants of motor vehicles must use seat belts or other approved safety restraint devices as required by law at all times while traveling in a motor vehicle being used for student travel.

               b. Alcohol and Illegal Substances Prohibited

Occupants who travel in motor vehicles being used for student travel cannot consume, possess or transport any alcoholic beverages or illegal substances at any time while the vehicle is in operation.

               c. Passenger Capacity

The driver of any vehicle being used for student travel must assure that the total number of passengers in any vehicle at any time it is in operation does not exceed the manufacturer's recommended capacity.

               d. License and Training

The driver of any vehicle being used for student travel must have a valid operator's license issued by the state in which he/she permanently resides and be adequately trained to drive the vehicle that will be used. Any use of a University-owned vehicle must meet the requirements of the Guidelines for Driving UTHealth Vehicles

               e. Proof of Insurance, Inspection and Safety Devices

The driver of any vehicle being used for student travel must assure that each motor vehicle used for student travel has valid state inspection certification, all safety devices or equipment required by law or regulation, and complies with applicable requirements of state or federal law or regulation. Any vehicle being used must also have a current proof of liability insurance card for that vehicle.

               f. Legal Operation of Vehicle and Driving Schedule

The driver of any vehicle being used for student travel must comply with all laws, regulations, and posted signs regarding speed and traffic control. The University prohibits any one driver from operating the vehicle for a continuous period that is longer than six hours without scheduled rest stops or overnight stops, as appropriate.

               g. Travel Using Institution Owned or Leased Vehicles

All operators of institution owned, leased or rented vehicles used to transport students must be University employees (faculty or staff).

               h. Travel Using Rented Vehicles

A student traveling on University business must rent a vehicle from one of the vendors listed on the Auxiliary Enterprises, University Travel website using the University’s rate identifier code.  A rental from one of these contracted vendors may include insurance coverage and be in the the student’s name.  Refer to the list of non-participating car rental locations as well as a list of contract violations that invalidate insurance coverage.  If a student who is traveling on University business chooses to rent a vehicle outside of the procedure set out on the University Travel website, the University is not liable for any damage claim and the student may not be reimbursed for such expenses.

               i. Service and Maintenance

Each vehicle owned or leased by the University will be subject to scheduled periodic service and maintenance in accordance with University and U.T. System policies.  See HOOP 205, Automobile Insurance Coverage for Employees and Requirements for the Use of University Owned and Operated Vehicles.

D. Related HOOP Policies

For more information regarding reimbursement policies and requirements for specific circumstances, refer to the following HOOP policies:


    • Office of Executive Vice-President & Chief Academic Officer
    • 713-500-3062
    • University Travel
    • 713-500-4958