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Meals and Entertainment

Meal Expenses

Personal meals are the meal expenses of travelers who are on a business trip. Business meals are defined as meals taken with students, colleagues, or donors during which there is a specific business purpose. All meal expenses should be kept to a prudent and reasonable level.

Reimbursement of meals and entertainment for business purposes will be on the basis of actual and reasonable costs up to a maximum of $50 per day in the local Amherst area and a maximum of $75 per day in all other non-major and major U.S. cities. Actual costs must be itemized on the travel and reimbursement report and original receipts showing the number of individuals served must be attached. Normally, breakfast purchased when departing from home does not provide for expense reimbursement. Similarly, meals purchased once a traveler has returned home are also not reimbursable; neither are meals when traveling within the Five College area (e.g. between the colleges for meetings).

When dining with others, each person should pay for his or her own expenses. In rare instances when circumstances do not permit this, and to ensure that costs are properly accounted for, the person paying the entire meal expenditure must report each attendee's name, the business purpose, and the matter discussed.

Tipping for meals is allowed within the College travel and reimbursement policy. The College will not, however, reimburse for tips in excess of 20%.

Business Meals Taken With Other Employees

Employees will be reimbursed for business-related meals taken with other employees in the following circumstances:

  • When, for confidentiality reasons, business must be conducted off College premises, or
  • When dining with other employees on an out-of-town trip such as a conference, or
  • When authorized by the departmental budget manager for reward, recognition, or other appropriate business purpose.

The individuals attending, the location, date, and business purpose for each meal must be clearly articulated on the travel and reimbursement report form.

Alcoholic Beverages

Employees should be aware that the purchase and use of alcohol places significant legal exposure on the College. Therefore, the consumption of alcoholic beverages when using a motorized vehicle, including a rental or a personal vehicle, is prohibited while on College business.

In accordance with legal regulations, alcoholic beverages may not be charged directly or indirectly to a federal, foundation, or other outside grant or contract.


Entertainment expenses normally include meal expenses in association with College business. The President or chief advancement officer may, however, authorize entertainment beyond meals for certain fundraising and cultivation events.

Employees will be reimbursed for entertainment expenses:

  • Only with prior written budget manager approval, or
  • If the person(s) entertained has a potential or actual business relationship with the College, or
  • If the business discussion will benefit the College.

All entertainment expenses must be processed on the travel and reimbursement report. Under no circumstance should entertainment expense be charged to a federal grant or contract.

In order to comply with IRS rules, employees must substantiate the time, place, and business reason for the entertainment. An original receipt must be submitted with the travel and reimbursement report for any individual meal or entertainment expense.

Travel Reimbursement Form (pdf)

Mileage Work Sheet (pdf)

Missing Receipt Affidavit Form (pdf)

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