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Expense Reimbursements

Employee Expense Reimbursements

It is the policy of Northwestern to reimburse faculty and staff for appropriate and approved travel, entertainment, courtesy and other expenditures. In order to obtain reimbursement for personal funds expended for travel or other expenses, and to account for any amounts expended using an advance, all expenses must be documented on the NUFinancials Expense Report, including pre-paid and direct-billed expenses.

Expense Reports should be created electronically within 30 days after the completion of each trip and can be accessed via the NUPortal. A complete Expense Report should include:

  • Expense documentation (receipts, policy forms, mileage map, etc.) scanned and electronically attached in the Expense Report header
  • A completed and approved Expense Policy Exception Request for any expense submitted for reimbursement not in accordance with University policy
  • An employee check made out to Northwestern University for the refund of any unspent portion of an advance
  • Electronic approvals generated via electronic workflow in NUFinancials.  Please see the Expense Approval Roles & Responsibilities page for more information

Please refer to the Expense Report Training Guide for guidance on the NUFinancials Expense Report process.

Reimbursements are made via the employee's normal payroll payment method.

Processing My Wallet Transactions

For information on processing My Wallet Transactions page, please see the Corporate Card - Reconciliation page.

Visitor Expense Reimbursements

Northwestern University reimburses individuals who are not University faculty or staff, for University-approved travel expenses, including transportation, lodging, and other travel-related costs. Examples of such individuals are:

  • guest lecturers or researchers
  • consultants
  • prospective faculty or staff
  • non-employee students

Each department/school is responsible for informing the visitor of the University's expense reimbursement policies prior to the incurring of expenses, providing the visitor with the Visitor's Expense Report Form (pdf format) to document expenses, collecting from the visitor the vendor information required for processing the reimbursement, and having all visitor forms properly completed and processed.

Below is a description of Visitor Expense Report process:

  • The visitor provides supplier information, completes the Visitor's Expense Report Form (pdf format), attaches all original detailed receipts, and submits the information to the department.
  • If the supplier is not in NUFinancials, the supplier information must be added. Scanned receipts and/or the completed Visitor's Expense Report form are attached to the supplier ID request entered through the NUPortal. Please see the Supplier Registration eLearning course for step by step instructions.
  • The W-9 form is not required for reimbursements/refunds, unless the visitor will be reimbursed more than once. (The W-9 is required for individuals for payment of services, a speaker fee or an honorarium.)
  • The department creates a Payment Request and attaches the original approved and signed Visitor's Expense Report Form (pdf format), receipts for all expenses, and a completed and approved Expense Policy Exception Request for any expense submitted for reimbursement not in accordance with University policy.
  • After the Payment Request has received all departmental approvals, it is routed if needed, to ASRSP (for sponsored projects) before being routed to Accounts Payable for final approval.
  • Reimbursement will be made via check to the visitor.

Visitor's Expense Report

  • Uses: Reimburse individuals who are not University faculty and staff, but who have incurred university-approved expenses, including transportation and lodging.
  • Submission Method: Payment Request with attached electronic documentation.
  • Signatures Needed: Visitor, Department, Dean, or Principal Investigator, as necessary, on form, then NUFinancials workflow approvals.
  • Documentation Needed: Receipts or other supporting documentation for the expense.

Important Note about Payments to Individuals:

  • It is recommended that a Contracted Services form be completed for all honoraria.
  • If payments to an individual (honoraria or otherwise) total $600 or more in any calendar year, the IRS requires the University to issue a 1099 tax form to the individual. To issue the 1099 tax form, the University needs the information collected when requesting a Vendor ID. For more information on adding a vendor, please see the Vendor File Management - Add a Vendor page.

Tips on Supporting Documentation:

  • All original documentation that has been scanned and attached in support of a transaction should be retained for three months. Once the transaction with all pertinent documentation has been approved by responsible unit approvers, expense supervisors and Accounts Payable, it becomes the official University record and departments need not keep the paper support. Accounts Payable maintains its records for 8 years in compliance with the University's retention policy.
  • A Contracted Services Form, fully completed and signed, can serve as sole documentation, if appropriate.

Special Non-resident Visitor Considerations:

Non-resident independent contractor travel reimbursements are paid through Payroll when travel expenses are being reimbursed along with an honorarium or a speaker fee.