FAQ - Lodging

Conference hotels

Specific hotels designated for conference attendance may exceed the established per diem rate. Actual expenses still are reimbursed with a proper itemized final folio.

  • Submit a conference agenda or similar documentation that shows the hotel you are staying is above the specified location rate
  • Documentation must be attached to the expense report, with a note in the lodging expense memo field

Other Exceptions

These exceptions are allowed and do not require prior approval, but sufficient documentation must be provided for expense report approval. A Procurement and Expense Specialist, Grant Finance Specialist, or Cost Center Manager can reject an expense report if proper documentation is not provided.

Exceptions include but are not limited to:

  • Lodging in a city where a major event limits available rooms (for example, state or county fairs, tournaments, festivals).
  • Limited lodging facilities (one or few) within a reasonable distance of the ISU business purpose location, and all reasonable lodging choices are above the specified rate

Other exceptions are handled on a case-by-case basis and must be approved by the Controller’s Department prior to travel. Contact the Office of Compliance with questions, 515-294-3790.

Only the base room rate is used to establish per diem rates. Other mandatory fees, taxes, etc., are not factored in.

  • Domestic lodging within the contiguous United States, is determined by county and set by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)
  • Domestic lodging in Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. Territories, are determined by city and set by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
  • International lodging rates are determined by U.S. Department of State

In most cases, the hotel will gladly email or fax you an itemized copy of your hotel receipt if you forgot to get one before you left. You may submit the email or fax copy to the Procurement and Expense Specialist. Sometimes when staying at a bed and breakfast, or a very small hotel, they may give a handwritten receipt that is not itemized. In this case, simply write a brief note on the receipt that the only charges included were for room and room taxes. The intent of requiring the itemized hotel receipt is to avoid reimbursing for items such as movies, valet service, or meals claimed elsewhere.

When using an 3rd party booking website (such as hotels.com, travelocity.com, etc.) to reserve the hotel room, the hotel will not provide an itemized receipt. In this case, please write a brief note on the receipt you received from hotels.com (or a similar service) that this is the only receipt available. 3rd party booking receipts can be obtained after travel from their website.

University policy allows for reimbursement for the number of people traveling on university business. No additional charges may be reimbursed for the lodging of spouses, children or friends. If the hotel charge was based on two or more persons, the reimbursement amount should be reduced to the single rate with the taxes pro-rated.

If you stayed at a hotel that had a conference rate where the rate was the same for one as for two people, please include a brief note to that effect. No recalculation is needed in this case.


You must submit the itemized hotel receipt to your Procurement and Expense Specialist, including a note providing your roommate's name and an explanation that you are claiming the full amount, as you paid for the full amount. It is not necessary in this case to provide a copy of your credit card statement.


You must submit a copy of the itemized hotel receipt to your Procurement and Expense Specialist as well as a proof of payment, such as a credit card statement to verify the amount you paid. You may blacken out your card number and any charges unrelated to the hotel stay.


Since the hotel receipt indicated two adults stayed in the room, add a note to explain that the charges already have been split, and give the other person's name, as well as their affiliation with ISU. Since the charge already has been split, each person can claim his/her own half.


Since even most undergraduate students have their own credit cards, this practice usually is not necessary and is discouraged. However, if it has already taken place, you must submit both itemized hotel receipts to your Procurement and Expense Specialist, as well as a proof of payment for the graduate student's room, such as a credit card statement to verify the amount you paid. You may blacken out your card number and any charges unrelated to the hotel stay. It is not necessary to submit a credit card statement for your own room.


No reimbursement is allowed for this purpose, even if an informal receipt is provided.


Yes, as long as this is less than or equal to what a hotel or motel would have been in that area. The traveler must use his/her personal credit card, as the Travel & Hospitality Card cannot be used for that purpose. Reimbursement can only take place after travel has concluded.

If the average room rate per employee is under the maximum lodging rate determined by the per diem rate of the location, then the room/house is allowed to go over the rate.

Example: if three employees stay in an Airbnb for $270 per night, and the per diem rate is $100 per night, then the average per employee is $90 per night, which is allowable. If the room was more than $300 per night room rate, this would still be unallowable.

Note: This also applies when sharing hotel rooms with ISU employees.

No. If you go over the maximum rate allowed for lodging, the taxes must be reimbursed at a prorated rate, based on the percentage of the lodging rate that is allowable. Flat fees can still be fully reimbursed.

Example: If the lodging room rate is $150 per night, but the allowed rate is $100, all applicable taxes must be reimbursed at a prorated rate of 66.6% ($100/$150). If the total taxes added up to $18, then the allowable reimbursement would be 66.6% of $18, or $12.


Some Iowa hotels offer a state rate that was negotiated by the Iowa Department of Administrative Services. A list of hotels, rates, and contact information is available here. If the last column on the spreadsheet (Political Subdivision) has a "Y," ISU employees are eligible for the state rate. If the last column has an "N," ISU employees are not eligible.