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Using Finances Abroad

    
With the assistance of UK Education Abroad, each UK Sponsored program director will establish a program budget. As mentioned on the Building a Program page, the program budget may include certain director expenses, general program-wide expenses, individual student expenses as well as associated UK and Education Abroad fees. UK Education Abroad has program budgeting tools and guidance that will be provided to each director during the planning stages. Although some colleges and departments choose to provide financial assistance to certain education abroad programs, by and large, UK Sponsored programs are not subsidized by the university. Students bear the total cost of the program and are charged a program fee, as determined by the established UK Sponsored program budget. UK Education Abroad makes a commitment to students that once a program fee is advertised, it will not be raised. Once a budget is finalized and a program fee is advertised, the program director is responsible for keeping program expenses within it.

It is important to understand the difference between Customized programming and Self-Planned programming in terms of financial obligations and responsibilities. The information on this website is largely directed to those coordinating and teaching self-planned UK Sponsored programs since the program director is responsible for making the in-country logistical arrangements themselves. The information on this website is less relevant for those coordinating and teaching customized UK Sponsored programs since the customizing third party education abroad partner is responsible for making the in-country logistical arrangements. For customized programs, UK Education Abroad will pay a lump sum to the customizing third party education abroad partner on behalf of the UK Sponsored program. Program directors facilitating customized UK Sponsored programs will have a very limited need to make individual payments themselves and keep proper receipts and documentation before, during or after the international travel. 


Fiscal Responsibilities of Program Directors
 

Faculty and staff directors of UK Sponsored programs must commit to following University of Kentucky and UK Education Abroad procedures and maintaining appropriate records in handling university funds. Specific details about established university protocol will be provided to each program director individually based on the budget structure of his/her particular program and the method by which funds will be used abroad (e.g. declining balance procurement card, cash advance, etc.). In general, program directors are responsible for:

  • making purchases according to the approved UK Sponsored program budget,
  • recording charges and itemizing expenses,
  • collecting and organizing receipts for ALL transactions. 

The degree to which a program director is responsible for a program’s finances is largely determined by whether or not UK Sponsored program is customized or self-planned.

All expenditures abroad, except emergencies, must follow the original approved and finalized UK Sponsored program budget. Expenditures made while abroad that do not follow the program budget or UK protocol may not be accepted for processing and run the risk of not being reimbursed. Improper expenditures may become program director responsibility.

After the program ends, program directors must take care to provide the proper documentation for all purchases made abroad within the acceptable timeline. For more information, visit Post Travel Responsibilities and consult with the EA Financial Manager. 


Making Purchases in Advance
 

Often, reservations and deposits for things like housing, busses/coaches, entrance fees, etc. must be made well in advance of when a UK Sponsored program roster is finalized. UK Education Abroad is able to make purchases on behalf of UK Sponsored programs after a program budget is established and in advance of actually receiving student program fees. Again, the degree to which a program director is responsible for making individual purchases is largely determined by whether or not UK Sponsored program is customized or self-planned. Provided a cancellation fee is clearly articulated by a vendor, UK Education Abroad is able to make certain purchases and/or deposit payments as much as six to ten months in advance of a program’s departure. It is imperative that program directors fully understand the vendor’s cancellation policy in advance of making any deposit payments to allow for flexibility in situations when fewer/more students choose to participate in a program than anticipated.  

For self-planned UK Sponsored programs, participants are typically charged a program deposit three to six months in advance of departure and are charged the remaining UK Sponsored program fee approx. one month in advance of departure. The date for self-planned UK Sponsored program application deadlines and the date participant deposits are charged is closely tied to the cancellation policies for purchases made in advance. For example, if a program director pays a deposit in advance to a student residence hall overseas, the date by which the University of Kentucky can no longer recoup a full refund from the overseas student residence hall for that deposit becomes the date by which the UK Sponsored program roster must be finalized and the date by which the participants will be charged a non-refundable deposit. Because students bear the total cost of UK Sponsored programs and because education abroad programs are not subsidized by the University of Kentucky, it is imperative that program directors understand the cancellation policy for all advance purchases. Expenditures made in advance that do not follow the program budget or UK protocol may not be accepted for processing and run the risk of not being reimbursed. Improper expenditures may become program director responsibility. For customized UK Sponsored programs the application deadline and program deposit date is determined in collaboration with the third-party education abroad partner and there is less emphasis on the cancellation policy of individual overseas vendors.  

Program directors are encouraged to work closely with the EA Financial Manager when making advance purchases as there are limits and restrictions about what can and can’t typically be purchased with university funds. For example, it is typically prohibited for anyone to purchase theatre tickets on a University pro-card. However, when a faculty member from the College of Fine Arts designs a UK Sponsored program with learning objectives directly tied to the study of theatre, purchasing “entertainment” tickets to a play actually translates into “educational” tickets to a play in the scope of education abroad. The EA Financial Manager works closely with UK Purchasing to ensure that university funds may be used to support education abroad programming.

It may be possible to use departmental pro-cards and grant accounts to make purchases related to education abroad programming. The charges can then be transferred to UK Education Abroad accounts at a later date via internal processes. It is imperative that UK Sponsored program directors NOT make purchases with departmental pro-cards or grant accounts before speaking with the EA Financial Manager. 


Program Director Flights
 

Costs related to the international and local transportation for program directors can be included in the UK Sponsored program budget, unless otherwise preferred. Per UK regulations, UK Education Abroad is required to purchase airfare through UK Travel Management preferred vendors (AAA or Avant). If the international flight is included in the UK Sponsored program budget and the purchase is made through an approved vendor, the flight will be purchased with UK Education Abroad funds. If an alternate, non-preferred vendor is used, if the flight originates from a location other than Lexington, or if a director is extending departure or return dates for the purpose of personal travel, an official cost comparison must be completed. Due to the university regulations regarding flight cost comparisons, directors are discouraged from doing their own cost comparison. All cost comparisons should be done by the EA Financial Manager. If the international flight is purchased from a non-preferred vendor or if personal travel is included, the cost of the international flight must be purchased using a program director’s personal funds. If the international flight is included in the UK Sponsored program budget, the program director will be reimbursed for the flight after the conclusion of the program.

In order to facilitate the UK Sponsored program, the director is permitted to extend their stay in-country for a maximum of seven days surrounding the program start and end date. Expenses related to a stay longer than seven days will not be included in the program budget and will be the responsibility of the program director. 

Because most international flights are non-refundable, the purchase of airfare for program directors is not done until there is a reasonable amount of certainty that a program will “make.” This means the flight is typically not purchased until two to six months in advance of a program’s departure, depending on the term the program is offered. 


Taking University Funds Abroad
 

Ideally, as many expenses as possible will be paid in advance of the UK Sponsored program start date. However, certain transactions in certain countries might not allow for advance payment. Some program directors will be issued a special University ProCard that will have both a credit limit and a cash advance limit related to the program budget.  This card should be used to pay for any expenses abroad that were not paid for in advance, as well as to withdraw cash from an ATM abroad for any program operating expenses that cannot be paid for with a credit card. Recognizing that some countries are cash-only economies, when a ProCard cannot be issued the EA Financial Manager will request a Travel Advance for the program director.

The EA Financial Manger will work with each program director to determine what method, if any, is necessary for taking university funds abroad for each particular UK Sponsored program. The degree to which a program director is responsible for making individual purchases while abroad is largely determined by whether or not UK Sponsored program is customized or self-planned. For self-planned UK Sponsored programs, program directors may need to make a significant number of purchases on behalf of the group while abroad. For customized UK Sponsored programs the program director often makes very few purchases on behalf of the group while abroad. 


Keeping Records: Receipts, invoices & expense log
 

Program directors are responsible for providing an original receipt for each program expense transaction to UK Education Abroad. This includes receipts for pre- and post-program expenses as well as those transactions made while abroad. Receipts for pre- and post-program expenses (e.g., books, exhibit materials) must also be submitted to the EA Financial Manager for processing/reimbursement within one week of the transaction. Receipts for purchases made while abroad must be submitted within one week of the conclusion of the program. This includes cash withdrawals at the ATM using the pro-card. Likewise, program directors must submit all invoices for payment to UK Education Abroad in a timely manner. The process and timeline for paying invoices via UK Purchasing can take between two and four weeks. It is imperative that the process for payment is started well in advance of the invoice deadline. The need for program directors to make individual purchases and keep receipts for UK Sponsored programs is largely dependent on whether or not a program is self-planned or customized.

In some occasions, receipts cannot be obtained from certain vendors and cash withdrawal receipts may not be provided at the ATM machine. In the event that it is not possible to obtain an original receipt, or in the case that the original receipt is difficult to read and/or does not have sufficient information about the transaction, the program director should use the approved UKIC receipt (link opens a Microsoft Word document) and attach any additional documentation. In the case of missing ATM receipts, it is the program director’s responsibility to go to the nearest bank and request an ATM receipt. If that is not possible, the program director should contact the EA Financial Manager so that it can be noted that it was not possible to receive an ATM receipt. If this procedure isn’t followed, a program director may be personally responsible for the withdrawn amount. 

A valid receipt should contain the following information:

  • Vendor Name
  • Detailed listing of what was purchased, including item description, quantity and price
  • Total amount of the purchase (USD or local currency)
  • Transaction date
  • Purpose/brief explanation for purchase

Per University policy, UK Education Abroad will not provide reimbursement for alcohol, gifts, or personal expenses not related to the goals of the education abroad program. Directors who incorporated a meals per diem in the UK Sponsored program budget are not required to keep receipts for personal meals.  

It is recommended that program directors reconcile program transaction receipts on a regular basis, ideally every one to two days for those making a significant number of purchases while abroad. Many receipts look alike and the same vendor is often used for repeat purposes making it difficult to organize all program receipts at the very end of a program. Program directors are advised to keep a financial transactions receipt log (in any format, electronic or paper) for the duration of the program and to organize receipts in chronological date order.