Terms Definitions


University employee, often a manager or supervisor, who is Duly Authorized to approve business or travel expenses for employees within their line of supervision or area of management responsibility.

Business Entertainment

Tickets for events for the entertainment of institutional donors, alumni, guests, and visitors. In all cases the expenses must be shown to benefit the mission of the institution or directly support its programs.

Business Meeting (“business meeting” or “business meal”)

A gathering to discuss University Business, such as recruitment or advancement, or to host a distinguished guest.

Campus Events

University/campus events qualifying under IRS Publication 15-B, “Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits”, as having a substantial business purpose, such as recognition/morale activities, public relations, development/fund-raising events, conferences/retreats/seminars, and activities in conjunction with various ceremonial and official events. These events may be either campus-wide or on a smaller scale and require prior approval. University and campus processes regarding budgeting, approvals, purchasing and documentation shall apply.

Campus Meetings & Committees

Expenses for meetings of regular University/campus committees which may involve only employees, and which are documented to be part of a working session, or result because of schedule conflicts or other unavoidable circumstances, and are solely for the benefit of the institution.

Cell phone or mobile device

For the purposes of these Standards, this includes but is not limited to portable communication devices such as smartphones (iPhones, Androids), hotspots, or other portable wireless device issued by the University to an employee for the purpose of providing internet access, cellular services, video communication and/or voice communication.


A gift or payment to a charitable organization.

De Minimus Limits

In accordance with the IRS, any property or service for which, considering its value and frequency with which it is provided, is so small that IRS reporting would be unreasonable or impracticable. The University observes $100 as the de minimus limit for non-cash gifts.

Duly Authorized

Approved by or with the authorization of supervisor or appointing authority per Policy, Standard and campus procedures.

Employee Achievement Award

Item of tangible personal property that is:

  • Transferred by an employer to an employee for length of service achievement or safety achievement,
  • Awarded as part of a meaningful presentation, and
  • Awarded under conditions and circumstances that do not create a significant likelihood of the payment of disguised compensation.
Exceptions Where noted in the Standards, exceptions for a non-allowable expense may be allowed. Exceptions generally require prior approval. Please see the Additional Approval Matrix, attached hereto as Section 2.02 of the Appendix.


A cash or non-cash item given as a gesture of goodwill or appreciation.

Gift Card

Certificate or card (in electronic or hard copy format) which contains a specific monetary value. Some gift cards are redeemable for cash (“cash gift cards”), and other are redeemable only for tangible property/goods from a retailer (“retail gift cards”) provided the card explicitly states it cannot be redeemed for cash.

Examples of Cash Gift Cards:

  • Anywhere/anytime cash such as Visa, American Express, Bank of America, and other bank-issued cards

Examples of Retail Gift Cards:

  • Cards or gift certificates redeemable at retail outlets, such as big box stores, grocery stores, department stores, etc.
  • Gift cards or gift certificates to restaurants
  • Gift cards or certificates to the UMass bookstores or cafeterias
  • Gift cards for online entities such as Amazon

Non-Cash Item

A gift of tangible personal property, such as UMass merchandise, clock, chair, etc.

Non-travel Purchases

Purchases made through BuyWays (preferred) to support business operations or made in-person with University bank card (secondary); exceptions for reimbursement of non-travel purchases made outside of BuyWays may be granted with prior approval.

Prior Approval Certain expenditures require prior approval to be reimbursed. Expenditures requiring prior approval are noted in the respective section of the Standards, as well as in the Additional Approval Matrix (2.02) detailed below. The Additional Approval Matrix (2.02) details which expenditures require prior approval and who may grant prior approval. Documentation of prior approval is required when submitting reimbursement of expenses for all expenditures that require prior approval.

Professional Dues and Subscriptions

The University, at the discretion of each campus, may pay for employee membership dues to professional organizations and subscriptions to professional journals or newspapers if they are appropriate for the individual's position and duties and if the membership or subscription benefits the university. Departmental coordination of subscriptions is encouraged to avoid duplication. Dues and subscriptions should be in the name of the university to the extent possible and delivered to a university address.

Raffle or Door Prize

A prize awarded by lottery to the holder of a ticket purchased or distributed at a function or event.

Recruitment, Soliciting Donors, and Hosting

Expenditures for the purpose of recruiting potential employees and students, soliciting prospective donors or sponsors, and hosting official guests when necessary for the conduct of University/campus business.

Tangible Personal Property

Personal property that can be felt or touched, and can be physically relocated, and can be used or consumed. It does not include (a) cash, cash equivalents, gift cards, gift coupons, or gift certificates (other than arrangements conferring only the right to select and receive tangible personal property from a limited array of such items pre-selected or pre-approved by the employer), or (b) vacations, meals, lodging, tickets to theater or sporting events, stocks, bonds, other securities, and other similar items.

Travel Expenses

Business expenses incurred by Traveler on University Travel.


Duly authorized employees, Trustees, and non-employees (including without limitation speakers, lecturers, students, visiting professors, candidates for University employment, guests etc.) whose travel expenses for University Travel will be paid for or reimbursed by the University regardless of source of funds.

University Business

Any activity, practice, commerce, trade, service, research, education, etc. in furtherance of the University’s mission and functions

University Event (“event” or “University-sponsored event”)

An event, other than academic classes scheduled as part of the curriculum, that is held in a University building or outdoor space on the University campus or is officially sponsored by the University at an off-campus location. A University event must also be sponsored by an officially recognized University department or organization and must be in keeping with the University’s mission.

University Travel

  • Travel in the course and scope of employment at the University
  • Travel financed, in full or part, through UMass funding, scholarship, or sponsorship
  • Travel sponsored, arranged, endorsed, promoted, or administered by the University, or by University faculty or staff
  • Travel directly related to a University-sponsored grant or contract

Valid Business Reason

Includes activities such as recruitment, advancement, hosting a distinguished guest, and certain other University Business.