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Guidelines for Student Travel

We encourage all students in the School of Medicine who are pursuing their doctoral degree to present at national and international meetings during their training.  Dissemination of research findings and engagement with scientific peers is a professional obligation of being a research scientist.

In order to facilitate student travel, the BRET office has developed the following guidelines to help students navigate the process of planning a trip and reimbursement for the expenses associated with travel.  We expect all students in all of our graduate programs to follow these guidelines.  By following these guidelines, students’ needs will be met in the most efficient manner.

Students can begin planning as soon as you decide you are going to travel.  You will need to have permission to travel from your mentor and need to know how your trip will be funded.  Ideally, this should happen at least three months prior to travel, but can happen as late as six weeks prior.  If you are late to planning your trip, you will likely incur higher registration fees and can expect delays in reimbursement.

Important Steps:

1.  Read the VU travel policy

All Vanderbilt Students are required to follow the VU travel policies when making travel arrangement and while traveling. Failure to comply with these policies may result in your expenses not being reimbursed. The main cause of failure for students are flights that were not booked in Concur. All flights for University related travel must be book in Concur.


  • Attempt to log into VU ORACLE.  If you are able to log into ORACLE, you will need to set up a profile. Most of your information will be auto-filled from your payroll information but you should check for accuracy. If you cannot log into Oracle please contact BRET staff so that we may enter you into the system
  • Once in Oracle, try to access the Expense tab. Some student have found that they have been denied access. If this happens to you please let us know as soon as possible so that we may correct this error before you need to submit your expense.
  • For those with a ORACLE profile, please download these two forms.

3.  Identification of Funds

It is critical to identify the funding sources that will fund your travel.  The Student Intent to Travel form should help identify funding sources as well as the personnel who have authority over reimbursement. Once completed, with enough funds to cover your travel, make a digital copy of your Intent to Travel and return it to your travel coordinator.

4.  Graduate School Travel Awards

The Graduate School provides awards to students to support their travel.  Please read through the regulations to see if your upcoming trip is eligible for support.  The Graduate School’s website will provide the most up to date information on the restrictions for eligibility.

Based on the PowerPoint of Student Travel Procedures, please proceed booking your registration, airfare, hotel, and any ground transportation necessary once you have completed our Intent to Travel.  If you are unable to bear the cost of pre-travel expenses, please seek the assistance of your Travel Coordinator who will be able to pay for any pre-travel expenses you may require  We understand it is difficult to upfront a significant amount of expenses prior to travel and we want to be able to minimize your out-of-pocket expenses while waiting for reimbursement.

We encourage you to take photos of all of your receipts at the time of purchase. Reproductions of the receipts are allowed in Oracle.  It is important to get itemized receipts for all expenses.  Additionally, when traveling with fellow labmates and colleagues, please try to pay for your expenses separately as your funding sources could be different.  When sharing a room with a labmate or friend, please ask the hotel front desk to split your room charges between your cards the night before, or the morning, of checkout.

Submission of expense reports should occur as soon as you return from the trip.  The Graduate School will not process travel awards submitted later than 10 days after you return.  If a trip is not expensed within 60 days of return, you will face tax consequences.  The trip will then be seen as a taxable benefit by the IRS.

The expense report process will be determined by the mechanism used to book your travel:


Please read the BRET ORACLE GUIDE for full details associated with submitting an expense report.  Your program manager should be able to help you with the appropriate center numbers you will need for allocating your expenses.  It is not unusual for a trip to be covered by multiple funding sources and it is important for you to allocate them appropriately so your expense report can be processed in a timely manner by series of financial administrators.  To help the administrators, please upload a copy of your Student Intent to Travel form with your submitted expense report.  The form is designed to help you complete the report and to help the BRET administrators review for accuracy too.  If the administrators find an error, they will not be able to edit the form for you.  It will be returned to you for correction and resubmission, which will delay your reimbursement.

I was given a travel award by an outside group or conference.  How do I document this?

Please make a photo copy of the travel award you were given, cash the check, and submit the photo copy of your check when you submit your travel report.  The amount of the check will be deducted from your reimbursement from Vanderbilt sources.  The organization granting the award expects for this to  help cover your expenses while traveling.

If you received a prize, such as an award for best poster or oral presentation, you do not need to report this on your travel expense report.

What happens if my flight plans change? 

If your ticket was purchased through CONCUR or through your program manager’s guest traveler profile, you can call the World Travel agency for assistance ((877) 271-9258 or (865) 777-1600 emergency service).  If you booked outside of CONCUR or your program manager, please call the airline to rearrange the necessary changes.  The VU Travel Policywill provide more detailed information on this subject matter.

What happens if I get sick and am unable to travel as scheduled?

If your ticket was purchased through CONCUR or through your program manager’s guest traveler profile, you can call the World Travel agency for assistance ((877) 271-9258 or (865) 777-1600 emergency service).  If you booked outside of CONCUR or your program manager, please call the airline to rearrange the necessary changes.  The VU Travel Policywill provide more detailed information on this subject matter.

What if I want to add a few vacation days on to my VU related travel?

Yes, this is allowable.  You will need to follow the VU Travel Policy for documenting the variation and the expense consequences, if any.  Whether you are using CONCUR or on a blue paper form, you will need to provide all requested documentation as specified in the VU Travel Policy.

What happens if I want to drive my personal car a long distance rather than fly?  Will the University reimburse mileage?

Yes, you are allowed to drive your own personal vehicle. if you are driving more that 1000 miles you will be required to provide a cost comparison for flights. You should record this price comparison at least a month prior to traveling.   Please read the VU Travel Policy for details and documentation.

What happens if my flight is canceled due to weather while traveling and the airline will not cover accommodations?

Please find a hotel room at a reasonable cost and convenience to you and report it on your expense report.  If ground transportation is also necessary, please save these receipts and submit them on your expense report.

If you are traveling on a federal sponsored source, you will need to get pre-authorization for federal travel.  Please contact the financial administrator of the federal funds for assistance in acquiring pre-authorization.

If student is not a US Citizen or PR, the student will need to notify the International Tax Office of his or her travel dates and purpose of the trip via e-mail (

If you still have more questions after reading this site and its attached documents, please contact your graduate program manager.