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 getting reimbursed for the expenses associated with the travel.  Students in all of our graduate programs are expected to follow these guidelines.  By following these expectations and guidelines, students' needs will be met in the most efficient manner.

Students:  As soon as you decide you are going to travel, planning can begin.  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 your trip, but can happen as late as six weeks prior to travel.  If you are late planning your trip, you will likely incur higher registration fees and can expect delays in reimbursement.

Important Steps:

1.  Read the VU travel policy

2.  CONCUR vs. Blue paper travel forms

  • Attempt to log-in to VU CONCUR.  If you are able to log-in to CONCUR, you will need to set up a profile.  If you are unable to log-in to CONCUR, you will need to complete a blue paper travel form which can be obtained from your program manager.  We expect for those on T32 grants, F-grants, and other training fellowships to be denied access to CONCUR.  One's ability to log-in to CONCUR system is not determined by the BRET office and cannot be manually changed by those at the departmental level.  Please know our staff will work with all students to facilitate timely reimbursements regardless of funding source.
  • For those with a CONCUR profile, please download these two forms.
  • For those who are unable to log-in to CONCUR, please download these three forms or guides.  You will need to obtain a blue paper travel form from your graduate program manager.  It is a carbon copy form that cannot be downloaded.

3.  Identification of Funds

The source of funds will also determine the reimbursement process.  It is critical to identify the sources which will fund your trip.  The Student Intent to Travel form should help identify the sources of funds as well as the personnel who will be able to authorize the reimbursement of expenses.  By reading the Student Travel Procedures, you will find our recommended process for reimbursement based on your funding source. 

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 downloaded spreadsheet of Student Travel Procedures, please proceed booking your registration, airfare, hotel, and any ground transportation necessary before your travel.  If you are using a blue paper travel form, please seek the assistance of a graduate program manager who will be able to pay for any pre-trip expenses ahead of time.  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.

Whether or not you are using CONCUR or a blue paper travel form, we encourage you to take photos of all of your receipts at the time of purchase. Reproductions of the receipts are allowed in Concur and on paper.  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 you check-out or the morning of check-out.

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 through VU's CONCUR website 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. 

Blue paper travel form

The blue paper travel form should document all of the expenses associated with this trip, including any reimbursements you received prior to travel as well as expenses purchased on your behalf by a program manager.  Within the blue paper travel form, you will find a yellow form for documenting your travel expenses (electronic version).  You will need to group your expenses by the day the expense occurred.  Please complete the expense report to the best of your ability before scheduling an appointment with your graduate program manager to review the form and finalize allocation of the expenses to various cost centers.  You will need to attach your Student Intent to Travel form to your paper form and submit both to your program manager.  It is a good idea to make a copy of the entire packet submitted.  If Disbursements has a question for you before processing your reimbursement, you will have a reference copy to use to answer questions that may arise.

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 Policy will 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 Policy will provide more detailed information on this subject matter.

What happens 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 but you will only be reimbursed up to the amount of a comparable airfare ticket for your dates of travel.  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 a graduate student does not have an active CONCUR profile and does not have a Guest Travel Coordinator to book international travel on his or her behalf, the student must manually Register Your Travel (ISOS) via this link to our International SOS (ISOS) portal.  This is an outside vendor servicing VU.

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.