Effective July 1, 2023;
Updated: December 6, 2023

For Seminars, Workshops, and Conference

The steps for submitting a reimbursement vary depending on the Payee's affiliation. The University Seminars community includes faculty, scholars, staff, students, and guests who are affiliated with Columbia University and other institutions. All our community members are required to submit a Reimbursement Form when requesting funding for business expenses associated with The University Seminars. We have two reimbursement forms available. One is the Chair/Rapporteur Reimbursement Form, and the other is our Guest Reimbursement Form. Each form is designed specifically for the designated group. Buttons to both forms are included in the sidebar of this page.

Before Submitting a Reimbursement

  • As employees of Columbia University, CU Faculty/Staff Payees are responsible for completing the Concur Expense Report in accordance with University policy and procedure. 

    A CU faculty/staff payee can choose to either:
    • add The University Seminars Administrative Assistant, Giran Ceballos, ([email protected]) as a Preparer Delegate. This will give our AA permission to prepare a Concur Expense Report on behalf of a CU Faculty/Staff Payee. Once the report is prepared, our AA will ask the CU Faculty/Staff Payee to review and submit the report via Concur. Preparer Delegates can prepare report but they cannot submit reports. See instructions on how to manage delegates here.
    • A CU Faculty/Staff Payee can choose to prepare a Concur Expense Report directly. To complete the Concur Expense Report, the Payee will need to request a chart-string from the Associate Director of Financial Operations (Gesenia Alvarez - [email protected]). Our Associate Director reviews and approves any Concur report created with a University Seminars department chart-string.
  • No matter which choice is made, the CU Faculty/Staff Payee is required to follow the How To Submit A Reimbursement steps specified below.


Most Columbia Students do not have access to Concur. A CU-Non-Profiled Payee Expense Report in Concur will be submitted on a CU-Student's behalf by our Administrative Assistant. To begin the process of reimbursement, CU Student Payees are required to follow the How To Submit A Reimbursement steps specified below.

PaymentWorks and the Vendor Onboarding Process

Anyone seeking to do business with or be paid by the University needs to be set up as a vendor. PaymentWorks is the vendor onboarding and management system used by Columbia to invite vendors (both entities and individuals) who are new to the University or existing vendors who have not yet completed the PaymentWorks onboarding process.

Vendors will receive an invitation from PaymentWorks to register. Vendors will enter all of their information safely and securely via a PaymentWorks form. 

  • Non-CU Affiliates who plan to request a reimbursement from Columbia University for the first time, can request to be set up as a vendor in advance. Contact our Administrative Assistant, Giran Ceballos, to request an invitation to PaymentWorks. New Vendor profiles are reviewed and approved by the Finance department. The approval process can take up to 6 weeks.
  • Our Administrative Assistant will initiate the process and let the Non-CU Affiliate know when to expect a PaymentWorks invitation. This invitation will include a link to a New Vendor Registration form.
  • View and download the Registering as a Vendor for Individuals Receiving Payment or Reimbursement training guide. This guide is designed for individuals who will be receiving payments from Columbia University to assist them with the vendor setup process. This guide covers how to create a PaymentWorks account and complete key fields in the New Vendor Registration form. 

    View and download the Creating a PaymentWorks Account and Registering as a Columbia University Vendor job aid for step-by-step instructions. 
  • The Finance department will review and approve the Vendor Profile via the PaymentWorks portal. This review/approval process can take up to eight weeks. Our Administrative Assistant will monitor this process closely.
  • For direct assistance with PaymentWorks, you may contact the CU service desk with any vendor-related questions. They can be reached by phone at (212) 854-2122 or you can submit a ticket here.
  • Once the New Vendor Registration is approved and a vendor profile is created in the University's accounting system, our Administrative Assistant will process the reimbursement for payment. Payment is contingent on approval from Columbia University's auditing department. This approval process can take an additional two - four weeks to complete.
  • Non-CU Payees are required to follow the How To Submit A Reimbursement steps specified below.
  • Not sure if you or a guest is a vendor in PaymentWorks. You can type a last name here to find out: If you find your name with a vendor ID number, include this information in your reimbursement form.
  • Need assistance with PaymentWorks, go to this page for resources: 

University Seminars Guests who are foreign persons will need to first register as a vendor via PaymentWorks (See "Non-Columbia Affiliates section above).

Chairs and rapporteurs should be aware that some foreign persons may not be eligible for reimbursements. There are many different types or classifications of visas. Each classification of visa is determined by the purpose of entry.

For Universities, the most common classifications of visa are:

  • Visitors: Temporary visitors for business (B1 Visa)
  • Academic Students: (F1 Visa)
  • Temporary Workers:  Specialty Occupations (H1B Visa)
  • Exchange Visitors: (J1 Visa)

Allowable Payments per Visa Type

Visit Allowable Payments by Visa Type for a table that details what payment authorizations are allowed by visa type.

How to Submit a Reimbursement

University Seminars Chairs, Rapporteurs, and Guests (Payee) requesting a reimbursement must submit a Chair/Rapporteur Reimbursement Form or a Guest Reimbursement Form.

Within the reimbursement form, the Payee will be asked to upload receipts. The Payee should upload supporting documentation to provide information about the event needed for review and approval by the University's Accounts Payable division. Examples of supporting documentation include an email invitation, meeting announcement, and/or event program.

List of Most Requested Reimbursements 

Proof of payment may take many forms but must demonstrate that payment was tendered and must include notation of:

  • “Cash Tendered”
  • “Paid”
  • A zero-balance due
  • Debit/Credit card payment (card type, last four digits of card and/or signature)

If no proof of payment is available, a debit or credit card statement may be provided. Please include first page with your name and address. You may black out any private or unrelated information.

Please note: Apply Pay or other electronic device screenshots are not sufficient proof of payment. If you paid with an electronic payment method, you must submit a copy of your credit card or bank statement.

A chair or rapporteur should request reimbursement within 10 business days of the expense and must request reimbursement no later than 120 days after the date of the expenditure. Late submissions may only be reimbursed with the approval of the department. Supporting documentation must be provided in order to describe the circumstances leading to the late submission in order to evaluate whether it is a taxable event. Expense reimbursements requested more than one year from the date of expenditure will not be reimbursed.

Recommended Alternatives to Requesting Reimbursements

We recommend that our guest speakers and respondents book travel through our office rather than book travel on their own. That said, we understand some travelers have needs or requirements that may not allow for this. The University Seminars Administrative Assistant, Giran Ceballos ([email protected]) can book the following for our guest speakers and respondents:

  • Air/Train  
  • Hotel Accommodations 
  • Car Service for transport to and from airports
  • Parking spaces at Columbia University

For more information, please visit our Meeting Travel Fund and Booking Travel pages.


For goods and services, please ask vendors to bill us directly whenever possible. See the Payments for Goods and Services page for more details.

Other Resources

The following miscellaneous expenses are non-reimbursable. University policy considers these expenses to be either personal, unnecessary, or avoidable expenses incurred during travel. As a result, there may be tax consequences to the travelers if reimbursed. These non-reimbursable expenses include (but are not limited to):

  • Airline or VIP club membership dues or one-day admission fees
  • Airphone usage
  • Baby-sitting
  • Barbers and hairdressers
  • Clothing or toiletry items
  • Internet charges at home
  • Excess baggage costs related to personal property
  • Expenses related to vacation or personal days taken before, during, or after a business trip
  • Frequent Flyer Miles (Travelers will not be reimbursed for airline tickets purchased, partially purchased or accommodations and upgrades obtained using frequent flyer miles)
  • Travelers will not be reimbursed for credits issued by an airline from personal travel used to purchase airline tickets for business travel
  • Credit card and Airline Rewards program/points
  • Gift cards as a payment mechanism should not be used for travel and business expenses as they will not be reimbursed
  • Helicopter services for local travel/entertainment
  • Laundry or cleaning expenses on trips lasting five (5) days or less, unless emergency circumstances are documented
  • Loss or theft of cash advance money or airline tickets
  • Loss or theft of personal funds or property
  • Lost baggage
  • Luggage and briefcases
  • Magazines, newspapers, personal reading materials
  • Medical expenses while traveling
  • Mini-bar alcoholic refreshments
  • Movies
  • “No show” charges for hotel or car service
  • Online auction sites
  • Personal entertainment
  • Pet care
  • Recreational expenses
  • Saunas, massages, spa visits
  • Shoe shines
  • Souvenirs or personal gifts
  • Snacks
  • Tips in excess of 20%