University Policies

University Policies

Hospitality Policy Procedures

These operating procedures support the policy on Hospitality Expenses (II.A.1). Refer to the policy for applicable definitions and contact information.

I. Determine the appropriate type of Hospitality

Hospitality Expenses fall into four categories: Meals, Home Entertaining, Receptions/Events, and Conferences. Use the below descriptions to determine the appropriate type of hospitality for your occasion.

A. Meals

Examples of occasions when a meal may qualify for reimbursement from or payment by the University include but are not limited to the following:

• Business meetings
• Recruitment
• Retreats
• Workshops
• Orientations
• Advisory groups and committees
• Meetings with donors
• Visitors and Guest Speakers
• Facility Dedications

To qualify for reimbursement, an itemized receipt must be provided as supporting documentation along with an explanation of the business purpose of the meal and who attended. For meals associated with the recruitment of prospective employees, reimbursement for meals should only include the principle people involved in the decision-making process. Generally, reimbursement is not approved for entire departments or a large number of staff to attend a recruitment meal. Refer to the table in section II for allowable dollar amounts for meals.

Some of the above listed occasions may include participants who attend remotely. If the unit chooses to provide meals to remote meeting participants, the following additional criteria must be met:

• Remote participants must be located within the United States.
• A business need exists for the remote participant(s) to attend the meeting/event.
• The meeting/event has a set start time, and the remote participant(s) is(are) required to be present via video/audio for the duration of the meeting/event.
• The department/unit may choose to have a meal delivered to the participant’s home/location or may request that the participant purchase a meal and submit a receipt to the department/unit for reimbursement (gift cards are not allowed).
• Provisions for hospitality for remote participants must be applied consistently within the department/unit bearing the expense and in accordance with that department’s/unit’s expectations for employees who work remotely.

B. Home Entertaining

The above description assumes that the Hospitality Expenses are incurred at a restaurant, catered event, university facility or other event facility. However, it is likely that some official university events will occur in the home of a university employee. University employees who choose to host an allowable event in their home are subject to the following:

  • Food, beverages and disposable or rented service ware directly related to the event may be reimbursed.
  • All food and beverages served at the event must be purchased from a vendor that provides itemized receipts. The receipt should provide a listing of the items by name.
  • All other requirements applicable to the occasion and type of event apply.
  • Provisions for remote participants, as outlined in section I.A, are not allowed for events hosted at the home of a university employee.

C. Receptions / Events

A full reception/event may include the costs for a full meal, décor, room rental, speaker/entertainer, setup and printing for invitations or brochures. If the event has campus-wide importance/significance then a full reception is appropriate. A light reception/event may include the same associated costs as a full reception/event but with only light refreshments or hors d’oeuvres. A light reception/event is appropriate for a departmental initiative that does not have campus-wide significance. Refer to the table in section II for allowable dollar amounts for full and light receptions.

Food for remote participants is not an allowable Hospitality Expense for receptions or events.

Refer to the description of meals above for any event that involves taking a group of individuals to a restaurant.

Receptions and events are divided between those that are student related and those that are university or department related.

1. Student Related

a. University-funded events: Events may only be funded from university resources when they are sponsored by a unit of Purdue and have a clear link with the university’s mission.

1. Recruiting Events: Events geared towards promoting the University to potential students. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

• Orientation meals
• High school group tours

2. Retention / Engagement / Development Events: University and co-curricular events geared towards connecting current students to the University community and enhancing their student experience. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

• Mentorship activities between university staff and students
• Spirit week or other similar events
• Food during classes/programs when it is part of the student fee for the class

3. Recognition Events: Events to honor student achievements. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

• Awards banquets and receptions
• End-of-year banquets
• Graduation events

b. Student organization-funded events: Student Organization Grant Allocations and student activity fees may be used to support any student organization-sponsored event. These funds cannot be used to pay for alcohol, bartenders, tobacco products or musicians other than university affiliated musicians (e.g., Purdue Musical Organizations, Purdue University Bands and Orchestras).

2. University/Department Related

University/department receptions and events are established to acknowledge dignitaries, faculty, or staff or to acknowledge departmental milestones. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

• Award or milestone ceremonies
• Retirement receptions
• Receptions to recognize dignitaries
• Staff recognition events
• Employee orientations
• Employee appreciation events

D. Conferences

Conferences may be sponsored by a unit of the University, a student organization, or a third party utilizing the University’s conference planning services. They may be held on-campus or off-campus with a single session or multiple sessions over more than one day. Conferences are noncredit programs on a specified topic or related to a particular industry or profession and are meant to update skills, increase awareness and understanding, and/or disseminate new information. Hospitality Expenses may include the cost of snacks/hors d’oeuvres, meals, décor, room rental, speaker/entertainer, printing and setup.

Food for remote participants is not an allowable Hospitality Expense for conferences.

Conferences typically have a registration fee that is used to help cover Hospitality Expenses. When that is the case, the fees collected are not considered university funds and may be used to purchase alcohol in accordance with the University’s Alcohol- and Drug-Free Campus and Workplace Policy (C-44), as amended or superseded.

II. Obtain Required Pre-approval

The matrix below lists reasonable amounts for common Hospitality Expenses. Any Hospitality Expenses expected to be above the threshold must be approved in advance by the chief business officer (Fort Wayne and Northwest) or Comptroller (West Lafayette and Polytechnic Statewide). Conferences that are administered through Purdue Conferences (West Lafayette) are not subject to the threshold for prior approval.

Expense TypeReasonable Amount Per Person
(including beverage, tip, and delivery)
Threshold for AdvanceAppproval
(per person, including beverage, tip and delivery)
Breakfast or lunch$ 25.00$ 50.00
Dinner$ 50.00$100.00
Light Reception$ 25.00$ 50.00
Full Reception$ 75.00$150.00

Note: Expenses related to awards, prizes, and other forms of recognition or appreciation are subject to the requirements of the policy on Gifts, Gratuities and Recognition (III.B.5) and its associated operating procedures.

III. Post to Appropriate Accounts

A. General Ledger Accounts for Hospitality Expenses

  • Use general ledger account 533615 – Hospitality Food Services Hospitality for expenses charged to sponsored program funds.
  • Use account 546435 – Hospitality for all other funds and purposes.

B. Funding Sources

Allowable Hospitality Expenses may be charged to General Fund Accounts, Gift Accounts, Student Organization Grant Allocations, Auxiliary Services Accounts, Other Unrestricted Funds, Agriculture Crossroad Stateline Funds, Agriculture Regulatory Funds or Agriculture Commodity Funds. When charging Hospitality Expenses to the above funding sources, expenses for alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Sponsored Program Accounts may be used if the expense is specifically approved in the budget and is in accordance with sponsor and university policy.

IV. Non-Allowable Hospitality Expenses

Certain Hospitality Expenses are not allowed on any university funds. The following list provides some examples of non-allowable expenses, but does not list all non-allowable Hospitality Expenses. Use the contacts listed in the policy or refer to the FAQs if you have specific questions not covered below.

1. Expenses that do not meet all the criteria listed in policy II.A.1 are not allowed on any university funds. 

2. Expenses for items of a personal nature that are utilized by a university employee when entertaining university guests are not allowable on university funds. Examples include golf clubs, memberships in social organizations, etc.

3. Gift cards for restaurants, food delivery apps and the like provided to individuals who attend a meeting or event remotely are not allowable Hospitality Expenses.

4. Expenses related to social events (e.g., holiday luncheons, birthday parties, etc.) are not allowable Hospitality Expenses.

5. The purchase of flowers for an individual or organization is not an allowable Hospitality Expense (instead, see the policy on Gifts, Gratuities and Recognition (III.B.5).

6. The purchase or reimbursement of alcoholic beverages is not allowable on university funds. Departments may use the Purdue Research Foundation’s (PRF) SDIP (School Discretionary and Institutional Program) funds, if available, in accordance with PRF’s policies/requirements for the use of those funds. If approved, any bill that includes alcoholic beverages must be charged completely to the PRF SDIP funds. Departments desiring to charge only the alcoholic beverages portion of the bill to SDIP funds should obtain separate billings from the food provider.

Hospitality FAQ’s

An employee has submitted an itemized restaurant receipt that contains sales tax. Isn’t the University tax-exempt?

The University’s tax-exempt status does not apply to restaurant and catering charges with the exception of events related to fundraising or recruitment within the state of Indiana. Provided the restaurant expense is not clearly related to a fundraising or recruitment event within the state of Indiana and is otherwise allowable under the hospitality policy, the entire amount would be reimbursed.

My department head would like to use Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) SDIP funds to cover hospitality expenses. Alcohol is not included on the receipt. What is the most appropriate process to follow?

If expenses are appropriate to be on University funds that is where they should be charged. To use SDIP funds, the funds can be transferred from PRF into the departmental gift account to cover those expenses.

A caterer has submitted an invoice for an event that is not related to fundraising or recruitment within the state of Indiana, but neglected to include sales tax. What is the process for adding sales tax?

Add in the appropriate sales tax rate and inform the vendor.

Can musicians not affiliated with PMO be used for entertainment at West Lafayette receptions or events?

Yes, with the exception that student organization-funded events may only use university affiliated musicians (e.g., PMO, Purdue University Bands and Orchestras).

What needs to be documented with the itemized receipt for business meals?

The purpose of the business meeting and who attended. Who attended does not mean that all names are listed; rather, it should clearly support the business purpose for the meeting and convey the area represented and type of individuals that are attending along with the approximate number of attendees.

Example 1:
(Purpose) Comptroller Annual Strategic Planning event
(Type of attendees) Comptroller’s Office Leadership Team
(Number of attendees) 8 people

Example 2:
(Purpose) Faculty recruiting team for Science Department Faculty Member
(Type of attendees) Dean, Department Head, Candidate and their spouses
(Number of attendees) 6 people]

If a staff member buys alcohol with the University hospitality card, will the card be declined?

No. The card is coded to allow food and beverages so it would not be declined. However, this must be handled as a problem and funds should be brought in from the Foundation to cover the expense (as a reimbursement of expense). The staff member must be strongly reminded that university hospitality cards cannot be used to purchase alcohol. The privilege to use a university hospitality card may be revoked for repeated violations.

How many people can attend a meal for a prospective employee?

Reimbursement for meals should include only the principal people involved in the decision-making process. Generally, reimbursement will not be made for entire departments or large numbers of staff.

What decorations are allowed for receptions? Can balloons and party decorations be purchased?

All decorations deemed appropriate for the occasion and not exorbitant are allowable.

Is it reasonable to request reimbursement for an employee’s spouse/partner?

The cost of meals for an employee’s spouse/partner may be reimbursed provided the spouse/partner has a significant role in the proceedings or makes an important contribution to the success of the event. In a recruiting situation the spouse/partner of the principal staff responsible for the recruiting will be reimbursed when the spouse/partner of the candidate is present.

Is it allowable to have coffee or water service paid for from University funds?

Beverage supplies for guests can be purchased but not supplies exclusively for the use of employees. However, water service may be allowable if there is an issue with the water supply.

Are retirement receptions allowed?

Receptions are allowed for university retirees. See reception guidelines in the operating procedures. In cases where an employee has made a significant contribution to the University, it may be appropriate to recognize them.

When would a hospitality expenditure be considered exorbitant, abusive, or unreasonable?

Thoughtful consideration in making decisions that represent the optimal use of university resources is expected. Therefore, customary or appropriate limits in frequency, quality, or amount that apply to the situation should not be exceeded.

Do we have to include a meal for a full reception or event?

No. Full receptions or events may include a meal but they don’t have to.

When would a light reception or event be appropriate?

When honoring a retiree or someone who has made significant contributions to the department or university.

My unit head (Dean, Vice President, Vice Chancellor, etc.) has been asked to attend a charity event as a representative of the University. The event ticket covers the cost of the meal and a donation to the charity. Is the cost of the ticket an allowable hospitality expense since they are attending for University purposes?

The criteria for hospitality expenses listed in the policy must be met, and prior approval from the chief business officer (Fort Wayne or Northwest) or Controller (West Lafayette) must be obtained. Events like this are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Are holiday parties allowable under the hospitality policy?

Themed events are allowed (cultural, holiday, other); however, the event must be tied to one or more of the university’s three mission pillars listed in the policy.

What do I do if no receipt is available for hospitality expenditures?

Use the Certification for Missing Receipt form to document the expenses. Note that the signature of the business manager is required on this document. This form is used for both Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) and university expenses.