Grad & Postdoc Travel/Research Purchasing Guide

The below information is meant to serve as a short guide for the most common travel questions within the Department of Cognitive Science. The complete University and divisional policies should be consulted as necessary.


Generally, research expenses should be paid for directly to the vendor; the Purchasing Office provides a variety of means.  After receiving pre-approval to use your travel/research allowance or a faculty/grant account, consult with Sue Potterfield before making any purchase.


Do not set up an account to purchase Mechanical Turk services. You must use a department account. Please consult with Sue Potterfield on how to purchase MTurk services appropriately.

Sales Tax

The University does not reimburse for sales tax on purchases of goods in states where the University has a sales tax exemption. Request a sales tax certificate before making a reimbursable purchase.

90-Day Rule

A reimbursable expenses must be submitted within 60 days of incurring the expense. After review, additional documentation may be requested. The reimbursement must be submitted to accounts payable within 90 days of the receipt date. If not, it becomes taxable income.

Memberships & Conference Fees

Membership and conference fees may be purchased on a personal credit card and reimbursed OR paid for on a departmental P-Card. Contact Sue Potterfield for details.


Some conferences require membership to be eligible for registration. If so, students are expected to take advantage of the best possible rates. Sponsored (grant/fellowship) funds cannot pay for memberships. If approved to use sponsored funds for travel, the student must identify a secondary fund (an allowance or a faculty budget) to cover the membership fee.

Conference Fees

Includes registration, abstract, and poster fees. Students are expected to take advantage of the best possible rates, often this means registering early.

Travel Reservations

There are two recommended options for lodging, air and rail reservations, both use JHU’s travel booking portal CONCUR. Corporate discounts are built into CONCUR. Before initiating either process, students must complete their CONCUR travel profile first.

  • Book reservations through CONCUR using a personal form of payment then request reimbursement from the department, or,
  • Book using World Travel, Inc. (WTI), JHU’s preferred travel agency. The department will be billed directly.
  • Follow the travel pre-approval protocol [see the Graduate Student Travel Policy and Graduate Travel/Research Request Form].
  • Complete an online Guest/Group Request form. (The “Travel Arranger” is your PI for grant funds or Sarah Ciotola for travel/research allowance funds.)
  • Department staff will review the request.
  • If the staff approve the request, the student will be contacted by a WTI agent. Expect this process to take 1 – 3 business days.

The department’s CBTC (Central Bill Travel Card, or “Travel Card”) will be charged once the air or rail tickets are booked. Lodging is charged after the trip. Students must forward all itinerary confirmations ASAP to Sarah Ciotola. Students must collect hotel folios after their stay and provide them to her, too.

Air vs. Train Travel

Students should consider whether air or train travel is more economical within the time constraints. This is most applicable for US East Coast travel and continental Europe travel. JHU  has negotiated corporate air a rail rates with certain providers.

Fly America Act

If traveling by air on sponsored (grant/fellowship) funds, US flag air carriers must be used, even if they are more expensive than non-US options. If a student travels on sponsored funds at some point in the program, they should familiarize themselves with this policy before arranging travel.


Students may benefit from JHU’s corporate hotel discounts. Students should also consider whether sharing lodging with a peer or fellow conference-goer could reduce their lodging expense.

Ground Travel

Students are expected to seek reasonable ground travel options by comparing the cost of taxis vs. ride-share services as well as available bus and metro options. Personal vehicle mileage, tolls, and parking fees are applicable ground travel, too. JHU has corporate discounts with Lyft and BWI airport FastPark.

Travel Meals

PhD students who have a travel allowance are encouraged to reserve their funds for travel-specific expenses, however, the department permits students to request up to $30 per day for food/meals when traveling outside the Baltimore metropolitan area. Per diems are not permitted. Alcohol will not be reimbursed. Itemized receipts must be provided. If traveling on a faculty fund or a sponsored (grant/fellowship) fund, different rules may apply.