Printed on: 05/20/2018. Please go to for the most current version of the Policy or related document.


Cell Phone and Data Plan Business Expenses

Responsible University Officer(s):

  • Associate Vice President and Controller

Policy Owner(s):

  • Director of Purchasing Services

Policy contact(s):

Date Revised:

Jul 25, 2012

Effective Date:

Apr 1, 2006


The University will not provide salary allowances, expense reimbursements to, or payments on behalf of faculty and staff (via Procurement card or direct bill to the University), for cell phones, data plans, or other equipment with cellular connectivity that are used in the course of performing University job-related business. Exceptions will be granted for business use in special situations as identified below, or in other situations where cell phones, data plans, or other equipment are necessary to conduct a specific activity. Such exceptions must be allocated and charged directly to the benefitting program(s) or project(s). Allowances previously provided to qualifying employees for their estimated business-related cell phone expenses have been eliminated.

Special Situations:

  1. Public Safety and Disaster Preparedness - Departments involved in public safety, disaster preparedness, or emergency response are encouraged to utilize departmental contracts when cellular equipment or communications are required (see #2 below).
  2. Departmentally-Owned Contracts - Certain units may have special needs that justify departmental ownership of cell phones for temporary assignment to or rotation among employees. Examples of this situation include delivery drivers, on-call medical or technical personnel, security, Facilities Management personnel, and parking personnel. Departments may incur expenses for cell phones in these situations. Departmentally-owned cell phones are strictly for business use only and cannot be used for personal use.
  3. Research - Where cell phone expenses are allowed and approved in conjunction with a specific grant, such expenses are allowable. All expenses must be charged to the grant in accordance with sponsor requirement and University policies governing sponsored projects.
  4. Pagers - Some departments use pagers for their communication needs. Departments may cover the cost for pagers, since the cost of pagers is considered nominal, and personal use poses minimal risk to the University.
  5. International Expenses - Units may reimburse employees for incremental expenses incurred when international cell phone or data plan usage is required for official business, and the employee’s existing cell or data contract does not cover international calling. Units cannot reimburse employees when an employee's standard cell phone plan includes international communications.


Departments and colleges are not allowed to establish policies that differ from this University-wide policy.


The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Establish the proper treatment of business-related cell phone expenses.
  • Ensure compliance with Internal Revenue Service requirements for business expenses emanating from using cell phones for University business.
  • Eliminate the administrative burden and transaction costs associated with the payment of cell phone expenses.






Primary Contact(s) Beth Tapp 612-624-5255
Policy Questions University Financial Helpline 612-624-1617 612-625-9841


Cell Phones
Mobile telecommunication equipment, such as cell phones, cell phones with data plans, smart phones, iPads and tablet devices, and other equipment utilizing cellular connectivity.


University Employee
  • Responsible for policy compliance.
Supervisory/Management Personnel
  • Responsible for policy compliance.
  • Ensure reimbursements requests for cell phone related expenses are not submitted or approved (see international exclusion).
Disbursement Services
  • Develops and maintains policy and procedures
  • Monitors compliance



July 2012 - Major Revision, Comprehensive Review. 1. Eliminates payment, augmentations, and expense reimbursements for personal cell phones, data plans, or other equipment with cellular connectivity, even when used in the course of performing University job related business. 2. Continues the allowance for departmentally owned contracts where justified.
June 2008 - Policy completely revised to address the Enterprise Financial System rollout.
April 2006 - Created new policy to address Cellular Device Business Expenses. Allow for supplemental compensation for those who qualify, and clarifying conditions for employee reimbursements for business use of cellular devices (cell phones/Blackberries).
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