Mobile Phone Expenses and Stipends

The University recognizes that staff may be required to use a mobile phone for business purposes. Phone usage includes calls, texts, and data. This policy outlines requirements for reimbursement of the business usage portion of mobile phones service charges for all staff. The University also seeks to improve stewardship of its resources by minimizing instances where staff members are being subsidized for mobile phones when usage is personal rather than business related.



  • Staff may be eligible for mobile phone stipend reimbursement when job requirements justify a mobile phone and they are regularly required to use their personal mobile phone to perform their job duties
  • Mobile phone usage to fulfill job duties must be at least 50% of phone usage (based on average call time per month)
  • Job requirements that justify reimbursement of a mobile phone include:
    • Accessibility for urgent business-related communications with the individual during or after normal business hours
    • A requirement to travel frequently on University business

Note: Staff with current mobile phones, whether University or personally purchased, that do not have a business need for the mobile phones (as defined above) will no longer be provided a phone or be reimbursed. The University will contact existing users with University issued mobile phones with guidance to cancel or migrate to personal paid plans.



The University will reimburse the estimated portion of business use through a monthly stipend through payroll up to $30 per month. This stipend must be validated on an annual basis and shall never exceed the total monthly bill. With the exception of a small number of individuals described below, the University will no longer purchase or reimburse for purchase mobile phones.

Staff Responsibilities

  1. Staff must request reimbursement to their supervisor with approval from the unit Associate Dean, Associate Vice President, or equivalent for the President and Provost Offices. Approved requests will be retroactive up to 30 days.
  2. On an annual basis, staff must validate business usage of mobile phone with their supervisory unit
  3. Staff receiving a stipend are not eligible for hardware, software or accessory purchase reimbursement
  4. Since these mobile phones are the personal property of staff, they are responsible for any loss, theft, or damage
  5. Staff will not receive technical support from the University for their mobile phone
  6. Reimbursement will be processed through payroll and no longer occur through GEMS

Unit Responsibilities

  1. Supervisor review of staff reimbursement requests with approval required from unit Associate Dean, Associate Vice President, or equivalent for the Provost and President Offices
  2. Annual validation of business need for phone stipend by unit Associate Dean, Associate Vice President, or equivalent for the Provost and President Offices
  3. Provide spreadsheet listing staff being reimbursed to University Budget Office and Finance and Administration as part of the annual budget cycle


International Charges

For international business travel, the staff member is responsible for submitting reimbursement of the international portion of the phone coverage through GEMS. The University will only reimburse for the business portion of the cost (i.e., for the days abroad).


University Provided Mobile Phones

The issuance of a University provided mobile phone is expected to be rare and should only occur when the phone is used 100% for business purposes. The University provided mobile phone must be pre-approved by the respective unit Associate Dean or Associate Vice President, approved by the Office of the VP and CFO and acquired through Central IT Services. Phones will not be refreshed (replaced) earlier than three years from the date of issue, unless in the limited circumstances of hardware failure. 

Staff Responsibilities

  1. Devices must be returned upon a staff separation from the University
  2. Staff are to use the phone for University business only
  3. Staff who receive a University mobile phone must adhere and agree to the following:
    1. Agree to set a security passcode
    2. Agree not to put personal apps or games on the mobile device

Unit Responsibilities

  1. The unit Associate Dean or Associate Vice President must approve University purchase of phones
  2. All University phones must be purchased by IT Services and cannot be paid for on a GEMS card
  3. Annual validation of staff’s need for a dedicated University-provided device



Staff with University issued mobile phones or those who receive a stipend towards such services should be available to answer business related calls and/or emails during the times established and agreed upon with their respective supervisor. In addition:

  • Staff are expected to have a professional voicemail greeting on their personal phone
  • Staff must comply with federal, state and local laws pertaining to the use of mobile phones
  • Staff must comply with the University of Chicago Policy on Information Technology Use and Access
  • Any mobile phone or mobile device mismanagement will result in cancellation of the phone or stipend 


  • This section of Policy 1202 has been established for substantial non-compensatory business reasons. It is intended to comply with IRS guidance regarding taxability of reimbursements of staff mobile-phone expenses as set forth in the Internal Revenue Manual.