Cell Phone and Technology Allowance and Reimbursement

Effective: Monday, September 28, 2020

Last Revised: Monday, September 28, 2020

Responsible University Administrator: Vice Chancellor, Business & Finance

Responsible University Office: Business & Finance

Policy Contact: Office of the Vice Chancellor for Business & Finance


This policy applies to all University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) faculty, staff and student employees.

Policy Statement

The University will not pay directly nor reimburse faculty or staff for cell phones, data plans, or internet services, with the following exceptions: 

  • Public Safety and Disaster Preparedness - Departments involved in public safety, disaster preparedness, or emergency response are encouraged to use departmental contracts when cellular equipment or communications are required.
  • Department-owned contracts for the purpose of rotation among staff, delivery service, or on-call emergency service. 
  • Research/Extramural Support - Where cell phone expenses are allowed and approved in conjunction with a specific grant. All expenses must be charged to the grant in accordance with sponsor requirements and University policies governing sponsored projects and necessary to perform their job responsibilities.
  • 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. 

The determination of whether an employee is eligible for university issued or reimbursed technology or communication device is assigned to the college/department. The funding of technology or communication devices is the responsibility of the college/department. Employees must meet one of the above Policy Statement exceptions and have a substantial business need to be eligible for reimbursement. 

Examples of a substantial business need for a university issued communication device may include:

  • Requirement to travel frequently with a great amount of time in transit;
  • Need to be available to assist faculty, staff and/or students on a regular basis outside of normal business hours;
  • Requirement to be available 24/7 365 to respond to emergency and/or critical operations of the university;
  • The employee does not have access to a landline or other means of communication for a substantial portion of his/her job; and,
  • The employee supports or is responsible for programs, services or systems that necessitate frequent and immediate communications throughout the day or after hours. 

For university-issued communication devices or services, the University acquires the communication device/service and assigns it to a specific individual who is to use it for business purposes. Incidental personal use is permitted. The communication device and all accessories remain the property of UNL. The communication device should be recorded on the employee’s Objects on Loan record in SAP. At the request of the supervisor or at employee’s separation, the employee must return the communication device and all accessories. The communication device/service is not taxable to the employee. 

When the University is providing the communication device/service, the lowest cost option available to accommodate the particular business need shall be utilized. 

Pagers and two-way radios are considered business only applications. They may be provided by the University with no taxability to the employee. 

Shared phones, also known as duty phones, are typically assigned to a group of persons on a rotating or shift basis, or to individuals for a specific period of time (e.g., summer conference). They may be provided by the University with no taxability to the employee. 

Note that open records laws (e.g., Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA) may apply to communication records (e.g., bills, details of calls) for services paid for with University funds. 

The decision as to whether an employee receives a university issued communication device is not grievable.

Reason for Policy

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to UNL on allowances and reimbursements for technology, technology services, and devices.


Occasional expenses eligible for reimbursement will be paid via Accounts Payable. The request should be submitted in the university travel management system, requires receipts, is subject to the 60 day requirement and must comply with university and state policies. 

Recurring monthly allowances/reimbursements should be submitted as one-time payments via Payroll and are subject to taxation.   

Additional Contacts

Payroll - Questions (Recurring Expenses)



Accounts Payable - Questions (Occassional Expenses)




  • This policy was created and implemented in September 2020 and replaces the Cell Phone Use policy.