Field Trip and Recognition GuidanceGuidance on field trips and recognition in expanded learning programs.
The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and
Audit Requirements for Federal Awards
(Revised April 2017)
Costs of entertainment, including amusement, diversion, social activities and any costs directly associated with such costs (such as tickets to shows or sports events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities) are unallowable.
The purpose of this guidance is to ensure that grantees have the correct information when developing their program plans regarding field trips and/or recognitions, and are in compliance with federal guidance provided in OMB Circular A-87 concerning allowable expenditures. This guidance is intended, but is not guaranteed, to provide the most defensible position in case of an audit. It is the grantee’s responsibility to keep detailed records and justifications on file for audit and/or monitoring purposes.
Field trips for entertainment purposes are not allowable. However, the federally funded After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens program, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, and the state funded After School Education and Safety program permit field trips that can be a valuable educational and enrichment experience for youth. They should be connected to the academic or enrichment program and provide an educational experience from which students can grow academically or culturally. The program should document how all field trips are linked to academic learning and how the trip will assist with meeting program goals outlined in the after school program plan.
The activity undertaken on any field trip, however, must fall within the above stated program activities and program budget. Careful attention should be given to trip selection, pre-visit preparation, and appropriate follow-up activities such as an evaluation of the field trip as it relates to the overall goals, objectives, and strategies for successful after school programs. The use of field trips should be articulated in the program plan so that the activity is directly linked.
Good planning and organization should precede field trips. An example of good planning would be a field trip to a theater to see a play. This trip might be followed up with the student writing a report that focuses on the academic and/or enrichment value such as the play’s meaning within the context of their own life experience.
Expanded Learning Programs (ELPs) may count students’ attendance when they attend educational field trips during program hours (i.e., science camp) as long as they meet all of the following criteria:
- Staff who are supervising the students meet the minimum qualifications of an instructional aide (does not have to be the ELP staff).
- The educational field trip must be linked to goals in the Program Plan.
- A sign in and out sheet must be completed every day for each student.
- Only students who are in the ELP can be counted.
- Supplanting—In order to avoid supplanting, ELP funding can only be used for educational field trips that are coordinated and provided by the ELP. The educational field trips should be directly connected to the academic or enrichment components of the ELP. ELP funding cannot be used for field trips provided or coordinated by the core instructional day.
- Liability—The Local Education Agency (LEA) hosting the educational field trip holds the liability for the students during the field trip. This is usually documented in subcontracts or Memorandum of Understandings if the program is operated by a non-LEA, such as by a Community Based Organization.
- Permission—Qualified staff (i.e., teachers, instructional aides, etc.) are able to sign the students in and out while in attendance at the educational field trip during program hours.
- Attendance—Only students who attend the ELP should be counted toward the ELP attendance. Promising practices require the grantee agency maintain a list of students participating in the ELP and do not simply enroll the entire school in the program for the attendance.
Below are some questions to consider prior to taking a field trip:
- What is the relevance of proposed field trip to a learning objective?
- What teaching will occur prior to, during, and after the field trip to make it contextually relevant to the students’ experiences?
- How will the trip’s educational value be assessed upon completion of the trip?
- How will the field trip costs be covered?
- What is the impact of the trip on available program budget resources?
Generally, recognition is given after completion of an activity. Recognizing certain achievements in the ELP are an allowable cost. An example may be–if certain students participating in a club finish a high quality project, they are then recognized with certificates.
Although these are allowable costs, due to the possibility of recognition costs being identified as incentives in an audit, the Expanded Learning Division encourages grantees to use other funds through partnering with community organizations or fundraising. An incentive is something substantial that is used as a reward to entice students to behave in a particular way, such as attending the program. Examples of an incentive are substantial rewards such as gift card or sports equipment explicitly promised prior to the activity that promotes a desired student behavior. Incentives that are paid for with public funds are more likely to result in an audit finding.