University of Illinois System
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8.7 Cell Phone & Data Plan Business Expenses

Policy Statement

The University of Illinois System does not provide salary stipends, expense reimbursements, or payments on behalf for faculty and staff (via Purchasing Card or direct bill to the system) to cover costs associated with use of personal cell phones, data plans, or other equipment with cellular connectivity used in the course of performing system-related business. Some mobile communication and or data/internet business expenses incurred while in travel status may be paid through the travel reimbursement process.

With college-level chief executive approval (deans, vice chancellors, or associate vice presidents), units may purchase mobile communications equipment (including but not limited to cellphones, data plans, tablets, and others), and related service plans for individual employees or groups of employees who will use the equipment for system business purposes. Pagers and other one-way communication devices require only Business Manager approval, where Business Manager is defined as the employee with financial responsibility and oversight of all financial transactions of a department or unit. It is within the discretion of a unit to determine whether there is a business need and funds available to support any expenses associated with mobile communications purchases, unless your university applies additional restrictions. It is important to ensure that the employee receiving a system-owned equipment/service plan is in a position where the associated benefits justify the cost to the system. Units and university offices processing equipment purchases must retain documented evidence of college-level chief executive approval for all individual and shared group equipment purchases.

At the discretion of the universities, additional university-level approvals, or restrictions may be applied.


To purchase equipment or service plans for employee or employee groups:

  1. Make sure that the employee's job requires the use of mobile communications equipment and/or data or internet service plans.
  2. Become familiar with additional requirements established by your university.
  3. Obtain approval for the purchase by obtaining college-level chief executive approval for mobile communications equipment and related services, or business manager approval for pagers. Retain documented evidence of the approval in your unit.
  4. Coordinate all purchases of equipment and services through the appropriate university office. Consult Additional Resources to identify the appropriate university office. Be sure to follow their established purchasing procedures.
  5. Monitor the use of individual and group equipment and related services to ensure they are used only for system business purposes.
  6. Ensure that charges associated with personal calls on system-owned devices are reimbursed to the system account against which the total charges have been applied.
  7. Follow return/disposal procedures required by your appropriate system office when there is no longer a business need for the mobile communications device.

Chicago: Mobile Device & Service Plan Purchase Request Authorization Form Procedures
Springfield: See Springfield: Information Technology Services (ITS) - Telephone link under Additional Resources below.
Urbana-Champaign: See Urbana-Champaign Campus Administrative Manual link under Additional Resources below.

Urbana-Champaign Campus Administrative Manual, Purchase of Mobile Communications Equipment and Related Service Plans (BF-09)
University offices for equipment purchases:
    Urbana: Purchasing Division
    Chicago: Academic Computing and Communications Center (ACCC)
    Springfield: Information Technology Services (ITS) - Telephone
    System Purchasing and Support Services:

First Published: June 2011 | Last Updated: May 2023 | Last Reviewed: May 2023