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How long does it take universities to reimburse your travel expenses after they invite you to visit them for graduate school?

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It ranges wildly. In 2010, I visited 3 schools in mid-February and I received 2 of my reimbursements by the end of March, and the last one took until the end of May!! It turns out that they needed a physical signature on a form and the prof that hosted my visit was away so he couldn't contact me until April to sort out the mailing of forms back and forth.

This year, I received 2 of 3 reimbursements within 3 weeks of getting the material to them (I had to mail in receipts) but the last school took just under 2 months to get.

Delays can happen because the claims first have to go through the department staff and they make sure everything is okay (i.e. you didn't try to claim things they didn't agree to reimburse) and that you have all your paperwork filled out. Then they send it on to the University's finance department who have their own auditors to check things out. If you combined personal travel with this, or if you visited multiple schools in one trip, they need to make sure that the split was done correctly. After they approve it, the University's Financial Office writes you a cheque and mails it to you, which could be slow -- I find that mail sent out of a University might take longer to get to the post office than dropping it off at the post office directly.

I think I have a pretty good and clear system of submitting receipts so that everyone is happy -- I tape them onto a piece of blank white paper and write whatever notes/labels necessary on the paper beside the receipts -- but some places want loose receipts. This also lets me easily make a photocopy and/or a scan of the receipts for my own records in case they get lost, and also for the department staff to make a copy of it before sending onto the Financial office.

To answer your question though, I would be concerned after 2 months and I would check in with whoever is responsible for reimbursements. For the last school this year, I emailed the person after about 3 weeks to check and they said that they had approved the claims and the Financial office has them now.

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