Michigan State University
Controller's Office

Administration Bldg
426 Auditorium Rd, Rm 305
East Lansing, MI 48824
517 355-5020

SECTION 71: Honoraria, Speaker Fee and Performer Payments

Last updated: August 2013

I. Definition

A true honorarium is a payment given to a professional person for whom no fee was established or agreed upon and the value is not related to the performance of service. An honorarium, speaker or performer fee is a payment to a service provider for a presentation-oriented event such as a:

  • lecture, seminar or address
  • workshop or committee meeting
  • training session
  • artistic performance
  • entertainer

II. Allowable Recipients

MSU employees and MSU students do not qualify for honoraria, speaker fee or performer payments. Compensation to an MSU employee or student must be made through the appropriate HR/Payroll process (MSU employees with an official “unpaid” classification may qualify, please contact Accounting for clarification).

Payments to nonresident aliens and non-U.S. citizens must follow the policies and procedures of Section 77 of the Manual of Business Procedures

III. Process

  1. Payment is made by completing a Disbursement Voucher (DV). Reference MBP section 75. In cases where a service provider contract is required, the contract must be routed through the Purchasing Department for signature to authorize the contract before services are performed.
  2. If the service provider does not already exist as a DV or PO vendor in the finance system (EBS), a new DV vendor must be created. The service provider’s Social Security number or tax identification number is required to set up a DV vendor.
  3. The DV must have the completed Honoraria/Speaker/Performer Checklist attached. Attachment of other pertinent documentation (e.g. an event flyer, announcement or invitation letter) is encouraged. The DV is completed using Payment Reason G (Contractual Services / Advertising / Honoraria), and object code 6415 for Honoraria or 6414 for Speaker Fees.
  4. Payment to any single vendor should be made no more frequently than once per month. For example, a vendor with an engagement that occurs the first and third weeks of a month should receive a single payment. A vendor with an engagement that occurs once in February and once in April can receive two payments.
  5. Travel expenses are to be processed in accordance with Manual of Business Procedures Section 70. Travel expenses may be included on the DV with the honoraria. Please separate the travel expenses on separate accounting lines, and use the proper travel expense object code.

IV. Examples of Allowable Payments

  • Providing an artistic performance or musical demonstration at a departmental event where there is no charge for attending the performance or demonstration. Includes halftime entertainment at athletics events.
  • Presenting and/or conducting a seminar or workshop.
  • Lecturing to a class or at a public assembly on campus. A short series of lectures (must take place over a period of no more than two weeks) is allowable.
  • Speaking at a commencement ceremony.
  • Reviewing an article for publication in a professional journal or other publication.

V. Examples of Unallowable Payments

  • In situations where intellectual property is being created.
  • Performances where an entry fee is charged, e.g., a concert or entertainment event.
  • Primary instructor or teacher of record of a course for MSU academic credit with duties including course curriculum and grading (this results in employee status via HR/Payroll).
  • Independent contractor services, such as interpreter services, consulting services, freelance writers, contracted IT services, etc. See Manual of Business Procedures Section 76 before engaging an independent contractor.

VI. Exhibits/Forms