How to Build Budget for E-Fests

ASME E-Fests can be the highlight of your school year. There’s competitions, networking, informational sessions, and even social events. Many student sections depend on university funding to be able to make the trip. We understand that many times the deadline for these funds is on a first-come first serve basis and we don’t want you to miss out. So here’s a quick guide as to how you can create a budget for your next ASME E-Fests trip using a pretty helpful resource.

Every year the U.S. General Services Administration releases per diem rates for the continental United States. Per Diem is the pre-tax allowance for meals, incidental expenses, and lodging. Many institutions use these values as the guides for funding and reimbursement. Here’s how you can use the website to create a budget for travel for your E-Fest trip.

Step 1: Getting Started
Visit the U.S General Services Administration website

Step 2: Calculating Lodging
  • Scroll down to the Making Travel Easier Section and type in the state. Let’s use ASME E-Fest West. The dates for California for an example.
  • Select “Look Up Rates” Since you don’t know the exact city that E-Fest will be taking place, you have two options. You can use the “Standard Rate” which applies as an average for the state. Or you can use “Los Angeles” because it encompasses a big part of Southern California where E-Fest will most likely be held.
  • Using the dates for E-Fest (March 1st) use February and March to calculate the average cost per night for each room that you’ll need for lodging.
Step 3: Calculating Meals and Incidentals
Once you have the hotel room nights, click on the “View Rates” button under Meals & Incidentals Rates. M&IE rates can be done for single meals such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner or as a day total. When calculating you can also use “First and Last Day” costs which are 75% of the total M&IE. Remember these values are per person, per day.

Step 4: Calculating Travel Cost
To calculate the cost of gas return to the GSA homepage and select POV mileage. If you are going to be using your own vehicles, use the privately owned vehicle rate/mile. Using google maps you can calculate an average amount of miles to and from the destination. To calculate airfare, go on your preferred booking website and using the provided dates, estimate the costs for airfare to the nearest airport. In this case, use LAX.

Step 5: Build, Apply, Decide
Now that you have all of your costs for lodging, meals and incidentals, and transportation. You can build a budget using the specific number of members you would like to attend E-Fest. If you have already attended an E-Fest in the past, use those values as a reference, or if you are allowed you can submit those as an alternative budget. Don’t forget to add budget items for competition build components, shipping costs, and event registration. If you’re still undecided about which E-Fest you want to attend, repeat this process for the other event location and compare!

See you at E-Fest!

Valentina Alayon is ASME’s Coordinator, Student & Early Career Engagement & Experience.

Register here for E-Fest West 2019

More info about E-Fest North 2019