West Chester University
Filano Hall, Room 205
West Chester, PA 19383
There are two major types of cost covered by grant funding. These are direct and indirect costs. Within each of these two types of cost there are various costs that are allowed and others that are not allowed. In this handout we will cover only those costs that are allowed as direct costs. Neither allowable costs for indirect costs nor non-allowable direct costs will be discussed. If you do not see a particular item of cost on the list below, it is probably, but not necessarily, not allowed. Before you reject the possibility of including a possible cost, check with the Office of Sponsored Research.
DIRECT COSTS: Those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy.
FACILITIES AND ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS (indirect costs): Those costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity.
ALLOWABLE COSTS: Those categories of costs that can be charged to a grant, contract, or other sponsored agreement. The following list, while typical, is not exhaustive. Variations in the regulations of different types of grants and different agencies can move items of cost on or off of the following list. Therefore, diligent attention to the RFP is called for when constructing a budget. There may be additional expenses that might be allowed depending on the type of grant and/or the agency involved. On the other hand, some grant offerings and/or agencies have limitations that will remove some of the following costs from the list of allowable expenses. For example, construction costs are not allowable for a research grant but are obviously allowable for a construction grant. When in doubt, check with the Office of Sponsored Research.
ALLOWABLE CATEGORIES OF EXPENSE UNDER DIRECT COSTS
Advertising and public relations costs
The only allowable advertising costs are those which are solely for:
The only allowable public relations costs are:
Costs incurred for telephone services, local and long distance telephone calls, telegrams, radiograms, postage and the like.
Animals and animal care costs - allowable
Audiovisual activities - allowable. Numerous regulations apply, check with OSR.
Books and Periodicals
Allowable as a direct cost when required for the conduct of the project.
A consultant is an individual hired to give professional advice or services for a fee but not as an employee of the hiring party. Charges to a project for consultant costs may include fees and travel costs (transportation/per diem/subsistence costs). Consultant costs within a university are allowable in unusual cases, check with OSR.
Contracting - allowable
Customs and import duties
Charges may include consular fees, customs surtaxes, value-added taxes, and other related charges.
Drugs - allowable if necessary for conduct of project.
An article of tangible, nonexpendable, personal property having a useful life of more than 1 year and an acquisition cost of the lesser of $5,000 or more per unit, or an amount per unit as determined by the practice of the institution.
Library and information services
Allowable as a direct cost when specifically required for the conduct of the project and when identifiable as an integral part of the grant-supported activity.
Page charges for publication in professional journals may be paid from project funds if the paper reports work supported by the project and the charges are levied impartially on all papers published by the journal. Other publications such as books, monographs, and pamphlets also are allowable under the same conditions. Most agencies require an acknowledgment of support in all publications resulting from a sponsored project that they have funded.
Registration fees for symposiums and seminars allowable if necessary to accomplish project or program objectives.
Rental or Lease of facilities and equipment.
Many conditions apply. Consult with the Office and probably the agency.
Salary may be charged directly to a project for services rendered the project by individuals while they are on sabbatical leave provided that the salary is proportional to the service rendered and is paid according to established institutional policies applicable to all employees regardless of the source of funds.
Salaries, wages, and fringe benefits
Compensation for services covers all amounts paid currently or accrued by the institution for services of employees rendered during the period of performance under sponsored agreements. These costs are allowable to the extent that the total compensation to individual employees conforms to the established policies of the institution, consistently applied. Charges to sponsored agreements may include reasonable amounts for activities contributing and intimately related to work under the agreements, such as delivering special lectures about specific aspects of the ongoing activity, writing reports and articles, participating in appropriate seminars, consulting with colleagues and graduate students, and attending meetings and conferences.
Salary rates for faculty members
Academic year: charges will be based upon the individual faculty member's regular compensation. Charges for work performed on sponsored agreements during all or any portion of such period are allowable at the base salary rate. In no event will charges to sponsored agreements, irrespective of the basis of computation, exceed the proportionate share of the base salary for that period.
Summer: Salary for the summer is determined for each faculty member at a rate not in excess of the base salary divided by the period to which the base salary relates. The base salary period used in computing charges for work performed during the summer months will be the number of months covered by the faculty member's official academic year appointment.
Rates for students
Tuition remission and other forms of compensation paid as, or in lieu of, wages to students performing necessary work are allowable provided that there is a bona fide employer-employee relationship between the student and the institution for the work performed on the sponsored project, the tuition or other payments are reasonable compensation for the work performed and are conditioned explicitly upon the performance of necessary work, and it is the institutions practice to similarly compensate students in nonsponsored as well as sponsored activities.
Rates established by institution-wide practice and allocated to a sponsored project based on budgeted, planned, or assigned work activity applied to the specific sponsored agreement.
Allowable in proportion to the amount of time or effort employees devote to the grant-supported project provided such costs are incurred under formally established and consistently applied policies of the organization.
The costs of institutional services and central facilities owned by the recipient institution, such as computer services, animal care facilities, electron microscope laboratories, are allowable.
Items whose cost falls below the established amount for equipment are considered expendable even if they might appear to be equipment. An automated stirring machine costs about $100 and is considered part of supplies. Other examples would include chemicals, paper, glue, pipettes, drugs, film, developing, laser printer cartridges, tapes (e.g., audio, video), etc.
Transportation and Delivery Charges
Allowable for freight, express, cartage, postage, and other transportation services relating to goods purchased, in process, or delivered. Usually listed in the "other" category on budget summary. Sometimes included in the price of equipment, etc.
Allowable as direct cost where such travel will provide direct benefit to the project. According to the organization's established travel policy, such costs for employees working on the grant-supported project may include associated per diem or subsistence allowances and other travel-related expenses such as mileage allowances. In all cases, travel costs are limited to that allowed by formal organizational policy.
Travel to conferences is allowable in order to report results obtained during the course of the sponsored project.
While the following is a typical example of calculations for a research/scholarly project, be sure to check each RFP for special conditions that apply. There may be minor changes or requirements for justification or method of calculation that are exceptional. If you do not satisfy the agency's request, they may kill the grant.
Salaries and Wages
Under the line item(s) for Salary and Wages, only the actual salaries and wages are calculated. Fringe Benefits are calculated separately.
Academic year salary
Typical course load is 4 courses per semester or 8 courses per year for each faculty member at WCU. Salary is based upon contractual agreement.
One course for one semester = 1/8 release time (AWA in local vernacular)
One course for each of two semesters = 1/4 release time
Therefore: if you want to buy out of one course for an entire academic year the calculation is as follows:
1/4 x yearly salary (as found in CBA) = $xxx (rounded to nearest dollar)
If you are an Associate Professor Step 6 (using Schedule C from 2006 year for example) and want 1/4 release time for entire academic year,
.25 x $67,786 = $16,947
Faculty at WCU are on 9 month contracts. Summer salary can therefore be obtained for 3 months or less.
One month summer salary = one month academic year salary
One month academic year salary = 1/9 x academic year salary
One month summer salary for Associate Professor Step F
1/9 x $67,786 = $7,532
Hourly rates determined by contractual agreement. Each position has its own rate, check with personnel or OSR to obtain rate. To calculate wages you will need to concretely estimate how much time employee will spend per week over how many weeks. Because most staff members are on a 12 month contract, their work on a sponsored project will most likely be paid as dual compensation. Before adding a request for dual compensation to a budget, contact the appropriate department chair and/or academic dean to ensure approval of the employee's request for dual compensation.
Example: $wage/hour x 20 hours/week x #weeks = wages from grant
$15/hour x 20 hours/week x 40 weeks = $12,000
Graduate Assistants are paid at flat rate for part time (10 hours per week) or full time (20 hours per week). Graduate assistantships include tuition remission. Check with OSR for current costs.
Other categories can apply if paying at an hourly rate. Check with OSR or personnel to obtain current rates for different student job categories.
Example: Student working as Research Assistant at the graduate level
Hourly rate: $7.00 - 8.00/hour, use $7.50 for the example.
$8.00/hour x 10 hours/week x 30 weeks (two semesters) = $2,400
Summary for the examples used above:
Faculty academic year salary $6,947
Faculty summer salary $7,532
Graduate Assistant $12,042
Research Assistant $2,400
TOTAL Salaries and wages $50,921
FRINGE BENEFITS Fringe benefits MUST be included on all grant proposals to external sources. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is the ONLY agency that specifically excludes fringe benefits, however, fringe benefits on PASSHE grants must be charged to another source.
Academic year faculty 35.9%
Staff. Figure will vary. Contact OSR for accurate figure.
Summer salary 16.94%
Student hourly wages 7.65%
Continuing with the examples shown above calculate benefits as follows:
Academic year salary $16,947 x 359 = $6,084
Summer salary $7,532 x .1694 = $1,276
Staff $12,000 x .359 = $4,308
Graduate assistant $0
Research assistant $ 2,400 x .0765 = $183
TOTAL Fringe Benefits $11,851
TOTAL SALARIES AND FRINGE BENEFITS = $62,772
Indirect costs must be included on all proposals to external agencies, unless an agency specifically excludes them. Our negotiated rate is 47.1% of salary and benefits (excluding graduate assistants). Some agencies require a different rate than this one. They will specify their rate in the RFP. Use the agency specified rate if it is different than ours. Be aware that their rate may use a different base as well. Use their base to calculate the IDC. For example, the U.S. Department of Education usually specifies that IDC = 8% of total direct costs. For that agency, you will take the total of all direct costs and multiply by 8%.
Calculation of indirect costs using the WCU negotiated rate:
TOTAL Salaries and Fringe Benefits- Grad Assistants x .471 = IDC
Continuing the example used above:
$62,772 - $12,042 x .471 = $23,894
Remember that the rate to use is the lesser of the agency rate or the institutional rate. Although the federal cutoff to determine if a cost is equipment or supplies is $5,000, the cutoff amount for the State System of Higher Education is $500. Therefore, any single item that matches or exceeds $500 is considered to be equipment. Itemize equipment items on budget sheet and justify in budget notes.
Air: must use economy coach whenever possible
Auto: current mileage rate = $.485/mile
Different depending upon city, check with OSR or Accounts Payable
Go for a reasonable rate.
Domestic travel for a conference is generally around $1,000 total. If you go much over, justify profusely
Foreign travel: itemize costs and justify.
PARTICIPANT SUPPORT COSTS
Use if people from outside the university are participating in the study.
OTHER DIRECT COSTS
Materials and Supplies: good estimate
Page charges, etc. for publications resulting from the project.
Consultant services - sometimes a flat rate that includes travel, etc. Sometimes a rate for consultation with travel separate. Check with your consultant about this matter. If travel is separate, show your calculations for total consultant costs in the budget notes.
Computer services - local and/or external.
Subawards - Use when part of the project will be conducted at another institution under the guidance of a different researcher/scholar. Separate itemized budgets must be prepared for the subcontract. WCU will also require a letter of support from the authorized organizational representative from the co-PI's institution, as well as a statement of work detailing the tasks to be completed on this project.
Other - general stuff such as postage, copying, advertising, recruitment, etc. not covered in prior categories.
There are many ways that required cost sharing requirement for proposals can appropriately be met. It is very important that proposal authors discuss this with the Associate Vice President for Sponsored Research and the appropriate Dean. This is not something that can be figured out within a few minutes, so having these discussions early in the process is important.
For each category of cost, show all of your calculations. Some items, particularly equipment, will require strong justification of need. Any departures from customary amounts also will require strong justification of need.