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Direct Costs Other Than Salaries

Whenever the following items meet the definition of an allowable cost under Section 200.403 of the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (2 CFR 200), you may treat them as direct costs to your sponsored project:

  • Consumable supplies
  • Telephone toll charges and other project-specific communication costs
  • Laboratory animals
  • Animal care
  • Computing
  • Travel
  • Specialized shop services


Consumable supplies iconConsumable supplies

Treat consumable supplies as direct costs if it can be demonstrated that such supplies are used only in the conduct of the project, are not used for other purposes, and are consumed completely in the course of the project. If used only for project purposes, items such as laboratory supplies and materials, lab notebooks, diskettes, transparencies, printer paper for research data and reports, report binders, and so forth are justified as consumable supplies. However, when such items are purchased to support the multiple activities of project personnel, they are considered office supplies and cannot be charged directly to federal funds. Such items would include University stationery, pens, tablets, file folders, staples, paper clips, and so forth.

Telephone iconTelephone line charges

These costs can be made against federal funds only where the line can be shown to be completely dedicated to a project or set of closely interrelated projects. Telephone line charges to interrelated projects must be pro-rated on some defensible basis. Toll charges are allowable if some mechanism is in place to ensure that such calls are documented and charged to the projects to which they are directly related.

Postman delivering email iconPostage costs (extraordinary need only)

Postage, including the cost of courier services, should be budgeted to federal projects only where there is an extraordinary need (i.e., an unlike circumstance) for postage, such as mailed surveys, which can be justified explicitly in the budget explanation submitted to the sponsoring agency.

Computer Device CostsComputer Costs

Network costs, including the hardware, software, personnel services, public access sites, and other related costs required to enable University personnel to share software or data or to communicate electronically with other individuals, are generally considered to be part of the physical infrastructure of the University and should not be included as direct costs in the proposal budget, as these costs are indirect in nature and included as a component of the Facilities & Administrative rate.  

However, individual workstations and specialized hardware and software attached to the network, which are not available to all users, are not included as part of the network costs and therefore may be treated as direct costs and recovered from sponsored projects through the use of approved recharge rates. 

A Special Note About Grant-Related Data Sharing Costs

Certain funding agencies (e.g. the National Institutes of Health) are increasingly allowing costs that facilitate compliance with their data sharing mandates to be included as direct costs in proposal budgets. Absent any prohibition from the funding agency, and in accordance with the applicable terms and conditions of the underlying grant, costs associated with data curation, data formatting, data de-identification, preparation of metadata, and repository data deposition fees may be planned for and included in the proposal as direct costs. Specialized IT infrastructure uniquely needed for data management and preservation prior to deposit into a repository may also be included in the proposal budget as a direct cost.

Questions regarding the appropriate treatment of network costs as either direct costs or Facilities & Administrative costs in proposal budgets should be forwarded to the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects.