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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

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 considered to be part of the physical infrastructure of the University and are classified as Operation and Maintenance (O&M) expenses and are considered to be an indirect cost.

However, individual workstations and specialized hardware and software that are not available to all users are not necessarily included as part of network costs. These items may be treated as direct costs and/or recovered from sponsored projects through the use of approved recharge rates.

The appropriateness of these types of costs as direct charges to a particular sponsored project must be based on a "facts and circumstances" test that considers the needs of the funded project.  These expenditures should be anticipated and explicitly shown in the project budget. Agency approval will be assumed if these costs are budgeted and are not specifically denied in the notice of award or in related correspondence from the agency to the University.

Where the need to incur such costs has not been anticipated and therefore, not included in the project budget, consult with the appropriate ORSP Project Representative before direct charging these costs to a federal grant or contract.

References and Resources

ORSP Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Rates & Frequently Used Institutional Information