FOR THE FACULTY: THE OFFICE OF SPONSORED PROGRAMS ANSWERS QUESTIONS ABOUT GRANTS
Q: What are indirect costs and do I need to include them?
A: Indirect costs are the general support expenses related to the university’s operations that cannot be specifically identified to a project1. Also known as Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs, indirect costs are 'invisible' overhead expenses incurred during the normal implementation of grant-funded projects. Direct costs are faculty salaries, supplies, equipment, or travel expenses. Indirect costs include utilities, administrative oversight and clerical support, and library services.
When a funder allows indirect expenses in a proposal, it’s a good chance to recuperate a small percentage of the university’s general operations. The percentage allowed varies from grant to grant, funder to funder. No matter what percentage we are allowed to claim, Otterbein reallocates indirect cost income as follows:
| ||Non-Student Affairs ||Student Affairs |
|General Fund ||40% ||40% |
|Department ||30% ||30% |
|Student Research |
|20% ||15% |
|Student Leadership |
|0% ||10% |
|Academic Affairs ||10% ||5% |
|Total ||100% ||100% |
Q: What exactly is match/cost-share and is it a problem?
A: Match, or cost-share, is an amount of money that is not included in the grant request but is necessary to complete your grant successfully. Let’s say a funder will not pay for your transportation to your research site. The expense will be incurred by you or the University. The total for transportation would be your or the University’s matching contribution to the grant (save receipts to prove it or to ask for reimbursement). In this case, the matching expense may not be a problem if you received a grant for transportation, or the department chair, dean or provost signed an agreement to pay for it with already-budgeted University funds. But if you seek reimbursement and the expense was not approved, it may not be in the university budget. That’s a problem!
‘No cost share’ are sweet words but if you do encounter the perfect grant for you and there is a requirement to match the funder’s investment with an equal amount from Otterbein, let’s talk about the costs that we have already budgeted that can help you meet the match without additional grants or fundraising.
Q: Can I purchase food/refreshments with my grant money?
A: Paying for food-related expenses depends on the funder’s rules. The State of Ohio will not allow grant funds (state dollars) to be used for food or refreshments ‘except in limited and defined circumstances.’ (Executive Order 2007 – 09S Imposing Limits on the Use of Public Funds for the Purchase of Food.) See Otterbein’s policies for reimbursement to guide expenditures.
Case, F. J. (2000). Facilities and Administrative Costs in Higher Education. Washington, DC: National Council of University Research Administrators.