Cost Share FAQ

If your question is not answered here, you may contact the OSP Contracts & Grants Specialist for your award.

Cost Sharing is that portion of a total sponsored project’s costs that not borne by the sponsor. Cost Sharing can either be required by a sponsor as a condition of the award (Mandatory Committed) or it can be voluntarily pledged (Voluntary Committed) when it’s not a sponsor requirement.

Cost sharing contained in a funded sponsored project, whether Mandatory or Voluntary (not required for funding consideration) becomes a binding commitment by the University. Once a Cost Sharing commitment has been made, the University must accurately document and report to the sponsor that Cost Share commitment has been met.

Cost Sharing has a significant financial impact on the department providing the funds and on the University as a whole. Commitments should be held to a minimum. The University procedure is to provide Cost Sharing only when required by agency guidelines or is delineated in specific program announcements.

Matching funds are a specific type of cost sharing, typically used when a sponsor requires the grantee to "match" the sponsor funding according to a specified ratio. In practice, the terms “cost sharing” and “matching” are often used interchangeably.

Cost Sharing by The University of Texas at Austin is provided in circumstance where the guidelines of a sponsoring agency have delineated it as a requirement in the specific program announcement. Cost Sharing has a significant financial impact on the unit providing the funds and on the University as a whole. By minimizing cost sharing where not necessary, UT:

  • Is able to make more money available to fund cost sharing where it is required to be a viable proposal;
  • Reduces the time faculty and administrators must spend on tracking and documenting cost sharing;
  • Lessens the university's exposure to audit findings caused by insufficient or improperly documented cost sharing; and
  • Curtails impacts on UT's facilities and administrative rates.

The university’s decision to authorize the use of internal resources to supplement funding of a sponsored project is based on the availability of funds and the relevance of the project in furthering the mission and goals of The University of Texas at Austin.

There are a couple of reasons why we shouldn’t cost share:

  • The Uniform Guidance requires that funding opportunities must specifically state if cost sharing is to be used as a review criteria. Unless specifically stated, cost share is not a factor in the award decision, making it, essentially, a waste of university resources.
  • The amount of funds the University has available for cost share is limited, so those funds should be used only when absolutely necessary.
  • The amounts we cost share are factored into our negotiated F&A rate: more cost share = lower negotiated rate. For example, our current negotiated rate is 56.5%. A significant increase in our cost share commitments could result in that rate going down after the next negotiation, resulting in a decrease in the reimbursement of indirect costs previously expended by the university.

Federal regulations require that Cost Sharing be allocable to a specific project and that it is verifiable. As the University office charged with responsibilities concerning grant activities from inception to completion, OSP collects and tracks data pertaining to grant-related Cost Sharing.

Federal regulations regarding Cost Sharing are found in the Code of Federal Regulation, 2 CFR 200, “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards” (§ 200.306 Cost sharing or matching).

Federal regulations regarding Cost Sharing are found in the Code of Federal Regulation, 2 CFR 200, “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards” (§ 200.306 Cost sharing or matching).

To be acceptable as Cost Sharing, contributions must satisfy all of the following criteria as stated in part in Subpart (b):

  1. Are verifiable from the recipient’s records;
  2. Are not included as contributions for any other Federal award;
  3. Are necessary and reasonable for accomplishment of project or program objectives;
  4. Are allowable under Subpart E—Cost Principles of this part;
  5. Are not paid by the Federal Government under another Federal award, except where the Federal statute authorizing a program specifically provides that Federal funds made available for such program can be applied to matching or cost sharing requirements of other Federal programs;
  6. Are provided for in the approved budget when required by the Federal awarding agency; and
  7. Conform to other provisions provided in 2 CFR 200.

Unrecovered indirect costs may be included as part of Cost Sharing or Matching only with the prior approval of the Federal awarding agency.

Cost Sharing consists of allowable and necessary direct costs and/or unrecovered indirect expenses. Typical cost share items are: PI Salary and fringe benefits and the related facilities and administrative cost. These costs are easily identifiable and documented.

Examples of allowable forms of Cost Sharing:

  1. Effort devoted to sponsored projects by primary individual (PI, Co-PI, Project Director, etc.).
  2. Tuition, fees, and stipends related to work performed by graduate students on sponsored agreements.
    Note: Sponsor approval may be required to include tuition, fees, and stipends.
  3. Use of equipment charged at fair market rate
    Note: Sponsor approval may be required to include equipment use as Cost Sharing. Consult with OSP early in budget preparation to ascertain allowability.
  4. Research and laboratory supplies.
  5. Travel.
  6. Costs incurred by subrecipients or other third parties, including third-party contributions, not otherwise reimbursed.
    Caution: The value of third-party In-kind contributions must be established in the proposal. When contributions are other than personal services, the provider must establish the fair market value of the item. OSP must review and approve the use of these contributions as cost share.
  7. Unrecovered facilities and administrative costs may be included as part of Cost Sharing on federal awards only if they are specifically identified in the award or with the approval of the awarding agency.

Keep in mind that effort commitments used as Cost Sharing must only be used once and not be used against multiple sponsored programs. Effort must have been expended directly in support of the scope of work of the sponsored project and coinciding with the award’s period of performance.

The general rule is this: If it is not an allowable cost by the sponsor, it is not an allowable item for cost share.  These are commonly disallowed as cost share: Entertainment type expenses such as tickets to sporting events, dinners (including alcohol), general type equipment (file cabinets, desks, and chairs), fund raising activities, proposal-writing activities, additional compensation or any expenses paid directly from the grant.

Cost sharing foregone IDC is allowable only in the situation that the sponsor requires less than the federally approved negotiated rate, and the sponsor allows the use of foregone indirect costs as cost sharing.

Voluntary uncommitted cost share occurs when faculty and/or senior researchers donate effort to sponsored agreements above and beyond that which is committed and budgeted for in a sponsored agreement as either sponsor paid or cost shared.  This is not reported to the sponsor and does not require a cost share form.

When cost sharing salary, the related cost of fringe benefits is included. Overhead (indirect costs or facilities & administrative expense) is generally not included.

In most cases, No. You cannot cost share from another federal grant except as authorized by statute.

When specifically allowed by the federal sponsor, the PI may utilize funds from non-federal awards as the source of cost sharing on federal awards when specifically allowed by both the non-federal and federal sponsor.

Unrecovered indirect costs, including indirect costs on cost sharing or matching, may be included as part of cost sharing or matching only with the prior approval of the sponsor.

To be allowable as cost share, costs must be allowable as direct costs to an award. Since administrative costs must first meet certain criteria to be included in the direct costs, cost shared administrative costs must meet the same criteria:

  • Administrative or clerical services are integral to a project or activity;
  • An individual or specific role can be specifically identified with the project or activity; and
  • Such costs are explicitly included in the budget and/or have the prior written approval of the Federal awarding agency.

Cost-shared salaries and benefits as a percentage of PI effort should be calculated no differently than if they were direct costs of the award, so the PI would include expected annual increases in pay.  if the budget proposes a $20,000 cost-sharing commitment, and this commitment is predicated on a 5% salary increase across-the-board for certain project personnel, then the University is obligated to document $20,000 in cost-sharing regardless of what the actual percentage increases are for these individual's salaries.

Since the amount of salary over the NIH cap is an unallowable cost, it can’t be used as cost share.

Infrastructure costs such as laboratory space or existing equipment cannot be cost shared. PIs should take care in preparing proposals not to commit use of facilities as cost sharing, but rather to characterize the facilities as "infrastructure available for the performance of the sponsored project."

“Donated property from third parties may include such items as equipment, office supplies, laboratory supplies, or workshop and classroom supplies. Value assessed to donated property included in the cost-sharing or matching share must not exceed the fair market value of the property at the time of the donation” (Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200.306(g)). See Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200.306(d), (h), and (i) for related scenarios).

Cost sharing should only be described and quantified in the budget justification, unless otherwise specified by the funding announcement.

Cost sharing should not be discussed in the technical narrative or the facilities and resources statement.

A Proposal/Award Cost Share Form is required for each proposal that includes Cost sharing and can be downloaded by following the link at the top of this page.

The department and PI are responsible for tracking cost share so OSP can verify and report it to the sponsoring agency.

The Principal Investigator or a departmental administrator is responsible for completing the form, for obtaining appropriate account number/letters, and for submitting a Proposal/Award Cost Share Form to OSP.

Once the project is funded, the Principal Investigator must review the Cost Sharing information provided at proposal submission, update if necessary, and certify that the Cost Sharing required by the terms and conditions of the award can be met. The Principal Investigator will provide the source(s) of funding for the Cost Sharing.

Principal Investigators (PIs) are responsible for assuring that the Cost Sharing commitments are met and must provide appropriate documentation to the Contracts and Grants Section of the Office of Sponsored Projects, which includes appropriate documentation (letters of commitment) from the providers of Third-party Cost Sharing.

Upon submitting a cost share form to OSP, the PI certifies that proper authorization has been obtained from authorized account owners before using those accounts as Cost Share.

Any amount of committed Contributed Effort/unpaid effort must be reported on a Cost Share Form. The University requires a minimal commitment of 1% is required on the part of the PI and other key personnel during the project (HOP 7-1010 – Effort Certification). This minimum requirement does not apply to

  • equipment grants,
  • dissertation grants,
  • other awards intended as “student augmentation”, and
  • limited-purpose grants such as travel grants or conference support.

Should the cumulative total of Matching funds or Cost Sharing commitments based on the faculty member's academic time and effort exceed the percentage of the faculty member's academic year time allowed by the College as a Research Allocation, advance approval by the faculty member’s department chair and dean is required and is to be documented on the Cost Share Form attached to the proposal.

A Proposal/Award Cost Share Form must be submitted along with appropriate account numbers and/or commitment letters.

The faculty member's appointment is given in terms of percentage, not hours. Assuming a full-time appointment, all the commitments must total 100%.

To convert percent effort to person months, multiply the percentage of your effort associated with the project times the number of months of your appointment. Here are some examples:

  • 25% of a 9 month academic year appointment equals 2.25 (AY) person months (9 x 0.25= 2.25)
  • 10% of a 12 month calendar appointment equals 1.2 (CY) person months (12 x 0.10 = 1.2)
  • 35% of a 3 month summer term appointment equals 1.05 (SM) person months (3 x 0.35= 1.05)
  • 10% of a 0.5 FTE 12 month appointment equals 0.6 (CY) person months (12 x .5 X .1 = 0.6)

If the regular pay schedule of an institution is a 9 month academic year and the PI will devote 9 months at 30% time/effort and 3 months summer term at 30% time/effort to the project, then 2.7 academic months and .9 summer months should be listed in the academic and summer term blocks of the application (9 x 30% = 2.7 person months; 3 x 30%= .9).