F&A costs are costs incurred for common or joint purposes. In other words, they are University expenses that cannot be specifically identified with a particular project or activity. F&A costs are also referred to as indirect costs or overhead. Examples of F&A costs include the costs of building and equipment depreciation, utilities, and the numerous other costs necessary to operate the University such as costs associated with accounting and purchasing functions and administrative services provided by academic departments including administrative and clerical salaries, telephone equipment, postage, general office supplies, etc.
Uniform Guidance recognizes that, in certain circumstances it may be appropriate to treat a cost which is usually classified as an F&A cost as a direct cost on a Federal award. Examples of special circumstances that may justify the direct charging of these costs are listed below. Direct charging of the costs described below is permissible only when specifically allowed in the award document or with prior approval from the sponsor.
When a project requires an extensive amount of administrative or clerical support, it may be appropriate to charge these salaries directly to the project. Examples include:
- Projects involving extensive data collection, data entry, and data analysis
- Projects requiring travel arrangements for large numbers or participants such as seminars and conferences
- Projects whose principal purpose is to prepare and produce large reports, manuals, books, etc.
- Projects that are geographically inaccessible to normal departmental administrative services, such as a project being conducted at a remotely located field research site
- Projects requiring project-specific database management, graphics or manuscript preparation, human or animal protocols, or multiple investigator coordination.
In the types of projects described below, it may be appropriate to charge normally indirect non-salary costs directly to the sponsored project:
- Projects involving a large mail survey could justify direct charging for the postage necessary to conduct the survey
- Projects involving a telephone survey could justify direct charging for the dedicated phone lines necessary to conduct the