Office of Sponsored Programs
Guide to Budgeting and Costing of Sponsored Projects

Table of Contents

Budget Considerations
  1. What cost principles should be used in budget development?
  2. What is the difference between direct and facilities and administrative costs?
  3. What are nonrecoverable (unallowable) costs?
  4. Will the proposal incorporate cost-sharing?
  5. Will the proposal incorporate the use of program income?
  6. Is the budget being prepared in response to a solicitation?
  7. Is the proposal on a cost-reimbursement or a fixed price basis?
  8. What considerations should be given to the use of small and small disadvantaged businesses and women- and minority-owned businesses?
Budget Preparation
Appendix A - Sample Budget Showing Major Categories
Appendix B - Facilities and Administrative Cost Calculation Detail
Appendix C - Sample Budget Justification
Appendix D - Sample Budget for Conferences and Seminars

The following Cornell University offices and Web sites are referenced in this document:
Graduate School (607) 255-4884
Office of Human Resource Services (607) 254-8370
Office of the University Controller (607) 255-6240
Office for Supply Management Services (607) 255-3804
Real Estate (607) 254-4660
Student Employment Services (607) 255-9051
University Policy Department (607) 255-8279


Proper stewardship of resources is a major concern to Cornell University. When accepting funds from public sources the University agrees to follow a variety of federal and state regulations and to comply with the terms and conditions set forth by the sponsor.

The purpose of this Guide is to provide assistance to faculty and administrative staff with the cost principles as applied at Cornell in order to ensure that proposal budgets are prepared appropriately and the resulting expenditures are properly recorded and consistently classified in all accounting records.

When used in conjunction with the Guide to Proposal Preparation and Submission, faculty and administrative staff from any University unit (except Weill Cornel Medical College) will have the information necessary to prepare and submit a sponsored project proposal through the the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP).

Budget Considerations

Budgeting details and requirements vary considerably depending on the sponsor and type of proposal. It is helpful to consider the following questions prior to developing a budget:

1. What cost principles should be used in budget development?

Although cost principles specifically apply to federally sponsored agreements, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Guidance (UG) (2 CFR 200) (Cost Principles for Educational Institutions) is commonly used to describe the cost principles for all sponsored agreements at Cornell. The tests for appropriateness under these principles are:

2. What is the difference between direct and facilities and administrative (indirect) costs?

Direct costs are costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity; or can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. F&A costs are costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity.

At Cornell direct costs relate to the primary functions or cost objectives of instruction and department research, organized research, and public service. F&A costs consist of expenses relating to the support of the primary functions, including academic administration; University Library operations; plant operations; administrative salaries and expenses of offices such as the President, Provost, Vice Provosts, Human Resources, and Supply Management Services; grant and contract administration and accounting; general expenses including insurance, taxes, and campus security; and depreciation for use of buildings and equipment.

Circular A-21 states that the salaries and wages of administrative and clerical staff, and non-salary items such as postage for routine correspondence, local telephone calls (including equipment), and routine office supplies should normally be treated as F&A costs and are only appropriate if the purpose of such is for the sole direct benefit of the project. These costs qualify as direct costs when the nature of the performed work constitutes a major program or activity and the costs are specifically identified and justified in the proposal's budget or budget justification section. The costs must be easily identified to the project with a high degree of accuracy.

Consultation with SPS is required to determine if the necessary characteristics exist to create a major program. The examples below are illustrative of what characteristics are included in a major program:

3. What are nonrecoverable (unallowable) costs?

Expenditures for which Cornell may not, by regulation, request reimbursement, either in whole or in part, from the federal government are considered nonrecoverable (unallowable). The cost principles in UG establish allowability. When preparing a budget the following costs are nonrecoverable and should be excluded:

Note: Business meals (those necessary to carry out the unit's mission) are recoverable with proper documentation and justification. All attendees who claim federal reimbursement must have contributed to the business purpose. Proper documentation includes the date, location, food costs (with an itemization of any alcoholic beverages), attendees, and business purpose. This documentation is also required for Internal Revenue Service purposes. When the number of attendees is large, it is sufficient to name the group rather than each participant (e.g., Engineering faculty).

4. Will the proposal incorporate cost-sharing?

Cost-sharing or matching is defined as the cost portion of a project or program not borne by the sponsor. All contributions, including cash and third party in-kind, are acceptable as cost-sharing contributions when they are:

The Cost-Sharing Allowability Matrix shows the allowability of cost-sharing by source of funds.

In addition, federal awards must conform to other provisions as stated in Uniform Guidance (UG) (2 CFR 200) (Grants and Agreements With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Nonprofit Organizations: Uniform Administrative Requirements) or in the sponsored agreement.

Examples of cost-sharing include: the percentage of personnel effort to be expended on the project; associated employee benefits; Graduate Research Assistant tuition; communications; equipment; supplies; and the associated F&A costs. Unrecovered F&A costs (the difference between the full, allowable F&A costs calculated at the current negotiated rate and the F&A costs reimbursed by the sponsor) may be included as part of the cost-sharing or commitment (prior authorization is required by some sponsors). Program income earned under an award may not count as cost-sharing unless authorized by the sponsor.

Items not generally allowed for cost-sharing under federal regulations are:

Many sponsors require cost-sharing in the proposal budget or indicate that it is recommended. When cost-sharing is recommended it usually means that it will be a factor during proposal evaluation. Cost-sharing requirements may be in the form of a specific ratio or stated percentage. The source and categories of the proposed cost-sharing commitment should be clearly cited in the budget justification.

When preparing a proposal that incorporates cost-sharing it is important to remember that any promised cost becomes part of the project cost; the cost must be tracked, and is subject to audit. Every effort should be made to limit commitments, particularly when not required by the sponsor.

After award acceptance, failure to comply with the cost-sharing commitment may result in a loss of funding. Regular tracking of contributions is strongly encouraged, and will prevent under- or over- contribution. Over-contributing might preclude the use of those funds on other projects. Cost-sharing should be treated in accordance with Cornell's Cost-Sharing Policy.

5. Will the proposal incorporate the use of program income?

Some sponsored projects may generate income. Program income includes: income from fees for services performed; the sale of commodities or items fabricated under an award; license fees; royalties on patents and copyrights; and interest on loans made with award funds. Interest earned on advances of federal funds is not program income. Except when otherwise provided in federal awarding agency regulations or the terms and conditions of the award, program income does not include the receipt of principal on loans, rebates, credits, discounts, or interest earned on any part thereof. Program income should be treated in accordance with Cornell's Program Income Policy.

Some sponsors require a projection of program income and its intended use at the proposal stage. Calculation of program income should be based on historical information and best projections.

6. Is the budget being prepared in response to a solicitation?

Solicitations are used to communicate sponsor requirements to prospective contractors. For a complete description of the various proposal types, please refer to OSP's Guide to Proposal Preparation and Submission). A solicitation is a full statement of the work to be performed and may include the requirements of the proposed agreement, including terms and conditions. A proposal is an offer that can be accepted by the sponsor to create a binding agreement either following negotiations or without discussion.

Special consideration should be given to a solicitation's terms and conditions. It is important to provide your Grant and Contract Officer (GCO) with a copy of the solicitation at least 10 business days prior to the proposal deadline.There may be budgetary requirements and/or limitations such as total project cost, percentage of effort, equipment needs, explicitly restricted budget categories, required travel, F&A cost limitations, period of performance, or cost-sharing. Adhering to the solicitation's guidelines is crucial, as a specific budget format and level of budgetary detail and/or justification may be required.

7. Is the proposal on a cost-reimbursement or a fixed price basis?

A cost-reimbursement agreement provides payment for allowable costs incurred in the performance of the agreement, to the extent prescribed, and establishes estimates of total cost for the purpose of obligating funds and establishing ceilings that Cornell may not exceed. A cost-reimbursement agreement is used when the uncertainties of performance are such that costs cannot be estimated with enough certainty to permit use of a fixed price agreement.

Fixed price agreements set a firm price for the sponsor for which the contractor (e.g., Cornell) bears full responsibility. A definite price is agreed upon before the award, and the price remains fixed for the life of the agreement and is not subject to further adjustment. Fixed price agreements are generally used when reasonably definite specifications, either functional or detailed, are available and when fair and reasonable prices can be estimated and established. Such agreements are usually more restrictive in nature than cost reimbursement agreements, and are tied to a specific task-oriented work statement. Because an absolute limit is imposed on spending, special care is needed when preparing the budget to ensure that the University is in the best possible position to fulfill its proposed obligations. It is especially important to ensure that all reasonable costs are included, since the sponsor is unlikely to reimburse any additional or unforeseen expenditures.

8. What considerations should be given to the use of small and small disadvantaged businesses and women- and minority-owned businesses?

When working with a federal prime sponsor and the contract or any resultant modifications to the contract are expected to exceed $500,000 ($1 million for construction projects), Cornell is required to submit a subcontracting plan. A small and small disadvantaged business subcontracting plan is a method by which Cornell separately addresses the requirements (in terms of participation and goals) of subcontracting to small, small disadvantaged, and women-owned businesses. Samples and assistance in preparing a subcontracting plan can be obtained from your GCO.

When submitting to a State sponsor Cornell is required, to the extent possible, to utilize women- and minority-owned businesses as subcontractors.

Budget Preparation

A proposal must include an estimate that reflects the cost required to perform the work statement and a corresponding budget justification. If a proposal requests support for a multi-year project, annual budgets and a summary budget should be included. Costs for periods beyond the current are called future year projections. Factors to consider in projecting future costs include the salary improvement program, inflation, history, vendor quote projections, professional judgment, experience, and projects that overlap Cornell's fiscal year. Many sponsors provide guidelines and budget forms. Guidance on budget preparation is available from unit administration offices and your GCO. Listed below, by major budget category, are general guidelines for constructing a budget. See Appendices A, B, and C for samples.

Salaries and Wages

Compensation for personal services covers all amounts currently paid or accrued by the institution for employee services rendered during the project period. The budget should reflect the estimated percentage of effort (versus hours or months) for professional staff and faculty who will work on the project. Overtime pay eligible staff may be budgeted by providing estimated hours. Salary increases that overlap Cornell fiscal years should be built into the budget. Future years should reflect anticipated increases based on Cornell's salary improvement program. New positions should be budgeted in accordance with the compensation levels and job classifications published by the Office of Human Resources.

The costing detail should include names, titles, and percentage of effort. It is not necessary to provide names for other than senior personnel. Part-time employees should be identified as either students or non-students. Percentage of effort for nine-month faculty should be shown separately from summer support. The proposed compensation must be in accordance with sponsor limitations and documentation requirements thereof (e.g., NIH salary cap, NIH limitation on graduate student compensation, NSF limitation on number of months of summer salary.)

Academic Year Salary
Faculty or senior extension associates previously budgeted on University general purpose or New York State funds may budget a portion of their academic year salary directly to sponsored projects. The salary charged to an agreement during the period of the individual's full-time appointment should not be considered as extra compensation.

Salary recovery for a Contract College employee cannot be charged to a New York State-sponsored agreement. Figures should be based on a percentage of estimated effort and budgeted at current salary levels plus reasonable annual increases.

Employee Benefits

Employee benefits are part of real employment costs and must be included in a budget. Benefit rates are calculated annually and take effect each July 1. These charges may not be waived. Benefits for salaries and wages in the current fiscal year should be calculated at the current rate. Benefits based on salary estimates for future years or for single year projects that overlap Cornell's fiscal year should be calculated at projected rates. Current and projected benefit rate information is available here or may be obtained from your GCO.

For the contract colleges student salaries and wages and sabbatic salaries are exempt from benefit costs. Employee benefits for contract college employees are not calculated on salaries and wages proposed to State (nonfederal flow-through) sponsors. For the endowed colleges the following rate structure is in effect for the categories shown under "Examples."

Endowed Employee Benefits

Rate Title Description Examples            
Zero Applies to salary expenses which do not carry benefits.
  • Student wages (academic year and registered summer)
  • Benefits paid directly from the benefit pool (e.g., disability payments)
  • Minimum Applies to employees who receive only mandated benefits such as Social Security, Workers Compensation, Disability, or Unemployment.
    • Visiting faculty or temporary employees earning less than $5,000 or working fewer than 1,000 hours for all Cornell jobs in a calendar year.
    Full Applies to all employees who work 1,000 hours or more or earn $5,000 or more for all Cornell jobs worked in a calendar year.
  • All full time employees
  • Temporary employees with single or multiple jobs that total 1,000 hours in a calendar year
  • Temporary employees with single or multiple jobs that total $5,000 in earnings in a calendar year

  • NOTE: When an emeritus professor is appointed with a professorial title, full benefits are charged.

    The level of costing detail required at proposal submission consists of the amount of salaries and wages, any exclusions, and the corresponding benefit rate(s). Current rate information can be obtained from your GCO or OSP's Web site.

    Note: Employee benefits are charged at the rate in effect at the time of the salary obligation, whether or not the benefits are budgeted at that rate.


    The capitalization threshold for all equipment for all university operations with a useful life of two years or more is $5,000. This means that an item with a unit cost of $5,000 or more and a useful life of two years or more will be considered capital equipment. Items not meeting these criteria are considered consumable supplies. The capitalization threshold for computer software is $100,000.

    Equipment is subdivided into two classifications: special purpose and general purpose. As a rule, special purpose equipment is considered to be that which is necessary and is strictly limited for use by the research, medical, scientific or other technical activities of a project, and is unlikely to be available within the University.

    General purpose equipment is that for which potential use is not limited to research, medical, scientific or other technical activities. Examples of general purpose equipment include office equipment and furnishings, air conditioning equipment, reproduction and printing equipment, motor vehicles, and data processing equipment. Expenditures for general purpose equipment, buildings, and land are unallowable as direct charges by the federal government and most other sponsors, except where the equipment is primarily for the sole benefit of the project and the expenditure has advance approval from the sponsor.

    The budget justification page should contain estimates and justification for all equipment needed to perform the scope of work. Such detail should include the necessity and suitability of the equipment, description, unit cost, and any quoted discount. Estimates should be based on either catalog or telephone quotes, historical cost, engineering estimates, or prior experience. Assistance in matters of price, quality and delivery may be obtained from Supply Management Services. Equipment is excluded from the base upon which full F&A costs are calculated and is not subject to the F&A rate.

    Some sponsors will require certification as to the nonavailability or nonexistence on campus of the proposed equipment. After written confirmation from the unit, the GCO will add a statement to the proposal transmittal letter stating such nonavailability.

    Fabricated Equipment

    Equipment that is constructed by combining or assembling modular components and/or materials into one identifiable unit is referred to as fabricated equipment. Typically such equipment is made or designed in-house for a specific purpose. In order to be capitalized, the finished product must have a unit cost of $5,000 or more and a life expectancy of more than one year. Shop labor charges related to equipment fabrication by an on-campus shop qualify for inclusion in the capitalized cost and are therefore exempt from F&A cost recovery if:

    The shop occupies a permanent location and is equipped to provide an ongoing service to a broad spectrum of users; Serves the general research community rather than a single research group or department; Has a billing system for user charges approved by the University Controller; and Shop personnel report to and receive work assignments from a non-academic supervisor.

    Shops currently meeting these qualifications are: Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics, Engineering, Cornell Center for Materials Research, and Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Other labor costs associated with equipment fabrication are not excluded from F&A cost if the equipment is not fabricated in these Cornell shops. Facilities and administrative costs: F&A costs are calculated on the above components at the full rate.

    The budget justification page should include the necessity and suitability of the equipment, a description, and the unit cost.


    Communication costs include telephone services, local and long distance telephone calls, postage (including services such as United Postal Service and Federal Express), and facsimiles. Large mailings of surveys or questionnaires must be identified and justified. These costs should be based on actual experience with an inflation factor built in for future years. On federally funded projects postage for routine correspondence and local telephone costs (equipment, installation, maintenance, line charges, facsimile lines), are treated as F&A costs and are appropriate to budget as direct costs only if the purpose of such is for the sole direct benefit of the project. Such costs must be explicitly budgeted, identified to the project, and justified. Shipment of project materials and deliverables are direct costs if incurred for the sole benefit of the project. Project-associated long distance telephone charges are considered direct costs.

    Certain data communications costs will be considered as F&A costs as follows: expenses associated with backbone/wireless services (e.g., the common infrastructure costs), and port fees, public and non-public.

    Note: It is recognized that a significant portion of the Wide Area Network (WAN) usage is related to and benefits academic activities such as instruction and organized research. Because of this and because WAN usage can be measured it may be apportioned to all benefiting activities, both direct and F&A, proportionate to the benefits provided. In situations where the benefit and apportionment is to a sponsored agreement, the direct charging of these services must be specifically budgeted and justified in the grant application or contract proposal and be approved (or not specifically disapproved) by the awarding agency.

    The budget justification page should include a listing of the items and a justification and estimated cost for each.


    Travel costs are classified as those expenses for transportation, lodging, subsistence and related items incurred by employees who are traveling on official University business. Unless otherwise stated by the sponsor, domestic travel is considered to be travel among any of the 50 United States, its possessions and territories, and Canada. Foreign travel is classified as travel outside these areas. During budget preparation, consideration should be given to expenses for attending professional meetings, field work travel and living allowances, consultation with experts, and meetings required by the sponsor. Travel expenses and requests should be clearly justified and reasonable. The budget should be based on historical data, Cornell's Travel Policy, airline quotes from a travel agency, and sponsor guidelines.

    Travel in excess of commercial coach airfare is normally nonrecoverable. Foreign travel is a restricted category by most federal agencies and requires prior approval by the sponsor. When costs are charged to a federally sponsored agreement the use of U.S. flag carriers is required.

    The budget justification page should include the number of trips, the purpose and relationship to the project, and the estimated costs for each trip. For foreign travel the countries to be visited and the visit dates must also be included.

    Lease and Rental

    Lease and rental expenses for computers and peripheral equipment, general equipment, vehicles, land, buildings, offices and storage areas are included in this category. Lease and rental for space are excluded from the base from which F&A costs are calculated and is not subject to the F&A rate. Budgeting for lease and rental should be based on actual experience with an inflation factor built in for future years, or on actual lease agreements. Supply Management Services or the Real Estate Department can provide assistance.

    The budget justification page should list the lease or rental item(s) and the estimated cost(s).

    Repair and Maintenance

    Repair and maintenance are categorized as costs incurred for the necessary maintenance, repair, or upkeep of property which neither add to the permanent value of the property nor appreciably prolong its intended life, but keep it in efficient operating condition. Budgeting should be based on actual experience with an inflation factor built in for future years, or from the actual maintenance agreement(s).

    The budget justification page should include a list of the equipment to be maintained and the estimated costs. To qualify as a direct cost, maintenance costs must be for the sole benefit of the sponsored agreement.


    Under this category professional services rendered by Cornell interdepartmental services (e.g., Cornell Business Services, Cornell Information Technologies), outside firms, companies, or individuals should be listed. For interdepartmental services budgets should reflect actual quotes based on current fee structures or anticipated use. Budgeting for external use of services should be based on actual quotes. Assistance in matters of price, quality, and delivery for external sources can be obtained from Supply Management Services. Both internal departmental and interdepartmental computer charges must be based on accounting and expense systems developed in accordance with UG guidelines and Cornell's Service Center Policy.

    The budget justification page should include a list of the type of service(s), and the total estimated costs.

    Academic Fees and User Fees

    Academic recharge operations and service centers may recover the cost of goods and services provided to internal and external users through rates or user fees. User fees should be designed to recover no more than the cost of the service provided, with adjustments based on prior experience. User fees must be calculated consistently for federal and nonfederal users. User fees may not be based on what others charge for similar services, or what Cornell thinks the market will bear. User fees should be based on UG guidelines and Cornell's Service Center Policy. New user fees for service facilities must be submitted for review and approved by the Controller's Office prior to implementation. User fees for other service facilities must be submitted annually to the Controller's Office for review and approval. Current rates can be obtained by contacting the service provider.

    The budget justification page should include the rate schedule and calculation of the user fees.


    Services of a consultant may be budgeted when the services are sufficiently special, temporary, or technical in nature that they cannot be performed satisfactorily by existing University personnel during the course of their assigned responsibilities. Consultants are independent contractors, not employees, therefore benefits are not charged. Travel and incidental expenses are included in the total consultant estimate and budgeted under this category. Curriculum vitęs and other specific information related to the consultant(s) should be maintained by the department. Designation of independent contractor status is governed by the Internal Revenue's Code of Common Law. Cornell may be subjected to significant institutional tax penalties should the individual be incorrectly classified as an independent contractor. Costs should be based on quotes from the consultant. See Cornell's Guidelines for Consulting Agreements.

    The budget justification page should include the justification, name, expertise, compensation rate, number of days of expected service, related travel expenses, and the estimated costs.

    Note: Some sponsors may not permit the use of consultants, or may restrict the daily reimbursement rate.


    Subcontracts are budgeted when a portion of the required effort needs to be provided by one or more other entities (third parties) which are made responsible for a discrete part of the project. When the portion of effort being performed by a third party constitutes a significant component of the sponsored project, then the third party will be required to provide the resources necessary to conduct that portion of the effort as an independent contractor. The cost(s) normally associated with third party effort could include any or all of the following: labor, employee benefits, materials and supplies, travel, equipment and other direct costs, and F&A costs. In addition, it is not uncommon for third party, commercial organizations to include costs such as labor overhead, material overhead, general and administrative expense, cost of money, and a profit or fee.

    The budget justification page should include a line itemization at the same level of detail as requested from the sponsor. F&A costs should be included and calculated using the subcontractor's current rate. A copy of the subcontractor's negotiated rate agreement, a statement of intent to participate, and a statement of work should be submitted along with the proposal budget. The reasons for selecting a particular subcontractor should be explained in the proposal.

    The subcontractor's costs are incorporated into the Cornell budget as a direct cost. When calculating the F&A costs the amount that exceeds $25,000 should be excluded from the base. The first $25,000 of each subcontract, regardless of the length of performance, is calculated at F&A rate effective on the overall award.

    Supplies and Materials

    Supplies and materials are categorized as items actually used in the performance of the work, and all tangible property other than equipment. Incoming transportation charges (freight, bills of lading) are part of material cost. Reasonable amounts should be budgeted, and projects that anticipate using large amounts or expensive items should specify such items and justify their necessity. Budgeting should be based on actual experience with an inflation factor built in for future years. Assistance in matters of price, quality, and delivery can be obtained from Supply Management Services.

    On federally funded projects routine office supplies should be treated as F&A costs and are only appropriate to budget as direct costs if the purpose is for the sole direct benefit of the project. These direct costs must be explicitly budgeted, specifically identified to the project, justified and approved by the sponsor. Laboratory supplies (chemicals, glassware, disposables), animals (purchase, shipping, housing, maintenance), research supplies and training materials (questionnaires, surveys) are considered direct costs. Care should be taken to explicitly describe all consumables included in a proposal budget. For example, computer forms should not be budgeted as office supplies.

    The budget justification page should include a list of the supplies and the estimated costs for each. The breakdown should be more detailed when the total supplies cost is substantial.

    Conferences and Seminars

    When hosting a conference or seminar, appropriate costs include meals, transportation, facilities rental, and other related items. When budgeting for a conference or seminar, some considerations are:

    Employee salaries and benefits: Salaries of professional personnel, editorial, clerical, and other staff are allowable in proportion to the time and effort devoted to the preparation and conduct of the event and summarizing its results. To the extent possible, costs should be based on actual salaries and benefit rates.

    Non-participants: Reasonable fees (in the form of honoraria), travel allowances, and per diem are allowable for cost of services (e.g., presenters) rendered by persons who are members of a particular profession or who possess a special skill and are not employees or participants.

    Facility rental: Rental of facilities and necessary equipment are allowable and budgets should be based on quotes from the service provider.

    Conference materials: Necessary expendable materials and supplies are allowable and estimates should be based on actual experience with an inflation factor built in for future years.

    Publications: Cost of publishing the proceedings are allowable only if approved by the sponsor. Projections should be based on actual experience with an inflation factor built in for future years.

    Facilities and administrative costs: F&A costs are calculated on the above components at the full negotiated rate.

    Participants: Participants are the individuals whose primary interest is as beneficiaries of the event. Participants may make formal presentations or give papers. If a participant is a federal employee, he or she may not be receiving compensation from other government sources while participating in the event. The following associated costs are excluded from the F&A cost base:

    Stipend: Participants may receive a stipend to help defray living expenses while participating in a conference. Allowances should be budgeted at a reasonable rate and are limited to the days of attendance plus actual travel time.

    Travel, per diem, or subsistence: Reasonable travel allowances related to the conference or training activity (e.g., field trips) may be budgeted.

    Registration fees: Registration fees are treated as program income to offset the costs of the event. Fees should be established based on total program costs including both the direct and F & A program costs and divided by the number of expected participants. A registration fee paid to or on behalf of a participant is treated as a direct participant cost. For disposition of program income, refer to the Cornell's Policy on Program Income.

    The budget justification page should include an itemization of the above categories and the estimated costs of each. See Appendix D for a sample budget format.


    Publication costs consist of the documenting, preparing, publishing, disseminating, and sharing of project findings and supporting material. Budgeting should be based on actual experience with an inflation factor built in for future years. Assistance may be obtained from Purchasing or by contacting a publisher.

    The budget justification page should include the page charges, number of pages, and the estimated cost.

    Facilities and Administrative Cost

    The facilities and administrative cost rate is an accounting mechanism used by universities to recover real support costs that benefit sponsored projects but cannot readily be associated with specific projects. The university infrastructure supports programs by providing such items as the physical plant, libraries, some level of departmental and central administration, and sponsored programs administration. The process for recovery is a reimbursement of actual expenditures, calculated in accordance with A-21 cost principles. The University is subject to government internal and external audit of supporting data for every year. The F & A cost rate is an average of all F&A costs incurred for all federal and non-federal funded projects.

    At Cornell, an F&A cost rate is applied to all restricted accounts for all awards regardless of whether they are categorized as a gift, grant, or contract. In practice, F&A cost is applied as follows: whenever a sponsor is the primary beneficiary, or receives specific deliverables expressed as either one or more of the four conditions shown in the top left box, it is appropriate that the sponsor pay for the full cost, both direct and F&A. If the award does not provide for any of these conditions, it is still appropriate to charge the full F&A cost. However, the recovery rate may be discounted, but never below ten percent of direct costs, excluding student wages or tuition. In this manner every project supports a portion of Cornell's infrastructure.

    Application of Facilities and Administrative Cost Rates

    Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs are applied as described in the table below for all awards, regardless of whether they are referred to by the sponsor as a Gift, Grant, or Contract.

    Award Conditions Applicable F&A Cost Rates
    All awards which contain one or more of the following conditions giving the sponsor:
    1. Hardware, software, instructional or research data deliverables (other than routine reports).
    2. License to intellectual property (Patents or Copyrights).
    3. Training or other services (including testing) performed primarily for the benefit of the sponsor.
    4. Input or joint determination of the research effort during performance such as in a cooperative agreement.
    F&A costs will be applied at the Full Rate in accordance with the published rate schedule.
    All Awards containing none of the above conditions. Wherever possible F&A costs should be applied at the full rate but may be discounted to a minimum rate of 10% of Direct Costs, exclusive of Graduate Student wages or stipends and tuition/fees.

    Current Facilities and Administrative Rate information is available here or may be obtained from your GCO.

    Sample Budget Format Showing Major Categories

    Facilities and Administrative Cost Calculation Detail

    Sample Budget Justification

    Sample Budget for Conferences and Seminars

    RETURN to beginning of document

    RETURN to OSP Home Page