FAQs: Cost Sharing

What is considered allowable cost sharing on NSF awards?

Since 2009, the NSF has prohibited the inclusion of voluntary cost sharing in proposals. Cost sharing may only be included in NSF proposals where it is specified as mandatory for that particular program (such as the Major Research Instrumentation opportunities). As of 2014, the NSF has clarified that unfunded personnel may not be listed in the budget justification, and that only federally negotiated indirect cost rates will be accepted. Offering non-specific effort or a reduced indirect cost rate in the budget justification is considered a violation of the cost sharing policy. 

Does MIT have preferred costs for cost sharing?

Yes, use:

  • Up to 66 percent of the MIT-provided tuition subsidy for Graduate Research Assistants
  • Equipment
  • Other expense categories
  • Faculty academic year (AY) effort greater than 10 percent, Employee Benefits, F&A

How do I treat F&A in mandatory and voluntary cost sharing?

Mandatory committed (required by the sponsor in the proposal solicitation or in the award negotiation): The DLC pays direct costs; MIT pays F&A costs.

Voluntary committed (committed in the proposal but not required in the proposal solicitation): The DLC pays both direct and F&A costs.

How do I show cost sharing from a subrecipient?

Request that the subrecipient provide a budget that separately details, year by year, the proposed project; funds that are requested from the prime sponsor; and the direct and indirect costs that are offered as cost sharing by the subrecipient. The subrecipient’s budget should provide the same level of detail that the DLC provides for an MIT budget request. Please follow the instructions for entering cost sharing in the KC proposal as referenced in the KC eLearning module “KC Budget

How do I determine the value of contributed items from third parties?

In general, values for contributions of services and property are established in accordance with Uniform Guidance Subpart E Cost Principles for allowability and the terms of the federal award. All documentation should include a brief statement describing the basis for determining the valuation of services, material, or equipment. Detailed Valuation and Documentation Guidelines are described in the reference document: Cost Sharing Primer for DLC Administrators.

How do I know that my cost sharing costs are allowable?

As with costs directly charged to the sponsor, allowable cost sharing must be necessary and reasonable for the performance of the project objectives. As with direct charged expenses, cost shared expenses must be reasonable, allocable (i.e., directly benefit the specific project), and consistent with the terms of the award. Allowable cost sharing expenses must be expended (i.e., incurred) during the effective date of the award project. For details on eligibility criteria, see What Is Allowable/Eligible Cost Sharing.