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Indirect Costs

Q: What indirect cost rate should I use for my grant proposal?
A: The appropriate rates are listed in the Rates section.
Q: How do I calculate the indirect cost on my grant proposal?
A: The appropriate formula is listed in the Rates section.

Fringe Benefits

Q: How much money do I need to budget for fringe benefits on my grant proposal?
The appropriate rates are listed in the Rates section.

Office Supplies

Q: Why can't I charge office supplies to my federal grants?
A: Federal OMB Circular A-21 "Cost Principles for Education Institutions" requires postage and office supplies be considered a departmental expense (indirect cost) unless the expense can be shown to be a significant part of the project or activity and they are purchased for the sole direct technical benefit of the project. Postage for routine correspondence, including correspondence with the sponsoring agency should not be direct charged to the project.

Other Unallowable Costs

Q: Are there other costs which are not allowable on federal grant funds?
Yes. Some of the most common are listed below. For a more complete discussion of allowable and unallowable costs on federal funds, please see OMB Circular A-21.
Salaries of departmental secretarial and clerical staff are allowable only when the project or activity explicitly budgets for these salaries, and the individuals can be specifically identified with the project or activity. This means the individual must be involved in a significant role in the project. This situation will arise very infrequently and these charges will normally not be allowed as direct costs.
Local telephone costs that include purchase, installation and/or monthly line charges, are not allowable as direct costs.
Memberships are not allowable as direct costs. 

Program Income

Q. What funds should be spent first?  Program Income or Sponsored Funds?
A. Program income should be spent prior to the sponsored funds, unless specified otherwise in the agreement. Funds remaining in the program income project at the end of the award will be returned to the sponsor.    

Q. What happens to program income generated after the award period?
Unless specified otherwise, there is no obligation to the sponsor for program income earned after the award period. Income thus earned is subject to the university policies concerning Revenues from Sales of Goods and Services. Note: Income earned during the award period but received up to 60 days after the end of the award period must be considered program income and treated in accordance with the program income guidelines.

Q. What kind of fund do I need if sales will be to external customers?
External sales of goods and services to external customers outside the University after award termination must be accounted for in an appropriate departmental local fund. Note: Sales to external customers outside the University may be subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT).

Q.  What kind of fund do I need if sales will be to internal customers?
If sales are anticipated to internal customers you will need to setup a Recharge Center Fund.

Summer Salary

Q. What is summer salary?
A. A full-time summer salary month appointment is equal to 1/9 of an individual’s 9 month academic year salary. It cannot exceed base salary.   (Note: NSF limits personnel to 2 month’s salary per year)  

Q. What is my base salary?
A. Based salary used for computing summer salary will be the base salary of the faculty member’s current academic year appointment (that ends May 15th) divided by the number of months in their academic year contract.  This amount would be the monthly salary rate and would be used to calculate the summer salary for the period May 16th through August 15th.  Ex. 9 month faculty contract ending May 15th of $90,000 – would have summer salary rate of $10,000 per month (90,000/9=10,000) Note:  The annual increase in base salary, for 9 month faculty, is not effective until August 16th of each year

Q. Can I charge 100% salary to a sponsored project?
A. It is not advisable since faculty and research staff have multiple responsibilities and it creates multiple restraints.

Q. What happens if you are 100% Funded by Sponsored Project Funding during the summer?
A. All effort expended must be on the grant that is providing the salary. Any business or conference must be restricted to travel related to only the sponsored award(s) activities, vacation may not be taken during the period that is being paid by sponsored funds, departmental administrative responsibilities may not be carried out during any period that is exclusively charged to the grant, no proposal writing for new or competing projects, and no student mentoring not related to the purpose of the project may take place. Note: this list is not all inclusive - anything that takes away time from the project would be unallowable.

Q. What if I write proposals after my 40 hours or while on vacation?
A. The federal government’s position is that “any time work is performed for the institution, regardless of where and when it’s considered part of the person’s compensated effort”.  Therefore, total time spent conducting university business is considered effort irrespective of a “normal” work schedule.  Work performed outside of the 40 hour schedule, during the weekend and evenings, while on vacation, in off hours, and on or off campus is still considered part of effort.

Q. Can I use salary savings to be paid for summer salary?
A. That is a departmental decision (and there probably HR and/or Academic Affairs guidelines that they must follow) as they could be paying someone else to do additional duties and there are generally fiscal year end constraints/deadlines. 

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North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-8357 / Fax: (701) 231-9414
Campus address: SGC 100
Physical/delivery address: 1919 University Dr N, Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 3130 / PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: Grant and Contract Accounting

Last Updated: Friday, April 24, 2015 1:09:45 PM