Frequently asked questions

  1. What are indirect (F&A) costs?
  2. What are the federally negotiated F&A rates for NC A&T and how are they calculated in a proposal?
  3. How are fringe benefits calculated?
  4. What is cost sharing?
  5. How do I join COS (formerly Community of Science)?
  6. How do I update my COS Profile? How do I set up COS Funding Alerts?

1. What are indirect (F&A) costs?

Indirect Costs (now called Facilities & Administration or F&A, also known as overhead) are institution-wide costs that cannot be tied specifically to a project, such as custodial services, utilities, maintenance and depreciation of facilities, and general administrative support services. When preparing your budget, all direct cost items are listed first; then the appropriate indirect cost percentage rate is assessed against total allowable direct costs.

2. What are the federally negotiated F&A rates for NC A&T and how are they calculated in a proposal?

F&A rates are negotiated with N.C. A&T's cognizant federal agency, the Department of Health and Human Services.

The University's current F&A rates are:

Activity On campus Off campus
Research 42.50% 26%
Instruction 42.50% 26%
Other sponsored activity 42.50% 26%

A project is considered to be off-campus when 50% or more of the work performed under the project is conducted outside of University-owned facilities.

The appropriate negotiated rate should be used unless otherwise noted in the program guidelines. Many Department of Education grants restrict F&A to 8% and many private foundations limit F&A to anywhere from 10% to 25%. Some agencies will not pay F&A at all. Always check the program guidelines.

When recovery of full F&A cost is allowed by the sponsor, use these steps to calculate the cost:

1) Determine the Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC) base. Usually the easiest way to do this is to subtract all excluded cost items and/or dollar amounts from the direct cost budget.

  • MTDC Base includes:

Salaries and wages, fringe benefits, travel, materials & supplies, consultants, printing, the first $ 25,000 of each subcontract and any other cost items not excluded below.

  • MTDC Base excludes:

Equipment, that portion of each subcontract in excess of $ 25,000 and the following "other cost" items: tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs, patient care costs and rental costs for off-campus facilities.

2) Multiply the appropriate F&A rate times the MTDC base.

3.  How are fringe benefits calculated?

Fringe benefits are calculated by multiplying the applicable fringe rate times salary costs.

Category Rate
Full-time faculty/staff 33%
Instruction P/T and nonenrolled students 7.65%

The fringe benefit rate of 33% is an average rate that represents the cost for fringe benefits normally charged. It covers the costs for Social Security, Medicare, Retirement, Disability, and Life & Health insurance.

4. What is cost sharing?

Cost Sharing is defined in federal regulations as project costs not borne by the sponsor. The University shares in the cost of a sponsored program whenever there is a difference between the total cost of performing a project and the funding provided by the sponsor. Either Direct Costs or Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costs may be shared. Cost sharing should be proposed only when required by the sponsor or strongly encouraged and should not exceed the levels required by the sponsor. Voluntary cost sharing should be avoided. Cost sharing consumes scarce resources and also places a heavy administrative burden on the University since it must be extensively documented. Cost sharing by the University must be identified as either "In-kind" or "Cash Match". The Division of Research's Form entitled "University Cost Sharing" must be filled out and signed by the appropriate individuals to document approval for in-kind cost sharing and cash matching. Proposals that require cost sharing will not be submitted to the sponsor until the Division of Research receives a written commitment from the appropriate Dean and/or Vice Chancellor.

5. How do I join COS (formerly Community of Science)?

Click here to go to the COS registration page. You must use a university computer to join.

6. How do I update my COS Profile? How do I set up COS Funding Alerts?

 Answers to these and other questions are on the COS support page.