Direct Costs

The Uniform Guidance defines Direct Costs in §200.413 as follows:

Direct costs are those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular final cost objective, such as a Federal award, or other internally or externally funded activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. Costs incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances must be treated consistently as either direct or indirect (F&A) costs.

The most commonly used direct costs budget categories include: salaries and wages, fringe benefits, equipment, travel, materials and supplies, participant support costs, publication costs, consultant services, computer services, subawards. Other categories may exist, like for example student stipends and payments to human subjects.

In order to avoid possible double-charging of Federal awards, the University is required to be consistent in its treatment of each item of cost incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances. However, an expense that would normally be charged as indirect or Facilities and Administrative (F&A) cost can sometimes be charged as a direct cost, depending on circumstances.

In order to directly charge a cost normally treated as an F&A/indirect, the project must have a special need for an item or service that is above and beyond the level of service normally provided, and the cost must meet all of the following conditions:

  • Be integral to the project
  • Can be specifically identified with the work conducted under the project
  • Explicitly included in the sponsor approved budget or other written approval
  • The cost is not also recovered as indirect cost

More information about the most commonly used types of direct costs can be accessed by following the links to their separate pages in the website navigation.

Additional Resources