Direct Costs: Participant Support

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Definition and Description

Participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences or training projects (UG §200.75).

A participant is a non-UCI employee, who is eligible to receive a service or training associated with a workshop, conference, seminar, symposium or other short-term instructional or information-sharing activity.  Participants may include students, scholars, and scientists from other institutions, individuals from the private sector, teachers, and state or local government personnel.

A participant does not perform work for the project, and is not required to provide any service or deliverables in return for the participant support allowances.

Participant Support does not include fees for speakers or trainers, expenses for the PI, expenses for UCI employees to attend training or conferences, or incentives for research subjects to participate in a research project, such as gift cards or stipends.

Participant Support is only allowable on a research project with the prior approval of the awarding agency (UG §200.456), and when the project includes an education or outreach component.

Budgeting and Managing Participant Support Costs

Participant support should be budgeted in its own separate category, labeled as Participant Support. All funds approved for this budget category have a restricted purpose and are to be accounted for separately. At UCI, a separate Expense Account for participant support costs is set up by Contracts and Grants Accounting, and all expenses charged to this account are exempt from indirect costs. Under the Uniform Guidance, participant support costs are exempt from indirect costs and they are excluded from Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC) for the purposes of F&A (UG Appendix VII to Part 200).

In cases when the sponsor doesn't impose any additional restrictions, funds may be transferred into Participant Support budget category but may not be budgeted out without prior approval from the sponsor (UG §200.308). If prior approval to rebudget participant support costs is not obtained, any unspent funds in this budget category cannot be used for any other purpose and must be returned to the sponsor at the end of the project period.

PIs and departmental research administrators are responsible for reviewing award documents, monitoring expenditures throughout the life of the award, and for obtaining written sponsor approval for any rebudgeting when prior approval to transfer funds between the cost categories is required.

Additional Resources