Direct Costs

Costs that are specifically associated with a particular sponsored project or activity or that can be directly assigned to that project or activity with a high degree of accuracy.

Salaries and wages

Faculty, technicians, graduate students, post-docs, etc.
Summer Salary can be charged up to 40% of faculty members’ base salary. Summer Salary effort commitments greater than 40% requires a course buyout. Please see your college administrator for more information on this process.

Fringe Benefits

Fringe benefits are allowances and services provided by employers to their employees as compensation in addition to regular salaries and wages. Fringe benefits include, but are not limited to, the costs of leave (vacation, family-related, sick or military), employee insurance, pensions, and unemployment benefit plans. Northeastern receives reimbursement for fringe benefits paid to, and on behalf of, employees funded by sponsored projects through the application of its federally negotiated fringe benefit rates. Northeastern negotiates fringe benefit rates with the government on an annual basis, and these rates are applied based on the employee’s full or part-time status. Northeastern’s current fringe benefit rates for full and part-time employees can be found here.

Equipment

Considered an article of non-expendable tangible personal property having a useful life of more than 1 year and an acquisition cost of $5,000.

Important questions to keep in mind when budgeting for equipment:

  • Is the item necessary for the project?
  • Does the cost include tax, shipping, transit insurance and/or installation?, maintenance fees?
  • Can it be supported in the current space without facility alterations?
  • What are the material components and applicable costs?
  • Are there any recharge services or supplies required?

Materials and Supplies

Consumable scientific and technical supplies that are necessary to carry out a sponsored project. Have an acquisition cost of less than $5,000 and/or life expectancy of less than 1 year.

  • May include: Chemicals, reagents, glassware, etc.
  • General office supplies (computers, pens, paper, toner) ordinarily not allowed.

Consultants

An individual or entity whose expertise is temporary, highly specialized, and needed to assist with the project. A consultant is distinguishable from a subaward as a consultant does not develop the objectives of the project and is not responsible for programmatic decisions. A consultant is an independent contractor who is NOT an employee of the University.

Subawards

Subawards are issued when part of the research is being performed by another institution outside of Northeastern. Subawards are distinguishable from consultants as they contribute substantively to the scholarly/scientific conduct of the project and have responsibility for programmatic decision making. Further guidance on determining whether a collaborator is a consultant or subaward can be found here.

Other Direct Costs

This is a budget category for miscellaneous costs such as tuition, animal subject care, human subject payments, publication costs, facility user fees, participant costs, etc.

Participant Support Costs

Uniform Guidance definition “Direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowance, travel allowance, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conference, or training projects.”

Indirect Costs

Also known as Facilities & Administrative Costs (F&A) or Overhead. These are costs incurred for common or joint purpose and cannot be specifically identified with a particular sponsored project. Indirects pay for research infrastructure here at Northeastern.

F&A rate percentage is applied to the modified total direct cost (MTDC) base amount. MTDC base excludes: equipment, capital expenditures, patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarship and fellowships, participant support costs, and portion of subaward in excess of $25K.
The link to our current rate agreement can be found in the box located above right.

Other Considerations

Budget Justification

The budget justification is the narrative explanation of the budget. It helps the funding agency evaluate the reasonableness of the costs proposed. The justification should explain and defend each budget category in sufficient detail.

Cost Share

Cost sharing is the portion of the total project costs that is contributed by Northeastern and/or other non-federal sources but not reimbursed by the sponsor. Northeastern does not encourage cost sharing commitments in sponsored research, and generally will not commit university resources to a project unless required to do so by the sponsor.