Frequently Asked Questions

On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Rates

When to use the on-campus rate:

  • The on-campus rate applies to projects performed in space that the University owns.
  • The on-campus rate applies to projects performed in leased space that is contiguous or nearly contiguous to Emory’s campus.
  • Rent (recurring; i.e., not one-time or short-term facility rental) may not be charged to sponsored projects applying the on-campus rate.

When to use the off-campus rate:

  • The off-campus rate applies to projects performed in leased space that is remote (beyond 50 miles) from Emory’s campus. A direct rent cost should be included in the proposal budgets and charged to benefiting sponsored projects.
  • The off-campus rate applies to projects performed in remote space that the University does not own and for which the University does not bear a lease cost from any University account (sponsored or non-sponsored, central or school/department fund source). In these cases, a rental cost should not be direct charged to the project as there is no real cost to any University entity.

It's also possible for the project to be performed at an off-campus adjacent location. When to use the off-campus adjacent rate:

  • The off-campus adjacent rate applies to projects performed in space within a 50-mile radius of the Emory campus that the University does not own and for which the University does not bear a lease cost from any University account (sponsored or non-sponsored, central or school/dept fund source). This rate applies to Emory Healthcare facilities and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta facilities located on Emory’s main campus. In these cases, a rental cost should not be direct charged to the project as there is no real cost to any University entity.

Per the University’s F&A Rate Agreement with the Federal Government, grants or contracts should not be subject to more than one F&A cost rate:

  • If more than 50% of a project is performed off-campus, the off-campus rate will apply to the entire project.
  • If more than 50% of a project is performed on-campus, the on-campus rate will apply to the entire project.

A grant/contract should not be considered both on and off-campus, and there should be no apportionment of expenses between the two categories.

Application of New Rates

Federal sponsors must use the negotiated rate that is in effect at the time of initial award. This means that the new rate agreement will apply only to competitive awards issued after the effective date of the rate agreement. As such, the new rates listed above will apply to all New (Type 1) and Renewal (Type 2) NIH awards for periods with the effective dates noted above, but it will not apply to non-competing awards (Type 5) awards associated with an ongoing grant originally issued prior to the effective date of the agreement. The new rates should be used immediately in all competitive proposals. Please be sure to include the correct rate in effect for each budget period, as Emory may propose the predetermined rate for future periods.

Additional guidance on the application of new rates (PDF)  

My proposal's anticipated start date (7/1/21) precedes the award issue date (8/1/21). Therefore, the F&A rate I budgeted differs from the F&A rate that's effective when the project begins. Which rate should I use?

Use the rate that's effective when the award is issued (in this example, that would be the rate effective as of 8/1/21).

Use the F&A rate that's in effect when the costs are incurred.

Mid-Year/Year-to-Year Rate Changes

Calculate the average monthly costs and apply the effective F&A rate within the proper timeframe. For instance, if the budget period is 9/1/21 - 8/31/22 and the F&A rate changes as of 12/1/21, apply the previous F&A rate to the monthly costs from 9/1/21 - 11/30/21 and apply the new F&A rate to costs from 12/1/21 - 8/31/22.

The rate that is effective in the beginning of the 12-month period is the rate that should be used.

For example, if budgeting based on a calendar year, the rate would be as of January 1st and for a fiscal year it would be as of September 1st.

Renewing Rates

Use the appropriate rate as reflected in the new rate agreement, regardless of the rate applied to the previous segment.

Determine when the new segment is expected to start and use the rate that is effective at the beginning of the budget period for that budget period.

Cost Sharing

Cost sharing is the reimbursement of research costs by sponsors to the fullest extent possible. It not only commits discretionary funds to a specific project, but it also results in a loss of indirect costs which are essential to support the facilities and administrative infrastructure necessary to support research activities. Therefore, cost sharing should generally be included in a proposal only when it is required by the sponsor and/or the perceived benefit of the proposed project is of sufficient strategic importance to warrant the commitment of institutional funds.

Cost share increases our base amount, thus reducing the F&A rate. Imagine that the University has identified $50M of indirect costs related to research and we received $100M of organized research funding. Without cost-share, the F&A rate would be 50%. If the University committed $20M of cost-share related to research, our base amount would increase to $120M, dropping our F&A rate to 42%.

More information about cost sharing (PDF) including mandatory cost sharing, voluntary committed and uncommitted cost sharing, and unrecovered indirect costs.

Other Changes in Costs and Rates

Federal agency officials and university administrators collaboratively conduct cost analyses of prior years and agree upon a percentage of allowed F&A costs to be paid. The establishment of the final rates allowed for F&A expenses includes a detailed audit of the actual costs. Since F&A related costs are inconsistent across institutions and regions, so are the rates. Other factors that F&A rates depend upon include the property conditions and renovation/construction requirements for certain types of research projects.

For example, F&A costs for a research facility built in earthquake-prone California will differ from those of an engineering research facility built in a rural part of Ohio.

Comparing what can and cannot be charged to a federal grant versus a foundation grant is an “apples to oranges” comparison since foundations categorize and pay grant-related expenses very differently than the federal government does. For example, foundations often categorize some items as direct expenses that federal rules require to be counted as F&A expenses. This further underscores that direct and F&A costs are all part of total research costs and are inseparable when it comes to the actual conduct of research.

To the extent that a foundation does not pay for certain F&A expenses, these costs must be covered by the institution. OMB rules specifically require universities to ensure the federal government does not subsidize non-federally sponsored research activity – including research and associated infrastructure costs performed by universities for private foundations – in their support for F&A expenses. Additionally, after World War II the federal government consciously chose to encourage universities to conduct research on its behalf to help achieve national goals. A core tenant of the partnership between the federal government and universities is that the government shares in the costs of research by providing universities with competitively awarded grants to support the people, tools, and infrastructure necessary to conduct high-quality research for the nation. Historically, most foundations view their grants as supplementing research that scientists are already conducting. To this day, most foundation research funding is viewed as supplementing existing federal and non-federal research.

Finally, foundation funding for university-based research remains a small proportion of total academic R&D funding  compared to federal funding and the funding provided to support academic R&D by colleges and universities themselves.