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Office of Sponsored Awards Management


Facilities & Administrative Costs

Facilities and administrative costs (F&A) are also known as indirect costs or overhead. USC's F&A rate is the federally approved percentage applied to sponsored projects to recover the costs associated with performing the activities of the project and managing research projects. These costs include expenditures for administrative personnel, facilities, operations and maintenance costs.

Facilities and administration (F&A) costs, also known as indirect costs, are different from direct costs because, while they are necessary to carrying out a grant-funded project, they are not attached specifically to that project. Expenses such as utility costs, grant administrators’ salaries, office supplies, costs to maintain labs and buildings and other costs that are incurred for joint objectives of the sponsored project and the institution at which the project is being conducted, fall into the F&A costs category.

 

Incorporating F&A Costs Into a Proposal Budget

Allowable F&A Rate

When preparing a proposal, the total budget consists of the total direct costs, which are costs identified specifically with the project being proposed, plus the allowable F&A costs. USC has negotiated with the US Department of Health & Human Services, our federal cognizant audit agency to determine an allowable F&A cost rate for the USC System, including different rates for the School of Medicine, USC Columbia and USC system campuses.  

 

Applying F&A Rates 

When using USC's federally negotiated rates, the appropriate rate is applied to the modified total direct costs (MTDC) contained in the project budget. MTDC costs include all salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials, supplies, contracted services, travel expenses, and up to the first $25,000 of each subgrant/subcontract (regardless of the period covered by the subgrant/subcontract). MTDC costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, expenses for patient care, tuition remission, rental costs of off-site facilities, scholarships and fellowships and the portion of each subgrant/subcontract in excess of $25,000. Read more about applying F&A costs in USC Policy FINA 9.10 - Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) [pdf].

 

Exceptions and Variations for F&A Rates

  • There are on-campus and off-campus rates for different types of sponsored project activities. The off-campus rate should be applied when the majority of the scope of work will be conducted outside of USC facilities.
  • The F&A rates differ for USC Columbia, senior and regional system campuses, and the School of Medicine.
  • When preparing a budget that encompasses budget periods with different rates, use the rate that is in effect at the beginning of each budget period.
  • Researchers using an F&A rate other than the USC-approved indirect cost rate must have supporting documentation justifying the alternate rate. If the alternate rate is not imposed by the sponsor, a waiver of indirect cost must be approved through the designated administrative channels.
  • For federally funded non-research projects over $200,000 per year, indirect costs must be requested at the allowable rate. The indirect costs for these projects must be remitted to the State of South Carolina and are not available for University use. No waiver of allowable indirect costs is allowed.

 

F&A Rate Tables

On-Campus Rates FY2014 Through FY2017

Rate Type (MTDC) USC Columbia Rate School of Medicine Rate System Campus Rate
Research 46.5% 33.5% 37%
Training and Service 35% 35% 35%
Instruction 49.5% 49.5%

49.5%

Industry Sponsored Clinical Trials* 25% TDC 25% TDC 25% TDC

* The 25% rate applies to total direct costs (TDC). 

 

Off-Campus Rates FY2014 through FY2017

Rate Type (MTDC) USC Columbia Rate School of Medicine Rate System Campus Rate
Research 26% 26% 26%
Training and Service 26% 26% 26%
Instruction 26% 26% 26%

These rates are applicable for sponsored projects conducted at all University of South Carolina Campuses as well as related off-campus work when applicable.

 

Non-Standard F&A Rates

Many sponsors, including most non-profit organizations, require that applicants use a mandated F&A rate. Normally, this rate is significantly lower than USC’s negotiated rate. When it is the policy of the sponsor to mandate a rate, USC will accept the rate that is imposed. In these instances, it should be assumed, unless the agreement or solicitation states otherwise, that the reduced rate applies to total direct costs, not MTDC.  When calculating the project budget in these cases, apply the mandated rate to the total direct cost budget.

For more information on implementing these rates or assistance in applying them to sponsored agreements, please contact the Office of Sponsored Awards Management.

Download the F&A rate tables for USC Columbia, the School of Medicine and USC System campuses [pdf].