Cost Sharing - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the preferred method or type of cost sharing?

Montana State University would prefer to use unrecovered indirect costs (foregone/waived IDC’s) whenever possible as it is easier to track and report to sponsoring agencies.  According to federal regulations, this form of cost share requires prior approval from the awarding agency.

Why is the amount of cost sharing limited to the minimum required by the sponsoring agency?

Since cost sharing commitments are real dollars coming from MSU’s budgets and resources and must be verifiable (tracked, documented & reported), it makes sense to restrict use to grant programs where it is required thereby reserving limited monies for other projects.  Please note sponsor cost share requirements have to be provided to OSP in writing.

When the Request for Proposal (RFP) lists that cost sharing is encouraged, how is that handled?

The Office of Sponsored Programs should be contacted to see if an exact amount or percentage of cost sharing can be determined.  If applicable in these types of situations the use of unrecovered IDC’s are strongly encouraged in lieu of cost sharing with salaries or other types of expenses.

When does cost sharing occur?

In order for an expense to be counted towards a cost sharing obligation, it will need to occur during the time period of the corresponding grant and must also be an expense needed to meet the programmatic goals of the grant.

What are the rules for cost sharing?

Cost sharing is very complicated and can change depending on specific sponsor requirements, but the basic rules to remember are the cost share:

- Must be verifiable, i.e. tracked & documented

- Can only be counted once

- Is necessary & consists of reasonable & allowable expenses

- Can't match federal to federal

- Must be tracked & reported by MSU if listed in a proposal budget or narrative

Who tracks and reports cost share?

The department and PI are responsible for tracking cost share so OSP can verify and report it to the sponsoring agency.


Examples of Cost Sharing:


Allowable:  Faculty, lab technician, lab support salaries and benefits, travel to collaborate with other scientists, supplies for the project, equipment purchased specifically for the project, volunteers working on the project (in-kind), cash match received for the project, value of the use of space or equipment not located or owned by MSU.

Not Allowable:  Entertainment type expenses such as tickets to sporting events, gondola rides, dinners (including alcohol), general type equipment (file cabinets, desks, chairs), fund raising activities, proposal writing activities, additional compensation or any expenses paid directly from the grant.