Cost sharing means charging part of the costs of a sponsored project to a source other than the sponsor. A common university contribution is the cost of time that faculty members commit to the project but for which they do not charge the sponsor.
Sometimes a program requires cost sharing; e.g., large equipment awards. This is known as required cost sharing. Occasionally it is clear that cost sharing is desirable even if not required. Such contributions are known as voluntary cost sharing, and usually take the form of time for people, e.g., faculty and staff release time. Voluntary cost sharing should be minimized whenever possible.
If cost sharing is included in a proposal to a federal sponsor and the proposal is funded, the promised cost share becomes a requirement of the award whether or not that requirement is specified in the award document. All cost sharing must be documented as having been provided. Some costs, such as supplies, do not lend themselves readily to documentation and audit, so using these items as cost share should be avoided if at all possible.
If a project does not recover F&A costs at the appropriate negotiated rate, the unrecovered F&A costs can be shown as cost share. Unrecovered F&A costs are computed by taking the difference between the F&A costs that the project should have recovered (calculated at the appropriate negotiated rate), and the actual amount of F&A dollars recovered.
Office of Research Cost Share Guidelines
Budget constraints have required the Office of Research to make some changes to its practices for providing cost-share funds for grant proposals. As of October 15, 2010, automatic cost sharing is no longer available. Rather, requests are now considered case-by-case in light of available budget and strategic priorities, with particular consideration given to proposals with the following characteristics:
- Institutional cost share is required by the program announcement
- The total cost share from Ohio State sources does not exceed the percentage required by the program (i.e., we will not “overmatch”)
- The percentage of cost share requested from the Office of Research does not exceed 10% of the total cost of the equipment or other budget items for which cost share is requested
- The cost share requested from the Office of Research is not less than $10,000
To allow us to make informed decisions, requests for cost-share funds must be submitted to Michael DeWees (firstname.lastname@example.org) one month in advance of the proposal deadline and should include:
- A link to the program announcement
- The project title, name of the principal investigator, and a brief explanation of the project
- A draft budget showing the college and department cost-share commitments
- A request for a formal letter of support from the Office of Research, if required, for inclusion in the proposal