Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costs

Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs (sometimes referred to as indirect costs) are real costs that the institution incurs in support of sponsored activities but which cannot be charged as direct costs to a specific grant or contract.  They are essential costs of doing research, such as research infrastructure, human and animal safety, and regulatory compliance.

The University has a negotiated F&A rate agreement with the Office of Naval Research, our cognizant agency, to be applied to all sponsored research budgets. Here is Mason’s current Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate agreement.

Mason has rates for On and Off campus research, DOD research, instruction, other sponsored activities, and IPA awards. Rates are determined by type of program (research, instruction, other sponsored activity, IPA) and whether it is on- or off-campus.

On-campus vs. Off-campus rate determination
The off-campus rate is used if more than 50% of the project effort exerted by Mason faculty is carried out off-campus. During the proposal preparation process, the determination will be made through communications between the PI and OSP.

Please see scenario examples for additional clarity on how we determine when a project is considered on or off-campus (no blended rates are allowed, per our federal rate agreement).

F&A Waiver Process
Unless the sponsor has a written policy that limits the amount or percentage of F&A costs that can be recovered, the University will propose its applicable federally-negotiated rate. If there is a need to request a waiver or reduction in F&A, the PI must follow the F&A waiver process during the proposal preparation process. An F&A waiver is an institutional agreement that F&A costs will be waived or charged at a lower rate than the sponsor’s published rate. These waivers are extremely rare and require approval from the Vice President for Research Services and may require approval by the Vice President for Research Innovation and Economic Impact.

To request an F&A waiver, please download and complete the F&A Waiver request form, including Associate Dean for Research approval, and submit to Maggie Ewell, Director, Pre-Award at mewell3@gmu.edu, who will facilitate the review process.

Proposal Routing

The proposal routing process, excluding indirect cost split approval, will now occur within RAMP via the PI certification and Department Review.  Therefore, routing approvals will now occur pre-submission.  Each College has identified a Department reviewer to approve the proposal.  If the PI or Co-PIs would like additional individuals to review the proposal, additional administrative contacts can be added within RAMP with view or edit rights.  Please contact your Research Administrator (in your local research unit) or Grants Administrator in OSP.

F&A Distribution Guidelines

The PI will receive a percentage of the recovered F&A charged to the sponsored project. The percentage the PI will receive is identified at the time a Funding Proposal is submitted.  Using information from the PI as well as F&A Distribution guidelines, OSP will route a completed F&A Distribution Form via Ancillary review in RAMP to obtain an approved F&A distribution should the proposal be funded.  The PI, in collaboration with their College and Department administrators, will identify the appropriate F&A distribution.  Each college has designated an individual to review and approve the Ancillary review of indirect cost splits in RAMP.  If there is a Co-PI or multiple Co-PIs, this process will be completed for each Co-PI and Department and College.  If the routed F&A Distribution template is not accurate, OSP will work with the PI, Co-PIs and appropriate College and Department Administrators to obtain a revised and agreed upon distribution.

The final approved F&A Distribution form will be saved with the proposal record to use in award set up if the proposal is funded.  And award can NOT be set up until OSP has received Department approvals from the PI and any Co-PIs Departments via Ancillary Review in RAMP.

Recovered F&A (Indirect) Costs

If awarded, an indirect org will be established for the PI. The PI’s portion of recovered F&A will be transferred to that indirect org twice a month for charges made to the project.

Spending with an indirect org must comply with state spending rules and must be used in support of research. Typically, recovered indirect funds are used to support travel, purchase equipment, support students, or for other traditional research expenditures. Recovered indirect funds may not be used to increase the salary of the PI.


F&A TermsDefinitions
Direct CostsCosts that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. May also be termed direct expenses.
Indirect CostsExpenses not able to be directly allocated to a specific project (i.e. general office supplies, clerical support, facility costs, etc.) The University has a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement with the Office of Naval Research, our cognizant agency, to be applied to all sponsored research budgets. May also be termed Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs.
On-campusOn-campus locations include space in buildings owned by the University and, in many instances, space in buildings leased by some entity of the University. Further criteria for designating leased space as on-campus are provided below.

The on-campus designation indicates that any reimbursement of facilities-related costs will occur indirectly, through the application of a F&A rate that includes those costs, rather than through a direct space charge (e.g. rent).
Off-campusOff-campus locations include space that the University does not own, the space is remote or adjacent from campus, and no University entity bears a lease cost for occupying the space. Factors indicating that a space is remote include significant physical distance from either campus, and use of separate (non-University) services such as mail, telephone, network and other support services (for this reason, telework or remote work locations are not considered off campus).
The off-campus designation indicates that any reimbursement of facilities-related costs will occur directly, through a direct space charge, rather than indirectly through the application of a F&A rate that includes those costs.
Off-campus adjacentA project is considered off campus adjacent if within 50 miles of the Fairfax campus.
Off campus remoteA project is considered off campus remote if it is greater than 50 miles from the Fairfax campus.
Percentage of EffortPercentage of the majority of faculty effort expended on the project is the determining factor in whether a grant is determined to be an on- or off-campus indirect cost rate.
Remote work/Alternate Work siteRemote Work: A work arrangement where an employee spends most or all of their working hours outside of the traditional place of work. Remote workers differ from teleworkers in that they work from their home or other agreed upon alternate work site located far enough away from a Mason campus that commuting on a daily basis is not possible, or their position is designed for off-site work. Visits to the campus are infrequent but can be regularly scheduled.

Alternate Work Site: An acceptable site for performing job duties and responsibilities outside the traditional university office where official state business is performed. Such locations may include, but are not necessarily limited to, employees’ homes and satellite offices. For purposes of F&A cost rates, remote work locations and alternate work sites are considered ON CAMPUS .
Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC): MTDC means all direct salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each subaward (regardless of the period of performance of the subawards under the award). MTDC excludes equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each subaward in excess of $25,000. Other items may only be excluded when necessary to avoid a serious inequity in the distribution of indirect costs, and with the approval of Mason’s cognizant agency for indirect costs.