Non-Labor Expenditures Management

  • It is the responsibility of the PI to review the award document for terms and conditions and the award budget prior to purchasing goods and services as sponsored projects often have budget restrictions.
  • Determine if the costs are direct or indirect expenditures.
  • For a purchase to be charged directly to a federally sponsored project, it must be allowable, allocable, reasonable, and treated consistently.
  • Review the training presentation on Administering Non-Labor Expenditures on Sponsored Projects PowerPoint presentation saved as a pdf file/ you will be leaving the site. for additional information.

Direct Expenditures

Direct expenditures are costs that can be:

  • Identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity
  • Directly assigned to such activities relatively easily
  • Assigned to such activities with a high degree of accuracy

Related University Policies:

Useful Resources:

Types of Direct Expenditures:

eVA Purchase Order
Most goods and services are required to be purchased via eVA, Virginia’s electronic procurement system. Most purchases made through eVA integrate with Banner Finance and generate an immediate encumbrance. Once an invoice is received by Accounts Payable, approved, and paid, the encumbrance will be reduced by the invoice amount and posted as an expense in Banner.

Purchase Card
A monthly purchase log to track P-Card expenditures should be maintained. All back-up documentation for P-Card transactions must be maintained for 10 years when charging sponsored funds. Ensure appropriate fund number and account code is used when allocating transactions in Bank of America Works and do so in a timely manner to avoid defaulting.

Petty Cash
Petty Cash is used for payments made to research subjects for purposes of recruitment or encouragement for participation in the project study. A Petty Cash Expenditure Log should be maintained by the custodian to track disbursements. There must be an active IRB (Institutional Review Board) Protocol associated with the project.

Food & Beverages
Food and beverages must be included in the sponsored award budget. Business meals are not an allowable charge on federally sponsored funds.

Tuition can only be charged to an award when the associated Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) appointment salary is paid from the same award. If a GRA is being paid from more than one funding source, tuition should be charged proportionally to the salary.

Subsidized Graduate Health Insurance (SGHI)
SGHI is charged proportionally based on where the GRA appointment salary is charged. The transaction posts when the associated semi-monthly pay posts during the academic year.

There is no work component for externally funded fellowship payments to graduate students.

Review the award document for any restrictions related to travel as some sponsors, for example, may not allow international travel or require prior approval for travel on a sponsored project.

Fly America Act

  • Applies to air travel on federally sponsored projects (fund numbers starting with 20xxxx).
  • Any air travel charged to federally sponsored projects must be taken on U.S. flag air carriers unless an exception applies as noted in the Federal Travel Regulation Leaving the site icon
  • Use the GMU “Fly America Act” Decision Treepdf file icon/ you will be leaving the site. to help determine if there are exceptions.
  • Note that the exception related to Open Skies Agreements (currently with the European Union, Australia, Switzerland, and Japan) does not apply to sponsored projects funded by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a military department.
  • If you are claiming an exception under the Act, detail the certification requirements for federal audit purposes. When submitting your travel voucher or travel agency invoice or travel charge card reimbursement log for a flight that does not comply, you must document the reason for the exception by including a Certification of Exception to Fly America Act pdf file icon/ you will be leaving the site.
Participant Support

Participant support are costs for items such as stipends, per diem, travel costs, and/or fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees in connection with meetings, conferences, symposia, or training projects. Participant Support must be included in the award budget. Participant Support may be included or excluded from F&A depending on the award. A separate fund will be set up for participant support costs on an award for accounting purposes. The appropriate account codes must be used for participant support.


A contract is for the purpose of obtaining goods and services for the non-Federal entity’s own use and creates a procurement relationship with the contractor. The contractor cannot be a GMU employee.


A subaward is for the purpose of carrying out a portion of a federal award and creates a federal assistance relationship with the subrecipient.

Journal Voucher

Journal Vouchers are used to correct errors on posted transactions, transfer posted transactions from one funding source to another, reclassify posted transactions, and expenditure recovery for services rendered between internal GMU offices.

Indirect (F&A) Expenditures

Indirect costs are:

  • Also known as Facilities & Administrative Costs (F&A)
  • Costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives
  • Cannot be identified readily and specifically with a sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity
  • Recovered as a means for reimbursing the University for administrative services and facilities that support sponsored projects

F&A Rates are negotiated on a three year cycle with our cognizant agency, the Office of Naval Research. Current Rates

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

Allocations of recovered F&A costs are required to be spent in support of research activities. Examples include:

  • Salaries and wages paid to those directly engaged in activities undertaken to produce research
  • Proposal development
  • Administrative support for sponsored research awards, such as budget monitoring and travel planning
  • Support for students participating directly in research or research support activities under faculty supervision, such as graduate student assistantships and tuition assistance
  • Office supplies that are used in support of federally sponsored research
  • Purchase, repair, and maintenance of research laboratory equipment
  • Technology support for research activities

Costs excluded from F&A include:

  • Tuition
  • Subsidized Graduate Student Health Insurance (SGHI)
  • Fellowships
  • Participant Support (if approved by sponsor)
  • Portion of any subcontract in excess of $25,000
  • Equipment over $5,000
  • Space rental
  • Sponsor specific items

Office Supplies such as computers, printers, monitors, fax machines, printer paper, toner cartridges, pens, pencils, legal pads, clips, rubber bands, post-it notes, books, individual subscriptions to journals, notebooks, binders, folders, diskettes, and departmental stationery are examples of indirect costs.

The category does not include printing, photocopying, duplication, publication, and page charges related to a research project (i.e., these are generally treated as allowable direct charges).

The circumstances surrounding expenditures for office supplies play a major role in determining whether to treat as an exception (i.e., to permit as a direct charge). For example, computers are necessary to the overall administration of a sponsored project. Purchasing computers for this purpose would generally be considered an indirect cost expenditure – part of the normal resources the institution can reasonably be expected to provide for its research staff. However, purchasing computers to control and monitor scientific equipment represents a different circumstance or use of that equipment and would typically be allowed as a direct charge.

Useful resources related to F&A rates: