Cost sharing, as a general term, is the portion of total project costs not provided by the sponsor. Cost sharing can be complex and places extra burdens on investigators and the University. Commit to it only when required and only when you and others involved are in a position to take on those burdens.
Cost sharing is any portion of project costs not reimbursed by the sponsor and may be in the form of cash or in-kind contributions funded by the University or a third party. It is generally discouraged unless mandatory cost sharing is required by the sponsor.
For proposals seeking federal funding either directly or as a subrecipient, Federal regulations state that voluntary committed cost sharing is not expected and cannot be used as a factor in merit review of applications. The National Science Foundation in particular prohibits voluntary committed cost sharing.
Once cost sharing is proposed, even if not mandated by the sponsor, it becomes committed cost sharing when the project is funded. All committed cost sharing must be tracked, may require reporting, and must be identifiable as a necessary cost that’s allowable by the sponsor.
Failure to fulfill the cost-sharing obligation at the level proposed, or to appropriately document cost sharing from verifiable official University records, could result in audit findings and require the return of funds to the sponsor.
The Principal Investigator (PI), in coordination with the department/College, is responsible for funding cost sharing commitments and for maintaining records of all project related costs, including mandatory and voluntary committed cost sharing.
In the proposal - Only commit cost sharing when required by the sponsor for the particular program. All cost-shared expenses must be treated in a consistent and uniform manner, as you would for expenses charged to an award. The source of funding for mandatory or voluntary committed cost sharing or required in-kind matching, must be approved by the department chair or other appropriate University administrator and must be provided with the proposed budget.
During the project, the PI and departmental or college business office are responsible for maintaining records of all project related costs, including mandatory and voluntary committed cost sharing. Cost sharing should be monitored throughout the project to make sure the costs are allowable and that the cost sharing commitment is being fulfilled. Remember that time committed as in-kind cost sharing (unreimbursed effort) must be accounted for as if salaries were being charged to the award. If you are concerned about being able to meet the cost sharing commitments, this should be raised as early as possible with your department to address this issue and with ORSP to determine requirements for notification to the sponsor, if necessary.
At the end of the project, PIs and their department administrators should provide cost share information, associated documentation and confirmation that the commitment has been met. They must also resolve any cost sharing discrepancies and assume any financial loss if the cost sharing commitments are not met and the sponsor does not approve a reduction of the cost sharing commitment.
- Your Contract and Grant Specialist can advise on cost sharing requirements specific to a sponsor or program.