Direct vs Indirect Costs

Direct Costs

The cost principles as defined in Uniform Guidance 2 CFR Part 200 provide the basis for determining the procedures used to identify direct costs. Costs incurred to support a project are treated as direct costs and are charged to sponsored projects when the costs can be specifically identified to the project with relative ease and with a high degree of accuracy and are allowed by all terms and conditions governing a particular project. These conditions include being reasonable, allocable and allowable. Review CWRU’s fundamental cost principles.

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs, also known as facilities and administrative (F&A) costs or overhead, are expenses incurred by an organization in support of its overall operations that cannot be easily attributed to a specific project. These costs are typically applied as a percentage of direct costs on a specific project. Examples of indirect costs include: office supplies and equipment, rent, utilities, administrative staff salaries, telephones, maintenance and repair to general purpose equipment, buildings and grounds, advertising to promote the university, network charges and utilities. 

It's important to note that the specific rules and regulations regarding direct and indirect costs may vary depending on the funding agency, the type of grant, and the terms and conditions of the award. Researchers and grant administrators should always consult the applicable guidelines and regulations to determine which costs are allowable as direct costs and which costs are subject to indirect cost recovery.