Research Topic

Cost Sharing


Cost sharing is the portion of the total project costs not borne by the sponsor.   The cost share must be comprised of costs that are in direct support of the project, subject to the same allowability criteria as direct costs on the award and incurred during the project period.  If it is unallowable as a direct cost, it is unallowable as cost share. It is the department’s responsibility to provide documentation which supports cost sharing commitments. Documentation and support of cost sharing commitments must accompany the proposal documents submitted to Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) for review.

The Essentials

The university will normally commit to cost sharing only

  • when required by the sponsor,
  • to the extent necessary to meet the specific requirements of the particular solicitation,
  • if all cost sharing commitments are included in the proposal budget,
  • if the unit executive officer responsible for the committed funds provides approval prior to proposal submission,
  • where permitted by university and sponsor policies, and
  • where the proposed cost sharing is allocable to and directly benefiting the sponsored project and reasonable and necessary for the performance of the sponsored project.

Per Uniform Guidance §200.306, voluntary committed cost sharing is not expected. It cannot be used as a factor during the merit review of applications or proposals, but may be considered if it is both in accordance with federal awarding agency regulations and specified in a notice of funding opportunity. Any cost share contributions must

  • be verifiable from the non-federal entity's records,
  • not be included as contributions for any other federal award,
  • be necessary and reasonable for accomplishment of project or program objectives,
  • be allowable under the Cost Principles,
  • not be paid by the federal government under another federal award, except where the federal statute authorizing a program specifically provides that federal funds made available for such program can be applied to matching or cost sharing requirements of other federal programs, and
  • be in the approved budget when required by the federal awarding agency.

Types of Cost Share

The phrases "cost sharing," "matching," and "in-kind" are often used interchangeably.  Attention should be given to the sponsor’s definitions of those terms.   The University's use of terms related to cost share is outlined below. 


Cost Share Type Description Requirements
Mandatory Required by sponsor terms and conditions Documented/tracked
Voluntary--Committed Proposed by the university Documented/tracked
Voluntary--Uncommitted Not proposed; provided after-the-fact Not documented or tracked


The cost share must be incurred during the period of performance of the project unless the sponsor approves an exception. SPA records the cost sharing commitment in the University's web-based Cost Share application for sponsored projects with identified cost-sharing commitments.   Cost share is recorded in the system using the following internal "Source Types."

Contributed Effort

Salaries/benefits paid by the university in support of activities provided to the project by the principal investigator/faculty member and other exempt academic/civil service personnel paid on a salaried basis. Contributed effort cost share is reviewed and verified by the sponsored project PI via the Semi-Annual Confirmation process.

The payroll costs claimed as contributed effort must be charged to an unrestricted and allowable funding source.  The costs for personnel providing contributed effort must not be charged to a hard match C-FOP. The activity type (e.g. research, public service, instruction) associated with salary supporting the contributed effort cost share must be compatible with the activity type on the grant.   

When a faculty member is on sabbatical leave, regardless of whether they continue to work on the project, the only allowable cost sharing may be for a nominal amount of time spent in the supervision of graduate assistants who are working on that sponsored project.  This nominal amount should be recorded under thesis supervision in the Activity Reporting System (ARS).

Requirements for tracking contributed effort cost share:

  • Name and UIN
  • Contributed effort period (start and end dates)
  • Percent effort for that period
  • Appropriate distribution of cost share activity in ARS (see ARS section below)

Hard Match

Cost sharing other than contributed effort and unrecovered F&A that is provided in direct support of the sponsored project.

Payroll costs for non-exempt personnel (not paid on a salaried basis) and grad students are tracked as hard match by UI.   The payroll costs for personnel providing contributed effort must not be charged to the C-FOP established for tracking hard match.  Stores and Services funds (Fund Type 3E and 3Q) cannot be used to provide cost share.

Requirements for tracking hard match cost share:

  • Unique C-FOP that will be used to record hard match expenses
    • Expenses must be accounted for in a separate Fund or Program Code established specifically to document the University’s cost sharing for a particular sponsored project
    • The name of the Fund or Program Code used for hard match should include the Grant Code to show that this Fund or Program Code is being used to track cost share provided for a particular project; for example -- 'Cost Share A1234 DOE EFG01-ABC123'
  • The department will need to request that the hard match Fund or Program Code be termed at the end of the project once all final hard match expenses have posted

Third Party

The value of non-cash contributions that external third parties provide to the sponsored project.

Documentation should be obtained from third parties to support the use of the contributions as university cost sharing and a certification of the fair market value of the non-cash contribution should be provided.

Requirements for tracking third-party cost share:

  • Documentation such as an invoice (supporting the value of supplies etc. that are provided for project use), payroll/HR documents (supporting the value of the time donated in support of the project) or other appropriate documentation from the third party specifying the amount, nature, and time frame covered by the contribution is required by SPA to support the amount claimed as third-party match
  • The documentation must also contain a statement that the source of the contributions being provided is not federally supported

Unrecovered F&A

When the sponsor limits the F&A rate for costs charged on the award, unrecovered F&A is the difference between the indirect costs that the university actually recovered (charged to the project) and the amount of indirect costs that could have been recovered if the full negotiated F&A rate had been applied. ​

Requirements for tracking unrecovered F&A:

  • Documentation of prior approval from the sponsor, or documentation that prior approval requirement is waived by the sponsor

Quick Tips

 Avoid unnecessary voluntary cost share commitments. PIs should not include cost sharing language or quantifiable cost sharing amounts in a proposal or proposal budget/budget justification, unless the cost share is explicitly required by the sponsor.

 PIs are required to state in a proposal whether resources that are committed as cost sharing and, whether the commitment of resources is Mandatory Committed Cost Sharing or Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing. The procedure for processing all cost sharing commitments requires the following.

  • The PI shall include all cost sharing in the proposal budget.
  • The PI shall properly identify and note the cost sharing commitment on the appropriate internal proposal approval forms.

 PIs are required to certify all Contributed Effort cost share on their sponsored projects through the Semi-Annual Confirmation process.

 Sponsors or other institutions may use different cost share terminology.  Some of the cost share descriptions, categories, types, or other classifications used in this guidance may be specific to the University and not generally used by other entities.   When creating proposals or other award documents, particular attention should be given to the sponsor’s definitions of cost share terms and the type of support expected.  This will help ensure all parties involved, including the PI, understand the true nature of the cost share being offered/committed, regardless of what terminology/description is used.

Related Documents and Resources

Related FAQs

Related Policies

Related Research Topics