Cost sharing essentially means that CU Boulder is “donating” money, employee effort, or tangible goods toward the direct costs of a sponsored research project. Such contributions may be made by CU Boulder, the Principal Investigator (PI), or by other third parties, but all are a form of cost share. According to CU Boulder's Cost Sharing Policy, cost share is generally prohibited unless it is specifically mandated by the sponsor or program guidelines and/or in the best interests of CU Boulder.

When CU commits cost share at the proposal stage, even if the sponsor does not track the commitment, CU is obligated to commit and track the proposed level of cost share. All cost sharing commitments become binding obligations and part of the project’s scope of work when identified in a proposal and approved in advance by each unit contributing to the cost sharing, i.e., cash, effort, or in-kind support. Review the Campus Controller’s Office webpage for further information and requirements.

Cost Share and Proposals

As soon as you identify a funding opportunity that requires cost share, please contact your Proposal Analyst. Your Proposal Analyst will guide you through all of the cost share requirements, including obtaining official CU Boulder or other commitments, properly formatting your Excel budget to clearly show all cost share commitments, and completing the Cost Sharing Addendum.

Cost Share is considered committed and needing to be accounted for, regardless of sponsor award or reporting requirements, if it is pledged in a proposal and quantified as a specific dollar amount within any proposal document, including:

  • Sponsor formatted budget; and/or
  • Budget justification; and/or
  • Proposal narrative; and/or
  • Letters of support/commitment.

For detailed information about cost share at the proposal stage, see Proposals and Cost Share

If cost share changes prior to an award, work with your OCG Proposal Analyst to coordinate revision of the budget and Cost Share Addendum.

Cost Share and Awards

Committed cost sharing made at the proposal stage, whether voluntary or mandatory, becomes a binding obligation at award.  Any changes to cost share must be communicated to OCG and CCO as well as to the sponsor. This includes committed cost share that meets any of the following criteria:

  • Either voluntary or mandatory,  
  • The change modifies sources of cost share contribution,
  • Whether the changes in cost support increase or decrease,
  • Whether or not the sponsor tracks the commitment, or 
  • The change originates from either a sponsor’s budget change or PI request.

If a cost share commitment is changed after an award is made, contact your OCG Grant or Contract Officer. An updated Cost Share Addendum from the PI, signed by all contributors, as well as communication to the sponsor by OCG will be required. In some cases, a revised budget will also be needed.

Why Cost Share Changes are Communicated to the Sponsor

Because cost share becomes a binding commitment at the proposal stage, regardless of the sponsor’s reporting requirements, by notifying the sponsor of a change in commitment, CU provides the sponsor with the opportunity to approve and/or adjust an award. CU is also documenting the change in commitment and sponsor response should the sponsor, auditors, or other interested parties, in the future, find reason to track or require documentation that the committed funds fulfilled the award agreement terms. 

Additionally, committed cost share represents a financial and administrative burden to campus and needs to be treated with appropriate levels of responsibility. Sponsors maintain the right to reduce an award should cost share be reduced, regardless of whether it is voluntary or mandatory.