Indirect Costs, also known as Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A) or overhead, are institutional costs that are not specifically allocable to individual research projects but are real costs that institutions incur during day-to-day operations. The total cost of federally sponsored research includes a combination of both direct and indirect (F&A) costs. Some examples* of indirect (F&A) costs include:

  • Personnel in support of research, including security, financial, administrative, technical, maintenance and janitorial staff
  • Radiation and chemical safety
  • Secure data storage, telecommunications and high-speed data processing
  • Utilities - ventilation, heat, air conditioning, water and lighting
  • Library and research facilities
  • Advanced research lab equipment
  • Costs of federal, state, and local regulatory compliance including human and animal safety review boards

*Examples from the Council on Governmental Relations Costs of Research Infographic

CU Boulder’s indirect cost rate is negotiated with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and this is the rate we must use on sponsored project budgets. It is extremely important that CU Boulder receive full reimbursement for indirect costs whenever possible.

CU Boulder charges indirect costs on sponsored projects according to our Federally-negotiated Indirect Cost (F&A) Rate Agreement. Your Proposal Analyst will ensure that the appropriate indirect costs are charged on your sponsored project budget.

No Changes to F&A Rate for COVID-19 Remote Working

CU Boulder recognizes that many sponsored project personnel are still working remotely during our response to the COVID-19 crisis.  Please be advised that such work is not eligible for an off-campus Indirect Cost rate.  All personnel working from home or other remote locations right now are still using University computing resources such as common servers and their back-up features, the VPN which requires maintenance, HR services, and the campus is still required to pay applicable administrative salaries in order to continue to operate. Facility services including electricity, security, and maintenance are still being carried out at all buildings on campus.

We hope this situation will be relatively short-lived, and most sponsored project proposals are for periods greater than one year, thus all sponsored project proposal budgets will include the assessment of full Indirect Costs as allowed by the sponsor according to the applicable rates in our federally negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement.

We have also received questions about rates on existing awards. In addition to the information included above for new proposals, please be aware that existing awards are subject to the same indirect cost rate used in the initial proposal and award.

Additional Information and Resources

Current F&A rates, F&A rate history and the rate agreement on the Campus Controller's Office website

Understanding Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs handout for more information on what is included in F&A costs

Council on Governmental Relations F&A Resources