Office of Sponsored Programs

Cost Item Allowability (from 2 CFR 200.420-475 and FAR 31.2)
Advertising and Public Relations
  • Allowable only if related to and necessary for performance of the sponsored project (i.e., recruitment of personnel, procurement of goods and services, disposal of scrap/surplus materials, program outreach). 
Advisory Councils  
  • Allowable for costs incurred by councils or committees when authorized by the awarding agency. 
Audit Costs and Related Services
  • Allowable if specifically required and approved by the awarding agency.
Bonding Costs  
  • Allowable pursuant to the terms of an award if required for a construction project. 
Collection of Improper Payments
  • Allowable for costs incurred to recover improper payments.
Compensation - Personal Service
  • Allowable for services such as salaries and wages within University policy and for activities contributing to and intimately related to work under the sponsored agreement.
Compensation - Fringe  
  • Allowable for services such as fringe benefits within University policy and for activities contributing to and intimately related to work under the sponsored agreement.


  • Allowable when the primary purpose is the dissemination of technical information directly related to the project. This includes costs of meals, transportation, rental of facilities, speakers’ fees, other items incidental to such meetings or conferences, and identifying (but not providing) locally available dependent-care resources, but excludes entertainment costs.
Contingency Provisions
  • Allowable when explicitly included in budget estimates, to the extent they are necessary to improve the precision of those estimates. Amounts must be estimated using broadly accepted cost-estimating methodologies, specified in the budget documentation of the award, and accepted by the awarding agency.
  • Unallowable for payments made to a "contingency reserve" or any similar payment made for events the occurrence of which cannot be foretold with certainty as to the time or intensity, or with an assurance of their happening.
Entertainment Costs
  • Unallowable, except where specific costs that might otherwise be considered entertainment have a programmatic purpose and prior approval has been received from the awarding agency.
Equipment and other Capital Expenditures
  • Allowable only for special purpose equipment (used exclusively for research, medical, scientific, or other technical activities). Prior approval from awarding agency required for items with a unit cost of $5,000 or more.
  • Unallowable for General Purpose Equipment.
Exchange Rates
  • Allowable for cost increases for fluctuations in exchange rates with prior approval of the awarding agency and the availability of funds.
General Cost of Government
  • Does not pertain to Tennessee Tech. 
Goods or Services for Personal Use
  • Unallowable, except for costs of housing, housing allowances, and personal living expenses when prior approval is received from the awarding agency.
Insurance and Indemnification
  • Allowable if related to and necessary for the performance of the sponsored project (Note: malpractice insurance is an allowable cost of research programs only to the extent that the research involves human subjects). 
Intellectual Property
  • Allowable if required by the sponsored agreement and when necessary for the performance of the sponsored project. 
  • Unallowable for foreign patents and when the Federal Government has a license or the right to free use of the patent or copyright; or when the patent or copyright has been adjudicated to be invalid, has been administratively determined to be invalid, is considered to be unenforceable, or has expired.
Maintenance and Repair Costs
  • Allowable as a direct cost as necessary to carry out the technical and scientific aspects of and actually used for the performance of a sponsored project.
Material and Supplies Costs, Including
Costs of Computing Devices
  • Allowable as a direct cost when necessary for and actually used for the performance of a sponsored project (office supplies are not allowable).
  • Unallowable for office supplies. Office supplies include copy charges, fax charges, postage/mail room charges, and personal computers unless primarily or exclusively used in the actual conduct of scientific research.
Organization Costs
  • Allowable for costs in connection with the establishment or reorganization of an organization when prior approval is received from the awarding agency.
Participant Support Costs
  • Allowable when prior approval has been received from the awarding agency.
Plant and Security Costs
  • Allowable under special circumstances and/or if required by the awarding agency.
Pre-award Costs
  • Allowable with prior approval from the awarding agency.
Professional Service Costs
  • Allowable when in accordance with Uniform Guidance section 200.459 b & c and in accordance with University policy.
  • Unallowable for officers or employees of the institution. 
Publication and Printing Costs
  • Allowable if the costs can be identified with a research project. If the cost is for page charges, the charges are allowable for professional journals if the work is supported by the Federal Government and the charges are levied impartially on all research papers published, not just those funded by federally sponsored authors. Costs incurred for publication of research results after the period of performance can be charged during the closeout period but no later than 15 days prior to the end of the closeout period.
Rearrangement and Reconversion Costs
  • Allowable with prior approval of the awarding agency when incurred specifically for the sponsored project and for costs incurred in the restoration or rehabilitation of the institution's facilities to approximately the same condition existing immediately prior to commencement of awards, less costs related to normal wear and tear.
  • Unallowable for ordinary rearrangement and alteration of facilities and normal wear and tear. 
Recruiting Costs
  • Allowable when related to and necessary for the project and if reasonable (color ads are not considered reasonable -- see Uniform Guidance 400.421).  Short-term travel visa costs are allowable when issued for a specific period and purpose. 
Relocation Costs of Employees
  • Allowable for employment of 12 months or longer and must follow the current University policy.
Rental Costs of Buildings and Equipment
  • Allowable for reasonable costs (subject to the limitations on leases given in the Uniform Guidance, Section 200.465 a-c6) when incurred specifically for the sponsored project. The rental cost of any property owned by any individual or entities affiliated with Tennessee Tech, including home office space is unallowable.
Scholarships and Student Aid Costs
  • Allowable only when the purpose of the sponsored agreement is to provide training to selected participants and the charge is approved by the sponsoring agency.  In order to pay tuition, a stipend must be paid, and the student must be enrolled in an advanced degree program.  The activities of the student in relation to the project must be related to the degree program and compensation must be conditioned explicitly on their performance of the work.  Must be a bona fide employer-employee relationship (see Uniform Guidance, Section 200.466).
Selling and Marketing Costs
  • Unless allowable under Advertising and Public Relations, only allowable when necessary for the performance of the award.
Specialized Service Facilities
  • Allowable, but rates must comply with Uniform Guidance, Section 200.468 and University policy.
Taxes (Including Value Added Tax)
  • Allowable when the institution is required to pay.
Termination Costs
  • Allowable for costs that would not have arisen had the sponsored agreement not been terminated, provided they meet the requirements of the Uniform Guidance, Section 200.471.
Training and Education Costs
  • Allowable for training and education provided for employee development for a specific sponsored project.
Transportation Costs
  • Allowable when related to goods purchased.
Travel Costs
  • Allowable for transportation, lodging, subsistence, temporary dependent care, and related items for employees who are in travel status on project-specific business, subject to University policy.
  • Non-employee travel is unallowable unless related to Uniform Guidance, Section 200.422, or specifically required to fulfill the requirements of the solicitation.

The following cost items are never allowable: 

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Alumni activities
  • Bad debt
  • Commencement and convocation costs
  • Contributions and donations
  • Defense and prosecution of criminal and civil proceedings, claims, appeals and patent infringements
  • Depreciation and use allowances
  • Employee health and welfare costs
  • Fines, penalties, damages, and other settlements
  • Fund raising and investment costs
  • Gain and losses on depreciable assets
  • Idle facilities and idle capacity
  • Interest
  • Lobbying
  • Losses on other sponsored agreements or contracts
  • Memberships, subscriptions, and professional activity costs
  • Proposal costs
  • Student activity costs
  • Trustees

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