The University of Iowa

Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costs

The University of Iowa's F&A cost-reimbursement rates -- the rates for reimbursing institutional overhead and other expenses associated with sponsored projects -- are determined through extensive calculation and formal negotiation with the federal government.

  F&A Rate Decision Tool - Click here for a tool to determine the appropriate F&A rate to apply to agreements.

University of Iowa policy requires that applications for external funding request the maximum F&A cost-reimbursement rate possible:

  • Applications to Federal Agencies -- Must follow the federally negotiated rates outlined below unless the particular federal sponsor or solicitation specifies some other rate, in which case the applicant must request the maximum F&A reimbursement allowed by the particular sponsor/solicitation.
  • Applications to Industry and other For-Profit Entities -- Are also expected to abide by the federally negotiated rates outlined below, regardless of sponsor policy/solicitation guidelines. F&A cost waivers cannot generally be granted in relation to for-profit organizations, as such waivers mean the sponsor would not be reimbursing the University for the full cost of the project. A waiver in relation to a for-profit, then, would constitute a gift of public funds for private benefit, which is contrary to the UI mission and operations.
  • Nonprofit Organizations, such as Foundations and Societies -- Nonprofits generally don't reimburse F&A costs at the federally negotiated rates. In these cases, the UI adheres to the particular sponsor's policy, expecting the applicant to budget F&A at the maximum rate allowed by the sponsor and to provide documentation of the sponsor's published policy at routing. In cases where a nonprofit sponsor has no formal policy on F&A cost reimbursement, the University will accept a rate of 15% of the Total Direct Costs.

To determine the F&A cost reimbursement, applicants must apply the allowable F&A cost-reimbursement rate to the budget "base." Please refer to the sponsor guidelines to determine the maximum F&A cost reimbursement rate and the base to which it applies. If unsure of the correct rate/calculation, please check with the UI Division of Sponsored Programs contact who works with the funding agency to which you are applying, or call the UI DSP office at 319-335-2123.

Federally Negotiated F&A Cost-Reimbursement Rates

Categories of Sponsored Projects
The Federally Negotiated Rate Agreement identifies four categories of projects: Organized Research, Instruction, Other Sponsored Activities, and Off-Campus.  Use the following F&A Rates for the appropriate category (see below for additional information) for budget start dates of 7/1/11 and beyond.  

Organized Research includes all externally funded research activities, both basic and applied, and all development activities. This also includes activities related to the training of individuals in research techniques (commonly called research training) where such activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities.

Instruction includes all teaching and training activities, except for research training, whether they are offered for credit toward a degree or certificate, on a non-credit basis, or through regular academic departments or by separate divisions, such as summer session.  Some examples of Instruction include:

  • Any project for which the purpose is to instruct any student at any location; recipients of this instruction may be UI students or staff, teachers or students in elementary or secondary schools, or the general public
  • Curriculum development projects at any level, including projects which involve evaluation of curriculum or teaching methods; such evaluation may be considered "research" only when the preponderance of activity is data collection, evaluation and reporting
  • Projects which involve UI students in community service activities for which they are receiving academic credit
  • Activities funded by awards to departments or schools for the support of students
  • General support for the writing of textbooks or reference books, video or software to be used as instructional materials.

Other Sponsored Activities include externally funded projects which involve the performance of work or activities that are not considered Organized Research or Instruction.  Some examples of Other Sponsored Activities include:

  • Support for conferences or seminars
  • Support for student participation in community service projects which do not result in academic credit
  • Support for projects pertaining to library collections, acquisitions, bibliographies or cataloging
  • Programs to enhance institutional resources
  • Demonstration projects,  (project to determine whether a specified change in policy or procedure results in increased efficiency, reduction in cost, improved delivery of services, etc.)
  • Health Service Projects that support the public
  • Community Service Programs
  • Consulting agreements
  • Fee-for-service agreements (unit provides a routine service as part of its normal business operations

Definition of Off-Campus
A project, or part of a project, is considered to be performed off-campus if the activity is conducted in a facility that is not owned by the University of Iowa and the facility-related costs (rent, utilities & other maintenance) are charged directly to the project or if the project is conducted at a location or facility at no cost to the university. The classification of off-campus is for the purpose of applying the correct Facilities & Administrative cost (indirect cost) rate.

The on- or off-campus determination shall be based on the UI portion of project costs and not include costs of a collaborating entity (subrecipients). "Project" refers to the grant or contract award to the University of Iowa, not including collaborating entities.

  • Projects conducted partially off-campus
    For projects performed both on and off campus, the off-campus rate applies to those projects where more than 50% of the personnel effort takes place off campus and the off campus portion occurs for more than 90 consecutive days.

Exceptions to Federally Negotiated F&A Cost-Reimbursement Rates
There are other common types of sponsored projects that result in F&A rates that are lower than the federally negotiated rates.  The following are UI accepted reductions in the rates.  For those not on this list, an F&A Rate Reduction form (link) must be completed.

  • State of Iowa Agreements
    An 8% F&A rate is applied to State of Iowa Agreements funded from state funds and federal “block” grants. The University will also accept an 8% rate if both of the following criteria apply:

    1. Federal funds flowing through the State of Iowa in which program eligibility does not allow for UI to apply directly; and
    2. Project is service-related (as a vendor providing a public service or training function, as compared to doing research).

    When funding flows from the prime sponsor through the State of Iowa and eligibility guidelines allow UI to apply directly, the University’s rate applicable to the prime sponsor will apply.
  • Corporate and Industry Sponsored Clinical Trials

    Corporate and industry sponsored clinical trials are studies supported by a business and that involve evaluation of a technology or product. These studies include the following:

    • Clinical investigation as defined by the FDA in 21 CFR 50.3(c);
    • Clinical investigation as defined by the FDA in 21 CFR 312.3(b);
    • Phase 1, 2, and 3 IND clinical investigations as defined by the FDA in 21 CFR 312.21;
    • Phase 4 postmarketing studies as defined by the FDA in 21 CFR 312.85;
    • Investigation as defined by the FDA in 21 CFR 812.3(h) regarding IDE studies; and
    • Postmarket surveillance as defined by the FDA in 21 CFR 822.3(i) related to medical devices. 

      The University's F&A rate for all industry-sponsored clinical trials is 26% of total direct costs (TDC). If the industry sponsor insists on paying a lower F&A rate (for example, 20%), 26% will still be assessed on the funds. The investigator must decide whether the research can be performed for the amount that is available for direct costs.
  • Federally Funded Clinical Trials
    The University’s Federally Negotiated Sponsored Research rate of 52.5% MTDC (Modified Total Direct Cost) applies to all federally funded clinical trials, whether the funds are awarded directly from the sponsor or flow through an intermediary sponsor.
  • Training Grants
    Some agencies fund Training Grants to support a specific type of training program. Training Grants generally allow an F&A cost-reimbursement rate of 8%. The UI accepts this 8% rate only for programs officially designated as "Training Grants" by the granting agency and formally capped by governmental or non-profit sponsor policy.  The Training Grant rate would not normally apply to programs supported by for-profit sponsors.
  • Specific Project Purposes
    Projects under a select list of specific "purposes" are usually exempt from F&A costs. Application budgets are generally not expected to include institutional F&A cost reimbursement if the request is solely for one of the following budget categories:
    • Construction;
    • Equipment; or
    • Travel.

      This may not apply if the sponsor allows F&A on all types of costs. If that is the case and a nonprofit sponsor has no published F&A rate, then the standard 15% rate should apply.

Bases for Calculating Facilities & Administrative Costs
Once the F&A rate is determined, it is applied against the “base.”  Similar to the rate, the base may vary according to the type of project or sponsor.  The common bases are as follows:

  • Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC)
    The F&A rate is applied to all direct costs minus the following:
  • Equipment
  • Capital expenditures
  • Patient care costs
  • Subcontracts over $25,000
  • Student tuition remission
  • Rental costs of off-site facilities
  • Scholarships and fellowships
  • Total Direct Costs (TDC)
    The F&A rate is applied to all of the direct costs.
  • Total Direct Costs Minus Exclusions
    The F&A rate is applied to all direct costs minus specific exclusions identified by the sponsor.  For example, some sponsors may specifically only allow F&A to be applied against salaries and wages.

Additional Information on F&A Costs