Facilities & Administrative Cost Rates (F&A)

There are two major categories of costs incurred when conducting a sponsored project, direct costs and facilities and administrative costs (sometimes referred to as indirect costs or IDCs).

Direct costs are those that can directly and easily be attributed to a specific sponsored project, e.g., the cost of materials used conducting the project or the cost of salary and fringe benefits of the PI/PD for his/her time spent working on the project. F&A costs are the less obvious costs, such as for the utilities in the classroom or laboratory where a project is being conducted or for the wages of purchasing and accounting personnel who provide administrative services supporting a project. F&A costs are incurred for common or joint activities that cannot be easily attributed to a particular sponsored project; they are calculated based on a rate that is negotiated with UNC’s cognizant federal agency, the Department of Health and Human Services.

NOTE: It is UNC’s policy to request the full amount of F&A costs permitted in a funding agency's written proposal guidelines.

Current F&A Rates:

(applicable to all research, teaching/instruction and service projects)
Effective Period
On-Campus Projects
Off-Campus Projects
Rate Type
7/1/2009 – 6/30/2012
35.6% MTDC
15.6% MTDC
7/1/2012 – 6/30/2013
35.6% MTDC
15.6% MTDC
7/1/2013 - 6/30/2014
35.0% MTDC
15.3% MTDC
7/1/2014 - 6/30/2015
35.0% MTDC
15.3% MTDC

View UNC's current negotiated federal agreement (pdf) for facilities and administrative cost rates and fringe benefit rates.

On-Campus or Off-Campus F&A Rate

The on-campus F&A rate is to be used unless more than 50% of the project activities occur in facilities or at locations that are not owned by UNC, in which case the off-campus rate should be used for the entire project.

MTDC – Modified Total Direct Costs

F&A rates are applied to a project’s modified total direct costs. MTDCs include the following:

  • Salaries and wages
    The cost of compensation of UNC faculty, staff, and student employees for performance of work on a sponsored project
  • Fringe benefits
    The cost of fringe benefits related to such compensation if the cost of the benefits are consistent with those not associated with sponsored projects
  • Materials & supplies
    The cost of materials and supplies consumed or used in the performance of the work of a project
  • Services
    The cost of services provided by specialized facilities or other institutional service operations
  • Travel
    Expenses for transportation, lodging, subsistence and related items incurred by UNC employees who travel for purposes of the project
  • The first $25,000 of each subaward
    A subaward involves the transfer of a portion of the substantive work of a project to another organization or institution. The first $25,000 of the cost of every subaward is included in a project’s MTDC, and F&A is assessed on it. For the purpose of budgeting for F&A, contracts for non-programmatic services and consulting agreements are not considered as subawards.

Costs that are excluded from the MTDC base (and thus not assessed F&A costs) are:

  • Equipment
    Tangible, nonexpendable, personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit
  • Capital Expenditures
    Buildings, alterations and renovations, and other capitalized expenditures
  • Patient Care
    The cost of routine and ancillary medical services (tests and procedures) provided by a hospital or clinic, but not laboratories of academic units or organized research units. Such costs should be based on a DHHS-negotiated patient care rate agreement or equivalent. Patient care does NOT include consulting physician fees, personal expense reimbursements such as for patient travel, or any other direct payments to patients, subjects, volunteers, or donors.
    In order to incur patient care costs, a project must have an IRB-approved human subject protocol.
  • Tuition Remission
    The cost of tuition and fee remission for UNC students, including graduate students
  • Rental Costs
    The cost of renting space and/or facilities not owned by UNC, including maintenance and utility costs if included in a rental agreement
    Excluded rental costs do not include other types of rentals, such as equipment or vehicles
  • Scholarships and Fellowships
    Financial aid paid directly to UNC students, including scholarships, fellowships, stipends, dependency allowances
    Conference-type participant support costs are not included in this category
  • Subawards in Excess of $25,000
    The amount of every subaward over $25,000 regardless of the duration of the agreement, unless a new subaward is issued under a competitive renewal or supplement from the prime sponsor that includes additional work and funding for the sub-awardee