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Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs Basics

F&A Costs (also known as indirect costs/IDC, overhead, administrative allowance, or occasionally, institutional allowance) are reimbursements by sponsors for things that cannot be directly and uniquely assigned to any particular project, and are incurred by our institution for expenses such as utilities; buildings and grounds; operation and maintenance; library-related expenditures; and university services like telephones, computer infrastructure, postage services, etc. 

F&A funding seeks to reimburse the RF and SUNY for part of the cost of doing business during the course of a sponsored project. Since expenses are incurred through the performance of a sponsored project, a percentage is charged back to the agency or organization funding the sponsored project. Continue reading...

F&A Cost Components under OMB 2 CFR Part 200, F&A costs must be identified, grouped according to cost categories, and allocated to the benefitting functions. The result of this allocation is a determination of a pool of costs that benefit all the research projects at an institution. These costs are separated into two broad categories, “facilities” and “administrative.” For more information, see the Facilities and Administrative Costs Primer published by The Research Foundation for The SUNY.


The latest policy and an up to date listing on the RF/SBU approved F&A rates are listed on this web site or you can contact your OSP Specialist.

Stony Brook University in conjunction with The Research Foundation for The State University of New York applies each year for rate renewal and approval through its cognizant agency, The Department of Health and Human Services.

Common Terms
Definitions and Applicability

F&A Rate Types

The most common are: Total Direct Cost (TDC), Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC), Other Sponsored Programs (includes evaluative testing), Instruction, IPA , Administrative and Clinical Trials rates.  In addition, some sponsors may have their own policy on these types of costs.  If you run across a situation like this make sure to include documentation on the rate allowed in myResearch Grants.

Unless there is a written F&A sponsor policy, full F&A recovery must be included in proposal budgets.

Modified Total Direct Cost 

is calculated by excluding alterations and renovations having a cost of $15,000 or more per alteration or renovation, in/out patient care costs, rental maintenance of off-site activities, student tuition, participant support cost (student aid, stipends, travel, etc.), amounts over the first $25,000 of each subcontract/subgrant, and equipment over $5,000. Most federal programs use this rate.

 Total Direct Cost 

includes all direct costs associated with a sponsored project including those items excluded in Modified Total Direct Cost.

Organized Research Rate

Organized research means all research and development activities of an institution that are separately budgeted and accounted for. It includes: (1) Sponsored research means all research and development activities that are sponsored by federal and non-federal agencies and organizations. This term includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques (commonly called research training) where such activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where such activities are not included in the instruction function. (2) University research means all research and development activities that are separately budgeted and accounted for by the institution under an internal application of institutional funds. University research, for purposes of this guidance, shall be combined with sponsored research under the function of organized research.

Administrative Rate

applies to unrestricted gifts and other funds received in support of organized research or training activities where the sponsor provides the funds in advance and without further obligation on the part of the institution: i.e., no constraints on how the funds may be used, no financial or technical reporting requirements, and no deliverables. 

This rate will also be applied to funds from:  External Sources deposited to Service and Facility Accounts;  Materials Transfer Agreements; NYS Industrial Contracts affiliated with Centers for Advanced Technology, Center for Biotechnology,  Center of Excellence Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) and the SPIR  Program; Phase 1 subcontracts as part of STTR/SBIR awards; non-federal fellowship awards unless a rate is specified by the non-federal sponsor; and awards made specifically and solely for support of a conference, seminar, or workshop to be held at a Stony Brook University location.

Other Sponsored Programs Activity Rate

will be applied on both federal and non-federal projects for which the activity is other than research and instruction such as Evaluative Testing, as defined below, General Administration, Operations and Maintenance, Sponsored Projects Administration and other public service projects and federally-sponsored Clinical Trials. 

An  evaluative testing agreement for which the  Other Sponsored Programs  Rate applies is defined as any agreement with a private sponsor providing a company-developed protocol that specifies all procedures in detail and leaves no room for the University Principal Investigator to experiment on his or her own; where the type of work required is characterized as testing of the private sponsor’s proprietary product (e.g. a new or investigational device, drug, material or compound) and  the deliverable must be raw data which cannot include any interpretation. Such testing or studies  cannot involve contact with human subjects.

Clinical Trials Rate

will be applied to all Clinical Trials funded by private sponsors.  

 clinical trial agreement for which the  Clinical Trial Rate applies is a controlled, clinical testing in human subjects of investigational new drugs, devices, treatments, or diagnostics, or comparisons of approved drugs, devices, treatments, or diagnostics, to assess their safety, efficacy, benefits, costs, adverse reactions, and/or outcomes.  Such studies may be conducted under an industry-developed protocol or an investigator-developed protocol.

  1. The objective of the study is either:
    1. testing of a drug, device, diagnostic, treatment, intervention, or preventive measures  including testing for an unapproved indication  or
    2. data collection, or review of data generated or acquired in a clinical setting, to increase knowledge that would lead to enhanced safety and efficacy of a drug or device.
  2. The study must involve contact with human subjects or the review of patient care clinical data
  3. The study must be performed primarily in patient care or clinical space
  4. The study must be industry-funded.

Instruction Rate

Instruction means the teaching and training activities of an institution. Except for research training as provided in subsection (1), this term includes all teaching and training activities, whether they are offered for credits toward a degree or certificate or on a non credit basis, and whether they are offered through regular academic departments or separate divisions, such as a summer school division or an extension division. Also considered part of this major function are departmental research, and, where agreed to, University research.

(1) Sponsored instruction and training means specific instructional or training activity established by grant, contract, or cooperative agreement. For purposes of the cost principles, this activity may be considered a major function even though an institution's accounting treatment may include it in the instruction function.

(2) Departmental research means research, development and scholarly activities that are not organized research and, consequently, are not separately budgeted and accounted for. Departmental research, for purposes of this document, is not considered as a major function, but as a part of the instruction function of the institution.

Interpersonnel Agreement (IPA) Rate 

An IPA assignment agreement is used when an employee of an educational institution is temporarily assigned to work at a federal agency (such as a Veterans Administration Medical Center) for a specified period, because of their expertise in a particular area. The federal agency agrees to pay the assignee’s salary, fringe benefits, and sometimes travel expenses. The Agreement includes a description of the duties and responsibilities of the assignee. It also provides for the assignee to return to their position (or similar position) at the educational institution.