Facilities and Administrative Costs Standard


Facilities & Administrative Costs, also called Indirect Costs, are costs which are necessary to support research and other sponsored projects, but which cannot be readily assigned to individual projects. F&A costs include facilities, utilities, libraries, department and university administration, and student services costs associated with externally-funded training and research activity.  WWU recovers a portion of these costs attributed to sponsored projects by applying a percentage rate to direct cost expenditures where the funder allows such costs. 

WWU has different F&A rates approved by the Federal Government for projects conducted on-campus and off-campus.  The facilities portion of the rate is waived for off-campus projects because they usually pay for their facilities, utilities, maintenance, security and related facilities costs as direct expenses charged to the grant and do not make use of campus infrastructure.


F&A Costs Are Subject To Change

Indirect costs included in a proposal budget are generally treated as estimated costs, subject to actual expenditures over the lifetime of the grant/contract.  Budget modifications during the period of performance may affect F&A costs, especially if they involve changes to personnel costs.  The F&A costs charged to a grant/contract are based on actual expenditures and activities of the project.

WWU Seeks Full Reimbursement

WWU seeks full reimbursement of F&A costs in connection with all sponsored programs unless precluded by sponsor policy or exceptional circumstances.  Deviation from this standard requires prior approval by RSP.  Exceptions are generally allowed for the following cases:

  • Federal sponsors that cap rates WWU will accept the F&A rate as limited by Federal statute or regulation, or when required by a federal awarding agency.
  • Non-Federal entities (including non-Federal sovereign nations, state, and local governments, non-profit sponsors) WWU will accept the sponsor’s F&A policy if it is established by statute or is in the official program announcement or sponsor application form or instructions.  
  • Pass-through awards and agreements (including subawards) WWU will accept the prime sponsor’s F&A rate as limited by Federal statute or regulation or if the F&A policy is published on the sponsor website or is in the official program announcement or sponsor application form or instructions or terms and conditions.  
  • Award transfer to WWU: When a PI transfers to WWU from another institution and the sponsor reissues the award to WWU, WWU will accept the originally awarded F&A Rate if the rate is lower than WWU’s applicable F&A Rate until the end of the negotiated award period. If the rate of the originating institution is higher than WWU’s applicable F&A Rate, then WWU’s rate must be applied. For federally sponsored awards, WWU may not apply a rate higher than its negotiated F&A Rate.

Off-Campus Rate

Projects conducted without use of WWU facilities may qualify for an exemption to the Facilities portion of the F&A rate. Off-campus locations include space that the meets all of the following criteria:

  1. WWU does not own the facility.
  2. The space is remote from the Bellingham campus.
  3. Rent costs, if any, are allocated to the project and paid as direct costs. Factors indicating that a space is remote include use of separate (non-WWU) services such as mail, telephone, IT and other support services.  The following examples are considered off-campus:
    • Leased facilities where space-related costs (e.g. rent, utilities, & maintenance) are included in the proposal budget to be charged to the award.
    • Facilities made available by a non-university organization at no cost.
    • Remote locations where work is being conducted over an uninterrupted period of 30 or more calendar days.

Activity At Two Or More Locations

If the project will be conducted at two or more locations, more than one F&A rate may apply.  In most situations however, including most awards having total direct costs less than $250,000/yr, a single F&A rate is applied based on the location where the majority of WWU salary expenditures will occur.