Frequently Asked Questions about Allowable Costs

Even though a grant may be awarded based upon the proposal and budget submitted, once the research begins, questions may arise regarding what items can be charged to the grant and what items cannot be charged to the grant. Below are excerpts from the NIH budget guidelines regarding allowable costs.

What is allowable and what is not allowable

Material and Supplies Costs

  • Costs incurred for materials, supplies, and fabricated parts necessary to carry out a grant agreement are allowable.
  • Purchased materials and supplies shall be charged at their actual prices,net of applicable credits. Withdrawals from general stores or stockrooms should be charged at their actual net cost. Incoming transportation charges are a proper part of materials and supplies costs.
  • Only materials and supplies actually used for the performance of a grant agreement may be charged as direct costs.

Meetings and Conferences

Costs of meetings and conferences, the primary purpose of which is the dissemination of technical information, are allowable. This includes costs of meals, transportation, rental of facilities, speakers' fees, and other items incidental to such meetings or conferences.

Memberships, Subscriptions and Professional Activity Costs for PIs

Non research-related items such as office supplies, postage, local telephone costs, and memberships shall normally be treated as indirect (F&A) costs and are not allowable as a direct cost).

Publication and Printing Costs

  • Research-related publication costs (e.g.,printing, reprints) are allowable.
  • Page charges for professional journal publications are allowable as a necessary part of research costs where:
    • The research papers report work supported by the Federal Government: and;
    • The charges are levied impartially on all research papers published by the journal, whether or not by federally sponsored authors are allowable.