Participant Support Costs

Some extramural sponsors of research projects include a category in their budget forms called participant support costs, which encompass transportation, per diem, stipends, and other related costs for participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with relevant conferences, meetings, symposia, training activities, and workshops.

Participant support is provided by a number of federal agencies and other sponsors; however, the National Science Foundation has the most restrictive policies governing the budgeting, expending, and reporting of these funds.

Who is a participant? 

Program participants are individuals who are the recipients of service or training provided at a workshop, conference, seminar, symposia, or other short-term instructional or information-sharing activity funded by an external grant or award or the training beneficiaries of the project or program funded by an external grant or award. Participants perform no work or services for the project or program other than for their own benefit. A participant is not involved in providing any deliverable to the University or a third party, or would not be terminated or replaced for failure to perform. University employees may not be participants. A person classified as an intern would be paid as an employee and not as a program participant, because the intern, while receiving certain training, also is providing services to UMB, the grant sponsor, or a third party.

What are participant support costs? 

Participant payments are costs used to pay program participant small, noncompensatory stipends and possibly reimbursement of travel costs or other out-of-pocket costs incurred to support attendance at a workshop, conference, seminar, symposia, or other short-term training or information-sharing activity. Participant support is distinguished from student support in that stipends for student support are for the objective of obtaining a degree, whereas participants are usually not students and, if they are, the noncompensatory stipend is not to support their degree-seeking enrollment. Participant expenses may be paid for directly or a reimbursement made to the individual.

Budgeting participant support costs 

Review guidelines carefully to determine whether participant support costs can be included in the project budget as direct costs and whether F&A costs can be recovered. Whenever participant support costs are proposed in a budget, a detailed justification will be required that describes the purpose for the costs and the way in which they will directly benefit the proposed project’s scope of work. Most federal agencies do not allow participant support costs to be included as direct costs for the calculation of F&A cost recovery for a sponsored program. This is an agency-specific rule, however, and not a general rule for all participant support costs.

Kuali Research and participant support costs 

Add a Non-Personnel cost. Select the Category Type, Participant Support

Select the appropriate Category. The choices are: Other, Stipends, Subsistence, Travel, Tuition

For the required Object Code Name, where there is a choice, choose the description that best matches your proposed cost.

On the Non-Personnel Costs screen, Participant Support section, look for "0 Participants (edit)" at the right of the screen. Click Edit, enter the number of participants and save.

The amounts for Participant Support print to the SF424 R&R (Detailed) Budget form, section E, Participant/Trainee Support Costs.

Tuition is excluded from the F&A calculation. Inflation is not applied to tuition.

To control inflation for the other four categories (when applied in KR), click the Details button at the right of the added line item, then uncheck the box "Apply Inflation". Future year costs may be adjusted manually if desired.

If agency instructions state that the F&A rate cannot be applied to participant support costs, click the Details button at the right of the added line item, then select the Rates tab. Uncheck the "Apply Rate" box.

Charging and documenting 

Participant support costs are restricted for that purpose. Funds provided for participant support costs that are not spent cannot be rebudgeted for use in other categories except with the prior written approval of the sponsor. The sponsor also may require that unspent participant support costs be returned to the sponsor.

Funds identified as participant support costs on an award will be set up in a child account to meet the NSF requirement that “awardee organizations must account for participant support costs separately."