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 Coeus and participant support costs

Select the appropriate cost element on the Non-Personnel Budget tab, Participant Support panel. Some of the choices include:

Cost Element 000037 – Trainee Stipends
Cost Element 000055 – Use for Senior Fellows (NIH F33)
Cost Element 000036 – Trainee Travel
Cost Element 000003 – Trainee Participant Costs – Other

These cost elements will print to the SF424 R&R (Detailed) Budget form, section E, Participant/Trainee Support Costs.

Cost Element 000047 – Tuition/Fees

The amount for Tuition/Fees prints to the SF424 R&R (Detailed) Budget form, section F, Other Direct Costs (item 8). 

On the Participant Support panel, show the Line Item Details if you wish to uncheck the box for annual inflation increase. Show the Rate Classes to uncheck the Apply Rate box if the agency instructions state that the F&A rate cannot be applied to participant support costs. Tuition and fees are excluded from the F&A cost base.

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."