Direct Costs

Use the File Finder tool to locate documents related to proposal development such as forms and official policies and procedures.

Personnel salaries

This includes Georgia State personnel only, their roles on the project, titles, the percentage of effort/time each will devote to the project, the rate of pay, the amount requested from the sponsor to support each person per year (or for the entire project period) and the amount of salary cost shared (if required). Note that administrative and clerical salaries are generally not charged to sponsored projects. However, such charges may be appropriate for some large, complex programs. Please consult OSPA if you are not sure about a particular salaried position.

For salary calculations, use the Salary, Effort, Person Month Conversion Chart to assist you in calculating the following:

  • Georgia State faculty and staff base salary – Faculty and staff salaries typically are based on a percentage of their total annual effort. Faculty are typically compensated based on a nine-month academic year appointment, although some faculty are compensated based on a 12-month calendar year appointment. Even if a faculty member decides to teach summer school, that does not change their appt. from a nine- to 12-month appointment. Check with your department to determine the correct appointment year for figuring your salary. An appropriate percentage of the academic year or calendar year salary should be specified in the budget. If summer salary is to be requested, see below.
  • Daily/hourly rates – Some proposal budgets may require that faculty or staff time be reported on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. The number of hours worked will depend upon whether the person listed in the budget is on a nine-month or 12-month appointment. The hourly rate is computed as follows:
  1. Academic Year (nine-month faculty): 9 month salary ÷ 1560 hours = rourly rate
  2. Calendar Year (12-month employees): 12-month salary ÷ 2080 hours = hourly rate
  3. The daily rate would merely take the appropriate hourly rate and multiply it by eight hours. To calculate the weekly rate, multiply the hourly rate by 40 hours.
  • Nine-month faculty summer salary – For summer salary, a maximum of three months of summer effort and salary (calculated up to 33.33% x 9 month base salary for the current fiscal year) may be requested when this is acceptable to the sponsor. This summer salary must be identified as such in the budget.

Merit raises

Sponsored activities may not result in any employees receiving compensation at a rate in excess of their authorized institutional salary. However, for multi-year projects, the budget should take into consideration any possible salary increases (typically a three-six percent yearly increase). In no case can funds be requested or used to augment salaries of any faculty or staff beyond university-approved rates.

Faculty extra salary compensation

Occasionally, there will be times when a faculty member may request and receive additional compensation beyond the base salary. This is an allowable direct cost only if the funding agency specifically allows extra compensation, which is rare. Extra compensation must be labeled as such in the budget submitted to and approved by the funding agency. Please note that federal funding agencies and some state agencies do not allow extra compensation during the academic year.

When a proposal requesting extra compensation has been submitted to OSPA, it must include a letter of approval or guidelines from the sponsoring agency specifying that this is allowed. Also, a letter, signed by the person(s) receiving extra compensation, their department chair(s) and their dean, must be attached to the proposal stating that all four of the following conditions of the Board of Regents Policy on Faculty Compensation, (section 8.3.12) for extra compensation will be fulfilled.

  • The work is carried out in addition to a full effort load.
  • No qualified person is available to carry the additional workload as part of his/her normal duties.
  • The work produces sufficient income to be self-supporting.
  • The additional duties must not be so heavy as to interfere with the performance of regular duties.

If extra compensation is not included in the original proposal, extra compensation cannot be paid without seeking agency approval, especially in federal and federal flow through projects. The most appropriate way to request extra compensation as an allowable cost on a sponsored project is to specify this cost in the proposal (subject to the criteria above) in the personnel area, but NOT as a consultant cost. This cost includes associated fringe benefit of 29.9% (current full time employee fringe benefit rate subject to change).

In order for extra compensation to be approved, it must be included in the proposal and the awarded budget or approved by the awarding agency in writing after the receipt of the award and a letter from the dean’s office must ensure that all four conditions of the BOR Policy above are met. These requests are approved only in cases where the above requirements are met. Please note that federal funding agencies and some state agencies do not allow extra compensation during the academic year.

Even if extra compensation has been approved as an allowable cost, certain federal criteria must be followed in that the “consulting” must be across departmental lines or the work involved is at a separate or remote location. In addition, extra compensation may not be paid from state funds nor can a university employee get extra compensation as a consultant on a sponsored project awarded to Georgia State.

Graduate research assistants and graduate fellowships

A graduate research assistant (GRA) is an internal Georgia State designation and may be assigned research duties each semester or on a monthly basis, whereas graduate fellowships are awards by external sponsoring agencies. For both of these, Georgia State has specific policies on pay or stipend rates and on tuition waivers. Also, graduate student pay/stipends should never include fringe benefits. See the Georgia State Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures and the Graduate Fellowship Policy and Procedures for other details.

Hiring on sponsored projects

It is best to decide on any new position(s) with salary(ies) you will need for the project during the proposal development phase and include both in the itemized budget proposal. We recommend that you use the Job Titles and Pay Grades already approved by Georgia State University’s Office of Human Resources. Doing so can save months of time in hiring new personnel on a sponsored project. Once you are prepared to post a position for hire on your sponsored project, please follow the detailed instructions for Hiring on Sponsored Projects.


The need to consult with colleagues and disseminate new knowledge through scholarly meetings is an expected practice and an accepted cost in most projects. There must be a correlation between the project and the purpose of the meeting. Such costs may include transportation, lodging and meals (per diem). If the project requires travel to various locations in order to perform the work, these costs should be identified; an itinerary may be required if travel is a significant portion of the total cost. Some examples would be travel to various localities to collect samples, to interview respondents or to make special measurements. These costs should be specifically identified and justified. This category is for travel costs associated with Georgia State employees only. Travel for non-Georgia State personnel is to be listed under “consultants”, “subcontracts” or “participant support costs.”

  • Domestic travel – Domestic travel on most sponsored projects accounts is subject to the University’s Institutional Travel Policy. In some instances, however, the funding agency may put forth more restrictive travel regulations. In those cases, the agency’s regulations must be followed. For example, some federal agencies limit reimbursement for meals and lodging to the federal per diem rates. Georgia State uses the federal government CONUS rate for meals and lodging for cities located in the United States. Also see the State of Georgia travel regulations.
  • Foreign travel – Because of federal and certain funding agency regulations, OSPA should be contacted as far in advance of foreign trips as possible to ensure that you have fulfilled all of the requirements for foreign travel as a Georgia State employee and in order to be properly reimbursed. Key information about foreign travel and foreign per diem rates can be found on the U.S. State Department website.

Operating supplies

This category includes operating supplies and materials that are specific to and necessary for the project, of an expendable nature, regardless of service life, and having an acquisition cost of $4,999 or less per item. Operating supplies include expendable equipment, animals and animal rations, chemicals, glassware, postage related to the project, participant support, human subjects payments, software, publication expenses, unusually large quantities of paper supplies as in the preparation and distribution of questionnaires or other brochures and forms, etc. General office supplies should not be included as a direct cost of a grant except when the scope of work requires unusual amount of a certain type of supplies (e.g., paper for distribution of a large quantity of surveys) and such inclusion must be approved by the sponsoring agency. In fact, DO NOT use the term “office supplies” in your direct cost budget line items.


Permanent equipment is defined as any item of non-expendable, tangible, personal property having a useful life expectancy of two or more years and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit. Equipment under $5,000 should be categorized under operating supplies. Equipment needs must be itemized and justified in the proposal budget. In addition, the PI must determine that the equipment requested is not already available within the institution. The cost of equipment generally includes needed accessories, installation, and delivery costs (costs for annual service contracts for maintenance and repair should come under miscellaneous costs – see below). In some cases the sponsor may provide the equipment directly rather than provide acquisition funds or a short-term rental may be preferred.Permanent equipment costing more than $5,000 is not included in the base amount for calculating F&A (indirect) costs for a proposal. Also, Georgia State has a specific policy regarding the use of university equipment in off-campus locations that should be reviewed before proposing to do so. See Off-Campus Use of Equipment Policy.