University of Minnesota  Procedure

Including Cost Sharing (including Matching and In-Kind Contributions) in Proposal

Expand all


Please use the contact section in the governing policy.

Table of Contents

TOC placeholder

The terms "cost sharing," "matching," and "in-kind" refer to that portion of the total project costs not borne by the sponsor. These terms are often used interchangeably. Attention should be given to sponsor definitions of these terms as well as this policy’s definitions.

1. Proposal Development:

Principal Investigators (PIs) must adhere to the guidelines below when committing cost sharing in proposals:

  • Understand the cost sharing requirements that are outlined in the sponsor’s program announcement.
  • If cost sharing is mandatory, include it in the proposal budget.
  • Voluntary cost sharing is discouraged, except as needed to fulfill a minimum 1% effort obligation (described below) or when salary is not an allowable charge to the project.
  • If either mandatory or voluntary committed cost sharing is included in the proposal, check ‘yes’ to the matching question on the Proposal Routing Form (PRF).
  • Whenever in-kind funds are committed from sources outside the University, obtain documentation of that contribution from a representative able to legally bind the source of those funds and attach it to the proposal.
  • Know the University’s core cost sharing principles:
    • Cost sharing cannot include contributions from other sponsored projects, unless they are specifically authorized by both sponsors.
    • An expense used as cost sharing may only be used once (e.g.; designated as a match on one award cannot also be used as a match on a second award).
    • Costs used to satisfy cost sharing commitments are subject to the same policies as other costs under the approved budget, unless they are specifically authorized by that sponsor. Thus, to qualify for cost sharing all charges must be:
      • allowable under University and sponsor policies and the terms of the NOGA;
      • allocable as a cost to the project;
      • reasonable and necessary for performance of the project; and
      • allowed as a direct cost on the project.
    • All effort on the project should be included as a direct cost in the proposal unless specifically authorized on a PRF as committed cost sharing.
  • When cost sharing is included, it is important to state the following in the budget justification: "If this award is reduced from the requested amount, the proposed cost sharing will be reduced proportionately." If this statement is not included, the sponsor could reduce the award but the PI is still required to honor the level of cost sharing committed in the proposal.
  • Ensure that required PI effort commitments are met in the proposal budget.
    • Sponsored awards (unless they fall under an exempt category) should include a minimum of 1% of committed PI effort during at least one effort cycle per year, recognizing the PI’s scientific and administrative direction of the award. If there are multiple child projects set up under an award, this requirement only applies to the designated PI on the award. This requirement does not apply to other senior researchers or co-PIs. The 1% obligation cannot be further reduced or split among individuals, but greater percentages of effort devoted should be reported when reflective of actual effort. Such effort, if not paid by the sponsor, must be cost shared and designated in a cost sharing account string if it is being used to meet award effort or cost sharing obligations. Committed cost sharing must be tracked in the University's effort system. (Requirements for PI effort are specified in Administrative Policy: Effort Certification.)
      • Programs for $0 master agreements, equipment, instrumentation, student support, and doctoral dissertations are exempt from the requirement to have committed PI effort; however, a committed level of effort should be included on such projects if the nature of the particular project requires more than de minimus time involvement by the PI.

2. Proposal Review:

Department heads must adhere to the guidelines below when committed cost sharing is included in proposals:

  • Ensure that the cost sharing commitments made in the proposal are reflected on the PRF.
  • Evaluate the necessity of cost sharing. Some considerations include:
    • Is voluntary cost sharing necessary to complete the project?
    • Can the department supply funds necessary to meet these commitments?
    • Is the level of cost sharing suggested by the PI appropriate for the project?
    • Is the level of cost sharing suggested by the PI appropriate considering the individual's other commitments?

Departmental and collegiate signatures on the PRF indicate approval of cost sharing.