Allowability of Costs

Updated March 17, 2020

OMB guidance to federal agencies

OMB guidance to federal agencies, March 19, 2020

OMB guidance to federal agencies, March 9, 2020

Guidance from Grants & Contracts

Travel cancellation costs

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The NIH has provided additional flexibility for travel costs related to COVID-19 via NOT-OD-20-86.

  • Non-refundable costs associated with grant-related travel that has been cancelled due to COVID-19 may be charged to the NIH award if they would have otherwise been allowable.
  • Non-refundable registration fees for conferences, symposiums or seminars that have been cancelled due to COVID-19 may be charged to the NIH award if they would have otherwise been allowable (e.g. necessary to accomplish program objectives).

Other federal agencies

Additional guidance from other Federal agencies, such as NSF, NASA, and DOE is expected to be issued soon. It is likely that the other federal agencies will provide costing flexibility similar to the NIH’s statement. Grants & Contracts suggests that reimbursement requests or accounting adjustment should be held until agency-specific guidance is issued.

Non-federal agencies

In general, non-federal grants provide more flexibility and discretion for costing issues. Please contact Grants & Contracts with specific questions regarding non-refundable costs associated with non-federal sponsored projects.

Refund checks related to trip cancellations should be deposited/posted to the sponsored fund that incurred the initial cost.


As of March 12, 2020, American will waive a one-time change fee for all new non-refundable tickets purchased between March 1 and March 31, 2020. 

As of March 10, 2020, Delta will waive change fees for all flights from March 1 through April 30, 2020. No change fees will be charged for any tickets purchased between March 1 and March 31, 2020, and certain other international flights beyond that time.

As of March 12, 2020, United will waive change fees for all flights between March 3 and March 31, 2020. Change fees will also be waived on all tickets for domestic and international flights issued on or before March 2, 2020 with original travel dates of March 9 through April 30, 2020.

Salary charges

Salaries for faculty, staff, and students working on sponsored projects from a remote location may be charged to the applicable sponsored funds.

Individuals working remotely due to self-, university-, or government-imposed isolation may continue to charge salary to sponsored funds as long as they remain engaged in the project.

Individuals who are sick and cannot remain engaged with the project should use their available sick and vacation time (which is an allowable cost on sponsored funds).

The university will be issuing guidance regarding individuals who are unable to perform their regular duties due to the effect of COVID-19.

Other considerations

Office supply items, including pens, paper, notebooks, printers, and toner, that are needed to work remotely are considered administrative costs and cannot be charged directly to sponsored funds.

No cost extensions

Researchers should document the actual impact of COVID-19 on the progress of their grants to provide substantiation for any future no cost time extension request. It is not known at this time if agencies will consider longer-than-normal no cost time extensions, or multiple no cost time extensions, in this situation, but standard no cost time extensions will still be available. 


Contact Us: Allowability of Costs

Grants & Contracts