Application of F&A Rates to Sponsored Projects


This page provides additional information and examples when determining the applicable Facilities and Administrative (F&A) cost recovery rate during the proposal development stage.  F&A cost recovery rates apply to all Sponsored Projects as defined in the Policy on Sponsored Projects and Gifts. The application of these rates allows UMBC to recover certain costs (e.g., facilities, utilities, libraries, administration, student services, etc.) associated with externally funded activities. Although these are actual costs that are incurred, they cannot be allocated to a specific Sponsored Project. The Federal Government determines the necessary rate to collect these costs from Sponsored Projects, which they provide to UMBC in the Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA). Therefore, any reduction in the allowable rate is considered cost sharing, and UMBC must recover those costs from other sources.

The first step in determining the applicable F&A cost recovery rate is establishing the activity type that best describes the scope of work. As defined in Federal Uniform Guidance, the major functions of an institution include Organized Research, Instruction, and Other Sponsored Activity.   Sponsored Project Activity Type is a factor in determining the applicable F&A cost recovery rate. The descriptions below provide guidance in identifying common activities and examples under each activity type. This is not an exhaustive list and units should confer with OSP if it is unclear which activity type best describes the proposed scope of work. With few exceptions, sponsored project activity will be classified as on-campus and therefore will use the applicable on-campus rate. Please refer to the Procedure for Determining Off-campus Projects for more information.


Organized Research:

All research and development activities sponsored by federal or non-federal agencies and organizations. Organized Research can further be identified as Basic Research, Applied Research, or Experimental Development. These categories correspond with designations used for NSF’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey.

Organized Research Type 
Research: Basic

Experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view. Examples: NIH R01, R03, R21; SBIR and STTR Phase I, K99/R00

Research: Applied

Original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge. It is directed primarily towards a specific, practical aim or objective. Examples: NIH R01, R21, SBIR, STTR, Phase II

Experimental Development

Systematic work, drawing on knowledge gained from research and practical experience and producing additional knowledge, which is directed to producing new products or processes or to improving existing products or processes. Examples: MIPS, TEDCO

Fellowship: Research 

Note that while awards to support faculty research or referred to as “fellowships” by the funding agency, these are most often appropriately categorized in the basic, applied, or experimental development categories above. Likewise, undergraduate and graduate fellowships focused on training in research techniques can be identified as research under these three categories. Examples: NIH F30, F31, R36, NSF GRFP, NASA NSTGRO


Sponsored Instruction is defined as teaching and training activities at UMBC funded by Sponsored Projects from Federal or non-Federal sponsors. Sponsored Instruction includes agreements that support curriculum development as well as all types of teaching/training activities, whether offered for credit toward a degree or certificate, on a non-credit basis, or through regular academic departments or by separate divisions, summer school or external division.

Instruction Type

Training and Development (UMBC internal)

Non-research related instruction including conferences & workshops, where primary purpose is training & development of UMBC students and/or personnel.


  • Curriculum development for UMBC students and faculty
  • Educational conference grants for a primary audience of UMBC students or staff (including faculty)
  • Activity generally takes place in a classroom setting and not in a lab
  • Undergraduate, graduate or professional fellowships not focused on training in research techniques. Sponsored internships, apprenticeships, and instructional fellowships.

Other Sponsored Activities (OSA):

Other Sponsored Activities means Sponsored Projects financed by Federal and non-Federal sponsors involving the performance of work other than Instruction and Organized Research. Since most projects in this category do not directly involve significant facility resources like research labs, animals, scientific equipment, etc., the F&A cost recovery rate applicable to Other Sponsored Activities is less than the rate for Organized Research or Sponsored Instruction.

OSA Type

Other Sponsored Activity (OSA)

Sponsored programs and projects that involve the performance of work other than instruction or organized research and not otherwise specified above as a sub-category under the Major Function of OSA.


  • Studies involving only the collection of data for entry into a registry
  • Curriculum development (including software) for early childhood, compulsory, and higher education.
  • Programs to enhance institutional resources, including computer enhancement, etc.
  • Sponsorship of museums, arts, dance, or music programs
Professional Development/Public Service (UMBC external)

Non-research related instruction, including conferences & workshops, where primary purpose is training & development of non-UMBC students & personnel.


  • Conference, workshops & symposiums with a primary audience of non-UMBC students/staff including faculty
  • Fellowships for public services/outreach activities
  • Curriculum development for non-UMBC students & faculty for “training courses”.
  • Professional development
Interpersonal Agreements (IPA) and Joint Appointment Agreements 

Inter-personnel Agreements, Joint Appointment Agreements in which employees work on-site at another entity and UMBC is reimbursed for the salary and associated expenses.

Examples: IPA Agreements with VA or other federal agencies

The next step in determining the applicable F&A cost recovery rate is to confirm whether the sponsor imposes any limitations on F&A. If the sponsor limits F&A or requires use of a rate other than the federally negotiated rate, this information must be accessible to the public and, therefore, officially published in the sponsor guidelines or announcement. If this information is absent, the proposal should use the applicable federally negotiated F&A cost recovery rate. Please see the UMBC Policy on the Consistent Application of Facility and Administrative (F&A) Costs.


Updated 07/06/2022