Stipends on Sponsored Projects

Background

To provide greater clarity, our office has developed the following guidance related to stipends on sponsored awards. This presentation only applies to stipends provided from sponsored program activities. Generally, stipends are unallowable for all University employees unless the purpose of the agreement is to provide training to selected participants and the charge is approved by the sponsor. 

There are, however, some instances where stipend expenses are allowable. Sponsored funds intended to support training or research training will state that intention clearly in the agency program announcement. The scope of work in the proposal and award agreements should also state explicitly that training or research training of specific individuals is a purpose of the award. In such cases, stipend expenses are expected and allowable. Typical training awards include NIH "T" and "F" awards, NASAs various fellowship programs and NSF Doctoral Dissertation grants. Other awards where the training intention in UNC Asheville's proposal and award agreement is described clearly and accepted by the federal sponsor can also include stipend expenses.

Sponsored research funds generally reimburse the University for the allowable cost of services rendered. Stipends do not reflect payments in exchange for services and they are ordinarily not allowed on sponsored awards. If an individual is providing a benefit to a project under the direction of a principal investigator, he or she should be paid as an employee.

Federal Guidance

Uniform Guidance: Cost Principles, Audit and Administrative Requirements for Federal Awards.

The only allowance for stipends relates to participant support costs. Within this heading, OMB states "participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with meetings, conferences, symposia, or training projects."

University Guidance

Generally, stipends are allowable for undergraduate students where the sponsored project is teaching research activities. University employees are ineligible to receive stipends under a sponsored project award unless allowable in the formal sponsored program announcement (i.e., NASA Fellowship, NEA Fellowship, NEH Fellowship, NSF Doctoral Dissertation programs).