Non-Allowable Costs

Non-allowable and ordinarily non-allowable costs – federal awards

Syracuse University defines unallowable costs for federal awards in the context of either a particular type of activity or a particular type of cost.

Costs incurred for the following types of activities are unallowable:

  • alumni activities and relations
  • commencement and convocation ceremonies
  • contingency provisions (reserves)
  • entertainment  – amusement, diversion, and social activities and any costs directly associated with such costs such as tickets to shows or sports events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation and gratuities
  • fund raising
  • goods and services for personal use, such as automobiles
  • investment management
  • lobbying
  • public relations unrelated to the performance of a sponsored program
  • student activities – intramural activities, student publications, student clubs, and other student activities not specifically provided for in a sponsored agreement

The following types of costs are unallowable:

  • alcoholic beverages
  • bad debt losses
  • first class travel
  • fines and penalties
  • internal interest expense
  • memberships in social, dining or country clubs

Syracuse University may identify other award costs as unallowable based on consideration of:

  • The sponsor’s policies;
  • The award’s terms and conditions;
  • University policies and procedures; and
  • Facts and circumstances associated with a particular project.

The following costs are ordinarily unallowable for direct charge to federal sponsors unless the item is for non-routine use that can easily and specifically be identified with a project, is required for its completion, and its purpose is justified with written documentation.

  • Advertising for goods, services or personnel essential for a particular project
  • Communications (local calls, postage, freight)
  • General purpose instrumentation or equipment (e.g. printers, copiers, etc.)
  • Secretarial/clerical support (must meet the four criteria described in 2 CFR Part 200.413) and subject to Office of Sponsored Programs approval and, if required, sponsor approval.

Items ordinarily not allowed as direct cost items are to be disclosed in the budget narrative submitted to the sponsor for approval.  If an unanticipated need arises after receipt of the award, approval from Office of Sponsored Programs or the sponsor, depending on the award’s conditions, is required before the expense can be charged to the award.

All costs payable or reimbursable under University policy must be charged to the appropriate chartstring. For sponsored awards it is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator/Project Director to ensure that costs are charge to the appropriate chartstring.

Unallowable costs cannot be charged directly or indirectly to the federal government.  If it is determined that unallowable costs were charged to a sponsor, those costs will be transferred to the home department of the Principal Investigator/Project Director.