NSF Participant Support Costs

The National Science Foundation uses a budget category “Participant Support Costs” for participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with NSF-sponsored conferences, meetings, symposia, training activities and workshops.  NSF policy is to exclude participant support costs from the modified total direct cost base, however, these costs are not excluded from the MTDC base for most other federal agencies. Non-SU employees in this category are not to be considered consultants. Please be aware that compensation for teachers who are project participants may be determined by the terms of their specific union contract.

PI/PDs should clearly define what participants have to do to receive payment (e.g. attendance at conferences, workshops, etc.) and develop plans to maintain appropriate documentation of satisfactory completion of those activities.

Project participants should be distinguished from research subjects in the budget narrative (see “Research Subjects” below).  Project Participants ordinarily are not subject to human subjects’ protection regulations, including the informed consent process.  Since SU does not distinguish between research participants or research subjects, the documentation accompanying payment requests should make the purpose clear. Participants may also be compensated with a stipend.