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Cost Sharing/Matching

Cost Sharing/Matching

Cost sharing/Matching/In-Kind support is all referenced in this guidance as cost share.

Some sponsors require cost share as evidence of the university's commitment to the project. Other sponsors do not allow cost share or only allow it for specific solicitations. It is important that primary investigators understand whether cost share is mandatory or voluntary and how it should be depicted to the sponsor. Cost sharing typically is not provided unless formally required by an agency in writing. Note that a sponsor may indicate no cost share is required but may also indicate that it is a review criterion or encouraged.

  • If cost share is required by the sponsor (in writing), it should be quantified in the budget and justification as required by the sponsor and university. This is mandatory cost share.

  • If the cost share is voluntary, it should not be quantified in any components of the proposal, especially not in the budget and justification sections. Some sponsors have special instructions on where to display voluntary cost share or institutional commitment so it doesn’t incur a tracking or audit amount. If the cost share is quantified, it is called ‘voluntary committed’ and requires tracking, reporting, and is auditable.  If the cost share in not quantified, it is called ‘voluntary uncommitted’ and usually doesn’t require tracking, reporting, or audit.
  • Academic time of PI/co-PI, associated fringe benefits, tuition remission (if the sponsor disallows but requires cost share), and unrecovered indirect costs are often used to meet cost share requirements.

  • The unit can also designate funds for other categories such as graduate students, equipment, travel, supplies, etc. If equipment match is provided, it must either be a depreciated value or purchased after award (discuss with ORS). Some of these items like supplies and travel may be designated as cash match if they will not be purchased until after award.

  • The PI may designate funds from their start-up packages.

  • Match (cash or in-kind) from the Vice President for Research and Partnerships (see additional information below)

  • Cost share from outside of the university (called Third Party) may also be used. 


On occasion a sponsor may allow other grant funding to be used as a match with special permission. 

Normally, if a sponsor does not allow a cost in their budget, that cost cannot be used as a cost share item (for example, if the sponsor says they will not pay for travel, then travel costs cannot be used as match unless the solicitation says it can be or the sponsor agrees to it).

If the university is a subcontract to another organization on a proposal that has mandatory cost share, then we anticipate providing match equivalent to our portion of funds unless the sponsor releases us from that expectation. If the proposal involves national laboratories, the university may approve providing additional cost share to contribute to the cost share gap caused by the national laboratory.

If the university has a subcontract on a proposal (OU is the lead), we expect the subcontracts to carry their share of the cost share commitment, with rare exceptions. If a national laboratory is involved in the proposal, subcontracts may also be expected to bear a portion of the cost share gap caused by the national lab. Third party cost share can be used to cover cost share by subcontracts through the primary investigator’s arrangements.

It is against state law to cost share university resources on a proposal to a for-profit organization. Therefore, no university match is included on proposals to for-profit companies unless the requirement is to meet a mandatory cost share requirement for a proposal submission to a federal agency. Projects funded by for-profit organizations must recover full indirect costs to the extent allowed by the primary funding source.

If your project involves cost sharing such as released time, the associated fringe benefits, equipment, travel, supplies, etc. or other commitments such as additional lab space or office space, approval is required by the University prior to submission of a preliminary or full submission. You should discuss, well in advance, your budget and commitments with Proposal Services, your department chair/director, college dean, and if applicable, the Vice President for Research and Partnerships.

  • All cost sharing and other commitments indicated anywhere in the proposal must be approved by the University through the proposal routing process.

  • The PI is responsible for ensuring ORS is aware of any cost share commitments included in a proposal.

  • The sponsor will review the entire proposal for cost sharing commitments. All cost sharing indicated in the narrative, the current and pending (FTE committed to the project), letters of support, and elsewhere should also be shown in the budget detail unless disallowed or known that it is not tracked by the sponsor (in some instances ORS may request an internal and external version of the budget and/or budget justification).

  • Cost sharing/matching, especially when quantified, whether required by the funding sponsor or offered voluntarily as an inducement for award consideration, should be presented with careful consideration.  Some agencies, such as The National Science Foundation do not allow cost share except in limited circumstances.  To the funding agency, such cost share becomes a condition of the award, must be tracked and reported, and is subject to audit.

  • Third-party, in-kind cost sharing must be documented via a letter with the proposed cost share source and value from a person at the organization with authority to commit for the organization. Consider third parties carefully; if documentation of the cost sharing expenditure/provision cannot be secured from the third-party during award, the responsibility for the cost sharing may revert to the academic unit of the PI(s).

Note that if the agency reduces the amount requested the proposed cost share package should also be reduced proportionally.  It is not uncommon for federal sponsors to request additional cost share or to capture innocent statements by investigators in ways that increase cost share. OU wants to resist attempts to increase or over match on proposals/awards.

Requesting Cost Share from the Vice President for Research and Partnerships (VPRP)

Monies for a required cash match may be available from Vice President for Research and Partnerships funds (usually at least three weeks should be planned for the request to be reviewed). Cash match from the VPRP may affect internal incentive returns to involved departments.

Upon award, if the agency reduces the amount of the funding from the amount requested, the VPRP match is reduced proportionately.

To request cost sharing from the Vice President for Research and Partnerships, submit the Request Cost-Sharing along with your draft budget and budget justification.