Indirect Costs of Research


ICR (or “overhead”) are expenditures incurred that are not directly attributed or traceable to specific expense activities to a specific research effort, yet are real costs that must be included in a research project budget. Maintaining and improving our research infrastructure requires continued investment on a significant scale. Therefore, research funding should cover the full cost of the research. As such, the University requires that all research project budgets include both indirect and direct costs, except where expressly prohibited by a sponsor.

Indirect costs include:

  • infrastructure and space maintenance
  • research support services, including central research and financial services
  • environmental health and safety supports and resources
  • regulatory certification requirements
  • resources such as library and computer information services

The minimum indirect cost recovery rate for research grants, contracts and technical service agreements is 30% of direct costs. Proposals and applications that do not include ICR will not be approved unless there are exceptional circumstances.


The overhead amount is calculated based on the direct cost of research. It can be calculated on the total award amount using the percentage amount stated for the sponsored project. For example, for a total budget of $50,000 with 30% indirect costs, the calculation is as follows:

  • (50,000 x 0.3) / 1.30 = $11,538.46

Or it can be calculated by subtracting the direct costs from the total award. The same example above would be calculated as follows:

  • 50,000 - (50,000 / 1.30) = $50,000 - $38,461.54 = $11,538.46

Finally, it can be calculated as a percentage amount of direct costs. For example, for a project with direct costs of $25,000 and 30% indirect costs, the calculation is as follows:

  • (25,000 x 0.30) = $7,500.00. In this case, the total award would be $32,500.