link to elearning on cost transfers                                                                                                                 

Watch the CORE class on Salary & Cost Transfers (approx. 30 minutes).


A Cost Transfer, also referred to as an Expense Transfer, is moving an expense:

  • From one budget to another 
  • From one Object Code to another 
  • From one Project Cost Accounting (PCA) Code to another

Cost Transfers are an indication that the budget isn't routinely being reconciled.

Cost Transfers should only be done for the following reasons:

  • To correct an error (e.g., an expense was erroneously charged to the incorrect budget or object code)
  • To correct an error when the value of the transaction is greater than $10.00 (See GIM 15)
  • To re-allocate expenses where the expense can only be initially coded to one or a few budgets (e.g., rent)

A Cost Transfer is not:

  • A financial management tool to be used to move costs for budgetary convenience
  • A means to temporarily post costs on a sponsored budget until a budget number becomes available

For complete Cost Transfer guidelines, see our Summary of Cost Transfer Guidelines page.

Cost Transfers and Risk

Cost Transfers are considered high risk transactions, as they may be an indication of weakness in a department’s Internal Controls. For example, Cost Transfers completed more than 90 days (3 months) from the original transaction date are typically an indication that the budget has not been reviewed/reconciled in at least 3 months.

See Why Cost Transfers Are High Risk for more information on Cost Transfers and associated risks.


UW's GIM 15 – Transfer of Expenditures Between Budgets states:

Cost transfers into a sponsored program budget must be made within 90 days of when the error is discovered. If, however, the transfer is requested more than 120 days after the transaction date, an explanation for why the transfer is late must be included.

See Documenting Cost Transfers in MyFD for more information.

Federal Regulations: 2 CFR 200.405 Allocable Costs states that cost transfers cannot be used to:

  • Reallocate expenses to overcome fund deficiencies or utilize unused funds
  • Avoid restrictions imposed by federal statutes, regulations, or terms and conditions of the federal awards

​Process and Documentation

Cost Transfers are completed using the MyFinancial.desktop (MyFD) application. Visit the MyFD Training page to learn more about MyFD.

It is important that Cost Transfers are well documented, whether processed through MyFD or through FASTRANS. See Documenting Cost Transfers in MyFD for more information.

Cost Transfer Data Analytics

Data Analytics is the process of reviewing expenditure data for identification of unallowable costs and high risk practices. The Research & Student Accounting Fiscal Compliance Dashboard has been created by identifying types of high risk activity, determining data fields (taken from UW’s financial systems), and identifying or creating any indicators. Visit PAFC's web pages on the Cost Transfers From Dashboard and the Cost Transfers To Dashboard for more information.