Participant Support costs are direct costs for stipends, subsistence allowance, travel allowances, or registration fees paid to or on behalf of a “Participant” in connection with sponsored-funded conferences or training projects. A Participant is someone whose function is to learn something.
Participants cannot be employees. [2 CFR 200.75]
Participant Support costs are only allowed on an award when Participant Support is defined by the sponsor in the Request for Proposal/Funding Announcement, or specifically identified in the award document. [2 CFR 200.456]
F&A is not allowed on Participant Support costs. [2 CFR 200.68]
The intent is to use Participant Support for the cost of Participants in conferences or training projects, not to reimburse for all costs associated with the hosting of the conference or training project. Costs associated with hosting the conference or training project should be budgeted and charged to the parent budget, not the Participant Support sub budget.
Please see the GCA webpage for information on setting up and managing a Participant Support sub budget.
Examples of costs for hosting the conference or training project are:
- Speaker fees
- Trainer or facilitator fees
- Room rental
- Meal costs for non-Participants
- Human subject payments
- Indirect costs
Food and Meals for Participants (NSF)
NSF allows for a subsistence allowance or per diem to be paid to Participants to use for meals as Participant Support.
Thus, if a meal is provided to a Participant at the conference or training, it can be provided as Participant Support as long as:
- The per person cost of the meal is less than the Per Diem meal allocation for the meal and location
- The Participant is not also receiving a Per Diem allowance OR the amount of the Per Diem allowance is reduced by the meal allocation.
Cost for meals for non-Participants and portion of the actual meal cost that exceeds the per diem for the Participant(s) is not allowed as Participant Support on NSF Awards. Only the cost of meals for Participants up to the per diem amount are allowable as Participant Support.
For example, the per diem allocation for lunch is $18.00. There are ten Participants and two UW staff attending a conference. The actual cost for lunch is $20 per person so the total lunch cost is 12 people x $20 = $240. Of the total cost, only $180 (10 Participants for a maximum amount of $18) can be charged to Participant Support.
Most federal sponsors restrict re-budgeting of participant support costs. For this reason, Participant Support is set up as a sub-budget under the Parent Award.
NSF, through implementation of the Research Terms & Conditions, specifies prior approval requirements for rebudgeting participant support funds in the Prior Approval Matrix.
Participant Support funds are restricted and require approval of the cognizant NSF program officer to reallocate funds out of the Participant Support sub budget.
Rebudgeting costs into Participant Support does not require NSF approval unless funds are moving into the “other” category of participant support.
Generally, recipients may not rebudget funds from Participant Support to other categories without prior written approval of the sponsor. However, this is not the case for all sponsors. As always, read your award document, along with any applicable terms and condition or agency specific regulations, for guidance on rebudgeting Participant Support funds. A Table of Select Federal Agency Regulations may be found at the PAFC website.
Several sponsors have implemented the Research Terms & Conditions, which includes guidance as to whether or not prior approval is required to rebudget Participant Support funds. Please see the Prior Approval Matrix for additional information.