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Costs of Research

When universities perform research on behalf of the federal government, they incur costs – Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs, commonly called indirect costs.  F&A costs encompass: the maintenance of sophisticated, high-tech laboratories and research facilities; utilities such as lighting and heating; hazardous waste disposal; data-storage; information technology and internet services; and the administrative support required to comply with various federal, state, and local regulations and reporting requirements.  Historically, the federal government has partnered with research universities to pay for these critical and necessary research expenses, just as it does when it contracts with industry or utilizes is own federal laboratories to conduct research. 

AAU works with its members to help explain the how the federal government supports both the direct and indirect costs of federally funded research. The Association also works to ensure that F&A costs reimbursements are sufficient to support the physical and administrative infrastructure necessary for universities to continue to conduct research on behalf of the government.

See Also: Reducing Regulatory Burden


AAU joined 108 national research organizations to oppose cuts to NIH funding and facilities and administrative (F&A) reimbursements in the Administration's FY18 budget.

Dr. Sally Rockey, Executive Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), wrote a blog post entitled, "All About Indirect Costs." Dr.

The Association of American Universities (AAU) and other higher education organizations recently compared the federal government and private foundation support for research - particularly reimbursement for facilities and administrative (F&A) costs.

AAU sent a letter to Thomas Price, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management & Budget, to express concern about funding cuts to NIH.
A joint association letter was sent to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology regarding the May 24, 2017 hearing on the cost of research.
This infographic explains how both direct and indirect costs play a role in federally sponsored research.
The federal government sponsors university research to help our country prosper.
Letter to Mick Mulvaney, Director, OMB regarding the need for federal investment in basic research.
The Association of American Universities (AAU), the association of 60 leading U.S. research universities, calls on presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to promote policies that foster innovation, enhance college affordability, attract and retain top international talent, and make the federal investments in research and higher education more efficient.