Special Considerations for Federal Training Grants

 Guideline Date: April 2015     Revision: 1     Last Review: August 2017

Trainee-related expenses (TREs) are "funds provided to defray such training costs as staff salaries, consultant costs, equipment, research supplies, staff travel and other expenses directly related to the training program." Other fellowship and traineeship expenses, such as travel, health, insurance and tuition and fees, may be reimbursed in accordance with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grants Policy Statement, specific award terms and conditions and the awarded budget. Indirect costs are not generally reimbursed for fellowships because a fixed "institutional allowance" is usually awarded. Indirect costs for training grants are generally limited to 8% of modified total direct costs. Modified total direct costs are defined as charges that can be assigned to individual sponsored projects with a high degree of accuracy but "modified" by excluding mutually understood costs.

The following trainee-related expenses may be treated as direct costs on fellowships and training grants:

  • Consultant costs including seminar speakers (and their travel and honoraria) and related seminar/symposium expenses.
  • Announcement, posters and brochures.
  • The cost of videotaping seminars when the seminars are trainee-related and trainees benefit from the educational value of the seminars.
  • Trainee travel.
  • Health insurance.
  • Professional membership fees.
  • Book allowance.
  • Principal investigator (PI) travel and conference fee when attending a conference with trainees.

Trainee-Related Expenses (TRE) as defined by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
TRE funds are awarded to help pay for other training-related expenses such as staff salaries, consultant costs, equipment, research supplies and staff travel. TRE is generally requested in a lump sum, based upon the number of trainees requested in the application and entered on the budget page without further stipulation. Awarded travel is for travel to scientific meetings and to research training experiences away from the parent institution that the parent institution deems necessary to the individual's research training. The table below lists different expenses and whether they are allowable or unallowable as a TRE.  

Expense Allowability as a TRE
Type of ExpenseAllowable or Unallowable?Considerations
Honorarium Allowable Honoraria for seminar speakers are allocable if the seminar is for trainees.
Administrative Salaries Allowable Administrative salaries may be allocated to help defray such costs as staff salaries. However, such charges must meet the test of allocability and reasonableness.
Books/Journals Allowable Books/journals may be allocated if these items directly benefit the research and training of the project.
Domestic Travel Allowable Only trainees or PIs with trainees may travel to enhance research experience. Travel may not be from residence to institution.
Foreign Travel Allowable Only trainees or PIs with trainees may travel to enhance research experience. Travel may not be from residence to institution.
Videotaping of Seminars Allowable If seminars are trainee-related and trainees would benefit from their unquestionable educational value, then videotaping costs may be allocated.
Computers Allowable Computers may be allocated if a computer is purchased by the department for trainee use while appointed to the project or if sponsor approved.
Visa Allowable* *Visa expenses may be allocated only on Fogarty Training Grants.
Food (e.g., pizza or soda) Unallowable General food expenses are unallowable. Described in this manner, food would be considered entertainment costs and as such are unallowable.
Moving Costs Unallowable Project funds may not be used for a prospective trainee's travel costs to or from for the purpose of recruitment or relocation.
Health Insurance Allowable Health insurance is allocable as a fee if it is required of all trainees. Family health insurance is allowable. FICA, workers' compensation and unemployment insurance are unallowable.
Advertising Allowable Recruitment costs may be allocated.

The following sources have been referenced:

  1. NIH Research Training and Career Development FAQs
  2. NIH Grants Policy Statement