Conference Fees

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

Why are conference fees normally treated as indirect costs?

Conference fees are treated as indirect expenses when the employee attends the conference to gain a general understanding of the topics presented rather than to receive or present specific information related to an award. Conference fees that are not specifically related to an award should be charged to a faculty discretionary or departmental account.

When may conference fees be charges as a direct cost?

A conference fee may be charged as a direct expense in the following situations:

  • The scientist is presenting results of the research obtained during the course of his or her work on the project.
  • The scientist can confirm that the purpose of the conference is closely related to that of the award being charged.
  • An aim of the award is for the principal investigator (PI) to host a conference to disseminate information from the sponsored project.

If you plan to charge conference fees to a sponsored project as a direct cost:  

  • If the expense is anticipated, include it in the budget at the proposal stage.
  • Provide a written budget justification to explain the conference fees and outline the specific purpose related to the scientific scope of the work. The PI is responsible for maintaining this documentation for six years after the end date of the project.