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

Why is photocopying normally treated as an indirect expense?

Photocopying is normally treated as an indirect expense because of the difficulty in associating the material copied with an individual sponsored project. A portion of the cost incurred for general administrative support is included in the F&A rate that is charged to sponsored awards.  Because photocopying is included in the F&A rate, it cannot usually be charged as a direct cost.

Note that even when the cost to reprint or copy an article on a particular research technique will provide substantial help in furthering the experiments on a specific grant, it will be difficult to justify a copy charge on a grant unless the unlike purpose and circumstance criteria are met.

When may photocopying be charged as a direct expense?

If the photocopying cost is extraordinary, due to the nature of the project, and can be associated with the sponsored project with a high degree of accuracy, it may be charged as a direct expense. The method of allocation of copy costs to the project should be fully documented and accompanied by supporting records of copier usage. The principal investigator is responsible for maintaining this documentation for six years after the end date of the project.

Examples of photocopying that can be allowed as a direct expense:

  • Copies and other printing costs for a mail survey