Sponsored Program Expenditure Guidance in the Context of the COVID-19 Financial Challenges

Posted on April 9, 2020. Note that some information or advice may have changed since posting. 

Dear Colleagues,

EVP Shannon Cullinan’s letter to faculty and staff of April 1, 2020, and the associated FAQs provide guidance regarding hiring, facility projects and eliminating non-essential spend to help the University manage through the financial crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are notable exceptions to the spending restrictions for externally sponsored program funds (hereafter referred to as grants) as required to complete the objectives of these grants.  Grants include all funds that begin with 2XXXXX and their associated cost-share funds that begin with 300XXX, 305XXX and 307XXX.

The following guidance relates to expenses that benefit the work being performed under the grant, regardless of the location in which it occurs.  If there is a loss of operations of grant-related work, due to laboratory hibernation or other COVID-19 related issues, specific sponsor guidance regarding the ability to continue to pay salaries and benefits, or incur other costs not normally chargeable to awards (ramp up, ramp down, travel cancellation, etc.) should be consulted regarding whether such costs are allowable on the grant.  Please work with your NDRA grants program manager.  In order to account for any costs associated with loss of operations, whether charged to grants or other funds, such costs should be identified with the COVID-19 activity code 11019 “COVID-19 Related Costs.”

Salaries and Benefits

New hires may be made and positions may be filled that are paid on grant funds as consistent with the terms and conditions of the grant and with the approval of the Dean or Vice President of the respective college or department to include, limited-term appointments, temporary labor, staff, postdocs, graduate, and undergraduate students. 

Limited-term grant-funded staff positions may be extended.  Reappointments for positions such as postdocs that are on an annual reappointment cycle may be made with the approval of the Dean or Vice President of the respective college or department.

Summer Salary/Stipends

Summer stipends for graduate students may continue if funded by grants.  Please reference the graduate student summer stipend policy from the Graduate School which will be communicated shortly.

Faculty summer salaries commensurate with the effort associated with completing grant objectives are allowable.

Subcontracts and Consulting Arrangements

Grant-funded consultants or subcontracts that are required to perform the work of the grant are allowable.  Consideration should be given to whether the work can be done in-house and there is the possibility to use ND employees or resources rather than external consultants or subcontractors.

Supplies, Equipment and Core Facility Charges

Supplies, equipment, the services of core facilities, and other expenses necessary to complete the work of the grant are allowable.  As always, such expenses must be consistent with the terms of the grant and general requirements for allowability, allocability, and reasonableness of costs would apply.


Faculty, staff or student travel for research purposes requires that travel has been deemed to be safe and there are no University or location restrictions on travel based on safety concerns and the travel is essential to perform the work of the grant, including the dissemination of research results.

Please contact me at lrulli@nd.edu or (574) 631-3072 or your NDRA grants program manager with questions.

All the best,


Liz Rulli
Associate Vice President for Research
Notre Dame Research