Cost sharing is the portion of the total project costs of a sponsored project that is not paid by the sponsoring agency. There are primarily two types of cost sharing that may occur on sponsored projects: mandatory cost sharing and voluntary committed cost sharing. Matching is another common term used to describe cost sharing.
Mandatory Cost Sharing
This is cost sharing that is required by the sponsoring agency. The requirement for such cost participation is explicitly set forth in project announcements or request for proposal (RFP) and is a requirement for eligibility to participate in the project and will be specifically identified within the university’s proposal.
When mandatory cost sharing is required, a copy of the RFP, regulations, or guidelines must be submitted with the proposal along with a written commitment from the individual authorized to commit the resources to the campus research office. All cost sharing is to be reviewed and committed in writing prior to the proposal submission to the sponsor.
Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing
This is cost sharing that is not required by the sponsor, but which is included voluntarily in the university’s proposal to the sponsor. Once the sponsor has accepted the proposed cost share, the university is then obligated to meet the cost-sharing amount.
For example, voluntary committed cost sharing would be when a principal investigator commits to spend 15% effort on the project but does not expect the sponsor to provide funding to cover these costs. In this case, the 15% effort on the project was a requirement for proposal submission in the RFP, but was included at the discretion of the PI (or other project personnel) in an attempt to leverage the proposal.