Unallowable Expenses: What Can't Be Charged to Sponsored Projects

The following items generally cannot be charged to a federal award and should not be included in the project budget submitted to a federal sponsor:


  • Postage, unless the project has a separate and extraordinary need for postage, such as a national survey to be conducted by mail;
  • Office supplies;
  • Personal computers, unless they are part of a tagged equipment system or equivalent special scientific justification is provided;
  • Individual membership dues to societies;
  • Basic telephone service, local line and equipment charges, and local phone calls;
  • Clerical/administrative salaries, unless a major program form has been approved by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.


In addition, University policies and federal regulations prohibit charging certain items as direct costs on any project—for example, alcoholic beverages, entertainment costs, etc.  A more complete list of unallowable expenses is included in the Post Award section.