The purpose of this policy is to comply with federal regulations, ensuring that funds provided for participant costs are separately accounted for, and expended for appropriate and intended objectives of the sponsored project or activity. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has the most restrictive policies governing expenditures and reporting of these funds. Therefore, the following policy is based on NSF requirements.
Participants are individuals who are recipients of or benefit from a service, training or experience in connection with formal meetings, conferences, symposia, or training projects. Participants are not required to deliver any deliverable or service to the University in return for participant support costs. Participants are not University employees. Participants may include students, national scholars and scientists, private sector representatives, agency personnel, teachers and others who attend and participate in a formal meeting, conference, symposia, or training project.
Participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with meetings, conferences, symposia, or training projects.
Funds provided for participant support may not be used by grantees for other categories of expense without the specific prior written approval of the cognizant NSF Program Officer. Therefore, awardee organizations must account for participant support costs separately.
Participant support allowances may not be paid to trainees who are receiving compensation, either directly or indirectly, from other Federal government sources while participating in the project. A non-NSF Federal employee may receive participant support allowances from grant funds provided there is no duplication of funding of items and provided no single item of participant cost is divided between his/her parent agency and NSF grant funds.
Stipends or Subsistence Allowances
To help defray the costs of personal maintenance while participating in a conference or training activity, participants may be paid a stipend, per diem or subsistence allowance, based on the type and duration of the activity, as outlined in the pertinent program solicitation and in the grant. Such allowances must be reasonable, in conformance with the usual policy of the grantee organization and limited to the days of attendance at the conference plus the actual travel time required to reach the conference location by the most direct route available. Where meals or lodgings are furnished without charge or at a nominal cost (e.g., as part of the registration fee), the per diem or subsistence allowance will be correspondingly reduced. Although local participants may participate in conference meals and coffee breaks as provided for in NSF AAG Chapter V.C.5, grant funds may not be used to pay per diem or similar expenses for local participants in the conference.
Travel costs of participants may be allowable as outlined in the pertinent program solicitation and in the grant. If so, the restrictions regarding class of accommodations (see NSF AAG Chapter V.B.4) and use of U.S.-Flag air carriers (see NSF AAG Chapter VI.G) are applicable.
In training activities that involve field trips, costs of transportation of participants are allowable.