Office of
Sponsored Programs

Participant Support Cost


The following Process is established to ensure compliance with all federal and sponsor requirements regarding budgeting for and expenditure on a category of cost commonly called "participant support cost (PSC)."  The Process ensures the accurate identification and reporting of all costs associated with these expenses.


Background Information

Participant support is provided by a number of federal agencies and other sponsors; however, the National Science Foundation has the most restrictive policies governing the budgeting, expending, and reporting of these funds.  Therefore, the following Process is based primarily upon NSF requirements.


In general, participants are the recipients of service or training provided at a workshop, conference, seminar, symposia, or other short-term instructional or information sharing activity.  The participants are normally not required to provide any specific deliverable to the university or third party, however the purpose of the meeting may dictate that attendees be prepared to provide information or otherwise participate as a part of the stated agenda.  NSF also uses the PSC category to fund some of its scholarship programs.


Typically participants may include students, national scholars and scientists, private sector representatives, teachers, and other who attend and participate in the conference, workshop, or training activity.  Unless specifically provided for in the program announcement and award document, Stevens' faculty and staff are not eligible for participant support.


Participant support costs are defined in Uniform Guidance at 200.75 as:  " 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 conferences or training projects.”  These costs are allowable with the prior approval of the awarding agency." 


PI Information for Proposal Preparation and Award Maintenance

  • Anticipated expenses relevant to participant support costs must be included in the proposal and budget justification in order for costs to be approved  - (Meeting and conference cost... are only allowable if such costs are specifically and clearly identified in the proposed scope of work and budget, as modified and approved by NSF). NSF GPG, II(C)(2)(g)(v)
  • May be subject to special sponsor restrictions and requirements
  • Typically do not allow rebudgeting ANY costs from participant support costs category without prior sponsor approval; therefore, costs budgeted in this category cannot be moved to offset a deficit in other budget categories
  • PSC are typically exempt from the application of F&A costs; however, specific federal programs may allow the institution to recover F&A