Research and Innovation Services Research Contracts Costing: Grant, Contract and Consultancy Projects

Costing: Grant, Contract and Consultancy Projects

The following links are to policy and policy guidance on costing grants, contracts and consultancy projects undertaken by JCU researchers. If you are considering applying for funding for a project it is essential that you familiarise yourself with these documents before calculating or negotiating on the cost of services to be delivered through the project. Your College Manager is the first point of contact for contract and consultancy costing queries.

  • FMPM 620 Policy: Revenue – Commercial and Non-Commercial Activities
  • FMPM 621 Procedure: Revenue – Commercial and Non-Commercial Activities

The paperwork for all projects which have a research-basis should be taken to Research and innovation Services – the Commercial Office handles only non-research-based projects.

Please see the Research and innovation Services contacts page to find the people responsible for the different services provided to the JCU research community.

Costing of a research grant, contracts and consultancies:

The full cost of a project, including direct costs and indirect costs (overheads) should be included in the price charged by the University to a client or funding agency as first preference.

However, most grants and some contracts will not cover full costs incurred, including Chief Investigator salaries (most grants) or full indirect costs (some government contracts).

The Project Costing Tool accessed in GECO must be used to accurately cost your research project.

For other projects the Grants, Contracts and Consultancies Project Costing Tool should be used to help you accurately cost your project and can be downloaded here.

Standard rates and methods that apply for costing:
  • Overheads (indirect costs) are calculated based on a total salary (base + salary on-costs)
  • The university standard minimum indirect costs rate is 35%.
  • The standard minimum incentive margin (profit) is 25%. The amount ultimately charged may depend on the level of IP access and capacity to publish, but in any case will be subject to faculty/divisional guidelines.
  • For fully commercial projects staff should charge at 3 x base salary rate. This translates to an incentive margin of 90% of total salary (charged in addition to the 35% indirect costs).


The pricing of a project must be approved via Funding Cover Sheet sign-off by:

  • The Deans of Colleges or Directors of Institutes or equivalent for projects with a total value for the duration of the project of less than $500,000 (GST-excl).
  • The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Division or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor for projects with a total value for the duration of the project equal to or greater than $500,000 (GST-excl).

Use of project funds:

Funding will be used to meet costs associated with a project as below:

Direct Total Salary Costs – Staff Employed on the project:

The default position is that salary budget is used to pay salaries for:

  1. Staff working on the project and paid from project funds.
  2. Staff working on the project but paid from other sources e.g. operating funds. Ultimate use of these funds is at the discretion of the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Division and Dean of College.

Indirect costs (overheads): The 35% indirect costs will be allocated to the relevant College to meet project indirect costs.

Incentive Margin: The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Division or Dean of College determines the use of any incentive margin which remains after the full costs of the project have been met. Ideally some or all will be made available to the researcher for future research use.

Project Accounts:

A separate project account will be established if:

  1. the project funds can be counted towards HERDC; or
  2. financial reporting is required; or
  3. the dollar value of the project (GST-excl) if $10,000 or more.

A project account will be established once the project contract/agreement is executed (this is managed through Research and innovation Services). If Ethics approval is required it must be obtained before the account will be opened. In some cases, a research project account may be opened with limited funds with the approval of the Director, Research and innovation Services.

Waivers of full costing requirement:

Waiver of full costs (including overheads and CI salaries) may be given at project approval by Dean of College or Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Division and normally will only be given for non-commercial projects as follows:

  • for Australian Competitive Grants (ACGs – HERDC Category 1 income) where CI salaries and indirect costs (overheads) are generally excluded.
  • for other grants where CI salaries and/or indirect costs are excluded by grant rules
  • for funding to support a student thesis project
  • for projects funded by a charitable or community organisation

Collaborative ventures: (such as CRCs) projects conducted as part of a collaborative venture (CRC $$ are HERDC Category 4 income) must be priced in accordance with venture guidelines. Generally these exclude CI salary costs and indirect costs (overheads), which are often counted as in-kind contributions to the project.