format_list_bulleted Topic Overview

About Burdening

Certain infrastructure, administrative and benefit costs that the university incurs cannot easily be attributed to specific programs or activities. Examples of these costs include: expenses incurred to maintain and protect the university's land and buildings; costs used to support the university's financial processes and systems and costs to offer health benefits to employees. In these cases, the university assesses a charge, or burden rate, on certain activities to recover a portion of these costs. These burden rates are described below.

To charge facilities and administrative (F&A) costs to externally sponsored projects, Stanford uses the principles set forth under the requirements of Office of Management and Budget Uniform Guidance 2 CFR § 200.414, Indirect Costs (F&A). Uniform Guidance states “Indirect (F&A) costs means those costs incurred for a common or joint purpose benefitting more than one cost objective, and not readily assignable to the cost objectives specifically benefited, without effort disproportionate to the results achieved.” To recover these F&A costs on externally sponsored projects, Stanford charges rates that are negotiated with the federal government. The Veterinary Service Center has its own animal care rate, which is charged separately to federally sponsored projects.

For additional information, refer to Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Cost Rates on the DoResearch website.

Benefits provided to Stanford employees include the employer's portion of social security, retirement programs, health and dental insurance, faculty sabbatical and staff development programs, among others. Stanford recovers these costs by applying fringe benefit rates to salaries and wages. Several rates are developed to reflect different categories of benefits paid to employees (e.g., faculty and staff versus graduate research and teaching assistants.) These rates are established under Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200.431 “Compensation – fringe benefits” which specifies they may “be assigned… by allocating on the basis of entity-wide salaries and wages of the employees receiving the benefits.”

For additional information, refer to Fringe Benefit Rates on the DoResearch website.

Like most employers, Stanford provides vacation and disability sick leave (DSL) to its regular staff employees. Stanford records vacation or DSL as it is earned by an employee through an accrual rate, rather than waiting until the employee actually takes vacation or uses short or long-term disability or workers compensation leave (DSL).

For additional information, refer to Vacation Accrual/Disability Sick Leave Rates on the DoResearch website.

Stanford levies a surcharge (Graduate Student Stipend [GSS]) on Stanford-funded graduate student fellowship stipend expenditures to subsidize the health care benefit for graduate students.

Refer to Other Rates on the DoResearch website for additional information about this charge.

Infrastructure and administrative costs are incurred to support university activities, including those associated with restricted and designated funds. Activities supported by designated and restricted funds represent a significant percentage of the university’s total activity. General funds alone cannot bear the costs required to support these activities. A portion of these costs is recovered through an infrastructure charge assessed on restricted and designated funds.

The following infrastructure guide graphic shows which award types, in general, will incur charges on expenditures, revenue/income and transfers. For additional information, including more specifics of which transfers incur charges, go to the Implementing Infrastructure tab of Other Rates on the DoResearch website.

Table showing which award types can transfer funds to which other fund types and which are charged ISC

The Stanford Infrastructure Program (SIP) is an assessment applied to all expenditures for capital projects within Stanford’s campus (including new buildings, renovations, deferred maintenance projects), regardless of size, funding or management. The funds collected from SIP are used for the betterment and general support of the university's academic community and its physical plant. This infrastructure will be developed as necessary to improve public safety and service and to promote conservation in land use and resources.

Refer to Administrative Guide Policy 8.3.1: Capital Projects Section 4 for additional information.

When schools or departments receive money for non-sponsored activities (Miscellaneous Receivables as well as Non-Sponsored Service Agreements), the university applies a burden rate to offset related facilities and administrative costs associated with these activities (also known as IDC or Indirect Costs). Miscellaneous Receivables are not subject to the SIP charge.

Guidance for these activities, including applicable rates, is available at Non-Sponsored Receivable Rates on the DoResearch website.

Some charges behave the same as burden, added as a calculated surcharge on top of regular charges, but are not processed by the burden system.
The non-burden charges are:

  • School of Medicine's charges for converged communications fees, (expenditure type 58290 INTERDEPT CONV COMM/TECHNOLOGY)
  • RA/TA graduate health insurance supplement charged to non-sponsored awards (expenditure type 51785 FRINGE BENEFIT GRAD SUPPLEMENT). This is in addition to the regular RA/TA fringe charge (expenditure type 51775 FRINGE BENEFITS GRAD). Refer to Resource: Accounting for Increased Graduate Cardinal Care Subsidy for more information.

These do not appear in commitments or in the OBI report Salary Fringe and Indirects by Person but they are handled by labor distribution adjustments just like burden (fringe and indirect charges).

Last Updated: Mar 4, 2023