Cost Principles

Stanford policy and federal regulations such as the Uniform Guidance state fundamental principles of research administration.

An expense qualifies as a direct cost to a sponsored project only when it meets the following four principles.

  1. Allowable: Allowable and unallowable costs are defined by federal regulations and in the terms of specific awards

  2. Allocable: Only those costs that BENEFIT a project may be charged to that project

  3. Reasonable: Costs must reflect what a prudent person would pay

  4. Consistent: Costs must be handled consistently across the university by following Stanford policy 


Everyone that authorizes expenses at Stanford for any purpose must confirm prior to approving a transaction that the expenditures are:

  1. reasonable and necessary

  2. consistent with established Stanford policy and practices, as well as a sponsor's terms & conditions

  3. applicable to the work of Stanford, which includes instruction, research, and public service