How To

Prepare a Cost Transfer

A cost transfer is an after-the-fact reallocation of a transaction cost from one PTA to another.  When preparing a cost transfer, review the transaction and the documentation provided to support it. Use the following checklist to guide you through the process:

Have you clearly shown: Yes No
How the expense directly benefits the receiving PTA.    
How the expense is allowable on the receiving PTA.    
The allocation methodology used if transferring expenses to multiple PTAs    
The reason why the expense was charged incorrectly to the first PTA.    
Any systemic problems which might cause this problem to be repeated have been addressed.    
The reasons for any delay in a timely processing of the transfer.    
The transfer complies with all Stanford policies. RPH 15.8 and AGM 3.2.2    

For sponsored projects:

  • The transaction is timely (within three months of when the error is discovered, and no later than six general ledger months after the expense is posted to an award)
  • After six months cost is transferred to a cost sharing PTA (Transfers onto sponsored PTAs after six months are generally not allowed and must be transferred to a cost sharing PTA unless the expense also benefitted a non-sponsored award)

Large cost transfers that exceed $10K or 10% of the award, and transfers within the first or last 90 days of a project, and transfers that do not meet the timeliness criteria receive additional central review. For the transfer of all non-salary charges subject to the above criteria, a PDF of the general ledger** showing the expenditure(s) requesting to be moved MUST be attached to the cost transfer transaction by the originator. Attaching detailed documentation for these transfers will facilitate their timely review by the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR).

**Acceptable versions of the general ledger include ReportMart3 279, OBI 285 Expenditure Detail Report, OBI 149 - Quarterly Review and Certification, OBI CER Expenditure Balance and Expenditure Details reports, and Expenditure Transactions (PTD) screens of FFIT

Any "No" answers on this checklist could result in delays or ultimately in the disapproval of the transfer.


  • If the journal is allocating expense(s), ensure it complies with Administrative Guide Memo 3.2.3 Allocations and Offsets
  • If the transfer is "University Research", "cost sharing", or an "overdraft", the transfer must be into a designated cost sharing PTA.
  • Journal transfers involving capital equipment ET's may not be permitted. (Refer to Accounting for Capital Equipment)

Keep this standard in mind: Would an outside auditor reviewing this documentation four years from now understand this explanation?