Cost Share Basics

Cost Share Overview

Cost Share is the portion of a project or program cost not borne by the sponsor. It is the University's share in the cost of conducting the project / program. Cost sharing occurs either when a sponsor requires, or the University commits in a proposal, funds beyond those awarded by the sponsoring agency to support a particular grant or contract.

Cost sharing may be required by federal or non-federal sponsors, and the obligation must be met using non-federal funds. Only charges that would be allowable as direct costs to the award are allowable as cost sharing. (Non-federal may be more flexible). Federal flow through funds may not be used as a cost sharing source unless prior written approval has been received from both the federal sponsor and the flow through sponsor. 

The "cost share" pledge may be either a fixed amount of money, or a percentage of the project costs, or the commitment of a specified level of effort. The term "cost matching" often refers to cost sharing where the amount required as cost share is equal to the amount received from the sponsor. This is also known as dollar-for-dollar cost sharing or matching.

Types of Cost Sharing - University of Massachusetts Lowell

Mandatory: Cost sharing that the sponsor requires as a condition of the award. Voluntary Committed: Cost sharing that the PI commits in the project proposal budget or the budget justification that is not required by the sponsor. The University discourages cost sharing commitments when not required by the sponsor. The commitment is expressed as a dollar amount or a percent of effort. Voluntary Uncommitted: Cost Sharing is not initially promised in the proposal or otherwise indicated.

Contribution Sources

Commitments that are paid from University funds using gift, endowment, or other non-sponsored sources. These may also include in-kind outlays from internal and external sources. Below please find the order preference UMass Lowell uses for incorporating cost share in proposal budgets. Please see the Cost Share Priority Matrix and Guidance for additional details.

  1. Tuition and fees
  2. Faculty academic salary/effort
  3. Indirect costs
  4. Third party commitments (if applicable)
  5. PI / dept. / college RIF accounts or PI start-up accounts
  6. VCRI funds

If cost share is included in a proposal budget, a fully executed Cost Share Form (fillable PDF) is required prior to proposal submission.

Letters of Institutional Support


Should the Sponsor require a letter of cost share commitment to be included in the proposal, no less than 10 days prior to the submission deadline (after submitting the Proposal Intake Form), please send the following documents to your ORA contact:

  1. Draft budget and budget justification inclusive of proposed cost share 
  2. Third Party Cost Share Commitment Letters (if applicable)
  3. Draft letter of institutional support using approved template below

Once the budget is final, ORA will generate the Cost Share Approval Form (fillable PDF) and email it to the PI. The PI is responsible for obtaining all signatures with the exception of the VCRI Institutional Signatory.  After all non-VCRI signatures have been obtained, the PI must return the partially executed form to ORA, who will work with VCRI leadership in obtaining the remaining signatures. Again, a fully executed Cost Share Form (fillable PDF) is required prior to proposal submission.

Letter Template

Dear Program Director and Reviewers:

I am writing to express our institutional support for the proposal [proposal title] submitted to the [program name] by a strong and committed group of [#] faculty from the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell). The group is led by [PI name and affiliation] and proposes [unique information about this specific proposal that makes it competitive].

The goals of this proposal are synergistic with UMass Lowell’s vision of developing internationally recognized research programs that combine basic research with applied and translational research to solve the problems of today and the future. [Discussion of leveraging existing campus resources and investments that will support and complement the proposed project]. We fully intend to continue to support growth of these integrative efforts and support this initiative to expand UMass Lowell’s research portfolio in new and exciting ways that complement existing programs on campus. This proposal will be an important step in this process and will also help our efforts to attract a more diverse group of student to [the specific of study in the proposal], which is a critical field in terms of workforce needs of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the nation.

As a demonstration of our commitment, the University will provide:

  • Space and administrative support needed to efficiently run this program
  • [#] undergraduate summer coop positions every year for students from underrepresented groups to work on the research project
  • [any additional University commitment you hope to have]
  • [any sponsor required cost share commitment(s)]

We view this [program] proposal as providing [anticipated broader outcome of the project to the campus, state, and/or nation], and it has our full support.