Participant Support Costs

Participant support costs are costs that are paid to or on behalf of participants in meetings, conferences, symposia, training activities, workshops and similar events.

Specifically, participant support costs can include costs of transportation or travel allowance, per diem, manuals and supplies (only those directly attributable to individual participants), tuition and stipends, publication, and other related costs for participants or trainees. The number of participants to be supported must be entered in the proposal budget. These costs also must be justified in the budget justification section of the proposal. Some programs, such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates, have special instructions for the treatment of participant support.

Participant support costs are excluded from the calculation of Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC).

Participant support costs should not be confused with general travel costs, which may be incurred by principal investigators and other project team members as they relate to individual research and other projects.


  • Participant support costs should be considered as only those costs that can directly be attributable to an individual participant rather than costs that support all participants collectively.
  • Costs for project organizers (such as PI, co-PI, etc.), speakers, and program facilitators or coordinators, even where these individuals may also participate as a program participant, are not considered participant support costs.
  • Examples of programs where participant support costs may be appropriate include:
    • Research Experience for Undergraduates funded by the National Science Foundation
    • Conference and workshops as part of a larger scope project such as a multi-site research project
  • See Uniform Guidance for definition of participant support (§200.456) and the definition of MTDC (§200.1).
  • Refer to specific agency regulations for additional guidance on participant support costs.