Allowable Costs for Students

The NIH Grants Policy pertaining to allowable costs/activities can be found: HERE

For all IDeA award mechanisms, compensation of students in the form of salaries and wages is allowed but stipends are not allowed. Furthermore, scholarships, financial aid and other forms of educational assistance are also not allowed. The pertinent portions of the policy spelling out the guidelines for student compensation are detailed below:

Salaries and Wages / Compensation of Students

Tuition remission and other forms of compensation paid as, or in lieu of, wages to students under research grants are allowable, provided the following conditions are met:

  • The individual is performing activities necessary to the grant
  • Tuition remission and other forms of compensation are consistently provided, in accordance with established institutional policy, to students performing similar activities conducted in no sponsored as well as in sponsored activities
  • During the academic period, the student is enrolled in an advanced degree program at a grantee or affiliated institution and the activities of the student in relation to the federally sponsored research project are related to the degree program.

Charges for tuition remission and other forms of compensation paid to students as, or in lieu of, salaries and wages are subject to the reporting requirements in section J.10. of OMB Circular A-21, or an equivalent method for documenting the individual’s effort on the research project. Tuition remission may be charged on an average rate basis. NIH will determine the allowability and reasonableness of such compensation under a grant on the basis of OMB Circular A-21 and its current operating guidelines.

The maximum amount NIH will award for compensation of a graduate student receiving support from a research grant is the zero-level Kirschstein-NRSA stipend in effect when NIH issues the grant award (see current levels posted at

Payments made for educational assistance (e.g., scholarships, fellowships, and student aid costs) may not be paid from NIH research grant funds even when they would appear to benefit the research project.


Allowable as cost-of-living allowances for trainees and fellows only under Kirschstein-NRSA individual fellowships and institutional research training grants. These payments are made according to a pre-established schedule based on the individual’s experience and level of training. A stipend is not a fee-for-service payment and is not subject to the cost accounting requirements included in Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards – Stipend Suplementation and Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards – Institutional Research Training Grants – Stipend Supplementation, Compensation, and Other Income – Stipend Supplementation in IIB. Stipends are not allowable under research grants even when they appear to benefit the research project See Salary and Wages/Compensation of Students in this exhibit.