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Costs of Research

Costs of Research

When universities perform research on behalf of the federal government, they incur Facilities and Administrative costs, which encompass:

  • Maintenance of sophisticated, high-tech laboratories and research facilities
  • Utilities, such as lighting and heating
  • Hazardous waste disposal
  • Data storage
  • Information technology and internet services
  • Administrative support required to comply with various federal, state and local regulations, and reporting requirements

Historically, the federal government has partnered with research universities to pay for these critical and necessary research expenses, just as it does when it contracts with industry or utilizes is own federal laboratories to conduct research.

In an e-mail on July 10, 2017, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel joined other university leaders to address a FY 2018 White House budget proposal that would reduce research funding by slashing reimbursements for Facilities and Administrative costs, forcing universities to cut jobs and shift research portfolios, jeopardizing the university's research mission.

"Like you, we chose to work at a research university whose work advances the public good," Schlissel writes. "The people who stand to lose most from the administration's proposal are our patients, our students, and the members of our community whose health is improved or whose lives are saved by the amazing research we do."