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A cost transfer, also known as an expense transfer, is an after-the-fact reallocation of the cost associated with a transaction from one account to another account(s) and may involve a sponsored award or a DeptID.

All grant-related cost transfer requests must be submitted to Central Post-Award at Cost transfers affecting only DeptIDs should be sent to Tufts Support Services (TSS).

When an expense is posted to a sponsored award, the costs must be allowable and allocable, and must be necessary for the scope of the project. While the University expects that all costs posted to sponsored awards are correctly charged at the outset, it is sometimes necessary to make a correction or an adjustment to ensure proper allocation of expenses. Local Research Administrators (LRAs) are responsible for assisting Principal Investigators (PIs) in regular monitoring of expenses and for submitting timely adjustments when necessary.

Post-Award approves and processes cost transfer requests upon determination that they are in compliance with the University policies, sponsor terms and conditions, and federal regulations where applicable. Cost transfer requests are only processed with complete documentation. Occasionally Post-Award may request additional information in order to complete the review.

Cost transfers are considered high risk transactions and should not:

  • Occur more than 90 days after the end of the month when the transaction was posted
  • Contain inadequate explanations
  • Be used to “spend down” funds at the end of an award
  • Be used to cover cost overruns by moving expenses to another unrelated sponsored award.

This process applies to non-salary cost transfers only. Transfers of salary expenses must be processed via a labor adjustment (associated fringe benefits will be transferred automatically when a labor adjustment is processed). Please see Effort Reporting or contact Post-Award with questions regarding such adjustments.

Components of the Request

  1. Completed Expense Transfer Form. The form must be signed by an authorized representative of each debit and credit account for the DeptID(s) or award(s) being used. The signatures certify the correctness of the transfer(s). The person responsible for each account should sign the form.
  2. A copy of the Data Warehouse Transaction Detail Report for the credit account should be included to reflect where the expense being transferred was originally charged. The description of the expense, the amount of the expense, the account code, and related reference numbers necessary to complete the entries on the Expense Transfer Form must be obtained from this report.
  3. Backup documentation for each expense to be transferred (i.e. copies of receipts/invoices, copies of travel reports, etc.).
  4. justification should be provided for every Expense Transfer request. Please see below regarding justifications for different kinds of Cost Transfer requests and refer to the Cost Transfer Checklist for more detail on the preparation of this documentation.

Types of Cost Transfers and What to include

Expedited Cost Transfers

Expedited Cost Transfers

Any charges that require proper allocation, including those that require a split allocation and erroneous charges identified by PIs and LRAs during the routine reviews can be transferred to or from a sponsored award within 90 calendar days from the end of the month when the original charge was posted. For example, on an active award, a cost transfer of October charge requested on or before January 29th may use the expedited cost transfer method. A note in the remarks section is sufficient for justifying such cost transfers. Expedited cost transfers cannot be processed after the award end date.   

What to include:

  1. A completed and signed Expense Transfer Form
  2. A copy of Data Warehouse Transaction Detail Report
  3. Backup documentation (a copy of the invoice, marketplace order, etc)
  4. Examples of remarks: “Cost transfer requested to ensure proper allocation of expenses” or “Charge posted to the original sponsored award/DeptID in error and was identified during the routine review of expenses”. 
Cost Transfers over 90 Days (during the award period)

Cost transfers that take place more than 90 calendar days from the end of the month when the original charge was posted pose audit and financial risk to the University and should be avoided. When required, they are subject to additional review. In addition to the full supporting documentation and an approval from the Director of Post-Award, these types of transfers also require an approval from the Executive Associate Dean (EAD) or equivalent before they can be processed.  When the adjustments are posted, Post-Award will submit a revised financial report or invoice to the sponsor and returns any associated funds, if applicable.

What to include:

  1. A completed and signed Expense Transfer Form
  2. A copy of Data Warehouse Transaction Detail Report
  3. Backup documentation (a copy of the invoice, marketplace order, etc.)
  4. Signed justification of transfer in the format of a memo that explains the reasons for the lateness of the transfer. The justification must address the first four questions on the Cost Transfer Checklist:
    • Why were the expenses not charged to the correct project originally?
    • How do the expenses directly benefit the receiving award? (How was it used? Or Why is it necessary for the project?)
    • Why did it take beyond 90 days to identify the error?
    • What action has been taken to correct systematic problems? (How will this type of error be avoided in the future?)
Cost Transfers after the award end date

Cost transfers identified after the end date of an award must be submitted with appropriate documentation no later than 45 days from the end date of the award. Once a final financial report or final reimbursement request is submitted, expenses cannot be transferred onto a sponsored award. 

In the unlikely event that a charge is identified as not belonging on an award more than 45 days after the award end date, a cost transfer must be submitted with all required documentation to move the expense to a DeptID. This type of transfers requires the approval of the EAD or equivalent in addition to the approval of the Director of Post-Award in order to be processed. When the adjustments are posted, Post-Award will submit a revised financial report or invoice to the sponsor and returns any associated funds to the sponsor, if applicable.

Explanation Codes

An explanation is required for all expense transfers involving sponsored awards. Explanation codes have been established to help simplify the expense transfer process. These codes are listed at the middle of the Expense Transfer Form and are as follows:

  1. Transfer to continuation project – When an item is charged to an award that is no longer in use and should be applied to the continuation award number. The charges to be moved must be within the dates of the continuation award.
  2. Transposition error.
  3. Allocation of expenses between DeptIDs or Project/Awards – When an expense is shared between two or more accounts for any reason other than fulfilling part of a cost sharing obligation. Include an explanation of the method of allocation used to determine the amount charges to each account. See Allocating Expenses to Sponsored Awards for more information.
  4. Transfer to DeptID – Moving expenses to a non-sponsored account.
  5. P-card Allocation (missed P-card online system timeframe) – This code should be used when you missed the 21-day window to move P-card charges to awards and DeptIDs via the P-card system in PeopleSoft. The reason the allocation was not done within the allotted 21 days should be noted.
  6. Other – When none of the above reasons accurately explain your need for an expense transfer, select this code and write your reason in the available space as accurately and briefly as possible.

Grouping Similar Expense Categories

Multiple expenses within the same account code may be grouped together as one line of entry on the Expense Transfer Form, provided that detailed documentation of the transactions adding up to the total transfer amount has been submitted along with the request.

Budget Considerations

If the funds in the debit account are not sufficient to cover the charge(s), or if no budget exists for the account code, the account may require rebudgeting. Please contact the Budget Center for budget changes on the DeptID.

Unallowable Charges

If it is determined that an expense is unallowable on a sponsored award, a cost transfer will be made to a DeptID.