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Use of grant funds

General principles

The principal applicant must not have any financial or personal interest, direct or indirect, in any transaction charged against NSERC grants.

PromoScience funds must contribute to the direct costs of the delivery of the organization's programs and activities for which the funds were awarded and the benefits should be directly attributable to the grant. The organization pays for indirect or overhead costs, such as the costs associated with facilities and basic utilities, the purchase and repair of office equipment, administration fees, insurance for equipment and vehicles, and basic communication devices such as telephones and fax machines. Indirect or overhead costs refer to the ongoing expenses of operating an organization but cannot be associated with the direct costs of the grant or award for which the funds were awarded.

The funds must be used effectively and economically, and the expenses must be essential to the delivery of the programs or activities supported by the grant.

NSERC relies on the organization’s integrity and conflict of interest policies to ensure the accountable and responsible use of public funds. The organization has the right and responsibility to withhold approval of expenditures proposed by the principal applicant that contravene NSERC requirements or the organization’s policies.

Organizations that wish to use funds in a manner not covered by explicit NSERC guidelines or requirements must contact the Finance and Awards Administration division at NSERC, prior to doing so by email at

Since it is not feasible to regulate every possible transaction using NSERC grant funds, organizations are ultimately responsible for ensuring that sound judgment is exercised at all times.

In the absence of an explicit NSERC policy, the organization’s policy is to be applied (e.g., per diem rates for travel). In the presence of both an NSERC policy and an organizational policy, NSERC requires compliance with its policy, recognizing that organizations may also have to comply with their own organizational policies.

Eligible expenses

The following are guidelines to assist organizations in their interpretation of the acceptable use of public funds. The list of examples is not exhaustive.


  • salaries* and the actual cost of related federal, provincial and organizational non-discretionary benefits** for organization staff and other personnel (i.e., students, technicians)
  • clerical salaries directly related to program delivery
  • consulting fees
  • honoraria for guest speakers

but not

  • salary of the principal applicant
  • administrative (or management) charges and fees
  • discretionary severance and separation packages
  • salaries or stipends for youth participants in the program or activity

* NSERC defers to Canada Revenue Agency for all taxation–related questions.

** Organizational non-discretionary benefits normally include long- and short-term disability insurance, life insurance, pension benefits, medical, vision and dental care benefits, and parental leave. Organizational non-discretionary benefits must not contravene NSERC guidelines.

Travel and subsistence costs

  • travel and subsistence costs (meals and accommodation) include reasonable, out-of-pocket expenses for program delivery and program promotion for the organization's staff
  • travel and subsistence costs for participants in the program or activity
  • air travel must be claimed at the most economical rate available, not to exceed full economy fare
  • child care expenses while a nursing mother or single parent is travelling; the eligible cost for a single parent is limited to overnight child care costs incurred while grantee is travelling; the eligible cost for a nursing mother who is travelling with a child is limited to the customary cost of child care and airfare, if applicable; if travelling with a caregiver, travel and accommodation costs can be claimed in lieu of and up to the equivalent of child care costs
  • travel cancellation insurance and seat reservation charges
  • travel health insurance for organization personnel who do not receive any such benefits from their organization and/or other sources

but not

  • commuting costs between the residence and place of employment or between two places of employment of the principal applicant and/or the organization’s staff
  • reimbursement for the cost of airfare purchased with personal frequent-flyer points programs

Equipment, supplies and communications

  • equipment and supplies directly related to program delivery
  • extended warranty for equipment
  • maintenance and operating costs of equipment and vehicles
  • computers, tablets, modems, emerging technology and other hardware and/or specialized software required for program delivery not normally provided by the organization and with adequate justification
  • monthly charges for the use of internet, only when this service is required for the purpose of program delivery and not normally provided by the organization free of charge
  • cellular phones, smartphones or other electronic devices when they are necessary for program delivery, and/or for personnel safety reasons with adequate justification establishing the need in relation to the funded program
  • monthly plan fees for electronic devices when being used for program delivery and/or for personnel safety reasons only

but not

  • office accessories (paper clips, pens, file folders, writing pads, ring binders, day planners, wastebaskets, etc.)
  • standard monthly connection or rental costs of telephones
  • connection or installation of lines (telephone or other links)
  • voicemail
  • rental or purchase of cellular phone or personal digital assistants (e.g., BlackBerry®, Palm® Pilot, Pocket PC), including service plans, long distance or local charges
  • insurance costs for equipment and vehicles
  • costs of the construction, renovation or rental of office space or supporting facilities
  • home internet costs


  • costs of advertising and distribution
  • costs of production of materials
  • costs of developing web-based information, including web maintenance fees
  • page charges for articles published, including costs associated with ensuring open access to the findings (e.g., costs of publishing in an open access journal or making a journal article open access)
  • translation costs associated with PromoScience-supported activities
  • costs of holding a workshop or seminar, the activities of which relate directly to the promotion of science and engineering (including non-alcoholic refreshments or meal costs)
Miscellaneous expenses
  • costs of awards and prizes
  • costs involved in providing personnel with training and/or development for program delivery
  • costs for the purchase of books, office supplies and information services
  • hospitality costs (non-alcoholic refreshments or meals) for networking purposes and for program delivery; gifts, where approved by a research ethics board, will also be eligible
  • costs of membership in professional associations if they provide direct benefits to the PromoScience-supported activities
  • costs for program evaluation; the maximum allowable percentage for program evaluation costs is 20% of the grant instalment per year.

but not

  • costs of alcohol
  • costs of basic services such as heat, light, water, vacuums and janitorial services
  • insurance costs for buildings or equipment
  • monthly parking fees for vehicles, unless specifically required for program delivery
  • costs for research
  • costs of substitute teachers
  • costs related to professional training or development, such as computer and language training