FAS Research Administration Services

Cost Transfers

A cost transfer is a procedure by which costs originally charged elsewhere are moved to a federal sponsored account in order to allocate costs properly. Auditors consider an excessive number of cost transfers, especially transfers done long after the original transactions occurred, to be an indication of poor financial management, so Harvard’s Cost Transfer Policy requires that cost transfers with high audit risk be justified soundly.

On the last day of each month, administrators should review charges made to federal awards and process or request changes immediately, because all cost transfers made in the same month that the original charge occurred require only that the Journal Voucher Batch Name use the proper naming convention and that the Transaction Line Description describe the journal accurately (see below). With very few exceptions (detailed in the Cost Transfer Policy), any other cost transfers require a Cost Transfer Explanation and Justification Form. In general, cost transfers made within 90 days of the 15th of the month after the original transaction was posted have fewer restrictions than those made after 90 days. Transfers over 90 days need FAS as well as OSP approval. 

Cost Transfer Policy:
Includes a cost transfer job aid, a decision tree, and a ninety-day cost transfer calculator

Journal Voucher Batch Name naming convention:
"CT^TUB^DEPT^ Preparer's Initials^Description^Date (or Date Range) of original transaction(s)"

Transaction Line Description convention & examples:
Describe the journal, referencing the original expense
"Transfer June '07 salary to fund 123456"

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[Last modified: 08/23/12]

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