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OPE and Indirect Cost Rates

OPE (Other Personnel Expense), or fringe benefits and taxes, covers the costs of the College's contributions toward Social Security, Medicare, retirement, medical and dental insurance, worker’s compensation, tuition remission, unemployment, life insurance, disability, Washington State’s paid family and medical leave, and any other such payroll-related costs. OPE is only charged for College employees (faculty, staff, and students).

FY 2023-24 rates (effective July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024):

  • Full OPE: 35.5%
  • Federal Grants Full OPE: 32.5% (tuition remission, valued at 3.5%, is an unallowable charge to federal grants)
  • Reduced OPE: 9%. This rate applies to: (1) students employed in the summer, (2) faculty and staff who receive salary/stipends funded by external grant sources only above and beyond their institutional base salary (for faculty this is typically the summer salary/stipends outside of the 9-month contract), and (3) studio music instructors. OPE is not charged for students employed during the academic year.

Indirect Costs (IDC) (also referred to as overhead), are a calculation of the costs incurred by Whitman College for the process of administering a grant. The IDC rate is negotiated with a federal agency (in Whitman’s case, with the Department of Health and Human Services), and is subject to renewal every three years. All federal grant budgets, and many non-federal grant budgets, must include IDC. In addition, the negotiated rate must be used unless a different rate is requested by the granting agency.

Whitman’s current IDC rate (effective July 1, 2022) is 63%, calculated on a salary and wages base (not including OPE). All salaries and wages (faculty, staff, and student) are subject to the 63% IDC rate, and must be added to the direct costs in the grant budget.

Whitman College Policy on Distribution of Indirect Costs
Indirect cost returns are divided as follows: 75% of the IDC is placed into a Whitman account called Grant Matching Reserve, to be used at the discretion of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty for grant-related purposes, including grant matching and maintenance of science equipment. The remaining 25% of the IDC is placed into an account to be used by the Principal Investigator (PI) who was awarded the grant. The PI’s indirect cost returns can be used for any reasonable business purposes. Specifically, IDC can be used to support the PI’s professional development, instruction, or research efforts, as long as they have a valid business purpose and are not purely for personal benefit. Examples include, among other things, the purchase of equipment/supplies (please note that any equipment purchased becomes the property of Whitman College), the PI’s summer salary, the wages of a student or assistant, or travel expenses and other costs associated with attending a professional conference. Indirect cost returns are institutional funds and are no longer subject to federal allowability rules. Indirect costs do not expire, and are available for use by the PI for the duration of the PI’s employment at Whitman.

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