OPE (Other Payroll Expense) is the College contribution toward Social Security, life insurance, disability, retirement, medical, dental, tuition remission, unemployment etc. If your grant salary is your primary salary, your salary or wage qualifies for College benefit contributions. Therefore, the full OPE rate of 39% (through June 30, 2020) will be charged. This applies to private institution grants only. All federal grants will be charged at a 5% lower OPE rate due to the cost of tuition benefits (i.e. tuition remission) which are not allowable for federal grants. This applies to faculty and/or staff.

If your grant salary is not your primary salary, for example, summer research salary, then your OPE rate would be 8%. Some other exceptions would be an agency that restricts the charge to a rate less than 8%. Faculty, staff and student wages are charged OPE. This applies to Whitman College students only.

  • Current (2019-2020) full OPE rates for private grants: 39%
  • Current (2019-2020) OPE rates for federal grants: 34%
  • Current (2019-2020) OPE rates for summer research salary (or other non-primary salary): 8%
  • Current (2019-2020) FICA rates for student wages (federal or private grants): 7.65%

Whitman College Policy on Distribution of Indirect Costs
Effective July 1, 2017 - July 1, 2021

Whitman’s current indirect cost (IDC) rate (sometimes referred to as overhead rate) is 61%, effective July 1, 2017. The indirect cost rate is a calculation of the overhead costs incurred by Whitman College to administer a federal grant. Indirect costs are charged only to salaries and wages. All salaries and wages (faculty, staff and student) are subject to the 61% IDC rate on the base value, not including OPE (fringe benefits). The indirect cost rate is a negotiated rate between the College and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (our cognizant agency). Indirect costs are only charged to federal grants. The current rate is valid for proposals submitted through July 1, 2021.

At Whitman College, reimbursements for indirect costs are processed as follows: when you apply for a grant from a federal agency, there is a category for “overhead” or “indirect costs.” This is money that reimburses the institution for expenses relating to sponsoring the grant. Whitman’s policy states that the indirect costs will be divided as follows: 50% will be placed into a Whitman account called Grant Matching Reserve, 25% will be allocated to support maintenance of science equipment and for grant-matching funds. The remaining 25% will be placed into an account to be used by the Principal Investigator (PI) who was awarded the grant. The PI’s indirect costs can be used for any reasonable business purposes. Specifically, they can be used to support the PI’s professional development, instruction or research efforts, as long as it has a valid business purpose and is 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 an assistant, or travel expenses and other costs associated with attending a professional conference.