Recharge rates are the estimated costs of providing service items, divided by the estimated number of service items to be provided, recharge rates are computed using estimated costs and the number of service items to be provided for a specified fiscal year. Proposed rates should include all costs associated with furnishing the goods/services. Where recharge center operations are proposed to be subsidized the funding source should be specified in the recharge proposal and the fund linked to the recharge account. See Subsidy for more information.

How to Develop Rate

  1. Determine the measurable service unit for each goods or service
  2. Evaluate customer base
  3. Determine the annual output, or expected level of activity, for the service or product
  4. Determine annual estimated costs involved with running the service
  5. Exclude unallowable costs
  6. Determine the amount of any applicable subsidy
  7. Determine the rate per unit

All campus users – regardless of department or funding source – must be charged the same rate for goods and services. Non-UC users should pay campus rates plus a Non-University Differential at least equal to the current negotiated federal indirect cost recovery rate. See External Users for more information.

Service Units

A recharge center provides one or more products or services to its customers. Each distinct good or service provided must have a unit of product or service, which becomes the basis for charging customers. This unit of product or service is referred to as a "service unit".

The ideal service unit:

  1. is identifiable and measurable;
  2. is able to accurately reflect the resources necessary to produce it, especially the costs;
  3. accurately reflects the extent of benefit received by the user. Some examples of service items for products provided by a Recharge Center are: each, per dozen, per gram, and per liter.

Some examples of service units are: per hour of machine time, per hour of labor time, and per test.

Costs of Providing Service Units

The following general requirements apply to all service items and all costs of the recharge activity:

  • all costs of providing the service items (as identified below) must be included in the recharge plan;
  • the same rate for identical service items must be applied to all users;
  • all costs must conform to generally accepted costing principles. Costs must be allowable, reasonable, identifiable, or reasonably allocable to providing the service items or the administering of the recharge activity, and consistently treated in like circumstances;
  • the Recharge Center must actually "pay" the costs of providing service items (i.e., incurred costs must actually be charged to the activity's appropriate chartstring).

Allowable Costs

Federal policy requires that costs associated with providing products and services are allowable and recovered through direct charges to users based on actual usage at a pre-established per unit price.

Costs associated with the direct administration of a recharge activity are allowable expenses on a recharge plan and should be included. Such costs include salaries and wages, benefits, supplies, services, depreciation, etc., associated with the accounting, billing, purchasing, personnel, supervision, and other general support functions of the recharge activity.

It is common for recharge activities to have a surplus or deficit at the end of any specific fiscal year because the actual revenues received and costs incurred during that year differ from the budgeted amounts used to calculate the recharge rate. However, over a period of several fiscal years it is expected that recharge activities will operate close to break-even. An exception is allowed for a working capital and equipment reserves.

Although, surpluses and deficits are common in any one fiscal year. The goal is to have a recharge activity that operates close to break-even. Every effort should be made to ensure that year-end surpluses or deficits do not exceed three months of the recharging unit's activity.

During the rate review process for a subsequent fiscal year, the projected surplus or deficit in excess of any allowed working capital surplus or equipment reserves from the current year must be included as a reduction from or an addition to expenses in the subsequent fiscal year's budget and rate computation.

  • Actual (or projected) surplus or deficit must be included in the following year's rate calculation.
    • A year-end surplus will reduce the following year's cost pool and, therefore, the rate
    • A year-end deficit will increase the following year's cost pool and, therefore, the rate
  • Surpluses from one recharge fund may not be used to offset deficits from another.
  • Deficit balances may be covered using a departmental discretionary fund. Please work with Budget & Planning to process the appropriate transactions.
  • Surpluses or other monies may not be transferred out of the recharge activity without prior approval.

In exceptional cases where inclusion of a surplus or deficit in the subsequent year would cause a severe fluctuation in the rates from one year to the next, approval may be granted to amortize the surplus or deficit over a 2-3 year period to lessen the impact on the following year’s rates.

As part of the annual recharge rate review, units that carry an unacceptable surplus/deficit are required to establish a plan to rectify the situation and bring the unit within the acceptable levels of tolerance.

Large Deficit - If an activity has a large deficit, where the year-end general ledger deficit is defined as more than three month’s operating expense, it must develop a deficit reduction plan explaining the situation and corrective action that will be taken to clear the deficit. The plan should eliminate the deficit in as short a time as possible, not to exceed three (3) years.  If the deficit is not reduced to acceptable limits in that timeframe, the control point must cover the deficit.

Large Surplus - If an activity has a large surplus, where the year-end general ledger surplus is defined as more than three month’s operating expense, the unit cannot raise its rates. If an activity has a large surplus, it must develop a plan to amortize the surplus in as short a time as possible, not to exceed three (3) years. Rates must be downwardly adjusted or else refunds must be issued.

The position being advertised must be necessary for the recharge operations. Recruitment advertising should be appropriately allocated to all accounts/activities benefited, including departmental research/teaching.

Salaries and wages of personnel associated with providing the service items, maintenance of equipment used in the recharge activity, or directly administering the recharge activity should be included. Associated fringe benefit costs should also be included.

When the rate calculation is based on a per hour labor service unit the rate per hour should only reflect the employee’s billable time. Hourly rates should be calculated based on total costs divided by annual billable hours in order to recover the full cost of providing service. If the rate was calculated based on the total annual hours (both billable and non-billable), the rate would be too low and not recover the full cost.

Unallowable Costs

Typical departmental Facilities and Administrative costs that are included in UCSB’s negotiated federal indirect cost recovery rates should not be included in recharge budgets and rates, in order to prevent double-charging of these costs to federal agencies. In addition, costs not allowable for direct charge to federal funds should not be charged to recharge budgets or included in recharge rates.

Please refer to 2 CFR 200.420-475 for further information.

  • Administrative costs not related to the recharge activity are unallowable. Also, incidental administrative costs related to the activity are unallowable. Incidental administrative effort is when an individual contributes less than 5% of his/her annual effort in support of an activity. 
  • Advertising, marketing, and public relations (this includes travel for the purpose of these activities) 
  • Alumni activities 
  • Bad debts, fines or penalties 
  • Banking and credit card fees 
  • Capitalized space renovations or improvements
  • Commencement or convocation costs
  • Contingency or expansion reserves 
  • Costs of goods and services for employees’ personal use or the cost of providing services for free or a discounted rate
  • Cost of items funded by the Federal Government
  • Donations and contributions 
  • Entertainment (alcohol, event tickets, flowers, gifts, etc.) 
  • Equipment >$5,000 Direct purchases of inventorial equipment are prohibited on the recharge operating fund. However, the provision for equipment replacement shall be included as a cost in the rate development and charged to the recharge operation fund, unless the inventorial equipment is funded by the Federal government or is identified as cost sharing to a federal project.
    See Equipment Replacement for more information.
  • Equipment (including consumer electronics) or services that are able to transmit or route data or include video surveillance equipment and produced or managed by the following companies and their subsidiaries: Huawei Technologies Company, ZTE Corporation Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, and Dahua Technology Company 
  • ETS Support Assessment
  • Fees and stipends for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Fundraising and investment costs 
  • General, Automobile and Employment Liability (GAEL)
  • Housing and personal expense to campus officers 
  • Interest costs for internal loans
  • Leasehold improvements
  • Legal proceeding costs 
  • Lobbying costs
  • Memberships/subscriptions in civic, community or social organizations 
  • Non-cash awards/gifts
  • Patient Care
  • Principal payments of capital leases
  • Rent, utilities, custodial or occupancy costs for University owned space
  • Scholarship Allowance Credit
  • Short-Term Investment Pool (STIP) expense
  • Start-up costs are non-recurring costs necessary to prepare a new activity for its normal business purpose. Start-up costs may include both capital expenditures, such as those for equipment, and non-capital expenditures, such as moving expenses. Start-up costs that benefit more than one year must not be charged to the operating fund.
  • Student activities
  • Travel unless directly related to services necessary to support the recharge activity
  • Training costs to create new goods/services are not allowed in the recharge account, because to do so would be charging users for goods/services not yet rendered
  • UCRP Supplemental Interest Assessment 

Generally Unallowable Costs

Costs that are generally unallowable, unless directly related to, exclusively benefitting and required to provide the recharge services. These costs require approval in order to be considered allowable.

Business meeting expenses for morale or entertainment purposes are unallowable.

Food or beverage products purchased for morale or entertainment purposes are unallowable.

Requires additional justification. Honorariums for services provided by non-UCSB employees must be necessary for the services or commodity being provided, and must be consistently applied to all eligible individuals with supporting documentation justifying the amounts being paid.

  • Interest associated with the purchase of capital equipment is allowable when it satisfies the following criteria:
    • Interest must be paid to outside third party.
    • The equipment must have been acquired on May 8, 1996 or after.
    • For acquisitions prior to May 8, 1996, the purchase price of capitalized equipment must be $10,000 or greater.
    • A letter must be on file with the University’s cognizant agency (DHHS) requesting approval to charge these interest costs to the recharge center. If the agency subsequently denies this request, all interest charged to the recharge unit must be transferred to other allowable funding sources.

Parking passes should never be used by employees, vendors, or recharge operation customers. They may be included if they are for participants or like individuals whom are necessary for the service/commodity being provided.

Pass-Through Activities

Pass-through activities are activities where goods or services are purchased from one university account with the intention to transfer the expense to another university account strictly at invoice cost, without markup for recovery of other costs. Pass-through activities, by definition, will always break-even. 

It is never permissible to “pass-through” University expenditures to non-University uses at invoice cost. A non-university differential (NUD) must always be applied to “pass-through” (i.e., pure invoice based) transactions with non-University users.

To establish a pass-through activity, departments must include a statement in the Income & Recharge proposal describing why the activity is needed and how they will manage it.

Standard pass-through activities are to be administered in a separate fund linked to the recharge account. See Chart of Accounts for more information.

Records documenting actual products distributed to account strings should be maintained. These records are subject to audit.

Pass-through expenditures should be transferred within the month after the charge is first reflected in the accounting system. If the fund receiving the expense is an extramural contract or grant, it is mandatory to use the Transfer of Expense (TOE) system to transfer the expense with appropriate documentation.  While the TOE system should also be used to transfer expenses to other non-extramural funds, transfer via financial journal may be permitted. Please limit financial journal submissions, including recharge transactions, to one per month per center.

A periodic review of these activities is required and will be fulfilled through the review of the associated recharge center.