Beyond the


How to Fill Out a Cost Form



Kids brainstorming with coach

Breaking Down Oyssey of the Mind Cost Forms

Our coordinators get a lot of questions about how to fill out cost forms. The cost form is one of the required forms teams must complete and turn in to the staging area judge before competing. Everything the team uses to complete their solution must be included on the team’s cost form, even if that item has no dollar value. Let’s break that down.

Every problem has a cost limit, which is listed in the problem rules under B: Limitations, 4: Cost Limit. The purpose of the cost limit is to make sure every team competes on a level playing field and cannot use financial means as an advantage. The cost limit is not a spending requirement — teams do not have to spend up to the limit. They simply may not exceed the stated limit. 

The Odyssey organization breaks cost down into several categories: cost, assigned value and exempt.


Items that fall into this category are those to which a team must assign a value other than $0. This is an item that is not exempt or given an assigned value in the Program Guide (more on that later).

Most items used in a solution can likely be assigned a garage sale value. That is, their cost can be listed not as what the item would be sold for new but as it would be sold secondhand. Even if an item is given or lent to the team for free, its cost must be listed on the form as a secondhand item. For example, if a team is given clothes that they cut apart and use to make costumes, the garage sale value of those clothes must be listed on the form. 

The only items that must be assigned full purchase value are those that are used without any alteration, per their intended purpose. If, for example, a team buys a toy xylophone and plays it in the performance — as a xylophone — without alteration, that item’s full value should be listed on the cost form. If the team purchases the xylophone, takes it apart, and then uses the components to make a set piece or prop, the instrument can be assigned a garage sale value. 

TIP: When filling out your cost form, have a copy of your script in front of you. Every time a scene changes or a new character is introduced include all of the new elements of that set or costume on the form.  

Assigned Value

Some commonly used items are assigned a value by HQ. Assigned value items are listed at the given value, or less if the actual cost was less. These items include:

  • Commercially produced musical instruments and cases, peripherals such as a stand, and speakers
  • Any type of audio or video recorder or player and speakers to hear the sounds if applicable
  • Audio­visual cart
  • Laptop or desktop computer system (including monitor, keyboard and connecting cables). Smartphones are considered computers
  • Projectors 
  • Television sets or monitors (not used in conjunction with a computer)
  • 3­D Printed Items: 50 cents for every ounce of printed plastic.
  • Robotic controllers

The assigned cost of these items is listed in the program guide, which is updated annually. Make sure to check the guide for correct cost listings. 

Exempt Items

Exempt items must still be listed on the form, but these items may be assigned a value of $0. If an item is trash, it can be assigned a value of $0. Cans or bottles that would be recycled, food wrappers or old plastic grocery bags, for example, would be listed with a cost of $0.

Additional exempt items, as listed in the Program Guide, include:

  • Extension cords, plugs and batteries
  • Chairs, stools, tables and desks
  • Clothing or jewelry worn by team members that does not enhance the solution or contribute to a costume 
  • Problem-­specific shirts sold by CCI at
  • Tool kits. Tools can be brought to the performance site if intended to be used to build or repair any part of the solution. These tools cannot enhance the performance. 
  • Safety items like eyeglasses and hearing aids, foot coverings, floor coverings intended only to protect the floor from damage and safety goggles.

The Program Guide has an extensive list of items and examples, so read it carefully before filling out your forms!