Yes, they can be. Open access journals do not have subscribers. Therefore, in order to sustain their operations, they ask authors and/or those authors’ institutions to pay an article processing charge. UT has a fund available to help authors cover these APCs. And, most funders--including the NIH, NSF, USDA, Gates Foundation, and many others--allow researchers to include APCs for open access publishing in their grant budgets. APCs are a part of the business model for many reputable OA journals.
But beware: Not all open access journals are the same. Do your due diligence and investigate the journal’s reputation (see above). Also, be aware of the varying costs of APCs across journals. APCs can range from $300 to $1,000 in the social sciences, or $700 to over $5,000 in the sciences. Several studies have estimated that costs for publishing a single scholarly article average in the range of $1,000 to $2,000 per article.