Personnel Expenses (salaries and fringe benefits)
Salary requests should be calculated for current or anticipated appointments based on the percent of effort each employee will devote to the project. For current employees, this calculation should start with their current base salary. You may use a standard 3% increase per fiscal year (July 1st through June 30th) for budgeting purposes, based on an average of historical university salary increases. Note that some federal agencies limit the increase to a published index, such as the Consumer Price Index.
Notes on specific salary categories:
Principal Investigators (PIs) — Summer salary
The university allows faculty members on nine-month appointments to earn up to an additional thirteen weeks of salary during the summer (between spring commencement and the start of classes). This equates to an additional one-third of their academic-year salary and is referred to as the “summer contract period.” This summer salary often comes from working on external awards. When faculty salaries are paid from external awards, there are restrictions on what types of employment-related activity (effort) may be charged to these awards. In particular, charges allocated to an award must be related to the approved purpose of the award.
In most cases, work activities such as writing proposals, curriculum development, working on courses for upcoming terms and general administrative duties are not allowed, except in de minimis amounts (5% or less of total time for the period). In addition, because faculty members on nine-month appointments do not accrue annual leave, any time period when the faculty member is on vacation may not be charged to an external award.
The most current guidelines for summer salary are available on the website for the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.
Compliance with effort reporting requirements will be checked through the normal effort certification process during that period (see Effort Reporting). The effort devoted to the projects or projects for which one is paid must occur during the summer period.
Note that under the conditions and requirements for charging effort to federal grants, problems can quickly arise when nine-month faculty members choose to charge a full thirteen weeks to external awards over the summer. By doing so, a faculty member is stating that he or she worked every day of the summer and that all employment effort was of direct relevance to the award or awards that paid their salary. Likewise, if summer salary is spread over multiple grants, then the effort during the summer must be devoted in proportion to the percentage of salary paid from each grant during the summer. Please note that it is the percent effort for the summer that counts, and it is only necessary to certify effort for the time the employee is paid.
National Institutes of Health salary cap: Alone among federal agencies, the NIH has a salary cap (based on twelve months of full-time effort) and will not pay the portion of salary that exceeds the cap. If a PI’s university salary exceeds that amount, this fact should be noted in the budget justification, but the salary requested should be at the cap level. Current information on the cap rates is available on the NIH website at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/salcap_summary.htm.
Note on Extra Compensation: Under rare circumstances, faculty may submit a request to a sponsor for extra compensation — that is, compensation in addition to base-year salary. Such fees may not ordinarily be charged for intra-university consulting or collaboration, which is understood to be part of the faculty member’s university obligation (See FSH 3260). This principle also applies to a faculty member who functions as a consultant or otherwise contributes to another University of Idaho sponsored agreement. However, in rare cases where consultation is across departmental lines or involves a separate or remote operation, and the work performed by the consultant is of an unusual nature and is in addition to his or her regular university activities, it may be possible to request extra compensation. Approval by the relevant dean or deans for faculty extra compensation must be obtained prior to proposal submission, in accordance with university policy. Please note that if budgets are submitted and approved by the sponsor without prior internal approval, these charges will not be allowable; submission of a proposal with a line item for extra compensation does not signify university approval.
Other Senior Personnel
Occasionally, Senior Research Scientists and nonfaculty are hired to perform specialized research functions. These individuals are paid on the nonfaculty exempt payroll. Descriptions of their functions should be provided in the budget justification.
Postdoctoral fellows are persons who hold the doctoral degree or its equivalent at the time of their appointment and are continuing their career preparation by engaging in research or scholarly activity. Postdoctoral fellows are special exempt employees in the category of “temporary or special” employees recognized by the Board of Regents. Postdoctoral fellows are supported by a wide variety of grants and fellowships, accrue leave time and receive fringe benefits charged at a rate based on their annual salary rate. Often, the source of funding for a postdoctoral fellow determines whether the individual is considered to be an employee of the university or a stipend recipient of the sponsor. Postdoctoral fellows are not members of the faculty.
This title is appropriate for registered graduate students engaged in research or scholarly activities sponsored by funds designated for fellowships. Research fellows are not members of the faculty.
Technicians, programmers, laboratory assistants, etc.: These employees may be either classified or nonfaculty exempt scientific or technical staff.
Graduate students are frequently paid Research Assistantship (RA) salaries from sponsored projects. Each academic department sets the salary rate at which all of its resident graduate student RAs should be paid. Departmental administrators should coordinate and monitor sources of support (financial aid, fellowships, teaching assistantships, and graduate research assistantships).
Funding for undergraduate wages may be requested in the initial proposal or through a supplemental funding request, such as the DoD ASSERT or an NSF REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates). Undergraduates are paid on the temporary payroll using an hourly rate.
Administrative and Clerical Staff
As a general rule, salaries for clerical staff cannot be included on sponsored projects as direct costs. Salary may be requested, however, if the majority of a clerical staff person’s effort is integral to the project and devoted to furthering the project goals and he/she is responsible for one or more of the following:
- Extensive data accumulation, analysis, entry, labeling, surveying, tabulation or cataloging; technical illustration; manuscript and publication production; searching literature; and reporting
- Making complex travel, meeting, and visa arrangements for multiple project collaborators and/or workshop participants
- Organizing workshops or conferences for large numbers of participants
- Extensive desktop publishing of workshop materials
- Managing the logistics of extensive field operations necessitated by the nature of the award
- Coordinating a research program supported from multiple sources
Fringe benefit charges pay for retirement benefits, health insurance, short-term disability insurance, mandatory life insurance, FICA and other benefits. Different categories of employees have different average fringe rates. These should be applied to the base salaries requested.
It is not allowable to charge some or all of an individual’s fringe benefits to a sponsored project unless that sponsored project also pays the corresponding proportion of the individual’s salary. In the rare case where a sponsor’s published policy will not allow inclusion of fringe payments in the project budget, the PI may cover the fringe expenses from other (nonsponsored) sources. Current fringe benefits rates to be used when submitting a proposal are available on the OSP website.