Guidelines for Charging Faculty Salary to Sponsored Projects

Guidelines for Charging Faculty Salary to Sponsored Projects pdf file icon. you will be leaving the site

The following guidance is provided for faculty who expend effort on sponsored awards and is intended to supplement Sponsor Policies and University Policies 4012 Principal Investigators, 4015 Payroll Certification on Federally Sponsored Projects, 4016 Cost Sharing, 4019 Research-Extended Appointment Policy, and 2226 Supplemental Pay.

  • The amount of salary charged or shown as cost share on a sponsored project should be
    consistent with effort spent on the project. The timing of salary charges should be aligned with
    when effort is performed between academic and summer periods and consistent with the effort
    commitments made at the time of proposal.
  • During the academic year, for faculty working on sponsored projects whose salary exceeds the
    amount a sponsor will allow (salary cap), the amount over the salary cap cannot be covered by
    sponsored funds.
  • PIs are required to contribute some effort to sponsored projects either as a direct charge or cost
    share. Cost share effort must be tracked consistent with the requirements of Policy 4016. This
    requirement does not apply to projects for equipment/instrumentation, dissertation and
    training grants and limited purpose grants such as travel and conference support.
  • Principal Investigators (PI) receiving sponsored awards are responsible for verifying and following
    the sponsoring agencies’ prior notification requirements related to changes in personnel status
    and/or effort for all employees compensated under the PI’s sponsored award. Federal agencies
    define Changes in Status as withdrawal from a project, absence from the project for any
    continuous period of three (3) months or more*, or twenty-five (25%) percent or greater
    reduction in the time devoted to the project (over the budget period ) from the level approved at
    the time of award. During the planned period of performance, sponsoring agencies have prior
    notification and approval requirements for changes in Key Personnel status and/or effort.
    *The Uniform Guidance recognizes that a PI can be absent from campus, such as on study leave
    or sabbatical and remain engaged in the project.
  • Because of the numerous types of activities performed by instructional faculty in addition to
    actual work performed on sponsored programs, it would be unusual for instructional faculty to
    charge 100% of their effort to externally sponsored projects. Activities such as administration,
    teaching, and proposal writing generally cannot be allocated to a sponsored project and should
    be charged to a non-sponsored funding source.
  • No more than 90% of effort expended during the summer period of May 25 – August 24 (2.7
    months) should  generally be charged to sponsored projects for the following types of appointments: 12
    month research-extended, 12 month instructional and summer research positions (9 month
  • Research faculty and postdoctoral research fellows with a twelve-month appointment should
    have non-sponsored funding identified to support any non-sponsored work. If the research
    faculty and postdoctoral research fellows are not engaged in such non-sponsored activities, then
    no accommodation is necessary.

Faculty Summer Salary

The following guidance is provided for faculty who, in addition to their nine-month academic year base
salary, choose to devote additional effort and receive compensation during the summer months of June,
July and August. The principles are as follows:

  • Faculty may be paid no more than one third of their prior academic year salary (nine-month
    Institutional Base Salary at the end of the academic year) for all summer work (teaching,
    research or administrative), regardless of funding sources. The amount of salary paid per pay
    period during the summer cannot exceed the academic year pay period rate.
  • During the summer, for nine-month faculty working on sponsored projects whose salary
    exceeds the amount a sponsor will allow (salary cap), the amount over the salary cap cannot
    be covered by sponsored funds.
  • Effort committed on sponsored projects during the period should be devoted exclusively to the
    activities supported by that project or projects, with the salary charges to each aligning with the
    effort provided.
  • Effort expended during the academic year cannot be “banked” and counted toward summer

Sponsor Salary Caps and Limitations

  • Certain sponsors such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Justice (DOJ) and
    others, impose a limit or “cap” on the annual rate of salary reimbursement for a given amount of
    effort. These salary limitations constitute voluntary, committed cost sharing.
    See: NIH Awards or DOJ Awards
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) policy limits proposed support for senior personnel to
    no more than 2 months aggregate among any combination of NSF grants over a one year
    period. Mason defines a year from beginning of the academic year until the start of the next,
    beginning 8/25. Proposal budgets submitted to NSF should generally not include funding for
    senior personnel which exceeds two months. If additional time beyond two months is required
    to accomplish the proposed statement of work, the request for additional time should be
    included in the proposal budget and explained in the budget justification.

Updated 05/04/2020