Personnel Costs for Sponsored Programs

This content requires the Macromedia Flash Player. Get Flash Player

Closed Captions: Automatically display. Click the CC button at the upper left of the video to turn off captions.

Full Screen Viewing: To view video at full screen size, click on the 'four arrows' icon in the video player controller.


Salaries and fringe benefits generally consist of the largest portion of total direct charges to sponsors. Salaries are generally charged in proportion to the effort expended on the sponsored project. Some federal sponsors limit the amount of salary or rate that can be requested e.g., the National Institutes of Health (NIH) imposes a cap on the salary that can be charged to their awards.

NYU Approach

New York University (NYU) complies with federal regulations for salary costs charged to sponsored programs. As required under OMB Circular-A21, compensation costs are charged consistently.

Charging Employee Salaries

Bonuses and compensated absences that are compliant with NYU policy and award terms and conditions are allowable as direct costs to sponsored projects.

Sabbatical Leave

A sabbatical leave of absence is granted to a faculty member for the purposes of study, research, or other pursuit of value to the scholarly agenda of the faculty member and the University. Sabbatical leave is granted to eligible faculty member, starting September 1, for the usual teaching terms (i.e., September to June) of one academic year, at three quarters of annual base salary (or 75%). Thus, if a faculty member is granted three quarters of annual base salary, the maximum allowable sponsored funding for Sabbatical leave would be one quarter of the base salary (or 25%). There are several alternatives for the length of leaves. All sabbatical leave arrangements approved by the University carry the restriction that the faculty member is not permitted to engage in any form of regular academic or other employment to supplement the sabbatical salary. See Term and Compensation of the Sabbatical in the Faculty Handbook.

Charging Severance to Sponsored Awards

Severance payments that are due to normal, recurring turnover may be allowed. These expenses must be charged in proportion to the individual’s effort.

Procedures for Direct Charging Trainee Tuition

Direct charging tuition is allowed when the purpose of the sponsored project is to provide training and the cost is approved by the sponsoring agency.

Tuition Remission

Tuition remission (not having to pay tuition) is provided to graduate students instead of fringe benefits. Tuition remission is charged as a percentage of the student’s salary regardless of whether the student will be taking classes during the project period.

Charging Graduate Student Assistantships

Graduate Research Assistants (GRA's) are graduate students whose time is divided between formal study and research. Research Assistants receive salary, not stipends. Tuition remission is provided to GRA's instead of fringe benefits.  Stipends are part of student financial aid and not allowed on research grants without prior sponsor approval.

Effort Reporting for Sponsored Programs

Federal regulations require certification of 100% effort for individuals working on Federally sponsored projects. NYU has chosen to certify on all sponsored projects. Some of this effort may be chargeable to sponsored projects and some may be charged to instruction, patient care, or some other function. All activities covered by the Institutional Base Salary (IBS) of an individual who is engaged in a sponsored project must be certified.

At NYU, there are three effort reporting periods: Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. Reports are generated using the Effort Reporting System (ERS).  Effort reports must be completed and certified in a timely manner. 

Principal Investigators (PI's) and faculty are required to certify their own effort report. The PI must also certify that the effort reported by non-faculty personnel charged to their sponsored agreement is accurate.

Salary Cap Administration

Since 1990 Congress has limited the amount of salary charged to an NIH grant or cooperative agreement.  The salary cap is currently equal to Executive Level II of the federal scale.

At NYU, NIH grant proposals are submitted with the PI's Institutional Base Salary, adjusted for anticipated increases.  When the grant is awarded, NIH adjusts the budget to reflect the salary cap in effect when the grant starts.  When an individual's salary exceeds the salary cap, the amount over the cap must NOT be charged to another federal award, it must be charged to a cost sharing project.

Fringe Benefit Rates

For federal awards, fringe benefits are charged based on NYU’s negotiated rate with the Federal government.  The rate is applied to salaries and wages charged to the sponsored project.

^ top of page