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Personnel Costs for Sponsored Programs

Background

Salaries and fringe benefits generally comprise 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

It is the policy of New York University that all costs proposed or incurred on a sponsored project must comply with the Federal Office of Management and Budget Uniform Guidance (OMB Uniform Guidance) and sponsor requirements for charging compensation costs to sponsored programs. As required under the OMB Uniform Guidance, compensation costs must be charged to sponsored programs in a consistent manner.

Charging Employee Salaries

Bonuses and compensated absences are allowable as direct costs to sponsored projects, provided they are paid in compliance with NYU policy, award terms and conditions and in proportion to the effort certified on the project.

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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. For further guidance on the policy e.g., approvals and documentation, see the NYU Faculty Handbook.

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Charging Severance to Sponsored Awards

Severance payments that are due to normal recurring turnover and which otherwise meet the conditions of the award and University policy may be allowed provided the actual costs of such severance payments are regarded as expenses for the current fiscal year. These expenses must be equitably distributed in proportion to effort committed.

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Procedures for Direct Charging Trainee Tuition

Direct charging of trainee tuition (as opposed to the NYU tuition remission rate) is allowable only when the purpose of the sponsored project is to provide training to selected participants (i.e., training/instruction grants) and the charge is approved by the sponsoring agency. Therefore, to be allowable for sponsored projects, direct charging of tuition and fees must be communicated to the sponsor during a proposal process and must be included in the award budgets.

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Tuition Remission

Tuition remission in lieu of fringe benefits is provided to graduate students. Tuition remission is charged as a percentage of the individual salary regardless of whether the student will be taking classes or not during the project period. Tuition remission is included in the Other Costs category and is excluded from MTDC. At NYU, tuition remission rates vary by school.

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Charging Graduate Student Assistantships

Graduate Research Assistants (GRA’s) are graduate students whose time is divided between formal study and research. GRA’s receive salary (not stipend support). Their remuneration is generally calculated on the basis of 12 months of service, including one month's vacation. Tuition remission is charged as a percentage of their salary in lieu of fringe benefits. At NYU, tuition remission rates vary by school.

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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. Federal sponsors consider any effort described in the proposal narrative, budget or budget justification, but not charged to the sponsor, to be a binding commitment (voluntary cost sharing) that must be tracked, certified and reported.

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.

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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, nor can it be used as cost sharing. See the Salary Cap Administration Policy for clarification.

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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.

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