Salary and Wages

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Key Personnel, Faculty and Research Staff
Postdoctoral Salary
Graduate Student Research Assistants/Associates
Administrative and Clerical Staff
Institutional Base Salary
Supplemental Compensation
Employee Related Expenses (Fringe Benefits)
Effort Calculations
Sponsor Restrictions

Personnel: Salary and Wages

The Personnel section of your proposed budget includes information on the role and salary or wages of each individual required to complete the proposal’s aims. Only University of Arizona personnel should be listed. Salaries and wages are used to compensate individuals who have an employee-employer relationship with the University. Refer to the Stipends guidance for payments made to trainees. Non-University of Arizona employees are listed on the appropriate consultant or subaward budget section.

Effort is represented by either a percentage, number of person months, or number of hours.

Key Personnel, Faculty and Research Staff

Key Personnel are the program director/principal investigator and other individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way. They are always identified by name, title, and role on the project regardless of whether or not they request salary or compensation.

Personnel in other positions are identified by name and role. When an individual cannot be identified or will be hired to fill the proposed role later, to-be-announced (TBA) can be used in place of the name, along with the role. TBA cannot be used for key personnel.

  • The proposal budget should accurately reflect the amount of effort that key personnel are committing to the project. OMB Uniform Guidance requires most federal sponsored projects to have a minimum level of key personnel effort. SPS requires a minimum level of effort of 1% for key personnel.
  • If the key personnel effort is not budgeted as a direct cost, it must be tracked by the institution as committed cost share per OMB Uniform Guidance.
  • Actual salary must be used to compute the salary cost.
  • Effort may be included in the proposal even when no salaries are requested, except in specific circumstances, like the National Science Foundation.
  • The Principal Investigator may not need to commit a specified percentage of effort on certain awards, e.g., equipment and fellowship awards. Justification may be requested for these instances of zero effort.

OMB Memo 01-06 describes the specific requirements for key personnel effort. Compensation Definitions for Faculty and Appointed Personnel defines the types of compensation for faculty and appointment personnel.

Postdoctoral Salary

Postdoctoral Research Associates are defined as individuals who have recently completed doctoral studies and who hold short-term University appointments while working under the guidance and direction of a faculty mentor. This position is meant to prepare the individual for a career as an independent researcher. Personnel policies for postdoctoral students are available on the Graduate College’s Personnel Policies page. For information on compensation policy, see the University Handbook for Appointed Personnel, Section 12.01.04.

Postdoctoral positions will be identified by name, title, and role on the project. When a postdoc will be hired later, use To-Be-Announced (TBA) in the budget.

  • The proposal budget should accurately reflect the amount of effort that postdocs are committing to the project.
  • Actual salary must be used to compute the salary cost.
  • Effort may be included in the proposal even when no salaries are requested, except in specific circumstances, like the National Science Foundation.

Graduate Student Research Assistants/Associates

Graduate students appointed to Graduate Research Assistant/Associate (GRA) positions perform research duties under guidance and supervision of a faculty mentor while completing their post-graduate education.

In a proposal budget, Graduate Research Assistant positions are often identified as To-Be-Announced, along with their planned role on the project. Salary rates for Graduate Research Assistants vary by department and college.

  • The proposal budget should accurately reflect the amount of effort that the GRA(s) will commit to the project.
  • Committed effort should not exceed FTE limits for GRAs, as stipulated by Graduate College compensation limits.
  • Actual salary must be used to compute the salary cost
  • Tuition remission is a mandatory benefit for students employed as GRAs budgeted separate and distinct from ERE/fringe benefits.

Administrative and Clerical Staff

 Administrative and Clerical Staff salaries are normally treated as F&A costs (2 CFR 200.413). Direct charging of these salaries may be appropriate only if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. Administrative or clerical services are integral to a project or activity;
  2. Individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity;
  3. Such costs are explicitly included in the budget or have the prior written approval of the Federal awarding agency; and
  4. The costs are not also recovered as indirect costs.

Labor costs are based on the employees’ actual salary rates, or an amount within the salary range of the job classification for persons to be recruited.  An individual may not be charged to a sponsored project at a salary rate higher than the rate charged to other funds. Salary cap regulations must be followed for proposals submitted to DHHS agencies.

Institutional Base Salary

Institutional Base Salary (IBS) is the total annual cash compensation paid by the University of Arizona for an employee's full work load, including regular assignment, additional job/titles and related components of pay.  Faculty members are required to teach, conduct research and scholarly activities, and perform service and administrative duties as set forth in their appointments. Deans, directors, and department heads are responsible for determining the specific duties and activities that constitute a full work load.  IBS is also used to calculate an employee's Supplemental Compensation Maximum Earnings.  See Compensation Definitions for Faculty and Appointed Professionals for more information.  

Supplemental Compensation

The University Handbook for Appointed Personnel (UHAP), Section 2.06.07, and your sponsor's regulations govern the charging of supplemental compensation to grants and contracts.  Generally, supplemental compensation from grants and contracts is not allowed during the academic semesters. Please see the Overview of Supplemental Compensation for more information. When requesting supplemental compensation in your budget, it is important to remember that:

  • Supplemental compensation (summer salary) and academic year salary are shown as separate line items.
  • The academic year appointment is nine months, regardless of the time period over which the faculty member chooses to be paid.
  • Supplemental compensation is calculated at approximately one ninth of the academic year salary for each month of supplemental compensation.
  • Under University policy, three months (or one third of their 9-month academic salary) is the maximum number of months that an academic faculty member may be paid for supplemental compensation.
  • Compensation above the base salary may be allowable under unusual circumstances where supplemental compensation occurs across research disciplines/departments and the work performed is in addition to the faculty member's regular department load. The supplemental compensation must be specifically listed in the budget or approved by the sponsor. Faculty named as the principal investigator or key personnel cannot receive supplemental compensation as those roles imply that the work is part of their regular department load and research discipline(s).

Supplemental Compensation for Appointed Personnel provides forms and schedules that should be used to accurately calculate the hourly rate and the maximum number of allowable supplemental compensation hours.

In simple terms:

  • Academic supplemental compensation hourly rate = academic base salary x .00072
  • Academic appointed personnel are usually authorized up to 464 hours per year for supplemental compensation
  • Fiscal supplemental compensation hourly rate = fiscal base salary / 2088

Some sponsors, like the National Science Foundation, limit supplemental compensation or include additional sponsor restrictions.


Employee Related Expenses (Fringe Benefits)

Employee-Related Expenses (ERE) (often referred to as fringe benefits) cover the University of Arizona's contribution for FICA, retirement, health insurance, and unemployment insurance. These rates apply to all sponsored projects.

Employee Related Expenses are calculated as a percentage of salary. There are different rates based on personnel classification. Refer to the ERE Rates page for current rates.

Effort Calculations

Sponsored Effort or Percent Effort is the percent of work time that will be devoted to the project, regardless of where the work is to be performed and regardless of whether the sponsored project is paying for the work. The percent effort committed to a project should be reasonable and accurately reflect the amount of time to be spent on the project versus other University responsibilities. The percentage of salary charged to the grant should be equal to the committed percentage of effort, unless the salary cap has been reached (see HHS Salary Cap).

Person Months is the metric for expressing effort devoted to a project based on the type of appointment the individual has with the organization – calendar year (CY), academic year (AY) and/or summer term (SM). To calculate person months, the percentage of effort is multiplied times the number of months of the appointment. The person months calculation of effort is required for most proposals submitted to federal agencies. For example: 10% of a 12 month calendar appointment equals 1.2 (CY) person months (12 x 0.10 = 1.2), The National Institute of Health provides a Percent of Time Effort to Person Months Calculator (Excel – 20kb).

See Effort Reporting for additional information and guidance.

Sponsor Restrictions

Department of Health and Human Services (includes the NIH)

Salary Cap: The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act limits the rate at which salaries are paid under sponsored research awards funded by certain agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The cap is tied to levels of the Federal Executive Pay scale specified within the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The cap establishes a maximum annual rate of pay at which an individual can be compensated for full time committed over a twelve-month period. The following Department of Health and Human Services agencies apply a cap to the salary budgeted and charged as an allowable expense:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
  • Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

The NIH Salary Cap Summary provides a list of salary cap amounts.

Graduate Student Compensation: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) limits the amount that will be awarded for the support of a graduate student on an NIH grant. The maximum amount awarded is tied to the Zero level National Research Service Award (NRSA) stipend in effect at the time the grant award is issued.

  • When submitting detailed budgets that include support for a graduate student, actual institutional salary should be requested and justified. NIH Institutes and Centers will review the requested compensation and adjust the award amount to the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Zero level postdoctoral stipend.
  • Institutions may opt to rebudget funds to charge more than the awarded amount for graduate student compensation, as long as the amount is considered reasonable under OMB Cost Principles. In general, graduate student compensation will not be considered reasonable if it exceeds the amount paid to a first-year postdoctoral scientist at the same institution, performing comparable work.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) Postdoctoral Stipends, Training Related Expenses, Institutional Allowance, and Tuition/Fees Effective for Fiscal Year 2017 contains information on the stipend levels for fiscal year 2017.

Jointly Appointed University and Department of Veteran Affairs Personnel on NIH Proposals:  The NIH requires that investigators with joint University and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) appointments maintain a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU outlines the duties and effort to be committed by the jointly appointment personnel at both the University and the VA.  The MOU also certifies that "there is no possibility of dual compensation for the same work, or of an actual or apparent conflict of interest regarding such work".  See the Policy for Jointly Appointed University and Department of Veterans Affairs Personnel on National Institutes of Health Proposals for information and guidance.

National Science Foundation

Limit on months of compensation: For the National Science Foundation, salary compensation for senior personnel is limited to no more than two months of salary (academic, summer supplemental, fiscal) in any one year. This limit includes salary compensation received from all NSF-funded grants. If anticipated, any compensation for senior personnel in excess of two months must be disclosed in the proposal budget, justified in the budget justification and specifically approved by National Science Foundation in the award notice budget.