Personnel Costs

Faculty and Research Staff Salaries

The largest category of expense on any sponsored program budget is normally personnel expenses. Proposals should accurately represent the amount of direct research effort that key personnel are committing to the project.

  • Budget faculty academic year (AY) and summer effort as separate line items.
  • On NIH proposals, use actual institutional base salaries, not the NIH salary cap. NIH will adjust the budget at award stage to reflect the current salary limit.
  • Bring any other sponsor-imposed salary limits to RAS’s attention as soon as possible.
  • For salary levels of full-time exempt staff, use existing actual salaries or consult with your HR administrator on salaries for potential new staff.
  • P. Jones, Principal Investigator (PI), will devote two person-months to the project. She has overall responsibility for the proposed project, including the design and conduct of experiments, analysis of data, preparation of manuscripts, and presentations.

    W. Smith, Co-PI, will devote two person-months to the project. He will assist PI Jones in all activities, and will personally conduct all experiments involving animals described in Objective 2.

Graduate Student Salaries and Tuition

The salaries and annual increases of Graduate Research Assistants (RAs) are established by the collective bargaining agreement between the Institute and the Graduate Student Union. 

The Institute subsidizes a percentage of graduate RAs’ tuition, and subsidizes additional tuition for NIH trainees (e.g., T32s). 

Graduate RA tuition costs are allowable costs. To budget for the non-subsidized tuition:

  • Calculate it as a percentage in accordance with the graduate RA’s effort
  • Use an “Other Cost” category if no Tuition Costs category exists
  • If cost sharing is required on the project, and graduate RAs are proposed, MIT graduate RA tuition subsidy is a recommended source of cost sharing. However, to manage risks associated with this form of cost sharing no more than 66% of the anticipated GRA tuition subsidy should be proposed as cost-sharing

Salary and tuition costs not paid by the sponsor must be covered consistent with Graduate Student Appointment Policies

  • GRA Betsy Blue will conduct synthetic experiments described in Objective 1. She will assist the PI in the collection and analysis of data and in the preparation of manuscripts from this work.

Postdoctoral Salaries

Postdoctoral associates, but not postdoctoral fellows, may be budgeted and charged to sponsored research project awards.

  • If a sponsor supports both an organized research program and a fellowship award program, RAS creates a research WBS for the organized research program and a fellowship WBS for the fellowship award program. 
  • If a grant’s primary purpose is postdoctoral research training (e.g. NIH training grants), the grant is established in an organized research account and postdoctoral fellow appointments are allowable charges to the research account.
  • If a solicitation mentions recruiting postdoctoral fellows, it is likely that a postdoctoral associate could be charged instead.
  • Lily Wu, PhD—11-month effort—began her postdoctoral Research Associate (RA) work in this lab one year ago. She has four years of prior experience with small animal behavioral studies and provides day-to-day oversight of laboratory personnel. She personally conducts all experiments described in Objectives 3 and 4.

Administrative and Clerical Costs

Administrative and clerical costs should not be budgeted or charged as direct costs, except when the individuals can be specifically identified with supporting a major project or activity and meet the four criteria defined by Uniform Guidance 200.412 Part C

  • Major project or activity: a project that requires an extensive amount of administrative or clerical support, which is significantly greater than the routine level of such services provided by academic departments

All questions regarding the appropriateness of administrative charges on sponsored work should be addressed to your RAS CA.

  • An Administrative Assistant—six person-months—will provide dedicated administrative and clerical assistance to the proposed Center. Responsibilities will include coordinating weekly video conference meetings of all collaborators (five subawards) and assisting investigators with the preparation of human and animal protocols.

Employee Benefits, Vacation Accrual and Fringe Benefits

  • For faculty, budget for employee benefits
  • For postdocs and all research staff, budget for fringe benefits (employee benefits plus vacation accrual) 

Graduate students are not subject to employee benefits or vacation accrual.

Employee Benefits

Employee Benefits (EB) are a direct cost charged as a percentage of salary. EB rates, like F&A rates, are negotiated and approved by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), MIT's cognizant agency. The rates apply to all sponsored projects.

Calculating Benefits

To calculate the vacation accrual or employee benefits charged to the project for an individual:

  1. Determine the base salary: subtract the individual’s vacation time from annual salary. For example, if an individual earns one month of vacation per year, calculate the salary for 11 months to use as the base salary.
  2. Multiply the base salary by the percentage effort on the project to calculate the salary that will be charged directly to the project.
  3. Multiply the salary charged to the project by the appropriate rate (vacation accrual rate or the employee benefit rate).

When postdocs, research staff, sponsored research staff, project staff and hourly staff report vacation time, the grant is reimbursed for the vacation time from MIT’s vacation accrual pool.

  • Example 1

    1. Calculating the effort and salary:

    When budgeting staff on an effort basis, reduce the total projected salary/effort for the individual by the projected vacation salary/effort before applying the proposed effort. This applies to either percentage of effort or person months effort calculations.

    Dr. Nelson's annual salary rate is $60,000 per year ($5,000 per month).

    Dr. Nelson is provided one month of vacation time under MIT policy, so the maximum amount of effort to be charged to a project per year is 11 months (12 months minus one vacation month, or $55,000 annually.

    2. Calculating Vacation Accrual:

    For each of the staff, apply the vacation accrual rate to the effort being directly charged to the project.

    Dr. Nelson will charge 100% time to a project for a year, or $55,000. Assuming a vacation accrual rate of 10.5%, the vacation accrual charge to the project is $55,000*.105 = $5,775. Add 10.5% to the current employee benefit rate when calculating the budget to the sponsor.

    Example 2

    Dr. Williams is a research staff member who will dedicate 25% of his effort to this project. His annual salary rate is $48,000, and he holds a 12-month appointment ($4,000 per month). Under MIT policy, he is eligible for 6 weeks of vacation each year.

    Calculating the effort and salary:

    $48,000 for 12 months less 1.5 months of vacation time = $48,000 - $6,000 = $42,000 base amount to which effort on sponsored projects should be applied. If he works 25% on this project, the salary charged is $42,000 * .25 = $10,500

    Calculating Vacation Accrual:

    Dr. Williams will charge 25% time to the project for a year, or $10,500. Assuming a vacation accrual rate of 10.5%, the vacation accrual charge to the project is $10,500*.105 = $1,102.50

    Use the Sample Budget Justification to help clarify this charging method to the sponsors.