University of Vermont

Sponsored Project Administration - SPA

SPA A-to-Z topics | 217 Waterman Building . 85 South Prospect Street . Burlington, Vermont 05405 . (802) 656-3360


Budget Development 

  1. Personnel
  2. Graduate Student Support
  3. Post Doctoral Associates and Post Doctoral Fellows (Trainees)
  4. Independent Contactors (Consultants)
  5. Fringe Benefits
  6. Sponsored Activities and Computer Usage
  7. Animal Care Costs
  8. Travel Costs
  9. Equipment
  10. Subawards/Subcontracts (coming soon)
  11. Indirect Costs
  12. Cost Sharing and Matching
  13. Genomic Array Costs
  14. MRI Center for Biomedical Imaging

1. Personnel

Policy Statement:

All personnel actions associated with grants and contracts are governed by standard University personnel policies and the terms of the agreement between the University of Vermont and United Academics (AAUP/AFT). Position classifications and salary levels included in grant application budgets should be determined in a manner consistent with such policies. Salary levels and job classifications included in grant application budgets are best estimates only and do not constitute advance approval.

Estimating Personnel Costs:

Academic/Calendar Year Salary: When University faculty or staff members are identified as sponsored project personnel, the salary figures included in the project should be estimated to reflect current salary and term of appointment, estimated annual increases, any anticipated equity adjustments or classification changes and the percentage of effort that will be devoted to the project.

Summer Salary: Summer salary included in proposal budgets may not exceed the University's maximum allowable summer compensation. For a faculty member with a 9-month academic year appointment, summer salary may not exceed 3 months of the previous academic year salary, and for a faculty member with a 10-month appointment, 2 months.

Unassigned Faculty Positions: Salary for unassigned faculty positions included in a sponsored project budget must be estimated by the principal investigator in consultation with his or her department chairperson. The salary range for similar positions at the University and in the field or discipline can offer some guidance.

Unassigned Staff Positions: The University has established salary ranges for all University classified staff positions. When including salary for unassigned positions in a proposal budget, these ranges and anticipated level of experience should be considered. The UVM Human Resources Office can advise as to the appropriate range for new positions.

Temporary Positions: When project assistance is of a temporary or part-time nature, it may be more appropriate to estimate compensation as an hourly wage. Hourly wage equivalents for classified positions obtained from the Salary Administration Office may be useful in estimating wages. In all cases, federal and state minimum wage requirements apply.

2. Graduate Student Support on Research Grants - updated February 9, 2016

When a sponsored project includes work to be conducted by a graduate (research) assistant, the following should be included in the budget. Please note, some sponsors and RFPs may not allow tuition or other expenses related to graduate student support and/or place a limit on what can be charged. In those cases, those rules override the guidance below.

FY17 Graduate Student Assistantships memo - pdf


Graduate Assistants (GAs) and Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) are paid a salary for their work supported by the sponsored project. These payments are frequently internally called stipends but are recognized by sponsors as graduate student salary and must be budgeted accordingly on the SPA budget worksheet and in the proposal. The FY17 minimum stipend levels are follows:

  • Doctoral level FY17: $25,000 for a 12-month position at 0.5 FTE (20 hours/week), prorated to $18,750 for a 9-month position or $9,375 per semester (4.5 months)

  • Doctoral level FY18: $26,500 for a 12-month position at 0.5 FTE (20 hours/week), prorated to $19,875 for a 9-month position or $9,9,37 per semester (4.5 months)
  • Master level: $21,333 for 12-month position at 0.5 FTE (20 hours/week), prorated to $16,000 for a 9-month position or  $8,000 per semester (4.5 months)

Note that 0.5 FTE is full time equivalency (100% effort) for a GR or GRA.

Fringe Benefits

All GRAs, GAs receive health insurance benefits as follows:

  • Students are eligible to receive funding for 75% of the single person UVM student health insurance premium, should they elect the coverage.
  • No benefit accrues if the student does not elect the UVM student insurance.
  • The health insurance premium is resourced through a benefit rate on the student’s salary (7.1% in FY15). This benefit rate is charged to the same funding source (general fund, grant or gift, etc.) that covers the salary.

The fringe benefit must be included in the SPA budget worksheet and proposal budget when a graduate student salary is also included.


When the sponsored project RFP and related sponsor regulations allow for it, tuition should be budgeted for each grant supported assistantship position on the SPA budget worksheet and proposal budget as outlined below:

  • For full time (0.5 FTE) GAs, GRAs – 10 credits per year per student at the in state rate
  • For half time (0.25 FTE) GAs, GRAs – 5 credits per year per student at the in state rate

The in state rate typically changes every May. Current rates are available in the Student Financial Services website.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

Q1. Why does UVM wish to include graduate student tuition in proposals for sponsored projects?

A1. This change results from an initiative that began in the fall 2011 and was led by the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College to enhance funding for graduate education. This new requirement was vetted through multiple faculty committees and approved by the Deans and the Provost. For additional information, please see the April 2015 memo from the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate College.

Q2. Should I include a tuition budget line on all sponsored project research proposals that involve GAs/GRAs?

A2. Tuition should be budgeted and charged a) ONLY where the RFP and sponsor allow tuition and b) only for a graduate assistantship (GA/GRA) position supported on the grant. Please note that some sponsors, including the USDA, do not allow tuition on most of its grants, therefore the cost item should not be included in the proposal or charged to the project.

Q3. What is SPA’s role in managing these new UVM tuition requirements?

A3. As always, SPA staff will advise principal investigators of all applicable regulations and requirements during proposal development, award administration, and closeout. When allowable by the sponsor and RFP, SPA Research Administrators will include tuition in the SPA budget worksheet and proposal budget when graduate student salary and fringe is also included in the sponsored research project.

Q4. Are these rules applicable for fellowship or training grants?

A4. No; fellowships and training grants follow different regulations than sponsored research projects. Fellows and trainees are employees of the sponsoring agencies and are paid stipends rather than salaries. There is not a fringe benefit charged on their stipend. Tuition and fees are proposed and charged based on the sponsor guidelines and the type of grant. Please contact your SPA Research Administrator if you have specific questions about fellowships and training grants.

Q5.  For GAs/GRAs working on a sponsored project, how is the tuition scholarship that is not covered by the grant covered?

A5. The tuition scholarship for all graduate assistantships isas follows:

  • 0.50 FTE (20 hours per week) will receive 9 credits each semester as scholarship (for a total of 18 credits per AY);
  • 0.25 FTE (10 hours per week) will receive 6 credits each semester as scholarship (for a total of 12 credits per AY);
  • Any student with a split 0.50 FTE appointment (for example -  0.25 GTA and 0.25 GRA) will only receive a maximum of 18 credits in any given academic year;
  • Students with 12 month salaries are eligible to receive 5 credits summer tuition scholarship. Students must be supported as a GTA, GRA or GA for the entire summer term at 0.50 FTE to be eligible for the summer tuition scholarship.

Through FY15 the scholarships not paid by a grant are paid out of Graduate College general fund budget.

Beginning in FY16, any of the tuition scholarship not supported by the grant will be paid by the responsibility center in which the student resides. The Graduate College will make the transaction on the student account in Banner and FAB will track the funding flow. Please contact the Graduate College for questions.

Q6. What happens if the GA/GRA position is not at 0.25 or 0.5 FTE?

  A6. If the graduate assistant position on the grant is at least 0.25 FTE but less than 0.5FTE, the charge to the grant is 5 credits at the in state rate (per year). If the graduate assistant position is less than 0.25 FTE, no tuition is charged to the grant.

Q7. What is the inflation percentage used in proposal budget?

A7. SPA will use the standard 3% rate for inflation for tuition and salaries (wherever allowable) for future budget years.

Q8. What if a graduate student included in the proposal drops out? Or is no longer part of the research?

A8. Barring any restrictions in award documents/RFPs, any money not used for tuition or stipends can be re-budgeted into other categories. You/your business unit administrator would work with the SPA Financial Analyst for project rebudgeting.

Q9. How does UVM ensure that the tuition is charged to the grant?

A9. Student Financial Services (SFS) must be informed about the student’s funding source via the SFS payment request form. Click here for the Student Payment/Scholarship Request form.  You will be prompted for your UVM Net ID.

Beginning in FY16, SPA will approve the form and forward it to the Graduate College, which will make the transaction in BANNER notify SFS for financial aid accounting.          

For more information, please visit the Graduate College website - pdf.

3. Post-Doctoral Associates and Post-Doctoral Fellows (Trainees)

There are two types of post-doctoral appointments at the University:  post-doctoral associates and post-doctoral fellows or trainees.  Post-doctoral associates work on research grants in an employer-employee relationship with the University, carrying out work under the direction of a principal investigator and receiving salary for that work.  As salaried employees, post-doctoral associates are eligible for the University fringe benefits available to salaried employees.  Post-doctoral fellows or trainees undergo training as described in a fellowship or training grant application and agreement and receive stipends rather than salaries.  The University provides health insurance only (single or family coverage as appropriate) to fellows and trainees.

The most critical factor for distinguishing between a post-doctoral associate and a post-doctoral fellow or trainee is the principal purpose of the grant under which the post-doctoral researcher works.  If a grant's purpose is primarily to accomplish specific research aims, the individual is considered a post-doctoral associate.  If the primary purpose of the grant is the training or development of the postdoctoral researcher, he or she is considered a fellow.  There are, of course, aspects of training and mentoring in research grants, just as there are aspects of direct research engagement in training grants. (updated 04-26-13)

4. Independent Contractors (Consultants)

Policy Statement:

To assure compliance with IRS regulations, before an individual may be paid as an independent contractor, employing departments must document how the individual's independent contractor status has been determined and this determination must be reviewed and approved by the Controller's Office.


An independent contractor is an individual over whom the employer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not the means and methods of accomplishing the results. This distinguishes a contractor from an employee who performs services that are subject to the will and control of an employer -- both what must be done and how it must be done.


The Controller's Office has developed guidelines and forms to help with this determination. These may be obtained from the Controller's Office or by calling (802) 656-2903.

5. Fringe Benefits

Policy Statement:

The costs associated with providing benefits to University employees identified as sponsored-project staff are charged to sponsored projects as a specified percentage of salary and wages.

Estimating Fringe Benefit Costs:

Fringe Benefits include such items as FICA, Worker's Compensation, Unemployment Compensation, insurance, pensions, tuition remission and employee assistance programs. The budgeted costs for these items are used to set fringe benefit rates. These percentages are adjusted annually to reflect actual costs. Rates vary for different personnel classifications (part-time, temporary and full-time) and for undergraduate and graduate students and are summarized on the University of Vermont Fact Sheet. Consult with your SPA Administrator for the most appropriate rate if any questions arise.

6. Sponsored Activities and Computer Usage

Policy Statement:

Any use of the University's central computing systems by departments, individuals or projects funded by research grants, development contracts, commercial enterprises or income/expense budgets, must be charged against that funding source.

Estimating Computer Usage Costs:

The Financial Manager of Computing and Information Technology (CIT) will aid in the calculation of computing resource needs and costs and may be reached at (802) 656-2011.

7. Animal Care Costs

The Office of Animal Care Management charges for animal care on a per diem basis and develops a rate for different species annually. Current rates and projections may be obtained from Research Protections Administrative staff at 802-656-5040 or from the Office of Animal Care Management, 802-656-0459.

8. Travel Costs

The University Travel Policy allows for the reimbursement of travel costs directly related to University business. The University does not reimburse travel costs on a per diem basis, but rather reimburses actual costs that are considered reasonable and customary. If any day's meal charges exceed the University's maximum, the reimbursement request must be signed by the traveler's Dean or Director. Personal use of automobiles is permitted and reimbursed on a mileage basis. Please refer to the University of Vermont Fact Sheet for the current mileage rate.

9. Equipment

An item of equipment is defined as that which has a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more.

10. Subawards/Subcontacts

Coming soon...

11. Indirect Costs

Policy Statement:

It is the policy of the University of Vermont to request reimbursement for all indirect costs that sponsor policy permits. The University does accept awards from sponsors that do not pay indirect costs. Contact your Research Administrator in SPA to determine the appropriate indirect cost rate for specific projects.

How Indirect Costs are Determined:

Indirect costs (sometimes called overhead costs or facilities and administration costs) commonly are expressed in relation to direct costs as a percentage or rate. Concerning indirect cost rates, the DHHS Cost Principles for Educational Institutions states the following:

Indirect costs are those that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity. At educational institutions such costs normally are classified under the following indirect categories: depreciation and use allowances, operation and maintenance expenses, general administration and general expenses, sponsored projects administration expenses, library expenses, and departmental administration expenses . The indirect costs shall be distributed to applicable sponsored agreements on the basis of modified total direct costs (MTDC). This base consists of salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and sub-grants and sub-contracts up to $25,000 each.

Different indirect cost rates are set for research, instruction and public service activities and for projects conducted on and off campus. These rates are renegotiated periodically with the federal government and the most recent rates are indicated at this link to the University of Vermont Fact Sheet. Contact your SPA Administrator to determine the most appropriate rate.

12. Cost-Sharing and Matching

Policy Statement:

Cost-sharing and matching requirements and sources of such contributions must be identified before an application is submitted to a sponsor for funding. In all cases, the appropriate chairperson, dean or University official must approve these contributions.

Explanation of Terms:

Both cost-sharing and matching refer to a financial commitment on the part of the University. Cost-sharing refers to the reallocation of already-targeted resources from department, college or University budgets to support part of the costs of a sponsored project. Sponsors usually indicate what kinds of contributions are eligible for cost-sharing.

Cost-sharing may be mandatory or voluntary. Mandatory cost-sharing is that which is required by the sponsor to be eligible for funding. Voluntary cost-sharing is not required and all voluntary cost-sharing must come from department resources or budgets.

Matching occurs when the University allocates new funds beyond those committed by the sponsor to support a sponsored project. Matching support may be provided at a particular ratio to that which the sponsor provides. This ratio is usually specified as a requirement by the sponsor. Equipment grants typically require a matching contribution by the sponsor.

13. Genomic Arrays Costs


This notice addresses the application of cost principles and reimbursement policy for high-throughput biomedical research under grant and contracts which require the purchase of the supply identified as Genomic Arrays (GA). This notice provides guidance on the transformation from customary costing principles and procedures for the treatment of this specific supply (GA) through the application of the Facilities and Administration (F & A) rate, also known as the Indirect Cost Rate. For purposes of this policy Notice the term F & A rate will be used.

The budgeting and reimbursement approval of these costs require careful consideration to ensure that these substantial investments are both scientifically and fiscally justified. The application of F & A costs when budgeting and for reimbursement purposes will be limited for GA as a high-throughput commodity and service.

    14. MRI Center for Biomedical Imaging

Additional guidance is found on SPA's UVM Core Research Facilities web site page.  Please contact the MRI Center for Biomedical Imaging to discuss your research and to establish a billing plan where needed.  

Last modified March 22 2017 09:23 AM

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