College Policies Regarding Research

College Policies Regarding Research

Required Approvals for Sponsored Projects

Sponsored projects are all projects receiving support from sources outside of the university. The only exception is a gift - money for which there is no expected product - and gifts are typically handled by the development office.

An electronic Proposal Internal Approval Form (ePIAF) must be prepared for all sponsored projects submitted through the college. In order to permit a timely and substantive review of all submissions, completed proposals must be submitted to the Research Office (W110 Smith) a minimum of two weeks before the required submission date to the agency.

Preparing the Budget

Early in the proposal writing process, you should contact the Associate Dean for Research to begin the drafting of a budget for your project. Having general ideas about the budget will assist you in conceptualizing the size and scope of the proposal you are writing.

Most proposals will require two budget elements: the budget itself (Budget Detail) and a budget justification (Budget Notes). While the exact format for the budget will vary by funding agency, the basic elements are found in the Budget Detail and the Budget Notes forms. The Budget Detail identifies individual budget elements (e.g., salaries, travel, etc.) while the Budget Notes explains the role of the expenditure in the overall project.

Preparing the budget is a shared responsibility of the investigator and the Research Office. These responsibilities are:

Investigator Responsibility Research Office
Penn State Altoona Responsibility
  • Determine level of effort by faculty, staff, and students
  • Identify materials and supplies (including computers and software) and their associated costs.
  • Describe travel that is required as part of the project. CONUS and OCONUS should be used to estimate room rates and per diem. Travel Office estimates must be used for airline flight costs.
  • Identify other costs that are associated with the project.
  • Provide an estimate of the cost of any capital equipment.
  • Estimate the costs associated with use of subcontractors for the project.
  • Determine salary, wages, and benefit rates for faculty, staff, and students.
  • Verify that any request for capital equipment meets the university and federal requirements for that designation.
  • Estimate the Facilities and Administrative charges for the project (including decisions about the appropriate rate).
  • Once a final budget is agreed to, enter the budget information into the SIMS budget system for the university.

It is the responsibility of the proposal writer to prepare both the Budget Detail and the Budget Notes. This office will provide oversight to the electronic submission of final drafts of proposal documents.

Salary Calculations

In estimating salary levels for faculty engaged in externally funded research on this campus, the following rates will be used:

  • Summer salaries: calculated on the basis of 1/9th of a faculty member's salary for each month at 1.0 FTE.
  • Fall and Spring Semester Salaries: a single course reduction for one semester is .20 of that semester's salary and benefits. The sole exception to this policy is when internal university funds are being used in which case a flat fee of $4000 per course is charged.

Whenever a grant, contract, or stipend specifies that a faculty member must spend full time (including advising, service, and other campus obligations) on grant-funded activities, the cost to buy out the total workload of the faculty member will be 100% of his/her salary and benefits for the grant period (semester or year).

Whenever an externally funded research activity (such as residing abroad) precludes a faculty member from meeting his/her advising and service obligation, the cost to buy out the total workload of the faculty member will be 100% of his/her salary and benefits for the grant period (semester of year).

Limitations on Compensation from Grants and Contracts

Faculty members are limited to receiving 48 weeks of salary during a calendar year. Faculty members on 36-week contracts can receive an additional 12 weeks of salary during the summer from research grants and contracts. Faculty members on 48-week contracts can only receive research funding in the form of salary savings (e.g., course buy-outs).

Research grants and contracts cannot be used to generate overload or supplemental pay. That is, faculty members are limited to 1.0FTE when earning income from external grants or contracts.

A faculty member teaching a 3-credit course during a six week summer session is considered to be at .5FTE during the contract period. A faculty member teaching a 3-credit course during the intersession is considered to be at 1.0FTE during the contract period. Research funding must be adjusted so that total compensation does not exceed 1.0FTE.

Return of Indirect

The current policy of the University's Vice President for Research is to return approximately 12% of the indirect (F&A) charged against grants and contracts to the colleges or research unit generating these funds.

In order to foster further development, Academic Affairs has determined that faculty at Penn State Altoona are entitled to use 9% of the indirect funds generated by the grants and contracts they author. Legitimate uses include: hiring research assistants, summer salaries, research equipment and instrumentation; graduate assistantships or fellowships; supplies, materials, and the modification of facilities; faculty scholarly development and travel; seminars and lecture series; and personnel or other standards of any research audit. The remaining 3% will be retained in a fund to cover the cost of college match required by some proposals.

In the event of multiple authors (Co-Principal Investigators), access to these monies will be distributed in proportion to each individual's participation in the project (usually reflected in FTE). If no indirect is to be returned to Penn State Altoona from a project, faculty will not be entitled to the 9% share.

These funds will normally be available for use by faculty July 1 of the fiscal year following the funding of the project. For multiple-year projects, only that indirect charged during the prior fiscal year will be available for use. In extraordinary circumstances, faculty can request early access to these funds through a written appeal to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

These policies will be subject to revision when the University changes its policies regarding the distribution of indirect monies. (Revised August 2001)