Skip to main content
Faculty/Staff Resources
What is Health and Human Development?

Diverse fields of study that share one
common goal: enriching the lives of others.

Search search
Mobile Search:

Guidelines For Allocating Sponsored Project Effort, Salary Release, And Summer Salary Supplements

Related content


To establish College of Health and Human Development guidelines for allocating sponsored project effort, via salary release (including the related issues of course buy out and academic year salary release return) and summer salary supplements.  

    Allocating Sponsored Project Effort

    The calendar year distribution of sponsored project effort must accurately reflect the actual calendar year distribution of effort spent on externally funded activities.  In other words, college employee effort on sponsored project activities that span the academic year and the summer must be distributed according to the relative degree of engagement in these time periods.  University employees (to include faculty members) are mandated by University policy (RA64), in accordance with federal regulations, to accurately confirm each year that their monthly effort distribution on all sponsored projects matches the monthly distribution of salary charged to a particular account and is appropriate given effort expended and the specific terms and conditions of the award and funder policies.   

    When budgeting, the scope of work and project timetable will commonly dictate when effort for many project activities needs to be allocated.  This means that:

    • Faculty effort for specific project activities occurring during the academic year cannot be allocated to the summer. 
    • Faculty effort for specific project activities occurring during the summer can, and should, be allocated to the summer. 
    • However, there may be a portion of project effort that can truly be flexibly allocated.  Because it is generally understood that a typical summer month can allow more time for research than a typical month in the academic year, the truly flexible portion of effort may be shifted toward summer under the understanding that the faculty member is committing to completing that work during the summer period.  

    Any allocation of sponsored project effort to the summer must be approved by the Department Head/School Director (the Associate Dean for Research approves the summer effort of Center Directors).  At the time of proposal, approval of the Internal Approval Form (IAF) for a project with summer effort constitutes approval of that effort.  Increases to previously-approved summer effort greater than an increase of three weeks must also be approved by the Department Head/School Director via an email or memo that will accompany the submitted salary distribution change.

      Salary Release for Effort Allocated to the Academic Year

      Under the current PSU operating model, externally funded effort for tenure track faculty generates salary release.  Consequently, in this section, the term “faculty member” is referring to a tenure track faculty member.  There are two allowable uses for such salary release:  academic year course buy-out or salary release return.  More detail is provided below.

      Academic Year Course Buy-Out

      • The cost for buy-out of 1 course (3 credit hours) in any semester is 15% of the faculty member’s institutional base 36-week salary (or the capped salary in the event a faculty member is above a sponsor’s salary cap).
      • The number of course buy-outs for each faculty member per year is limited to one less than the current course teaching expectation.  Any exceptions must be approved by the Department Head or School Director.  
      • All course buy-outs must be authorized by the Department Head or School Director. 
      • Sponsored project funded effort available to a faculty member for buyout will be calculated each year on July 1.  It will be calculated as the committed effort for the upcoming 12 months from projects with an effective award date prior to July 1 plus any saved salary released dollars from previous years.  Salary release not distributed as salary release return from any year can be saved by the local unit on behalf of the faculty member for two years to earn potential future course buy-outs, after which it will be distributed as salary release return per below.
      • There are certain exceptions when a faculty member may reduce their course load without 15% salary coverage on sponsored projects. These include:
        • Course load reductions offered as part of start-up packages;
        • Course load reductions offered as part of administrative roles approved by the Department Head or School Director;
        • Buy-outs funded by effort for faculty members whose salary is above a sponsor salary cap, as long as the effort on sponsored projects subject to the cap is at or over 15%; 
        • Cost-shared effort (at least 15% AY effort) explicitly approved by the Department Head or School Director to allow a reduce course load; and
        • Discounted buy-outs from internal PSU units (research institutes, research centers, HHD Associate Dean for Research, academic departments).)  The Associate Dean for Research must also approve all discounted buy-outs.
      • Salary release directed to course buy-outs (either realized or saved) will be allocated 15% to the College and 85% to the Department/School.

      Salary Release Return

      • Salary release not directed to course buy-outs (either realized or saved) will be returned - 15% to the College, 55% to the local units, and 30% to the faculty member.  In most instances the only “local unit” is the Department.  However, for faculty with a portion of their salary partially distributed to a research center, the 55% share will be split according to that salary distribution.  For faculty whose position is budgeted to the Dean’s office, the local unit share will go to the College.
      • Relinquished saved buy-out will be returned 65% to the local units and 35% to the faculty member.
      • Distribution will occur annually after the end of the fiscal year.  The faculty member’s share will be deposited for unrestricted use (subject to University policy and procedure) in a discretionary fund that is under the faculty member’s primary control.  

      Salary Supplements (Supplementary I Payments) for Effort Allocated to the Summer

      • Consistent with University policy, summer salary supplements can be for no more than twelve weeks for those with 36-week appointments and no more than six weeks for those with 42-week appointments.  Faculty with 48-month appointments cannot earn summer salary supplements.
      • Faculty covering 100% effort over the summer (with federally sponsored programs) will need to complete and sign an explicit written acknowledgement (provided by Research Office) to the Department Head or School Director. This memo will be sent to the Research Office for review prior to effort being distributed to said projects. Department heads covering 100% effort over the summer submit their acknowledgement directly to the Associate Dean for Research.  This acknowledgment will state that the faculty member is working 100% on listed grant(s) or contract(s) for the listed period, with no plan for vacation/leave, conferences or other obligations which would prevent them from fulfilling 100% effort obligation during the listed period. 
      • All summer salary supplements must have a funding source for the corresponding proportion of fringe benefits as well as base salary.
      • In addition to sponsored projects, summer salary supplements can also be funded through start-up funds designated for summer salary support or unrestricted faculty discretionary funds that have been approved for such use.  More detail is provided below.

      Start-up funds designated for summer salary support

      • Start-up funds designated for summer salary support may fund summer salary for the specific purposes under the terms designated in the letter.  A work plan and a work plan distribution sheet will be approved each year to review these activities.

      Unrestricted faculty discretionary funds

      • Faculty may utilize discretionary funds not restricted for other uses to fund summer salary supplements for summer effort on research and scholarship not covered by other sponsors (unfunded research/scholarship).  
      • Prior to utilizing unrestricted faculty discretionary funds to fund summer salary, a work plan and work plan distribution sheet for unsponsored summer research/scholarship must be approved by the Department Head or School Director. This approved workplan and worksheet should be sent to the Finance Office.  Department Heads will have work plans approved by the Dean. Center Directors will have work plans approved by the Associate Dean for Research.
      • Faculty with base salary above a funder salary cap may also use unrestricted discretionary funds to cover summer salary supplement amounts (and fringe) above the salary cap on such awards.

      Notes Regarding Non-Tenure Track Faculty

      The following points provide further clarification for Non-Tenure Track (NTT) faculty.

      • Sponsored effort for NTT research faculty is typically used to directly support the position and does not result in salary release. 
      • NTT research faculty typically have 48-week appointments and, therefore, do not have an opportunity for summer salary supplementation.
      • NTT faculty with appointments less than 48 weeks on multi-year employment contracts who engage in sponsored research must follow guidelines above regarding effort allocation and can earn summer salary supplements in accordance with the above guidelines.
      • NTT teaching faculty who engage in sponsored research may earn course load reduction, with prior approval from the Department Head or School Director.

      Version 3 (April 2022)