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Sponsored Funds Financial Management
Sponsored Funds | Payroll Expenses

Payroll Expenses

Payroll expenses include salary and wages paid to an employee in relation to the level of effort the employee devotes on a Research Foundation grant or contract, plus the corresponding fringe benefit costs.  The rate for which fringe benefits is charged depends on the appointment type of the employee.  Click here to view the current fringe benefit rates.

An employee can be appointed to a RF grant or contract provided the person or position is outlined in the budget, there is sufficient funding to support the payroll expenses, and the dates of the appointment fall within the dates of the award.

Types of Appointments

Professional - A person employed in an executive, administrative, or professional position who is exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Nonprofessional - A person employed in a clerical, technical, or administrative position who is covered by the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Student - A graduate or undergraduate student performing research on a RF grant or contract.  Note that the employee must be registered as a full time SUNY student.

Summer Only - Assignments that occur between May 1 and September 30 and do not exceed four months in duration.  SUNY faculty employees are eligible for summer session employment with the Research Foundation only during periods that do not overlap with their academic year obligation.

Extra Service - Intra university consulting is assumed to be undertaken as a university obligation requiring no compensation in addition to full time base salary.  This principle also applies to faculty members who function as consultants or otherwise contribute to a sponsored agreement conducted by another faculty member of the same institution.  However, in some instances extra service may be considered provided that the following criteria are met and can be properly documented:

  • The work performed is clearly different from or in addition to the person's professional obligation,
  • The work performed is outside of regularly scheduled hours,
  • The work is across departmental lines or involves a separate or remote operating location,
  • The extra service is specifically provided for in the agreement or approved in writing by the sponsoring agency,
  • The payment conforms to and is properly authorized under SUNY and Research Foundation  policy, and
  • The employment complies with RF position titles and standards, as well as federal and state laws and regulations regarding tax information.

In accordance with federal guidelines and SUNY regulations, compensation for extra service must not exceed an amount equal to 20 percent of regular base salary rate in any academic year or 12-month period.  All university and sponsor approvals must be obtained prior to any commitments or work being performed.

Academic Fellowship - Nonwage payments in support of the recipient's academic study or fellow-initiated research and in recognition of the recipient's promise as a research or teaching scholar.  Fellowship awards administered by the Research Foundation on behalf of SUNY are for scholarly study or research by faculty members, postdoctoral scholars, and undergraduate and graduate students at a SUNY campus or at other locations in conjunction with SUNY academic programs.  Fellowships are allowed only when the purpose of the sponsored agreement is to provide training and the sponsoring agency has given prior approval.

Release Time - The process by which a faculty member is released from his/her academic duties to devote effort to a research grant or contract.  The grant or contract will reimburse the University for the portion of their released academic duties.  For more information, visit our Release Time Appointment page.

Labor Distribution

Labor Distribution (LD) is the process that distributes payroll charges/effort to the appropriate RF grants and contracts.  This function is distinct and separate from the payroll process that produces employee earnings.  A Labor Distribution Form should be utilized to extend an employee on the appropriate grants or contracts provided there are no payroll or HR changes being requested.  An Employee Change Form should be used to request payroll/HR changes, which can be found on the forms page for Sponsored Funds Personnel.  A form to extend an employee's LD should be submitted two weeks prior to the conclusion of the previous charging instructions.

Payroll Suspense

It is critical that appropriate charging instructions are provided in a timely manner for all employees.  When an employee remains on payroll, but has no valid charging instructions, the employee's payroll charges will go into suspense.  In these situations, the program MUST act immediately to provide an appropriate account for covering the payroll expenses.  If the program is waiting for a grant or contract to be awarded, they can:

  • Request that an at-risk award be established (contact your Research Administrator in the Office for Sponsored Programs),
  • Charge the employee's payroll costs to a non-sponsored award (multiple sponsor, FRAP, Research Foundation incentive award) or
  • Remove the employee from payoll

It is not permissible at any time to allow an employee's charges to remain in suspense.  If no charging instructions are provided, Sponsored Funds Personnel will be notified that funds are no longer available to continue supporting the employee's appointment.


NSF salary limitation - The National Science Foundation now limits salary compensation for senior project personnel to no more than two months of their regular salary in any one year.  This limit includes salary compensation received from all NSF-funded grants.  This change moves away from NSF's previous concept of summer salary and allows for reimbursement of two months of salary per year whenever appropriate during the year.

NIH salary limitation - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) limit the amount of direct salary an individual may receive under an NIH grant.  The salary cap was reduced from Executive Level I ($199,700) to Executive Level II ($179,700) effective December 23, 2011.  As a result, the Executive Level II salary cap must be imposed on any NIH funding issued on or after December 23, 2011.

Payroll cost transfers- Click here to view our Cost Transfer Policy.

Nepotism - The University's nepotism policy states that federal laws under which federal funds are made available to the University contain specific requirements for the administration of these funds in order to preclude "conflict of interest" practices, that is, practices where there seems to be evidence that responsible officials have afforded their relatives preferential treatment in hiring and promotion.  University policy does not preclude the employment of two or more members of the same family.  However, an employee of the University may not officially approve nor recommend the appointment, reappointment, promotion, or salary adjustment of a relative.  Prior to employment, the appointment of a family member on a sponsored award must be disclosed to the sponsor.


Labor Distribution Form

Salary and Wage Cost Transfer Form