Pre-Award Procedures

College Approval Process Summary

Building a Budget:

For quick reference see Rates and Other Resources and use our Budget template

Academic Year Hires

If the grant budget includes funding for a staff or academic position or positions during the academic year or longer, job descriptions, salary levels, and benefit eligibility should be discussed with Linda Samano (lsamano(at)mtholyoke.edu), Employment/Compensation Manager in the Office of Human Resources. Hires during the academic year for a period of less than 8 weeks do not require that the position be advertised, internally or externally. If the position has not been evaluated, a short description of the job responsibilities should be given to Human Resources, which will determine the appropriate salary range for the position.

Summer Hires

Hires that are made for the months of June, July and August do not need to follow the College hiring practices in terms of advertising, job classification and posting and do not need the approval of the Employment/Compensation Manager.  However, if the granting agency has not recommended a salary, a short job description should be given to Human Resources to help determine the appropriate salary range for the position.

Calculation of Summer Salary for Federal Grants

The Office of Management and Budget Circular A-21 entitled "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions" ties grant salary to your base salary. This limits summer salary requested in a grant to 3/9ths of your base salary, though some agencies have more stringent limits (NSF permits only 2/9ths, for instance). Cases in which an agency allows for grant salary during the academic year, must be approved in advance of the grant submission by the Dean of Faculty.  Note that federal agencies scrutinize effort reporting during the summer, looking to see if any time has been spent on activities other than the federally funded project, such as vacation or preparation of grant proposals, so it is not recommended for you to budget 100% of the 3 summer months.

Benefits Costs

Any position that has a term of appointment of more than 17.5 hours per week and a duration of at least one calendar year is eligible for benefits. The funding for those benefits should be included in the grant budget. Depending on the type of position, the cost of benefits will vary. Contact the Grant Accountant for the appropriate figures. For positions with terms of employment of less than 17.5 hours per week or less than one calendar year, the benefits rate is lower, covering only the College's cost of Social Security, Medicare Taxes and miscellaneous benefits.

During its annual planning cycle the College projects the cost of benefits for the next several years. These rates should be used when preparing a grant proposal. Should actual rates be higher than those used in the approved budget, the College will not charge the grant for more than was budgeted. Should the rates set by the College be lower than those in the approved budget, the College will charge at the lower rate.

Current Benefit Rates - see Rates and Other Resources

Indirect Costs

Most federal granting agencies allow the College to recoup indirect costs associated with a grant. Indirect costs are real costs, which, because of their nature, cannot be practicably charged directly to a grant. Examples of these indirect costs are expenses associated with the provision and maintenance of laboratory and office space, grant administration cost, libraries and regular staff support.The indirect cost rate is negotiated every three years with the federal agencies. The College completes standard forms from which the percentages for on-campus and off-campus rates are derived. Note that there is no overhead budgeted for grants from private foundations.

Current Indirect Rates - see Rates and Other Resources

Wages Paid to Students

During the academic year the wages paid to students must comply with the College's standard student wage rate. Contact the Student Employment Coordinator in the Career Development Center for details.  The exception to this policy is for students who are paid solely from grant funds during January term or in the summer. These students may be paid at a rate other than the standard College rate.

Payments to Students: Wages or Fellowships

If the College or grant project receives any benefit from the efforts of the student, payments to that student must be considered compensation and must be paid through the College payroll system. If, on the other hand, the effort is entirely for the education or scholarly benefit of the student, payment may be considered a fellowship. The College is not required to withhold taxes on fellowships, but the student should be aware that the fellowship payments are taxable and should be reported on her annual income tax returns. If a combination of wages and fellowship is involved, a reasonable allocation should be made in consultation with the Grant Accountant.

All fellowship payments made to students for conducting summer research are handled via the ISIS. Information relating to your student who is to receive a fellowship payment must be entered into ISIS by mid-April.

Participant Stipends

If, as part of a project, the PI will be paying individuals to participate in a program, (for example, as research subjects), these payments may be considered fellowships. This is true if and only if the individuals are not performing a service for the College or grant project and the grant project does not receive any benefit from their participating in the program. If the person is required to perform a service for the funds, for example by writing an evaluation of the program, then the payment must be treated as wages. Awarded Participant support funds may not be re-budgeted without pre-approval from the granting agency so these should be budgeted carefully.