Salary and budget justification guidelines for all of the appointment types listed above are described below.  Many of these salaries are subject to a fringe benefit assessment.  For details on  fringe rates, see Fringe Benefits.


Faculty Effort

All teaching faculty at the FAS have 9-month appointments at the FAS.  Their 9 month salary is paid out over 12 months. For this reason, the PI’s monthly compensation amount should not be used to determine supplemental salary. In order to calculate 1 month of supplemental salary, take the PI’s base salary and divide it by 9.

Budget justification notes:

Describing effort when supplemental salary is requested:
Sponsor guidelines often include requirements for committing and describing effort. Some sponsors prefer that effort be represented in terms of percentages, while others prefer the use of “person months.”

Although FAS faculty have 9 month appointments, the percentage effort should be calculated based on 12 possible months of compensation.

A PI is requesting one ninth for supplemental salary: the percentage is still 1/12 = 8.3% effort over a 12 month period. The number of person months is 1.0.

Describing effort when supplemental salary is NOT requested:
In order to avoid unintentional committed cost sharing, the FAS recommends the following language to describe Academic Year effort:

The University pays salary to full-time faculty members in the FAS based on a nine-month academic year, with the understanding that they will ordinarily teach and conduct research freely and flexibly and not make substantial, specific quantified cost-sharing commitments of time and effort to specific organized research projects.

See also:

Agency-specific Requirements for Faculty Effort in Budget Justifications:


  • Except in programs with specific requirements, the NSF does not expect the PI to indicate the level of effort in the budget or budget justification when no salary is requested. The roles of all unpaid personnel should be described in the Facilities and Resources document.
  • As a general policy, NSF typically limits salary request for senior personnel in the NSF grant proposal to two months of that individual’s regular salary in any one year. This limit includes salary compensation received from all NSF-funded grants. Further guidance and exceptions can be found at in the most recent NSF’s “Proposals & Awards Policies & Procedures Guide,” or the “PAPPG”.

Note: Typically, this means supplemental salary for most FAS and SEAS faculty, but can also be academic salary if the faculty member is participating in the FAS and SEAS “Faculty Academic Salary Incentive Program (FASIP) for Sponsored Awards.” More about FASIP can be found here.

  • The following statement should be included in all NSF budget justifications for Senior Key Personnel who are requesting salary:
    • "[X] month of salary is requested for [name PI here] in [X] years, with one month being equal to 1/9 of [his/her] academic-year salary. Such rates are determined by the Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences for the standard Harvard fiscal year of July 1 through June 30."

Note: While the type of salary – supplemental versus academic – does not need to be specified to the agency, it will need to be disclosed to departmental and school reviewers at the time of proposal review and submission.


  • NIH requires the Senior/Key Personnel to “devote measurable effort (described in person months) to the project” and, therefore, does not accept “zero person months” or “as needed” as adequate descriptions. Please note that if we are not requesting salary support for Senior/Key Personnel then we are cost-sharing. If you have any questions, please contact your RAS representative.

NASA, DoE, and DOD Agencies:  No commitment of effort is required


Research Assistants

Graduate Students
Graduate students may be supported in a variety of ways: on fellowship stipends, on salaried employment appointments as Research Assistants (RAs) or Teaching Fellows (TFs) (paid under object code 6140), or in hourly research positions  (paid under object code 6110).  Each appointment is treated slightly differently in the proposal budget and has slightly different post-award implications.  Remember that tuition remission is exempt from overhead and falls under Other Direct Costs.

For details and appointment types, see also: Tuition Policy

Agency-specific Requirements for NIH Graduate Student Compensation:
Graduate student compensation budgeted in a NIH grant proposal, including salary and tuition, may not exceed the NIH zero year postdoctoral stipend rate.  See the NRSA web page for rates. 

Undergraduate Students
Undergraduate students are paid on the temporary payroll using an hourly rate.  No fringe benefits are applied on enrolled students: none during the academic year, and only on students not enrolled in summer courses during the summer.


Postdoctoral Associates

A postdoctoral fellow may be appointed as an "employee" research fellow on a sponsored project (6150) or a stipendee (6450 with benefits, 6452 without).  Often, the source of funding for a postdoctoral fellow determines whether the individual is considered to be an employee of the University or a stipend recipient of the sponsor. Fringe rates for "employee" and stipendee research fellows are listed at Fringe Benefits.

Note that whenever postdoctoral fellows receive compensation in excess of 1.0 FTE, their appointments must have the approval of their mentors.  Combinations of research appointments should not exceed 1.25 FTE and are subject to the restrictions of the Fellow's primary sponsor.

A note about overhead on fellowships: 
Postdoctoral Fellowships are not automatically exempt from overhead.  The following sponsors that award postdoctoral fellowships have a published zero-overhead policy: American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Cancer Research Institute, Charles King Trust, Damon Runyon, Dreyfus Foundation, Helen Hay Whitney, Human Frontier Science Program, Jane Coffin Childs, Life Sciences Research Foundation, NASA, NIH F31 and F32 NRSAs, Susan G. Komen Fellowship, UNCF Merck Postdoctoral Fellowship.  See Review Responsibilities for special instructions about applications for these fellowships.  


Other Research Appointments

Research Appointment Matrix
The Research Appointment Matrix, maintained by the FAS Office for Faculty Affairs, contains comprehensive information about the Object Codes, Fringe Rates and Payment Methods used for various Research Appointment types (Fellows, Special Appointees, etc.)


Professional Staff

When budgeting for professional staff (Exempt or Non-Exempt), the following policies apply:

Administrative and Clerical Salaries on Federal Awards

Any non-technical administrative salaries being budgeted in a proposal should be identified specifically with the project activities. The budget justification should describe how the project requires an amount of administrative support that is greater than what is normally supported by existing staff, and describe how the administrative staff directly benefit the project. 

Absence Management Policy

Harvard charges a vacation assessment on all exempt and non-exempt (both sponsored and non-sponsored). As employees take vacation, the central vacation pool funds vacation salary so that salary of an individual will not be charged to an award when that individual is on vacation.

Budgeting for Vacation Fringe
Fringe rates including the vacation assessment should be calculated on the estimated number of weeks that the professional staff member will work. Departments may base their calculation on what is typical of their staff.  If, for example, it is estimated that a professional employee will take their maximum allotted vacation (4 weeks for exempt, 3 for non-exempt), use the remaining number of weeks per year to calculate salary and fringe (48 and 49, respectively. The number of weeks used in the calculation can be determined by what is typical for a similar position in the department.

Severance Pay

 If you are budgeting for a union position that will last at least one year and then terminate, you may need to include a budget for severance pay (1 week per year of service). See Harvard policy at link above and double check sponsor guidelines.