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Office of Sponsored Awards Management


Salary Calculations and Details

The institutional base salary (IBS) for faculty is determined by the specific type of academic appointment and does not include bonuses or salary supplements. IBS is defined as the compensation paid by the university for an individual’s appointment, whether that individual’s time is spent on research, instruction, administration, or other activities. Unless there is prior approval by the sponsoring agency, charges of a faculty member’s salary to an award must not exceed the proportionate share of the IBS for the period during the faculty member worked on the sponsored project.

Faculty Summer Salary Calculation (Example)

Summer Salary = (base salary / base appointment period) × summer time worked (in months)

Summer salary example for a nine-month faculty member working two summer months (40 days)

Base salary = $80,000 / 195 days = daily rate (Note: A nine-month appointment period consists of 195 total paid work days.)
($80,000 / 195) X 40 = $16,410

Additional Faculty Salary Notes:

  • On National Science Foundation (NSF) projects, salary for faculty with academic-year appointments is limited to two months.
  • When a USC faculty member is participating on a USC sponsored project under the direction of another faculty member, he or she must be identified on the Personnel line item (not the Consultant line item) of the budget.
  • Extra compensation may be requested on sponsored projects only  in unusual cases and must be approved by the sponsoring agency. Such requests must be specified and justified in the grant proposal and approved in writing by the sponsoring agency. Refer to 2CFR 200.430 Uniform Guidance (UG) for details.
  • Salaries in National Institutes of Health (NIH) proposals cannot exceed established NIH Salary Limitations.
  • For each individual listed in a sponsored project budget, the total percentage of effort (including teaching, grants, consulting, etc.) across all activities cannot exceed 100 percent.

Postdoctoral scholar salary is determined by the college and principal investigator. 

Graduate assistant salary is determined by the college and principal investigator. The total cost for a graduate assistant should include salary (at level established by department in accordance with Graduate School policy ACAF 4.00 [pdf]), appropriate fringe benefits and tuition. (Refer to the Tuition Rates and Fees page for more information about incorporating graduate assistant tuition into your sponsored project budget.)

The minimum and maximum number of work hours per week for graduate assistants are 10 and 20, respectively.  A full-time graduate assistantship is calculated as twenty hours per week. The percent effort for full-time graduate assistants should be specified in the budget and clearly defined in the budget justification.


  • If a graduate assistant is not enrolled in a graduate course while working on the project, he/she must be paid as a temporary employee.
  • Visit the Tuition page for more information.

Staff are hired on sponsored projects following USC HR policy, including classified full-time, temporary, part-time and research grant employees. Generally, administrative salaries are allowed to be paid from federal grants, unless certain criteria are met. If it is anticipated that administrative support will be required, consult your SAM representative.


Fringe Benefits

Amounts budgeted for fringe benefits consist of the employer’s share   of an employee's fringe benefits  and includes all benefits for which an employee is eligible to receive under institutional policy. The appropriate level of benefits in proportion to salary must be charged to the grant that supports the salary. Visit the Fringe Benefits page for complete information on fringe benefits rates, and download the Budget Calculator Template [xlsx] to aid in calculations.

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