Personnel Services

Personnel services frequently make up the bulk of your budget and consist of the salary, wage, and fringe benefit costs related directly to the amount of time you and your UVA-based staff will devote to the project in order for you to perform the research or implement the program you are proposing, regardless of the source of funds.  If your project will require more personal services expense than the sponsor is willing or able to pay for, the difference is called 'cost share.'

Most sponsors ask you to group personnel service expenses as: (1) Senior/Key Personnel, and (2) Other Personnel.  NIH defines Senior/Key Personnel as 'individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of the project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not salaries are requested.'  Senior/Key Personnel usually have doctoral degrees or extremely specialized expertise critical to the execution of your project; your graduate research assistants are not senior/key personnel.  Unless your intended sponsor has their own definition of senior/key personnel, we recommend using the NIH definition as your guide.

Senior/Key Personnel time is generally expressed in terms of either percent effort or person-months. 'Percent effort' refers to a percent of time, from 1% to 100% on either an academic year/summer or calendar year basis (depending on whether you have a 9-month or 12-month appointment), and is the percent of professional effort that an individual plans to devote to the project.  UVA is in the process of codifying the definitionsof terms related to effort on sponsored projects/activities.

For faculty, staff or students who are already employed at UVA, we will use their current salary plus a small inflationary factor when formulating your budget.  If you envision hiring new personnel when you get an award, you should consult the Provost's Office annual wage authorization guidelines when making budgeting assumptions for graduate students or short-term professional research staff (working for less than six months).  If you will need a research professional for assignments exceeding six-months you should consult the University's most current  Minimum Entry Levels, maintained by UVA's Budget Office.  If you do receive an award you must go through formal HR procedures to establish and recruit for a long-term position.  Please refer to the University’s Policy on Professional Research Staff or check with the Curry School’s HR office, currently headed by Ellen Missana (924-0373) and located in Bavaro 118.

'Other Personnel' consists of all other non-Senior/Key individuals working on your project who will be paid through the University payroll system, regardless of their employee type (faculty, University staff, classified staff, wage employee, or student).  This is an important distinction:  individuals employed by UVA will be included in the personal services section of your budget.  Senior/Key Personnel at other institutions will be budgeted as an 'Other Direct Cost' either through subcontracts or purchase orders issued to their institutions, or paid directly as consultants.  You must plan these expenses carefully; although most sponsors do not limit daily consulting rates, restrictions on payments to non-public institutions or individuals increase proportionately with the annual amount to be paid.

Fringe benefits are expenses directly associated with employment. The University negotiates its fringe benefit rates on a regular basis with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and these rates typically change every fiscal year.  Components of the rate include: FICA/Medicare, retirement, disability insurance, life insurance, TIAA/CREF, worker's compensation, unemployment insurance and health insurance.  Fringe benefit rates differ based on your employee type (faculty, staff, student, wage) and status (full-time, part-time).  The approved fringe benefit rate agreement currently in effect is posted on OSP's website.  For fiscal year 2016-17, the approved fringe benefit rates are:

Faculty, 27.8%
Staff, 38.5%
Wage, 5.3%

For multi-year proposals, it is always a good budgeting strategy to assume that salary and wage rates will increase in each subsequent year.  Occasionally a sponsor will dictate a specific inflation rate that may not be exceeded; we will generally use a rate of 2% to 4%.


last revised 2/15/2017; asb