Summer Salary FAQ

Below are several Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding Summer Salary Payments. For other questions, please contact your SPA Representative. 

What is summer salary?

Summer salary is defined as any compensation paid during the summer service period to an RIT faculty member in excess of his or her academic year salary. The summer service period is defined to be the period outside the base salary period of the academic year appointment.

How is summer salary calculated?

Federal regulations stipulate that summer salary supported by sponsored programs must be "computed and paid at a percent effort rate not in excess of the faculty member's official annual base salary divided by the number of months in the period for which that base salary is paid." Therefore, the summer salary for fulltime 9 month faculty members working in the summer cannot be more than 33.3% of the annual base salary of the previous academic year for the 3 month summer period.

Why is summer salary charged to sponsored projects limited to 90%?

Federal audit activity at other research institutions has prompted us to evaluate the current practice of allowing faculty to charge 100% summer salary to sponsored projects.  A few years ago, Yale University announced a $7.6 million settlement with the Justice Department for, among other issues, allegations that 100% summer salary was charged  to federal awards when actual effort was spent during the academic year and/or on activities unrelated to the grants.  RIT’s policies and procedures are designed to ensure the University and faculty members are safeguarded from potential non-compliance and reputational risks. 

I have regularly taken three month of summer term salary. In FY18 summer salary charged to sponsored projects is limited to 90%, how will I be able to obtain the additional 10% of salary?

Each college or department has local conditions that may allow certain solutions to this issue. Consult with your Department Head or Dean's office about how you might earn the 10% on other sources of funds prior to expending the additional 10% effort. 

Is there any case in which a faculty member can take 100% of summer term salary during each pay period from sponsored projects?

Yes, exception beyond 90% effort committed must be approved in advance, (i.e. prior to expending the additional 10% effort) by the Department Head, Dean, and Vice President of Research. Any amount paid in excess of 90% per pay period requires the Department/College to maintain a written management plan. If a faculty member commits 100% effort to a sponsored project in any of the summer pay periods, the Department Head or Dean must make it clear to the faculty member that he or she cannot take time off or work on any other University activities other than the projects from which they are paid in the period. 

Confirmation that salary received during the summer term reflected only sponsored project activity will be obtained at the end of the summer term via the effort reporting process. 

If I receive summer salary, can I still take a vacation?

The payment of summer salary obligates the faculty member to provide the proposed percentage of effort work on the sponsored program for the full period for which compensation is paid. For example, a faculty member who requests summer salary for 100% effort on sponsored program activities for all 3 months of the summer must forego vacation entirely during the 3 month summer period.

May I use the hours I work beyond 40 hours each week (evenings and weekends) for administrative tasks or writing proposals?

The University and federal agencies consider effort, not time. If an investigator's effort on University activities is typically more than 40 hours per week, or includes evening and/or weekends, then "all hours worked" constitutes 100% effort. Thus, one cannot use time above 40 hours per week for tasks unrelated to the sponsored project paying the summer salary. 

What happens if I am working on more than on sponsored program in the summer?

A faculty member may work on more than one sponsored program and receive summer salary from each one, provided that the total amount received does not push the faculty member's total summer compensation over the 30% (33.3% x 90%) limit set by the University.

Is it true that some agencies place caps on summer salary?

Yes. Certain agencies place caps on summer salary that can be paid to faculty members working on sponsored programs. For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) limits salary compensation for senior project personnel to no more than two months of regular salary in any one year, including salary compensation received from all NSF-funded grants. RIT defines the one year period as the academic year beginning with the Fall semester and ending with the Summer period. When a faculty member expends 90% summer effort on an NSF-funded award(s) only, and if he/she has not charged any effort to NSF awards and/or corresponding cost shares during the current academic year, the maximum amount of summer salary he/she is eligible to receive is limited to 20% of his/her 9 month salary for the current academic year. Additional information about NSF salary policy is available on the Sponsored Programs Accounting website.

Do I have to be physically at the University during the summer?

Faculty are generally expected to be at the University for the period of the summer salary support, with exceptions for travel to conferences, meetings with collaborators, or off-campus work (say at a data collection site or research institute elsewhere) that are directly related to the sponsored project that is providing summer salary support. 

Can I distribute my effort over the summer even though I specify the calendar dates for various sponsored projects to pay my summer salary?

Summer salary payments may be processed in the month for which a faculty member is expending effort during the summer term, from May 17th to August 16th. Summer salary paid should be as closely matched as possible to the month the effort is expended. For instance, if an investigator has 1 month of summer salary support from each of two sponsored project for a total of 2 months, the investigator would be expected to spend a total of four to five weeks of work on each sponsored project over the summer (2 months total). This leaves 1 month for administrative work unrelated to sponsored projects, research unrelated to the grants charged for summer salary, vacations, and writing proposals. The funded research weeks can be distributed throughout the summer, with the caveat that it would not be appropriate to take a two-week vacation in July if summer salary is paid for the entire month of July.