Office of Sponsored Programs - 500.05 - Personnel Expenditures


Office of Sponsored Programs - 500.05 - Personnel Expenditures


The purpose of this standard is to identify the guidelines for handling personnel costs on sponsored projects.

Policy Statement

Significant variations in policy directives from sponsoring agencies mandate that each is consulted for authoritative guidance on acceptable expenditures. Careful consideration is required in planning budgets to account for each expenditure. Budgetary cushions or allowances for unexpected expenditures (commonly known as "padding") are not allowable on sponsored projects. This does not preclude the utilization of reasonable escalation factors applied to personnel costs such as salaries and wages.

I. Expenditures Regarding Personnel

Salaries & Wages

All personnel commitments are handled in conformity with established University salary and wage policies. Budgetary data contained in a proposal does not in any way supersede such policies.

Salaries, wages, and related costs are allowable as a direct cost to the extent that they are reasonable, conform to the established University salary and wage policy, and are certified in the Effort Certification and Reporting Technology (ecrt) system according to the percent of the employee's full-time equivalent (FTE) effort. Amounts charged to contracts and grants are based upon the University payroll. After-the-fact effort certifications are also required by the Federal government to sustain the distribution of effort for professional and staff members.

Overtime for professional personnel is not permitted. Overload, or one-time, payments for additional duties unrelated to an employee’s regular responsibilities, are governed by the UNC-CH Office of Human Resources (OHR). Overtime for non-professional personnel is allowable to the extent approved by the awarding agency. The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is to be notified immediately of any situation which may require significant overtime. In cases of salaries charged partly to grant or contract funds and partly to institution funds, overtime premium costs must be proportionate to that of the funding sources.

Congress has imposed a limitation, or cap, on the amount of annual reimbursement of direct salary for individuals on grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts awarded from some Federal agencies. This salary cap is an annual requirement that is subject to change with each congressional appropriation. If an individual’s annual salary is greater than the Federal salary cap(s), the difference in effort must be cost-shared by the department.

Due to the inconsistent nature of possible exclusions and exceptions, allowability of any deviations from the general guidelines is determined on an individual, case-by-case basis, in concert with the assistance of the administrating Sponsored Projects Specialist (SPS) in OSP.

Unallowable Honoraria

An honorarium payment is characterized by the primary intent to confer distinction upon an individual. Payments of this nature are unallowable charges to sponsored research. Also, the term "honorarium" should not be used to refer to consultant services.


Stipends for fellows and trainees are permissible only on training or fellowship grants. Payments to individuals working on Federal research projects, including graduate students, are considered salary payments and must be reflected as such on the personnel activity report.

Related Requirements

Unit Policies, Standards, & Procedures

Contact Information

For questions regarding this operating standard and its related procedure, please contact

For questions regarding Pre-Award management or Post-Award administration, please contact the assigned SPS.

For invoicing, reporting and other financial matters, please contact the assigned Sponsored Projects Accountant. OSP Staff assignments are found in RAMSeS or on the OSP website.


History Table
Date Description
07/01/2022 Revised to reflect new office name.
05/15/2018 Revised to coincide with the release of the new OSP Website.

The operating standards in the Office of Sponsored Programs Operating Standards & Procedures Manual supersede any OSP operating standards, procedures and appendices previously included in the University Business Manual, a publication of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Division of Finance.

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Article ID: 132309
Thu 4/8/21 9:28 PM
Thu 6/27/24 11:19 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Office of Sponsored Programs
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Vice Chancellor
Policy Contact
Person who handles document management. Best person to contact for information about this policy. In many cases this is not the Issuing Officer. It may be the Policy Liaison, or another staff member.
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
01/19/2025 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
01/19/2025 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
07/01/2008 12:00 AM
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level