Executive Council

Authorizes Release:

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Responsible Area:

Office of Sponsored Projects, Academic Research and Compliance (SPARC)

Review Cycle:

Annually or as required

Last Review:

January 2017

Related Policies and Additional References:


It is the policy of the University to support the sponsored research activities of its faculty and staff as a way to contribute to the pursuit of knowledge, the enhancement of student learning, and the promotion of the common good. In furtherance of this effort, the University will allocate a percentage of indirect costs (Facilities and Administrative costs) to principal investigators (PIs), departments, schools, and provost office (OARSP) to help support their research activities. The primary purpose of this policy is to incentivize growth in research and creative activities as well as successful grantsmanship. This funding is derived from indirect cost recovery funds received by the University from any new external projects awarded to the University after January 1, 2015.

St. Mary’s University collects indirect costs (Facilities and Administrative costs) following the most recently negotiated Federal Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (34% on campus and 8% off campus projects of Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC).

Proposals will budget the full indirect cost rate allowed by the sponsor, unless the following occurs:

  • An institutional indirect cost waiver is granted in writing by the Executive Director of the Office of Academic Research and Sponsored Projects and approved by the Provost.

If the funded project budget includes indirect costs, portions of the recovered indirect costs will be returned to the principal investigator, department, school, provost’s office, and general operating budget according to the model below. These funds are deposited into individual Research Incentive Accounts, specific to the PI, department, office, center, and school based on distribution models described below. Funds to be distributed to multiple PIs, departments, or schools will be divided equally unless other arrangements are negotiated. Allocation of research incentive funds are made on an annual basis during the project period and are based on actual project account expenditures in the University’s financial management system. Funds will be distributed in June for indirect expenditures in the preceding year.

If PI(s) are unable to adhere to the Proposal Submission Policy by providing final proposal application materials to the Sponsored Programs Office at least three business days in advance of the sponsor deadline, the PI(s) and PI’(s) department will forfeit indirect cost recovery distributions during the first year of the project. The standard distribution policy will resume if the project continues beyond this time period.

Distribution of Indirect Costs

Beginning January 1, 2015, portion of indirect costs recovered from external grants will be set-up in accounts for the Principle Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD) of the grant, the department that the PI/PD comes from, the Dean of the School or relevant Vice President of the PI/PD, and to the Provost’s Office. At the end of the fiscal year, the Finance office will create a report on the indirect cost expenditures for the fiscal year. This report will be used to calculate the distributions to the PIs, departments, centers, offices, schools, and provost’s office.

The new policy, indirect costs will be distributed as follows:

  • PI 20%
  • PI’s School 10%
  • PIs Department, Center, or Office 10%
  • Provost Office (OARSP) 15%
  • General Operating Fund (45%)

The PI’s account will be set-up as a restricted account. The funds will remain in the restricted account for as long as the PI is employed at St. Mary’s University. When the PI retires or leaves the university, the unspent funds will be given back to the school/office of the PI to be used to support research and scholarly activities. Schools, departments, centers, and offices will additional acquire restricted accounts. These restricted accounts will roll over and are used to advance all four forms of the Boyer Scholarship model at the University. If the PI does not have a department, center, or office the funds would go to the school.

Accountability for Distributed Indirect Cost Dollars

Funds will be distributed by June 30 but will be used for the Year End Expenditures at the start of the new fiscal year.


The following guidelines provide the parameters for use of this allocated fund:

  • Program Incentives may be used for research/training/faculty development-related expenses including: student stipends, professional travel for principal investigator(s) or project director(s) and students, and teaching and student-learning enhancement initiatives. Use of funds is at the discretion of the principal investigator(s) or project director(s). Acceptable uses include the following:
    • Research or teaching equipment and/or laboratory-based materials and supplies
    • Student stipends or research assistants plus related benefits (e.g., FICA, Worker’s Compensation) to conduct research
    • Fees for laboratory analysis (e.g., soil chemistry, water chemistry, DNA sequencing, X-ray crystallography)
    • Travel expenses to conduct research (e.g., research library or collection, field site, conferring/working with collaborators)
    • Travel expenses for PI or student presentations at professional meetings
    • Expenses for a PI to attend a professional conference (e.g., pedagogy, assessment)
    • Equipment purchase and/or maintenance (procurement of new equipment should be coordinated with Facilities Management)
    • Student/employee labor costs during the academic year (e.g., work-study)
    • Computer hard- and software (procurement must be coordinated with Information Technology Services and if applicable Facilities Management)
    • Miscellaneous expenses, including: library acquisitions, journal subscriptions, society membership fees, and publication costs, postage, copying

Departments and Schools can use the funds for a course release that would support research, scholarship, and/or creative activities within their school or department.

  • PROGRAM INCENTIVE funds will be held in a designated, discretionary account line in the budget of the department or program office of the PI.
  • If there are multiple PIs from the same or different departments or programs, the primary PI (first listed on the proposal) should work with co-PIs to determine how and for what uses the Program Incentive funds should be applied. Efforts should be made to ensure that these discretionary funds are distributed equitably. While these funds will benefit the PI and co- PIs, the budget line reflecting this allocation will appear in the budget of the department (academic) or division (non-academic) of the primary PI.
  • A one-page proposal of how the funds will be used will be submitted to the appropriate division and/or Dean/OARSP for approval. A request to use the funds in a different manner than suggested above may be made at that time.
  • A one-page report is to be submitted to the appropriate division and/or Dean/OARSP by June1, reporting on the use and impact of Program Incentive funds during the preceding fiscal year.
  • Unspent Program Incentive funds to the PI will remain in the restricted account for as long as the PI is employed at St. Mary’s University. When the PI retires or decides to leave the university, the unspent funds will be given back to the school/office of the PI to be used to support research and scholarly activities.
  • Since indirect cost recovery is the yardstick by which Program Incentive funds are determined, PROGRAM INCENTIVE funds available each fiscal year will be based upon the amount of indirect cost recovery receipted during that year and any balance carried forward from a previous year.
  • In the event that Program Incentive funds are used for inappropriate purposes, the Provost and Dean of the Faculty member or division VP may revoke the PI(s)’s access to them. In such cases, the allocation will revert to the operating budget of the University.
  • The policy would begin January 1, 2015, implemented for only new grants awarded to St. Mary’s University after January 1, 2015. This policy does not include any existing grants that have already been funded.
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