National Science Foundation Two-Month Salary Cap


Date: August 2017     Revision: 3

It is the policy of the University of Nevada, Reno (University) to comply with the National Science Foundation's (NSF) policies concerning senior project personnel salaries and wages. This includes the policy commonly known as the NSF two-month salary limit.

As a general policy, NSF limits the salary compensation requested in the proposal budget for senior personnel to no more than two months of their regular salary in any one year. This limit includes salary compensation received from all NSF-funded grants. If anticipated, compensation in excess of two months must be disclosed in the proposal budget and well justified in the budget justification. If more than two months of salary support is approved by NSF, it must be included on the award budget. 

Under normal rebudgeting authority, the University can internally approve an increase or decrease in person months devoted to the project after an award is made, even if doing so results in salary support for senior personnel exceeding the two-month salary limit. No prior approval from NSF is necessary as long as the change would not cause the objective or scope of the project to change. NSF prior approval is necessary if the objective or scope of the project changes.

Before increasing or decreasing salary support for senior personnel on NSF projects, contact the Sponsored Projects pre-award research administrator to determine if NSF prior approval will be necessary.

Suggested Language for NSF Proposal Budget Justifications 

  1. If the requested salary support for a single project exceeds the two-month limit, the following statement should be inserted into the proposal budget justification:

    The proposed salary for (insert name) exceeds the two-month limit for senior personnel. The proposed level of commitment for this proposal is appropriate to the scope of work and is required in order to fulfill the objectives of this project within the proposed time frame.
  2. If the requested salary support combined with existing support on currently held NSF projects exceeds the two-month limit, the statement below should be inserted into the proposal budget justification:

    The proposed salary for (insert name), in combination with other current NSF support (insert award numbers), exceeds the two-month limit for senior personnel. The proposed level of commitment for this proposal is appropriate for the scope of work and is required in order to fulfill the objectives of this project within the proposed time frame.

NSF Salary Calculator

Senior project personnel may submit an NSF Salary Calculator form to Sponsored Projects with all NSF proposals. The NSF Salary Calculator is a tool to manage proposed and awarded effort on NSF projects.

Compliance

Senior project personnel with NSF support are responsible for their own compliance with these policies. Each August, Sponsored Projects will conduct an audit of the total salary charged to NSF for each faculty member in the prior fiscal year. Any salary that is determined to have been paid in excess of the two-month limit will be considered unallowable unless it was either approved in the award budget or rebudgeted with no change in objective or scope. Unallowable expenses including salaries, fringe benefits and associated facilities and administrative costs must be transferred to a non-sponsored institutional account and repaid to NSF.