Office of
Sponsored Programs

Salary Caps


NIH and the NSF impose restrictions on compensation levels for the direct salary support of principal investigators and other senior personnel.  Commonly known as "salary caps," these limitations occur in the form of direct salary that can be charged to NIH and NSF projects.




Every year since 1990, Congress has legislatively mandated a provision limiting the direct salary that an individual may receive under an NIH grant.  The NIH salary cap is subject to change every year and while OPS posts the current ‘capped’ rates in the Preaward section of the OSP webpages, information regarding current rates can be obtained from the NIH webpages.   When preparing proposals the actual faculty salary should always be shown in the proposal budget, but if the salary rate exceeds the salary cap the agency will only fund up to the capped amount.  OSP Preaward will check each NIH award to ensure the cap is not exceeded.



The NSF announced a new Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) NSF 09-01 that is effective January 2009.  The new policy limits faculty to two month of salary per year from all NSF sources unless specifically budgeted and approved by the NSF.  It has removed the requirement that faculty salary must be taken only in the summer months.  NOTE:  this change means that if a PI has three active NSF awards, the total number of months for which support may be received may not exceed a total of two months from all three awards, not two months from each of the three awards.   Any deviation from this practice must be disclosed in the proposal budget, justified in the budget justification and must be specifically approved by NSF in the award notice.


Research scientists and similar individuals without a faculty appointment are not considered by NSF to be "Senior Personnel" for purposes of this revised salary policy.