The purpose of the Research Support Funds policy is to assist San Diego State University (SDSU) in furthering its academic and research goals, by providing supplemental funds for faculty, professional staff, and administrators to:
- develop new externally-funded projects
- support ongoing externally-funded projects
The policy is also intended to provide incentives to apply for grants recovering the full federally-negotiated F&A rates when possible, thereby improving SDSU Research Foundation’s ability to administer all externally-funded projects important to the university and its faculty.
San Diego State University Research Foundation’s purpose is “to further the educational, research and community service mission of San Diego State University.” The major function performed on behalf of the university is administering, and assisting with developing, externally-funded research and service projects. SDSU Research Foundation is also responsible for providing most of the space needed to house these projects. Neither SDSU nor SDSU Research Foundation receives state-funded support for administrative or facilities costs. As an auxiliary organization, SDSU Research Foundation is required by the CSU system to reimburse SDSU, through cash or equivalent value, for research space used on campus as well as other direct costs. Funds for space and administrative services are obtained primarily from the facilities and administrative (F&A) fees charged to sponsors. SDSU Research Foundation receives additional revenues from self-support program fees, rental income, and investment earnings.
With monies available after administering and housing externally-funded projects, SDSU Research Foundation provides resources directly back to the university. The largest distribution, goes to deans and principal investigators to develop and support externally-funded projects. Although the distribution of these funds has historically been calculated based on rates and amounts of F&A generated by the recipients, the actual source of funds is a mixture of all SDSU Research Foundation unrestricted revenues. F&A fees alone would not be sufficient to provide the level of support funded. F&A fees are calculated based upon the university’s and research foundation’s joint costs of providing project facilities and administering grants. They are not based on costs for project development, bridge funding between grants, matching funds, pilot projects, or many of the other valuable purposes for which these funds are provided. Revenues produced from sources other than F&A are responsible for most of the research support funds available.
Distribution of Research Support Funds
Funds are distributed annually in late summer/early fall, based on the amount of F&A costs recovered at the full federally-negotiated rate during the preceding fiscal year. Funds are distributed in the following categories:
- College: Academic deans/unit heads whose faculty members conduct externally-funded projects receive funds to support their faculty’s ongoing externally-funded projects when the faculty have special needs and to develop new externally-funded projects in priority areas. These funds are not intended for general faculty development or other costs unrelated to submitting proposals for external funds.
- Full F&A PI: Principal investigators with one or more grant recovering full F&A costs receive funds. Funds are provided primarily because federal sponsors paying full F&A costs require that clerical and operational costs be paid from F&A, rather than from the direct costs funded by their grants. Savings in these costs may be applied toward bridge funding or other project support/development purposes.
- High Volume Full F&A PI: Principal investigators with multiple grants recovering a high volume of F&A costs at the full federally-negotiated rate receive additional funds, in recognition of the complex management and program development challenges and opportunities they face. Funds are provided to help them develop, manage, plan for bridge funding, and continue competing for large, complex grant programs.
- Institutional/Contingency: SDSU Research Foundation retains a reserve, with funds jointly administered by SDSU’s Graduate and Research Affairs Division and SDSU Research Foundation administrative heads. These funds are available to assist units without sufficient funds to respond to project development opportunities and meet unexpected project needs. Examples include helping to fund shared equipment purchases, interdisciplinary efforts, matching requirements for proposals, and bridge funding.
Target Amounts & Available Funds Requirement
Target percentages for each category of recipient are attached. All distributions are based on funds available. If funds are not available to meet the target percentages, across-the-board reductions will be made proportionately to each category of recipient.
Principal investigator recipients of Research Support Funds may carry forward unexpended balances annually during the period they are actively conducting grants and contracts and/or during bridge periods between grants. If recipients are no longer involved in sponsored programs or leave SDSU, any remaining balances will be transferred to the Institutional/Contingency reserve. College balances may also be carried forward annually, with the understanding that periodic review of unusually large balances may be required, since it is not intended that these funds be used as a general purpose college reserve.
Pooling of Research Funds
Pooling of research support funds is encouraged. Should deans/unit heads or groups of principal investigators wish to pool their funds to promote the university’s research agenda in areas of excellence, encourage interdisciplinary research, or fund shared group needs, SDSU Research Foundation management will facilitate these requests.
Uses of Research Support Funds
Expenditures must be documented according to SDSU Research Foundation requirements. Examples of appropriate uses of research support funds are described below.
- Operations support: Clerical salaries, postage, phones, etc., needed to manage the project but for which the federal sponsor expects F&A to pay.
- Bridge funding: Salaries and benefits for key personnel to retain them between grants, as well as supplies, travel and clerical support to develop proposals for new funding.
- Sponsor-required cost sharing: Costs to meet sponsor-required percentages or dollar amounts may be budgeted in proposals, according to expected research support funds to be generated as a result of the grant being funded.
- Allowable project costs: Salaries for research assistants, chemical supplies, travel for grant purposes, or providing other types of support approved but not fully-funded by the sponsor.
- Non-allowable but related project costs: Items such as participant food, promotional items, office equipment, boat rental fees, space rent, etc. that the sponsor does not allow but that are needed to conduct or enhance the project.
- Project development costs: Pilot projects; proposal writing; proposal typing/editing; travel to conferences and/or to meet with sponsors; expenses to host sponsors, prospective partners, or influential project supporters; specialized equipment; workshops leading to proposal submissions.
- Research faculty recruitment and initial support: Salaries/equipment for new faculty or research faculty bringing grants with them; salaries for promising research associates or new faculty with the expectation they will write proposals and obtain future grants.
- Research center/institute support: Shared secretaries, technicians, equipment purchase or maintenance, other support for groups of principal investigators.
- F&A foregone: Funds may be used to make up for F&A foregone for competitive purposes.
- Over-expenditures or disallowed costs: Although rare, if these occur they will be deducted from the annual distribution, in consultation with the dean and principal investigator involved.
Responsibilities of SDSU Research Foundation
SDSU Research Foundation will assume the following responsibilities:
- Provide current principal investigator and deans/unit head recipients of research support funds with a copy of the new policy.
- Place the policy on the SDSU Research Foundation web site.
- Provide principal investigators with information about the calculations of their distributions (or estimates of anticipated distributions), upon request.
- Provide deans/unit heads with annual distribution reports, including amounts distributed to principal investigators in their colleges/units.
- Monitor expenditures throughout the year to ensure compliance with SDSU Research Foundation and university policies.
- Provide periodic evaluation reports to the SDSU Research Foundation board of directors.
- Provide recipients with early warning should it appear that funds will not be available to fill the full target percentages identified in the policy.
- Provide recipients with an opportunity for consultation in advance should future policy revisions be considered.
Duration of the Policy
On September 24, 2010, the SDSU Research Foundation board of directors reviewed and voted to continue the Research Support Funds Policy which went into effect March 2002. The policy will remain in effect until such time as the board determines it appropriate to conduct a review.
Calculations for Research Support Distributions
*Target Percentages Based on Full F&A Recovered the Prior Fiscal Year
- College/Unit: 15% of all F&A recovered at full federally-negotiated rate; adjusted for rent-free project space maintenance costs and CSU-required space charges ($10,000 minimum annual balance guaranteed).
- Full F&A PI: 10% of all F&A recovered at the full, federally-negotiated rate.
- High Volume Full F&A PI: 10% of the amount above the “floor” (originally set at $100,000) for high volume full F&A PIs for all F&A recovered at the full, federally-negotiated rate (added to Full F&A PI 10%). The “floor” is adjusted annually by the consumer price index (CPI). For the fiscal year ending 6/30/20, the High Volume “floor” was set at $140,867.
- Institutional: 10% of College and PI amounts.
- Space Adjustments: Project space maintenance costs (currently $0.58 cents/sq. ft./per month), are adjusted annually to reflect actual costs.
* Distributions are based on available funds. Any necessary reductions from target rates are made proportionately.
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