Salary, Wages and Fringe Benefits

Salary is required in most proposal budgets with very few exceptions. The salary segment of a budget consists of salary for: Principal Investigator (PI), Key Personnel, Postdoctoral Fellows, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students. Fringe Benefits are required for all personnel listed on the budget. When reviewing proposed salary in a budget, the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) will verify the base salary rate and review the escalation rate for budgets that contain multiple years of funding. OSP recommends applying a 3% escalation rate for salaries listed in subsequent fiscal years. 


Salary for PIs and Key Personnel must be based off their base salary and contract type. You can use the conversion charts on OSP's website to help determine the effort and salary that needs to be dedicated to the project.

*Base salaries and contract types can be found in the FSRDISH Labor Distibution report in myReports.

Principal Investigator (PI) - The individual responsible for the conduct of research or other activity described in a proposal for an award. In order to be eligible as a PI, they must meet the requirements outlined on the UNM PI Eligibility page. In the case these requirements are not met, you can submit a PI Eligibility Exception Request.

Key Personnel - The personnel considered to be of primary importance to the successful conduct of a research project. The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff; however, different sponsors may have different definitions of the term.

Minimum/Maximum Effort

When calculating salaries for PIs and Key Personnel, it is important to note UNM's Minimum and Maximum effort policy. This policy applies to both federal and non-federal projects and is applicable to all activity types (i.e. organized research and other sponsored programs). Exceptions are listed in the Minimum/Maximum Effort Policy.

A postdoctoral fellow is a person engaged in a period of special study or research at the postdoctoral level. The postdoctoral fellow (PDF) is a trainee, which is a unique category of employment at UNM, distinct from staff, faculty and students enrolled in a degree-granting program. Being a trainee, each PDF must have an identified faculty mentor (advisor). It is the responsibility of the institution, college, department and faculty mentor to supervise, encourage and foster the education of the PDF in a manner consistent with PDF's career goals. PDFs will be appointed through the Office of Faculty Affairs and Services.

Postdoctoral fellow salaries must follow the guidelines listed on the Office of Faculty Affairs & Services website. Research Postdoctoral fellows must make no less than $47,476/year.

An assistantship is a financial award to a graduate student for part-time work in teaching or research while pursuing study towards an advanced degree. The primary goal of an assistantship is to assist students in strengthening and successfully completing their academic program.

Assistantship salaries must follow the guidelines provided on the Graduate Studies website.

Students are eligible for tuition if their FTE is 25% or higher and hold the assistantship for at least one-half of the semester. Tuition must be calculated off the current tuition rates and differential fees may apply. OSP recommends a 6% tuition escalation rate for tuition listed in subsequent fiscal years on the budget.

*Additional information can be found in the PDAG (page 22).

An Undergraduate student enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a bachelor's degree. These students are paid hourly wages and are employed through the Student Employment Office.

Per the UNM Faculty Handbook, C140, extra compensation is reserved for work performed outside of normal departmental duties. Such activities may not replace or diminish the ability of the faculty member to fulfill his/her normal contractual responsibilities. Research, public service and instruction are all considered as part of a faculty member’s regular duties. Intra-university consulting on an occasional basis is also considered a normal part of a faculty member’s duties. Because of this, requests for extra compensation (payments during the academic year in addition to the faculty member’s regular nine‐month contract amount) should be very rare.

 In the event a request for extra compensation is deemed appropriate by the principal investigator for faculty working on their sponsored project, the following approvals must be obtained in advance:

  • 1. Internal University approval
  • 2. Agency approval

The budget should contain a clear and distinct line for "extra compensation salary"

*Additional information can be found in the PDAG (page 20).

Fringe Benefits

Fringe benefit rates are applied to all University salaries and wages listed in the proposal and should appear as a separate line item in the proposal budget. The principal elements that comprise fringe benefits are: FICA, Medicare, Retirement, Group Insurance, Worker's Compensation, Unemployment Compensation, Tuition Remission, and other offered benefits.

When assistantships are included in a proposal, insurance must be added. These rates can be found within the Fringe Benefit Memo. Tuition must also be added accordingly (See Graduate Student Assistantship Salary above for additional details on tuition).

Fringe Benefit Memo can be found here.