I am here to discuss about a funding problem I am having and I heard a lot of post-docs had before, but I couldn't find any testimony or tips.

My problem is the following and it is very simple. I got lucky to obtain my own funding from a funding agency, the name of which I can't reveal at this time. Of course I was thrilled and few days after the beginning of my contract the funding agency told me the money has been transfer to my institute. Then, I got my first pay check and I had the unpleasant surprise to notice a difference of ~2000euros (before taxes) between what the funding agency was supposed to give me and what the institute was giving me.

Obviously I was surprised and when I asked for reasons it seems the institute has some salary scale and they put me on those scale instead of giving me the money from the funding agency. And obviously they are keeping the rest for themselves.

However, this isn't true for all post-doctoral fellowships. Another post-doc in the same institute with a Marie-Curie fellowship isn't on those salary scale. Right now my PI (which support me 100%) and I are still in the middle of the discussion and I am looking for person that have a similar problem to help me find my way out of this trap.

The institute I am fighting with is the French institute: CNRS. I have nothing against them, but I think our work is hard enough to do research, get funding without also needing to fight for the money we are owed.

Edit posted as answer:

I haven't discuss yet with the funding agency because I am still hoping that the institue will re-evaluate the situation.

What I have understood is that a agreement has been signed between the funding agency and the CNRS that allow the CNRS to pay me based on the salary scale. However I'd never been aware of such agreement. And obviously such agreement will only benefit the CNRS that will keep 48,000€ (24month x 2,000€) in the transaction.

In addition, as I said this agreement only include some fellowship but not all of them such as the Marie-Curie fellowship. But I have no idea why.

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    Have you discussed the situation with anyone at the funding agency?
    – JeffE
    Feb 7, 2018 at 14:32
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    In my experience (in Germany and the Netherlands) the personnel department puts you at the lowest scale they can get away with. Only after you complain, will they move you up. Many don't complain, saving the university money. Feb 7, 2018 at 14:56
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    I can't find your question.
    – user9646
    Feb 7, 2018 at 15:16
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    It's certainly the case wtih US federal funding that a person working on a grant can only be paid at their regular rate from the grant, whatever the amount of the grant is. I'd be surprised if any funding agency in any country was willing to allow anything other than this. Mar 10, 2018 at 3:58
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    I'm told that this is one of many reasons why CNRS labs in general have trouble recruiting foreign talent. This does not apply for non-CNRS French institutions (e.g. CEA). Contact your funding agency, certainly, but they probably already know about it and may have an agreement with CNRS already. If this happened to me I'd be livid, so I understand your frustration OP. Contact everyone you can, and update us on whether you can fix this. This is, IMO, the issue with when scientific institutions are led by administration, and not the other way around. Good luck, OP. Mar 10, 2018 at 13:05

1 Answer 1


You find yourself in a tricky situation. Universities often try to establish equity among grantees, regardless of whether a funding source could in theory pay higher or lower salary. The way I've seen others deal with this is through a preemptive negotiation with the university. The scales tip in their favor, because you'll probably apply anyway, but I've seen some wiggle room on salary. But after the fact would seem unlikely. Worth a shot. But, if the granting agency in good faith believes you are making X compensation but you get Y, they might not be happy about it. If you ask your granting coordinator whether you should inform the agency if the discrepancy, it might get some attention.

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