I'm wondering if a 12-month appointed faculty (mainly teaching but also research duty, R1 university in the US) is allowed to pay him/herself from grants (especially NSF or NIH). I heard that they may buy the time with grant money, but I haven't heard if they can be paid extra. Also a rumor says agencies sometimes don't like to trade course loads. Does anyone have experiences with these? Thanks.

  • Not sure that there's a general rule across all funding agencies in all countries of the world, but if you can name one or two that you are interested in, someone may be able to help. Oct 16, 2018 at 5:13
  • Good idea- thanks, I edited the question. Wondering about NSF or NIH.
    – libphy
    Oct 16, 2018 at 6:19
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    Note that a grant can do more for you than pay a salary. Are you just looking for extra personal income from a grant?
    – Buffy
    Oct 16, 2018 at 10:01
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    I would strongly suspect that what happens is that you continue to get paid your regular salary, you work on the grant project instead of your normal teaching/research duties, and the university gets reimbursed by NSF for the amount of your salary. I very much doubt there is a scenario in which you get paid twice. It seems that the official rules are in OMB Circular A-21 but it's a bit dense. Oct 16, 2018 at 14:39
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    Just a clarification - are you really appointed 12 months, or are you appointed 9 months with your salary paid over 12? Oct 16, 2018 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


This will entirely depend on the nature of the position, and "12 month position" isn't actually precise enough to answer it. There are several factors to consider:

  1. There are 12-month faculty positions (including my own, and many positions at medical schools and other institutions) where not only can you bring in research funding, but you are expected to do so. The most extreme version of this is 12-month positions with 100% soft money. In my experience, this is actually the type of position the NIH is used to dealing with, in contrast to the NSF.
  2. "I haven't heard if they can be paid extra" - this will again depend on the position. One institution I was considering a job at had incentives in place such that you could indeed pay yourself extra if you brought in grants (and one place actually automatically paid you more if you brought in more grants). My current institution only covers 75% of my salary, so covering the other 25% is technically "paying myself more", but it's capped.
  3. Buying out coursework time is contingent on the department among other things.

Basically: Yes, but the nature of how falls under "It depends".

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