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What is the general practice for universities in USA in deciding if there any conflict between receiving 2 month salary funded by an NSF grant (the maximum) and teaching a Summer course (which produces additional salary)?

It is possible very short Summer course may be an exception. I’m mainly interested in longer Summer courses that will definitely overlap with the 2 month research that we generally have to claim 100% effort.

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    My university has the policy that one can't be paid for more than 12 months per year. Apr 22, 2022 at 20:34
  • It might be possible to take 2 months of summer salary from an NSF grant (or a grant from some other agency) and also teach a summer school course for another month of summer salary. This assumes that your academic year contract is for 9 months. For example, our institution pays one month of summer salary for teaching an 8 week summer school course with one hour of lecture per day. That's reasonably 50% effort during that time. This could be combined with one month of full time effort before/after the summer session and two months of 50% research effort during the summer session. Apr 25, 2022 at 23:39

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US granting agencies operate salary splits on an "% effort" basis. See for example https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/caar/time.jsp which stipulates that your effort must:

Reasonably reflect the total activity for which the employee is compensating across all grant-related and non-grant related activities (100% effort)

Support the distribution of employee salary across multiple activities or cost objectives (for example, effort spent on multiple federal awards, spent on general/or administrative activities, vacation, sick leave, leave without pay, etc.)

...etc.

You can't be paid twice for the same time, the government doesn't recognize 'overtime' (the same is true for most salaried positions in the private sector), so while you could potentially work part time on a NSF (or other federal) grant and part time teaching, you can't have over 100% effort (post-game sports interviews notwithstanding).

I'm not as familiar with summer NSF grants as others are here, since my field is mostly NIH-funded and year-round, but my understanding that these are typically meant to fund someone full-time over the duration of the grant, so you would be expected to put 100% of your effort towards the work that grant funds during that time. You would not be able to teach while certifying that you've put 100% effort towards the grant paying your salary.

Ask your administration, though, if there is any way to manage things differently.

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  • My office of sponsored research, shockingly, does not know.
    – Bilbo
    Apr 24, 2022 at 1:15
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    @Bilbo They should probably figure it out one way or another.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 24, 2022 at 2:00
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In my observation, in the U.S., in math, at big state univs, your own research office and other admins would not allow this.

This does not entirely make sense, indeed, in the traditional context that academic salaries are "nine-month" salaries (though may be paid out in 12), and the NSF (traditionally, anyway) would pay at most two months' summer salary (so 2/9 of one's salary), leaving a month in which one was not officially being paid for any particular obligation.

However, it seems that both NSF and many univ admins do not allow anything further after that 9-months + 2-months.

... not to mention, as @Buffy commented, that the double-time summer school teaching takes a lot of energy...

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    My big state university has no problem with people getting paid for all three summer months, through some combination of grants, teaching, and occasionally other sources.
    – Buzz
    Apr 23, 2022 at 3:00
  • @Buzz, interesting! Apr 24, 2022 at 3:41
  • @Buzz, in those cases, could there be overlap between the months one has to teach, and the months one claim 100% effort for NSF report? If teaching only occupy 1 or the 3 months, I can see that will not be a problem. But what if there is overlap?
    – Bilbo
    Apr 25, 2022 at 15:06
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    @Bilbo You cannot be paid a salary twice over for the same time. I suppose that if you had only half (or whatever fraction) salary support during some period, you might be able to supplement it with partial support from another source, although I have never encountered that, and it seems like it would a logistical nightmare, to say nothing of convincing the funders to accept such an arrangement. In practice, it doesn’t matter much which dates are specified as being funded by which sources, but the total has to come out right at the end of the summer.
    – Buzz
    Apr 25, 2022 at 15:25
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While I doubt that this is possible, the way to be certain is to ask at the grants/funding office at the university or the NSF program office.

Don't attempt it without notifying everyone involved of the entire situation.

The compressed schedule of a summer course implies significant attention be paid. The research (I assume) that the NSF is sponsoring likewise. It would be hard to do a decent job of both.

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