With colleagues, I'm applying for an NSF-funded mathematics REU site at my institute. In putting together the budget, it's easy to see how much is an appropriate stipend for student participants, because student stipends are published on the recruiting sites for other REUs. However, I wondered if other faculty on this site who have been involved in an REU could provide a ballpark as to what is a usual rate of compensation for faculty mentors (over the course of a 10-week program, pairs of faculty mentors in complementary disciplines would guide teams of 4 students). I don't want to undercompensate faculty mentors, but at the same time, the main portion of the budget is meant to support student participants, so there must be some sweet spot in there. Any input based on recent experience would be much appreciated! Thank you!

  • Why should it be anything else than "(Expected number of hrs per week/40hrs)*average weekly pay*10wks" ? Anything less is undercompensation.
    – Boris Bukh
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 18:05
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    @BorisBukh That's a fair argument, and possibly the right one to use, but in the case of student participants the support is viewed as a stipend rather than a salary, which makes me think the same could be true in the case of faculty mentors. I know that various internal programs at similar institutions meant to support faculty in guiding student research don't necessarily use salary to calculate the support, so this is why I am not sure whether or not the type of formula you suggest is the one to go with.
    – Idempotent
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 18:32
  • The support for participants is a stipend because they receive free education. There is no comparable benefit for faculty.
    – Boris Bukh
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 18:47
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    Default answer for NSF questions: TALK TO YOUR PROGRAM OFFICER. Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 22:43
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    @Idempotent: Yes - I mean at NSF. Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 1:37

1 Answer 1


The NSF's guidelines are that you can generally pay one faculty-month of salary. In principle, you can propose to divide this money up however you like, but if you try to divide up the compensation among all the faculty members involved, it may not be enough money going to any single person to really be worthwhile.

As the PI of an REU site, I do not pay the other faculty supervisors anything. However, my field is not mathematics but physics. The faculty mentors, most of whom work in experiment but some of whom are theorists, would all be on campus doing research even if the REU students were not present. Most of them are getting paid summer salary off other research grants. The only direct faculty compensation goes to me, since I manage all the advertising, admissions, and logistics for the program, which really do amount to about a month of full time work. Some other programs have a PI and co-PI who share the responsibilities and compensation basically equally, but I would suggest not dividing the money up too finely.

  • Thanks!! This is very helpful! I would guess norms behind this type of calculation wouldn't be too different between math and physics...
    – Idempotent
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 18:37
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    In my experience the mentor gets $500 in research funding and no salary. Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 3:06

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