Supplementing the supplement

Federal stipends are certainly helpful in supporting research and experience for early investigators.  Even so, there are strict limits on amounts and sometimes a PI wants to reward extra work with extra pay.  This is allowable, but the supplement cannot come from another federal source.  Consider NIH Grants Policy section which states:


Kirschstein-NRSA fellows receive stipends to defray living expenses. Stipends may be supplemented by an institution from non-Federal funds provided this supplementation is without any additional obligation for the fellow. An institution can determine the amount of stipend supplementation, if any, it will provide according to its own formally established policies governing stipend support. These policies must be consistently applied to all individuals in a similar status regardless of the source of funds. Federal funds may not be used for stipend supplementation unless specifically authorized under the terms of the program from which funds are derived. Under no circumstances may PHS funds be used for supplementation.

An individual may use Federal educational loan funds or VA benefits when permitted by those programs as described in Other Income: Educational Loans or GI Bill in this chapter.


If your department chooses to supplement the stipend of a fellow, be sure that your source of supplementation is not another federal award.  Further, be sure there is no federal flow-through (not a subcontract with federal origins, for instance).  Feel free to drop us a line if you’re not sure!

Fellowing the Leader

Here comes August, and you know what that means: NIH F Series application deadlines (F Series is due August 8; F31 Diversity is due on August 13).  Whether you’re a bit stuck or late to the party, templates are available to help you put together your submission.  Check out our NRSA form templates and the NIH general annotated SF424 (the initial checklist will guide you on what is mandatory.  If you have any questions, we’re here to help!

Fringe Media

As you’re wrangling project budgets and preparing submissions, be aware that Wayne’s fringe rates have changed, as have some of the employee groups of job classes.  Think your PI is going to be 26.6%?  Think again; most investigators will fall under a fringe rate of 24.7%.  The biggest difference you will note is that research assistants will no longer have the same rate as faculty; most research personnel will now have a fringe rate of 33.2%.  This will significantly affect your budgets, so plan accordingly.


Take a look at the new composite fringe rates here, which are in effect for any proposal of project period starting after October 1, 2015 (eProp rates are being updated to reflect the changes). For a comparison to other years, Fiscal Operations keeps past composite fringe rates posted for reference.

Well, That Was Unexpected: PD/PI Credential Error

Federal government systems are constantly evolving, and sometimes what was fine yesterday is an error today.  During the submission process for an SF424 on Monday, we received the following error, even though the PD/PI eRA Commons ID was very clearly and correctly present in the proper field:


NIH has received the electronic grant application Tracking # GRANT00000000 / PI XXXXXXX. NIH was unable to process your application because it was missing critical information required by NIH. NIH requires that the PD/PI’s correct eRA Commons User ID be entered in the ‘Credential’ field for the PD/PI on the R&R Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) component of the application.

Because the Credential field was not completed accurately, your application was considered incomplete; therefore the eRA Commons could not fully check the application against the instructions in the application guide and the funding opportunity announcement. You may receive new error and/or warning messages once you submit a changed/corrected application to


After some trial and error, and intrepid GCO found that re-entering the eRA Commons ID in all capital letters (‘GSMITH’ instead of ‘gsmith’) allowed the application to go through.  As a precautionary measure, you may wish to use all caps on your PD/PI credentials going forward!