Faculty Research Incentive Program (FRIP)

Overview

For over two decades, the University of Montana has successfully transitioned to include a globally-recognized research and creative scholarship (RCS) profile that complements excellent mentoring and teaching of undergraduate and graduate students.  Beginning in the early 1990s, to support the recruitment and retention of research-active faculty, UM implemented a dual-base approach that allowed a second salary base separate from the Institutional Base Salary (IBS).  This so-called research base salary (RBS) or research rate (RR) was negotiated by the faculty member and applied to a faculty member's organized research activities. 

Federal auditors have made it clear that universities cannot continue using this kind of dual base approach.  In response, UM has established a “Faculty Research Incentive Program” (FRIP) that will incentivize externally funded research for all faculty while maintaining compensation levels for those who have utilized RR.

Through FRIP, any faculty member can complement summer salary by directing additional external grant funding of their research effort to the Academic Year (AY) at their IBS. State funds freed up by this external funding will be redirected to constitute FRIP payments. FRIP will eliminate the need to request/establish RR salaries, and will be available to all faculty members regardless of whether or not they ever used RR.

The dual base approach has already been discontinued for NSF-funded projects, and will be completely discontinued for all faculty as of September 1, 2020.  

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Implementation

Participation in FRIP is voluntary. Each faculty member has a workload assignment (relative to instruction, service, and RCS) negotiated and agreed upon with their Dean.  When RCS-related IBS (and fringe) during the AY are paid with externally sponsored dollars (from one or more sources), the University funds that are freed up in the RCS portion of their approved AY workload assignment may be used to pay the FRIP incentive.  

Example of Workload Assignment
RCS Teaching Service
30% 60% 10%

Faculty participating in FRIP will continue to earn the equivalent of their AY salary and be eligible for summer salary at their IBS.  Note that teaching buyouts are separate from FRIP because teaching is part of the instruction portion of the workload assignment, not the RCS portion. The lump-sum FRIP is subject to applicable state, federal, and FICA withholdings, and contributes to the recipient’s retirement funds.

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Annual FRIP Limits

The total annual FRIP amount (generated by state funds freed up by one or more externally sponsored projects) available to a faculty member cannot exceed the percentage RCS workload assignment for that faculty member. Also, the total annual FRIP should not exceed 25% of IBS without permission of the Provost. These upper limits (the RCS workload percentage and 25% of IBS) apply to all faculty regardless of whether or not they previously used a Research Rate.

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External Proposal Submission

 To participate in FRIP, the faculty member will request from external sponsor(s) salary (at the IBS) and fringe for a specified AY percentage. The language in the proposal budget narrative sent to the external sponsor would be something along the lines of: “Dr. Z requests $XXX for YYY FTE salary (or percent of effort) during the academic year.”  Associated fringe must also be included.

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Award Received

If the proposal is awarded – and once the FRIP verification form is routed and approved -- the departmental research administrator (DRA) or college business office (CBO) will prepare and submit the approved labor distribution via an HRS Request for Personnel Transaction (RPT) through U-Approve.  The AY salary that is externally funded (see previous section) will free up an equal amount of State funds that will form the basis of the FRIP.  The default is that 100% of the FRIP would be paid to the faculty member, although the faculty member and Dean may mutually agree upon some portion of the FRIP going to the College.  In such a case, the agreed upon "split" will be specified on the FRIP form.

FRIP Request

Faculty participating in FRIP must work with their departmental research administrator (DRA) or college business officer/budget director (CBO) to ensure that the FRIP verification form is prepared and routed early enough for approval signatures and to initiate a FRIP payment request via an HRS RPT through U-Approve.  The DRA/CBO will find these FRIP Tips and the FRIP flowchart to be helpful in providing details on timeline and process. 

Upon receipt and approval of the RPT request, HRS will issue the annual lump sum payment (identified with a unique earn code) near the end of each fiscal year. Because FRIP incentive payments are institutional funds that support sponsored activity, they may be recorded and reported as cost match.

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Eligibility

A faculty member qualifies for FRIP when:

  1. their institutional base salary (IBS) is supported in part from State appropriated funds (100 percent research appointments are excluded); 
  2. they have one or more successful grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements, administered by UM's ORSP, that includes academic year salary for the faculty member that would free up State appropriated funding within their faculty RCS workload commitment;
  3. the minimum externally funded amount to participate in FRIP is $1,000;
  4. for faculty whose salary is paid from funds in the UM Foundation (e.g., an endowed chair position), those salary funds could be freed up by external grant dollars to constitute a FRIP; and, 
  5. the faculty member is in compliance with all relevant institutional, State, and federal research-related policies, and has completed all effort reporting as appropriate.  

A faculty member who leaves UM prior to the payment of a FRIP incentive will forfeit the payment. 

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