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External Funding Incentive Program

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Effective as of July 1, 2012

The external funding portfolio is both a marker and a driver of progress on the path to national leadership. External funding supports the research, instructional, and outreach activities of our faculty, allowing them to undertake projects that they could not otherwise pursue. The sophistication, quality, scope, and impact of externally funded research raise the profile of Penn State faculty and the College of the Liberal Arts. External funding can also contribute to graduate education, allowing us to support more graduate students more competitively, while also involving graduate students in high caliber research endeavors that will shape their own career success. Likewise, externally funded research projects can offer a wealth of benefits to undergraduate education, by driving the generation of knowledge that is shared in the classroom, providing research assistant positions and internships, and creating opportunities to witness and participate within collaborative intellectual endeavors. The level of external funding also informs evaluations of program quality in national rankings. For these and other reasons, the College seeks to recognize and support the successes of faculty competing for external awards.

The External Funding Recognition Award for Faculty is tied to the components of grants that bring revenue into the College, in the form of indirect cost recovery, or that shift College expenses (i.e., faculty salaries and graduate student stipends) onto grants. Awards will be made concurrent with the establishment of the grant budget, to allow investigators to use these funds in ways that support the execution of the grant, at their discretion. The award is made to the principal investigator (PI) for awards with a PI from the College of the Liberal Arts that fall within the portfolio of the college’s Grants and Contracts Office.

Details of the Award

  • The award amount will be computed as 8% of the revenues generated by a grant in the form of (a) the indirect cost recovery that comes to the College (12% of indirect costs when they are charged at a rate in excess of 15%), (b) academic year salaries for faculty in Liberal Arts, and (c) academic year stipends for graduate students in Liberal Arts. The cap for the award for any grant is set at $15,000; competitive continuation awards will be considered as separate from the initial grant.
  • The award program applies to all grants led by a Liberal Arts faculty member, including P.I. awards and sub-contracts. There is no threshold for entry, such that all grants with indirect cost recovery, salaries, or stipends are eligible for the award. The award does not apply to fellowships; the College supports and recognizes faculty obtaining prestigious fellowships by closing the gap between the fellowship funding and the faculty member’s full salary. See FacultyAwardsInvolvingReleasedTime.pdf.
  • The award takes the form of a flexible research fund. Awarded funds can be used for concurrent course buyouts if and only if faculty salaries cannot be paid by the funding agency per published guidelines, or if extenuating circumstances prevent the grant from covering course releases.  In such cases, the internal course buyout rate will be $8,000.  Faculty may receive permission to use the awarded funds for subsequent course releases, at an internal course buyout rate of $8,000, contingent on sufficient justification concerning the impact of the release on future grant activity.  Subsequent course releases are not intended to substitute for faculty salary that could be charged to a subsequent grant.  Awarded funds can be taken as supplemental summer salary upon request.
  • Because budgeted expenses are not always equivalent to actual expenses, 80% of the award amount will be made upon funding. The balance of the award – recalculated based on actual expenses – will be distributed at the end of the period of funding. For grants funded for longer than 5 years, the initial award will be based on the approved budget for the first 5 years, with adjudication of the first 5 years and calculation of the award for the subsequent period of support (up to 5 more years) occurring in the 5th year of the grant.
  • Funds awarded under this program may be taken into consideration if the college is asked to provide resources in preparation for submission of a proposal or when submitting a proposal or accepting funding involves institutional cost-sharing.


For grants awarded in 2010-11 and 2011-12, we will offer PIs their choice of the current or new award structure. For grants awarded in 2012-13 and beyond, awards will follow the new guidelines.

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