Sponsored Projects Administration      College of Science and Engineering (COSE)

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As you know from preparing your proposal budget, personnel related costs are generally a large percentage of your project expenses. The hiring process can be time-consuming; we recommend that you begin the process as soon as possible. Kari Wong (kari@sfsu.edu or ext 54242) is the ORSP Personnel Specialist who will assist with your hiring needs. Specific information can be found here.

For your assistance, below are commonly used personnel-related terms:


Assigned Time:

Assigned time permits a reduction in the classroom teaching load for the particular semester in which it is awarded. It may be awarded for departmental, college or for certain all-university assignments. Some assigned time activities include course or supervision overload, non-traditional instruction, CFA activities, service on the Academic Senate.


Department Match:

Assigned time given by the department as a match to the Reimbursed Released Time (RRT) (see below) awarded by your grant. Typically this is a 1:1 match. This match is not automatic, but only awarded upon discussion with your department chair and the dean at time of budget preparation for proposal submission.


Emergency Hire

This mechanism is used to hire individuals on a rapid basis for emergency reasons only, including sudden separation notice by a current employee. In other words, if a current employee gives unexpected notice that they are leaving your employ, you can rapidly hire a replacement without going though the posting process. Note, however, that you can only hire on an emergency basis for less than 180 days employment. If you plan to continue this person’s employment you will need to post the position for a minimum of two weeks, and the person must formally apply for the job.


Fringe Benefits:

This is the cost to your sponsored project for mandated and other employment-related benefits. Mandated benefits include items such as social security, worker’s comp, sick and vacation leave accruals, etc. Additional benefit costs include health insurance, and other optional benefits. The cost is a percentage charged against each salary cost and is specific to each individual employee (faculty, staff or student assistant).  Fringe benefits are always a component of a grant proposal which includes labor costs.


Hourly Employee

This type of employee is paid on an hourly basis, and therefore, time sheets must be submitted each month which recognizes the hours worked in order to be paid.  Hourly employees are paid on the 15th of the month succeeding the month worked.  There is no requirement to post a position opening for an hourly employee.


Permanent Hire

This type of employment status can only be made for a position which is paid from the SFSU general fund.  All hires on sponsored projects are considered temporary positions due to the fact that sponsored projects are renewed on an annual or other periodic basis. 


Reimbursed Released Time (RRT):

This is the time awarded in a sponsored project which releases you from teaching a class(s) so that you can pursue the objectives in your award.  RRT is charged to your project and reimbursed back to the college, typically at your actual salary and benefit rates.  However, sometimes negotiations can be made with your department chair and the dean to reimburse at the cost of a replacement lecturer rate.  No proposal can be submitted with a replacement rate for RRT without written approval from your department chair and the dean. 


Replacement Rate:

This rate is based on the cost of hiring a lecturer to replace you in the classroom and is significantly lower than the actual cost of your time, as is the cost of the fringe benefits.  Sometimes a negotiation can be arranged with your department chair and the dean which permits the replacement rate to be less than your actual salary but more than the cost of a lecturer. The fringe benefit rate for this lower cost is generally at the lower rate of the regular replacement rate.


Salaried Employee

This is an employee who receives an annual salary.  Regular monthly absence reports are required which records sick and vacation leave taken.


Summer Salary

These are funds approved and awarded by your funding agency to pay you while you conduct your research or program activities during the summer.  Most agencies will only permit up to two full months of summer salary, though some agencies may permit up to the full summer break.  Fringe benefits for summer salary are charged at a lower standard rate, not your actual individual cost.


Temporary Hire:

All employees hired on a sponsored project are considered temporary hires, have a start and end date, and must be reappointed on a regular basis.


Weighted time units (WTUs):

This is a measurement of a faculty member’s workload.  A full-time faculty member is expected to maintain a 15 WTU workload per semester.  Three WTUs are automatically assigned to faculty members for advising and committee work; the remaining WTUs must be accounted for by class instruction, RRT or assigned time.



This is the term used to describe the work schedule of a faculty member. A typical workload includes classroom instruction, research, and service activities.  These components are given particular weight through the assignment of WTUs for each activity.  For example, a three unit lecture course is often assigned 3 WTUs and 0.2 RRT translates into 3 WTUs.   When budgeting for RRT on a proposal, 20% of your academic year salary is used for each 3 unit class you proposed to be released from.

Please see the SFSU Faculty Manual, which can be found at the Academic Affairs website
http://www.sfsu.edu/~academic/ for further information regarding faculty employment.


Employment vs independent contractor or consulting services:   Services which are performed by a non-CSU employee may be paid as a consultant/independent contractor. 

Often the question arises as to whether personal services must be paid by employment, or if you can hire a consultant for those services.  The following may help with your determination.  However, note that it is the determination of ORSP Personnel or SF State Human Resources which is the appropriate method of payment for personal services.

SF State policy states:

“An INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR is an individual who is not a current CSU or State employee; is engaged in a distinct occupation, profession, business or trade not regularly a part of University business; agrees to do a specific piece of work for an agreed upon fee; provides services to non University clients; supplies his/her own tools, materials and work space.”

For further information, see SF State Human Resources Employee & Labor Relations at


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