Grants and Funding
  Public FAQs  Public FAQs
  NIH Staff FAQs  NIH Staff FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
NIH Salary Cap in FY2012

For FY 2012, the Consolidated Appropriations Action, 2012 (Public Law 112-74) signed into law on December 23, 2011 lowered the salary limitation on NIH Grants from Executive Level I ($199,700) to Executive Level II ($179,700). This change is effective with grant awards with an Initial Issue Date on/After 12/23/2011. See NIH Guide Notice NOT- OD-12-035 for additional details. The Summary Table and Questions and Answers are provided here as resources to help navigate implementation of this change.

This table summarizes the applicable Executive Level salary limitation for the 2 cohorts of FY2012 grants: 1) Awards with an Initial Issue Date On/Before 12/22/2011; and, 2) Awards with an Initial Issue Date On/After 12/23/2011. Some explanatory notes are provided for each cohort.

Summary Table
Initial Award Issue Date Award Type Exec Level (EL) for FY 2012 Notes
On/Before 12/22/2011* Competing EL I
  • FY2012 Award = Executive Level I ($199,700)
  • Future Years** = Executive Level II ($179,700)
  • Detailed Budgets: Awards will be revised to adjust future year commitments only
  • Modular Budgets:
    • Awards will not be adjusted for salary cap
    • Grantees apply EL I for FY2012
    • Grantees apply EL II for FY2013, unless otherwise amended by legislation; rebudgeting of excess in FY2013 will be allowed
  Non-Competing EL I
  • FY2012 Award = Executive Level I ($199,700)
  • Future Years** = Executive Level II ($179,700)
  • NIH will not adjust future year commitments for non-competing within this issue date range
  • For FY2013 and beyond, grantees will need to charge using EL II**; rebudgeting of excess is allowed
On/After 12/23/2011 Competing EL II
  • FY2012 Award = Executive Level II
  • Future Years** = Executive Level II
  • Detailed Budgets: Awards will be issued using EL II for FY2012 and all future years
  • Modular Budgets:
    • Awards will not be adjusted for salary cap
    • Grantees apply EL II
    • Rebudgeting of excess is allowed
  Non-Competing EL II
  • FY2012 Award = Executive Level II
  • Future Years** = Executive Level II
  • NIH will not adjust FY2012 award or future year commitments for non-competing in this category
  • Grantees must charge at EL II; rebudgeting of excess is allowed

*A list of awards issued on/before 12/22/2011 subject to EL 1 when a salary limit is applicable is found at: http://report.nih.gov/FileLink.aspx?rid=824
**References to future years are contingent upon legislation that supports this provision or provides otherwise.

Posting: February 14, 2012
Revised: February 14, 2012


  1. Does the NIH appropriation language link the salary limitation to a Federal Executive Level or to a dollar level?
  2. A grant was issued on/after December 23, 2011. The award was based on Executive Level I. Can the grantee rebudget funds awarded in excess of the new Executive Level II salary limit, or will NIH adjust the award by the difference between the two?
  3. For awards issued on/before 12/22/2011, will future year commitments be adjusted to reflect Executive Level II?
  4. The Guide Notice uses the term “initial Issue Date”. Where do we find that date and how do we know it is the “initial” date?
  5. Does reference to “initial Issue Date” refer to the date of the award for this budget period; or does it refer back to the initial issue date for the start of the project period?
  6. How can grantees tell if an award is issued with FY2012 funds?
  7. An award has a November 1 start date; for FY2012 the applicable salary cap is Executive Level I. If FY2013 begins under a Continuing Resolution, what salary cap level will apply to the FY2013 award?
  8. Can a researcher impacted by the lower salary cap reduce their level of effort in accordance with the lower salary?
  9. A grant with an initial Issue Date on/before 12/22/2011 was awarded and included funding for a “to be named” position; the “to be named” person will not begin employment until after January 1, 2012. Which salary limit is applicable?
  10. An award initially funded with FY2011 funds is now going into a no-cost extension period that will span FY2012 and a few months of FY2013. What salary limit applies during the extension phase?
  11. My institution will carry over funds from the FY2011 award into the FY2012 budget period. Which salary cap applies to the carryover?
  12. A new grant funded 12/1/2011 has a consortium to a subrecipient, but the consortium agreement isn’t finalized until 1/1/2012. Which salary limitation applies to this subrecipient?
  13. If an application/proposal fails to provide needed salary information, will an adjustment be made based on the new limit?
  14. My organization is preparing an administrative supplement request that includes salary for a researcher affected by the cap. Which salary limit applies?
  15. What salary limitation level should be used in applications and progress reports being prepared now for submission to NIH?
  16. Does the salary cap apply just to NIH awards or does it apply to other HHS awards?
  17. A grant is multi-year funded in FY2011; i.e., 3 years of funding provided in a single award action. It is now in the 2nd year of the project period. What salary cap level applies?
  18. An institution submits a request for additional funds in February 2012 with salary that is impacted by the salary cap. The parent grant was awarded December 1, 2011 so is subject to Executive Level I. The additional funds will be awarded as an administrative increase (not a separate supplement award) in March 2012. What will be the applicable salary cap for the increase?
  19. An FY2012 grant awarded 12/1/2011, transfers June 1, 2012. The initial FY2012 award is subject to Executive Level I. What would be the applicable level for the transfer award to the new institution?
  20. An application using a detailed budget was submitted using Executive Level I as the salary cap. Can the institution submit a revised budget that reflects the new, lower cap and rebudget the extra funds elsewhere?
  21. A progress report (non-SNAP) was submitted 12/1/2011 and in accordance with instructions showed salaries capped at Executive Level I. Will NIH adjust the requested budget to reflect Executive Level II?
Back to Top

  1. Does the NIH appropriation language link the salary limitation to a Federal Executive Level or to a dollar level?
    The link is to the Federal Executive Level pay scale; i.e., Executive Level I for FYs 2001-2011, Executive Level I for FY2012 awards with an initial Issue Date on/before 12/22/2011, and Executive Level II for FY 2012 awards with an initial Issue Date on/after 12/23/2011.
  2. In previous years when the cap would increase January 1st, grantees could begin charging at the higher cap effective with the date of the increase. Why is this change being handled differently?
    In previous years the salary level remained constant at Executive Level I, although the amount of Executive Level I routinely increased on/about January 1st .  Grantees adjusted the rate charged based on the date of the expenditure and the Level I salary in effect on the date of the charge.  However, for FY2012 the actual Executive level changed effective the date the Appropriation was signed into law, 12/23/2011.  Therefore, the applicable level is based on when the FY2012 award was initially issued, not when the actual salary cost is charged.
  3. A grant was issued on/after December 23, 2011. The award was based on Executive Level I. Can the grantee rebudget funds awarded in excess of the new Executive Level II salary limit, or will NIH adjust the award by the difference between the two?
    It depends on the type of award.  If the award is a non-competing award, NIH will not adjust the award; grantees must apply Executive level II and may rebudget funds in excess of the new salary limit.  If the grant is a competing award based on a detailed budget, the NIH IC will revise the award when an adjustment for the lower salary limit is needed.  Competing modular awards will not be adjusted for salary cap; however, grantees must apply Executive Level II.  Rebudgeting of any excess funds is allowed.
  4. For awards issued on/before 12/22/2011, will future year commitments be adjusted to reflect Executive Level II?
    For competing awards (non-modular) issued on/before 12/22/2011, future year commitments will be adjusted when applicable to reflect Executive Level II.  However, no adjustment will be made to the FY2012 award level for salary cap.  Non-competing awards will not be adjusted to reflect Executive Level II for either the FY2012 award or any future year commitments; however grantees must still apply the appropriate rate.
  5. The Guide Notice uses the term “initial Issue Date”. Where do we find that date and how do we know it is the “initial” date?

    The Issue Date is in the Header information of every Notice of Award (NoA).    When an award is revised; the NoA shows “REVISED” next to the Grant Number field and the Issue Date reflects the date of that revision; therefore the “initial Issue Date” is the date on the FY2012 NoA that has no reference to “REVISED”.   Examples are provided below:

    Example 1:  Award with “initial Issue Date”—no reference to “REVISED” is shown as part of the Grant Number Field:

    Example 1:  Award with “initial Issue Date”—no reference to “REVISED” is shown as part of the Grant Number Field

    Example 2:  Revised Award:  1) “REVISED” shows next to Grant Number Field; and, 2) Issue Date is new.  This Issue Date is not the “initial Issue Date” because the NoA shows “REVISED”.

    Example 2:  Revised Award:  1) “REVISED” shows next to Grant Number Field; and, 2) Issue Date is new.  This Issue Date is not the “initial Issue Date” because the NoA shows “REVISED”.

  6. Does reference to “initial Issue Date” refer to the date of the award for this budget period; or does it refer back to the initial issue date for the start of the project period?
    The change in salary cap is tied to the FY2012 Appropriation; therefore, any reference to Issue Date refers to the Issue Date of the FY2012 award.
  7. How can grantees tell if an award is issued with FY2012 funds?

    The Fiscal Year is a data field on the award located in SECTION I – AWARD DATA, in the Fiscal Information section as well as in the chart immediately below.  See the following example:  

    The Fiscal Year is a data field on the award located in SECTION I – AWARD DATA

  8. An award has a November 1 start date; for FY2012 the applicable salary cap is Executive Level I. If FY2013 begins under a Continuing Resolution, what salary cap level will apply to the FY2013 award?
    Generally, a Continuing Resolution extends the provisions of the previous fiscal year Appropriation.  Therefore, unless there is language in the Continuing Resolution to state otherwise, Executive Level II ($179,700) would be the applicable cap for the FY2013 award since Executive Level II is the level provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012.  This would be regardless of what the applicable level is for the FY2012 award.
  9. In follow-up to the previous question, is there any difference if the FY begins with a full Appropriation (rather than a Continuing Resolution)?
    Possibly.  It will depend on the language provided in that law.
  10. Can a researcher impacted by the lower salary cap reduce their level of effort in accordance with the lower salary?
    The salary limit is a yearly rate applied to an individual’s institutional base salary rate.  Since the institutional base salary rate for the individual remains constant, reducing effort would only help to minimize the impact to a particular grant.  Further, some programs have minimum effort required; some grants may specifically restrict percent effort of an individual; and significant changes in effort could trigger a change in scope requiring NIH prior approval.  All of these issues must be considered before reducing effort based solely on the lower salary cap.
  11. A grant with an initial Issue Date on/before 12/22/2011 was awarded and included funding for a “to be named” position; the “to be named” person will not begin employment until after January 1, 2012. Which salary limit is applicable?
    Apply Executive Level I for FY2012.  The salary limit is tied to the limit in effect when the grant was initially funded, regardless when the individual’s employment became effective.
  12. An award initially funded with FY2011 funds is now going into a no-cost extension period that will span FY2012 and a few months of FY2013. What salary limit applies during the extension phase?

    Executive Level I ($199,700) would be the applicable limit for the entire length of the no-cost extension period.

  13. My institution will carry over funds from the FY2011 award into the FY2012 budget period. Which salary cap applies to the carryover?
    Assuming the carryover will be used for salaries, Executive Level I ($199,700) would be the appropriate level to charge for the carryover amount only.   Accordingly, institutions will need to ensure adequate separation of accounts as necessary to demonstrate compliance.
  14. A new grant funded 12/1/2011 has a consortium to a subrecipient, but the consortium agreement isn’t finalized until 1/1/2012. Which salary limitation applies to this subrecipient?
    Executive level I ($199,700).  The key date is the initial Issue Date on the Notice of Award to the Prime grantee; it is not the date of the consortium agreement.  Prime grantees hold the responsibility for ensuring the appropriate salary limit flows to subrecipients.
  15. If an application/proposal fails to provide needed salary information, will an adjustment be made based on the new limit?
    No adjustment will be made if an application fails to provide adequate information regarding the individual's actual salary level.  However, grantees must charge the grant based on the applicable salary limit in effect when the initial FY2012 award was issued.
  16. My organization is preparing an administrative supplement request that includes salary for a researcher affected by the cap. Which salary limit applies?
    Assuming that the administrative supplement will be issued for the first time after 12/23/2011, then the applicable salary limit is Executive Level II ($179,700).  This would apply to competitive revision applications funded on/after 12/23/2011 as well.
  17. In follow-up to the previous question, does it matter if the FY2012 award for the parent grant was issued on/before 12/22/2011 and is, therefore, subject to Executive Level I for FY2012?
    Since the timing of the applicable cap is tied to the date the FY2012 Appropriation was signed into law, the administrative supplement issued on/after 12/23/2011 would still be subject to Executive Level II ($179,700) regardless of what level the parent grant is subject to for FY2012.  This is another area where institutions will need to ensure adequate separation of accounts as necessary to demonstrate compliance.
  18. What salary limitation level should be used in applications and progress reports being prepared now for submission to NIH?

    NIH application instructions remain unchanged.  Applications with a detailed budget should continue to reflect the actual institutional base salary of individuals for whom reimbursement is requested.   NIH will make any adjustment necessary using the applicable salary limit in effect at the time of award.  In lieu of actual base salary, institutions may elect to provide an explanation in the budget justification narrative indicating that the actual institutional exceeds the current salary limitation.  When this information is provided, NIH staff will make necessary adjustments to requested salaries prior to award.  

    When preparing an application using the modular budget format, applicants should use the current salary limit when estimating the number of modules requested.   

    For progress reports (non-SNAP), requested salary may not proportionally exceed any imposed salary limit.

  19. Does the salary cap apply just to NIH awards or does it apply to other HHS awards?
    Previously the salary limitation provision applied to only a few HHS agencies.  The language in Public Law 112-10 extends the salary limitation provision to most other HHS agencies as well.  Grantees will need to contact specific HHS agencies for guidance.
  20. A grant is multi-year funded in FY2011; i.e., 3 years of funding provided in a single award action. It is now in the 2nd year of the project period. What salary cap level applies?
    Since the entire project period was issued with funds from FY2011, Executive Level I will be the applicable salary cap for the entire project period.
  21. An institution submits a request for additional funds in February 2012 with salary that is impacted by the salary cap. The parent grant was awarded December 1, 2011 so is subject to Executive Level I. The additional funds will be awarded as an administrative increase (not a separate supplement award) in March 2012. What will be the applicable salary cap for the increase?
    Since the increase is in response to a discrete request for additional funds, and the decision to support the request is made on/after 12/23/2011, Executive level II would apply.  When a salary cap is involved in such a request, NIH ICs are strongly encouraged to award such increases as a separate supplement (T-3) award to help manage this requirement.  If an IC awards such an increase through a revised FY2012 award instead of a separate T-3 award, an award term will be included that specifically references that the additional funds are subject to Executive Level II.  Note this does not apply to revised awards to restore funds to awards initially issued under a Continuing Resolution.  This only applies when the revision is to provide additional funds in response to a discrete prior approval request.
  22. An FY2012 grant awarded 12/1/2011, transfers June 1, 2012. The initial FY2012 award is subject to Executive Level I. What would be the applicable level for the transfer award to the new institution?
    Since the transfer award is the initial award to the new institution, Executive Level II would be the applicable level for the new institution.  NIH will not make any adjustment for salary cap in the transfer award; however, the new grantee must apply Executive Level II.
  23. An application using a detailed budget was submitted using Executive Level I as the salary cap. Can the institution submit a revised budget that reflects the new, lower cap and rebudget the extra funds elsewhere?

    No, revised budgets to adjust for the lower salary cap will not be accepted.  This is the case even if the original budget was submitted in response to a Funding Opportunity Announcement with direct or total costs limits.   

  24. A progress report (non-SNAP) was submitted 12/1/2011 and in accordance with instructions showed salaries capped at Executive Level I. Will NIH adjust the requested budget to reflect Executive Level II?

    No, NIH will not adjust any non-competing award (SNAP or non-SNAP) for salary cap.  In this situation, the grantee must apply Executive level II once the award is issued.

Back to Top



This page last updated on February 14, 2012
Technical Issues: E-mail OER Webmaster