Research Payroll assists researchers in preparing payroll forms and grant budget projections by providing support through staff and web link services.

We work in cooperation with Principal Investigators and their Staff to prepare payroll forms and to compute budgets for all grant related payroll expenditures including faculty, staff, graduates, students, and summer payroll expenses.

The payroll office conforms to all Federal and State labor regulations. We adhere to the Federal Office of Management and Budgets Circular A-21 and Circular A-110. We work in conjunction with the Office of the Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research, the Office of Vice President for Administration and Finance, the Office of Human Resources, and the Office of Graduate School in securing grant related payroll forms such as proper documentation for employment, change of status, and terminations. 

Cost Sharing

Allowable payroll cost sharing at WSU
Payroll cost sharing must be verifiable from University records. Payroll cost sharing cannot be used or reported more than one time. If payroll cost sharing benefits more than one project, it should be prorated in an equitable manner among the projects (e.g., based on % of each project's cost to total combined project costs). Mandatory payroll cost sharing must be disclosed in approved budgets when required by the agency. Payroll cost sharing must be incurred during the award period. Once payroll cost sharing budget is approved, it is obligatory, whether it is voluntary, mandatory, or required payroll cost sharing.

  • Unallowable Payroll Cost Sharing must meet the same criteria as direct costs. In addition to specific costs that are unallowable according to Federal OMB Circular A-21, the following types of cost sharing are unallowable:
  • Federal to federal appropriations, contracts, and grants funded directly or indirectly through non-federal sponsors by the federal government are not allowable as payroll cost sharing for another federal project unless the source of payroll cost sharing was explicitly disclosed in both proposals and accepted as payroll cost sharing by the federal agencies or written approval was obtained from both federal sponsors. Federal contracts and grants may be used as payroll cost sharing on any non-federal contract or grant unless prohibited by either sponsor.
  • Unrecovered expenditures included in the F & A costs may remain only with prior approval by ORA.
  • Double counting means payroll cost sharing can only be committed and reported as payroll cost sharing once. If payroll cost sharing expenditures relate to two or more projects, the expenditures should be prorated in an equitable manner among the projects so that, in total, it is only used and reported once.
  • Expenditure transactions that have already taken place in a period prior to a project’s begin date are not normally eligible as cost sharing. For example: "cost sharing" the PI's effort during the previous summer for an award with a project begins date of October 1, would not be eligible as cost sharing.

Non-Compliance with Cost Sharing Requirements
Failure to meet payroll cost sharing obligations or to adequately document payroll cost sharing can result in cost disallowances by sponsors. It is the responsibility of the principal investigator and the Office of Research to ensure University compliance with payroll cost sharing regulations and procedures.

Effort Reporting

The federal government requires an effort report when an individual is compensated by or has agreed to contribute time to a federally sponsored project.

The PI determines the level of effort committed by him/herself and others working on sponsored projects. The Principal Investigator should be cognizant of the effort proposed and the effort actually spent by those working on the project.

Salary charged to a sponsored project must, at a minimum, be commensurate with the effort committed. OMB Circular A-21 recognizes that precise allocation of effort among various projects and activities is not always feasible and, in such cases, reasonable estimations are acceptable. Research and instruction are inextricably linked. It is difficult to clearly separate them. Use good faith estimates which are reasonable and based on effective oversight of the sponsored project and individual effort.

Salary charges are initially based on estimated levels of effort. If estimated charges do not reflect actual circumstances then salary charges must be modified. Please manage your effort effectively by keeping in mind effort changes in the life
of your project.

The Office of Research documents effort by “Plan Confirmation.” Effort is based upon budgeted, planned, or assigned work activity. The certification report is sent to the PI for review, amendment, and signature. Certification reports must be returned to the Office of Research in a timely manner. Failure to accurately document and return your certification report jeopardizes the University’s eligibility for future Federal grants.

Grant Periods

Grant Period is the period of time between the effective date and the expiration date of a grant.


  • Effective date is the date specified in the grant notice on or after which, except for fixed amount awards, payroll may be charged to the grant.
  • Expiration date is the date specified in the grant notice after which payroll may not be charged against the grant except to satisfy obligations to pay allowable payroll costs committed on or before that date.

Except in fixed amount awards, the Office of Research gives authority to the PI to commit and expend payroll for allowable costs in support of the project up to the amount specified in the grant notice at any time during the grant period.