Salary Cap & Stipends

Salary Cap & Stipends

Congress sets the salary cap for grantees and contractors and stipend levels for trainees and fellows.

When you prepare your budget, check the cap on the direct salary you can charge to a grant and the stipend levels for your competing or noncompeting application, contract, or proposal.

Salary Cap

The salary cap is currently set at $187,000 as announced in a March 17, 2017 Guide notice.

Your institution may pay you beyond the cap with non-grant funds. Note that for a nonmodular, noncompeting award, you may not get paid beyond the salary cap by rebudgeting from other categories, but you may use any freed-up salary funds for other purposes.

For historic levels, see NIH’s Salary Cap Summary (FY 1990-Present).

NRSA Stipend Levels

The levels shown below were set for FY 2016 in a January 26, 2016 Guide notice. Also see an August 8, 2016 Guide notice for projected new stipend levels which NIH expects to become effective starting December 1, 2017.

Fellowship and Training Stipend Levels, in Dollars

Career Level 12 months 1 month
Predoc 23,376 1,948
Postdoc 0 43,692 3,641
Postdoc 1 45,444 3,787
Postdoc 2 47,268 3,939
Postdoc 3 49,152 4,096
Postdoc 4 51,120 4,260
Postdoc 5 53,160 4,430
Postdoc 6 55,296 4,608
Postdoc 7 or more 57,504 4,792

More Information

For news on our budget, watch this page or NIAID Funding News. See more financial information such as the Financial Management Plan and NIAID Paylines.

Questions & Answers

How does the salary cap apply to NIH-funded awards?

NIH caps the direct salary you can request using funds paid by a competing or noncompeting application, contract, or proposal.

May I charge a higher salary to my grant than the cap allows?

No. If you're a PI on a grant or contract, you may not charge a higher salary than the current cap allows. If your institutional salary is higher than the NIH cap, you may use non-federal sources of funding to cover the difference.

Can my salary increase each year?

Each year, NIH sets a maximum for PI salaries, though your institution can use its own money to pay beyond NIH's limit.

If the limit changes, you can rebudget funds to pay for a higher salary without prior approval, but you can't get more money from NIH.

When NIH announces the levels in its Guide, we notify you in the NIAID Funding News and post the salary levels on this page.

Can I increase my effort on a grant without increasing my salary and thus keep my budget the same?

Yes, but we expect you to budget for salary at a level that matches your level of effort, up to the salary cap.

Keep in mind that if increasing your effort will alter the scope of your research, you need NIAID's permission for the change in scope.

Read Changes to Project or Budget to learn more.

Have Questions?

A program officer in your area of science can give you application advice, NIAID's perspective on your research, and confirmation that NIAID will accept your application.

Find contacts and instructions at When to Contact a NIAID Program Officer.

Content last reviewed on March 21, 2017