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Salary Cap, Stipends, & Training Funds

Consult the latest salary cap and stipend levels when you prepare your grant application or contract proposal budget. For fellowship and training awards, learn how you may spend funds.

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

Salary Cap

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Public Law 116-260, Division H, Section 202, restricts the amount of direct salary which may be paid to an individual under an HHS grant, cooperative agreement, or applicable contract to a rate no greater than Executive Level II of the Executive Schedule Pay Table.

Effective January 3, 2021, the Executive Level II salary cap level is $199,300. NIH announced this level in a January 29, 2021 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.

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

NRSA Stipend Levels

The levels shown below for National Research Service Awards (NRSA) were announced in a January 27, 2021 Guide notice.

Fellowship and Training Stipend Levels, in Dollars

Career Level 12 months 1 month
Predoc 25,836 2,153
Postdoc 0 53,760 4,480
Postdoc 1 54,144 4,512
Postdoc 2 54,540 4,545
Postdoc 3 56,712 4,726
Postdoc 4 58,608 4,884
Postdoc 5 60,780 5,065
Postdoc 6 63,036 5,253
Postdoc 7 or more 65,292 5,441

What Do Training Funds Pay For?

You may use funds from Training Grants (T) and Fellowship Grants (F) to pay for the following:

  • Stipends—follow the amounts shown in the Stipend Levels table above.
  • Facilities and administrative costs based on eight percent of modified total direct costs. State and local government agencies may request full reimbursement.
  • Tuition and fees for each trainee:
    • Predoctoral—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $16,000 per year. You may use 60 percent up to $21,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
    • Postdoctoral—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $4,500 per year. You may use 60 percent up to $16,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
  • Trainee travel, including attendance at vital scientific meetings. We do not set a limit on how much you can request, though the norm is $1,000 for each trainee.
  • Institutional allowance for training-related expenses (e.g., administrative support, health insurance, and research supplies) for each trainee:
    • Predoctoral—$4,200 per year at non-federal, public and private, non-profit institutions (domestic and foreign) and $3,100 per year for federal and for-profit institutions.
    • Postdoctoral—$11,850 per year at non-federal, public and private, non-profit institutions (domestic and foreign) and $10,750 per year for federal and for-profit institutions.
  • On a case-by-case basis, institutional costs for accommodating disabled trainees in addition to usual costs paid by training-related expenses. Check with your assigned grants management specialist.  

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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