Salary Cap, Stipends, & Training Funds

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

Effective January 5, 2020, for all individuals with salary paid by NIH awards, the direct salary cap is $197,300. Find details in NIH’s February 5, 2020 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 for National Research Service Awards (NRSA) were set in a February 7, 2020 Guide notice.

Fellowship and Training Stipend Levels, in Dollars

Career Level 12 months 1 month
Predoc 25,320 2,110
Postdoc 0 52,704 4,392
Postdoc 1 53,076 4,423
Postdoc 2 53,460 4,455
Postdoc 3 55,596 4,633
Postdoc 4 57,456 4,788
Postdoc 5 59,580 4,965
Postdoc 6 61,800 5,150
Postdoc 7 or more 64,008 5,334

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

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.

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