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SPENDING RESEARCH DOLLARS FAQs

Accountable Advances

Is it possible to give an advance to persons outside York?
Advances are only given out to York employees. The only exception is when York advances funds to institutions. Advances may not be given to Senior Scholars(retirees).

Can research grant participants obtain an accountable advance for travel and expenses when visiting to present their data based on the grant topic?
York does not pay for services in advance, especially to individuals. Also, York only gives advances to York employees. An example: a PI to take out an advance to pay for the airfare in advance of travel. When s/he returns they would submit a Claim for Reimbursement to clear the advance.

Charitable Donations

Can I make a charitable donation using my PER?
A charitable donation is not an eligible expense against a PER. PI's should contact Research Accounting at resacct@yorku.ca before making a donation.

Honoraria

A professor who currently holds a CIHR at York would like to pay two physicians who consult on the recruitment of patients from their clinics. The sum is $250 per physician. Would this be considered an eligible expense against her CIHR?
CIHR directives indicate that is considered non-eligible: Any part of the salary, or consulting fee, to the Grantee or to other persons whose status would make them eligible to apply for grants. If the physicians could apply for a CIHR grant, then no payment, including honorarium, could be paid from a CIHR grant.

Payroll

Would SSHRC allow the hiring of research associates from the country where the research is being conducted?
Foreign research associates may be hired to work on research projects in their country. They are paid as per the SSHRC salary scale. The amount in Canadian funds would be converted to their country's currency. If the RA is paid by an hourly wage, the amounts should be determined in accordance with York University's policy. No SSHRC maximums apply when paying RA's by salary. The student's or RA's would invoice York through their university/institution. York University is responsible for administering the grantee's funds.

Would the researcher be able to transfer money to a foreign institution in order to pay the foreign students, or would they pay the foreign students directly from the PI's university?
Providing that the student is working on the grantee's research, there is no problem with hiring a foreign student.

Procuring Goods and Services

Are business cards an allowable expense?
The cost may be claimed towards a grant as long as the cards were used for the sole purpose of networking.

Are office supplies eligible expenses?
Office supplies are not considered eligible expenses. Funding agencies expect institutions to assume the indirect costs and general expenses of the research project. Grant funds are used to cover the direct costs of research, including costs that would not have been incurred if the research project had not been undertaken. The only instance where these costs would be accepted is for offices supplies for the purposes of surveys, dissemination of research results, workshops and in some cases conferences. The regular office supplies for the day to day work are indirect costs and should be provided by your university or other sources of funding.

Would Tri Council grants allow a PI to issue gift cards instead of cash to participants in a Research study?
Tri Council consider incentives to participants as eligible and may be paid in the form of a gift card or cash up to $100.00.

Can I purchase office furniture with my external research funds?
Office furniture (e.g. chairs, desks, file cabinets, lamps, storage units and other furnishings) are to be supplied by York as part of its responsibility to provide infrastructure to its Researchers. There are certain York standards that have to be adhered to mitigate liability. Furniture is not a direct cost of research.

As per Tri Council policy, grant funds must contribute towards the direct costs of the research program or project for which the funds were awarded. The Institution provides for indirect or overhead costs, including the costs associated with facilities and basic utilities, the purchase and repair of office equipment, administration fees, insurance for equipment and research vehicles, and basic communication devices such as telephones and fax machines.

The funds must be used effectively and economically, and the expenses must be essential for the research supported by the grant. Tri Council considers the cabinet as office equipment and not a direct cost of research and therefore not eligible.

A PI wants to charge their Tri Council grant with a file cabinet for her home office to secure research documents. The Ethics review committee has indicated she needs to secure them in a locked cabinet. She has an office at York and York buys the furniture normally. Would this be eligible against the Tri Council grant?
The file cabinet is not an eligible expense on a Tri Council grant as this is not a direct cost of research.

Can I purchase a digital camera to use for my research?
The purchase of a digital camera is an eligible expense as long as it is strictly used for research purposes. Note however that all equipment purchased with grant funds belongs to the Institution and not to the individual Grantee.

Are out-of-country storage room rentals for the purpose of storing research materials while the PI is teaching in Canada considered an eligible expense?
This is considered eligible.

Can I rent space and charge it to my Tri Council grant?
The cost to rent a large studio on your Tri Council research grant is not an eligible expense.

Sabbatical and Leave Periods

What are considered eligible expenses while on sabbatical?
Eligible expenses related to grant funds while the PI is on sabbatical include:

  • Costs related to a vehicle necessary for field work (with prior Institutional approval; the vehicle must be licensed and insured during the sabbatical period).
  • Direct research expenses, including research assistance, bench fees, and field work expenses, when supported by appropriate documentation.
  • Transportation costs to move research equipment or material to and from the sabbatical location.
  • Travel costs to attend conferences during a sabbatical leave.
  • During a sabbatical or other leave period, the costs of travel between the home Institution and the sabbatical location, limited to one return trip ticket, except in unusual circumstances (NSERC and CIHR only).

What are considered non-eligible expenses while on sabbatical?
Non-eligible expenses related to grant funds while the PI is on sabbatical include:

  • Costs of transporting research personnel to and from a Grantee's sabbatical or leave location for supervisory or academic purposes.
  • Costs of transporting the Grantee to the home institution for supervisory purposes during a sabbatical leave.
  • Living expenses during a sabbatical leave.

Are accommodation/per diem expenses considered eligible on a Tri Council grant when on sabbatical?
For Tri Council grants, living expenses, accommodation, and per diems are not eligible while on a sabbatical. The Grantee may only claim his trip from the home institution to the sabbatical location and back.

Technology

Is the cost of a BlackBerry plus the monthly charges an eligible expense against Tri Council grants?
Cellular phone or Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) (e.g., BlackBerry, Palm Pilot, Pocket PC) rental or purchase, including service plans, long distance, local charges or pre-paid cell phone cards are not normally eligible expenses. However, expenses are eligible if the cellular telephones are required for the safety of the research personnel while on a field trip in isolated areas or for data collection and/or personnel safety reasons with adequate justification. .

Is the cost of a iPod/iPhone and iPad plus the monthly charges an eligible expense against Tri Council grants?
In order to review a request for an iPod, iPhone or iPad, the grantee is required to provide a justification to Research Accounting of how the device is essential to the research. Research Accounting will then ask the funding agency for a ruling on a case by case basis.

Is internet services considered an eligible expense?
If York University does not offer internet services at home, it is allowable for the grantee to claim internet services for his home. If York University provides internet services at both the office and home, and the grantee wishes to have a faster service at home than what York offers, we would ask the grantee to justify the need for a higher level of internet at home. Only the business portion of the internet cost is eligible against the research grant/contract.

Are expenses relating to "e" broadcasts considered eligible?
If the "e" broadcast is related to the research grant the expenses are considered eligible.

Is Norton™ Internet Security software eligible against a Tri Council grant?
York supplies the PI with Norton™ antivirus software only. Apparently this other software has better security features. Only if the Norton™ Internet Security software is necessary for his/her research will it be considered eligible. The PI will need to justify this expense.

Are the costs associated with data server storage considered an eligible expense for Tri Council grants?
If the data storage is used specifically for the purpose of the grant/project, the expense is considered to be eligible.

Training and Development

Are professional training/development, such as computer and language training eligible expenses?
Under most circumstances the costs related to professional training or development, such as computer and language training is not eligible. However, if the grantee requires the training/development to pursue the research (i.e. learn a language to interview the people) and the request is documented with sufficient details the expense will be reviewed with the granting agency.

Are translation costs an eligible expense?
Translation costs for the dissemination of research is eligible, however, detailed specifics relating to the cost must be made available prior to the expense being approved.

Travel and Subsistence

What information is required when submitting a travel and subsistence expense claim?
All travel claims must include the following information:

  • Purpose of trip;
  • Dates and destinations (person or Institution visited);
  • Official supporting documentation (e.g., prospectus or program, indicating the dates of conferences and workshops);
  • Details of daily claims for expenditures relating to those visits;
  • Details of any vehicle used;
  • Original receipts and demonstrate proof of payment, such as hotel bills, car rental agreements (credit cards slips are not valid receipts); and
  • Original air travel ticket receipts that demonstrate proof of payment

Are passport fees considered eligible expenses?
The costs for passport fees is not eligible.

What per diem rates are used when calculating expenses?
Most granting agencies defer to the institutional policy for per diem rates for international travel. Refer to York's Reimbursement of Expenses Procedure for the current rates.

Is hospitality an eligible expense on Tri Council grants?
Hospitality costs (non-alcoholic refreshments or meals) are eligible for networking purposes in the context of formal courtesy between the grantee and guest researchers and research-related activities in the context of assemblies that facilitate and contribute to the achievement of the research objectives (e.g., grantee meeting with partners and stakeholders). Alcohol is never an eligible expense under any circumstance.

Are health and/or cancellation insurance eligible expenses on a Tri Council grant?
Health insurance is not eligible expenses to be claimed on a Tri Council grant. This is not considered a direct cost of research. However, travel cancellation insurance is eligible.

In the event of an accident to a vehicle rented for research purposes on a Tri Council grant. Is the deductible amount an eligible expense against a Tri Council grant?
The grantee may claim the deductible on his Tri Council grant.

Are parking expenses an allowable expense on a Tri Council grant?
Parking is not an allowable expense on a Tri Council grant, unless it is specifically required for field work (researcher and/or research team going out to do research) and are required to pay for parking.

What about collaborators coming to York to meet with our PI's. Are they required to pay for parking?
Parking is not an allowable expense on a Tri Council grant, unless it is specifically required for field work (researcher and/or research team going out to do research) and the individuals(s) is/are required to pay for parking.

Transfer of Purchased Goods

A PI is transferring to another university. Can he take his laptop with him, which he purchased while employed at York?
In most circumstances, goods purchased from Fund 500 cost centres (i.e. external research grants) remain the property of York. However there are instances where a request can be made to transfer goods to another institution. It depends on the granting agency and the Dean's willingness to transfer the goods. Research Accounting reviews each instance on a case by case basis.