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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
September 19, 2017
Canadian Excellence

Managing Research Budgets

Expense Claim Regulations

WLU Research Grants are awarded by the Vice-President: Research upon the recommendation of the Grants Committee. Expense accounts must be prepared for all expenses and they must be supported by receipts. All expenses must be approved by the Chairperson, Area Coordinator, or Dean (for Social Work or Music), or the applicant's dean if a department chairperson receives a grant, and forwarded to the Accounts Payable Office.

1. Research Assistant Stipends And Calculation of Benefits:

(a) NSERC, SSHRC, and CIHR no longer specify maximum or minimum stipends for the grant funding of students.  The Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide no longer stipulates the value of stipends that can be paid from grants.

In past years, rates have varied. These are our suggested rates: (Note: An additional 14% of stipend amounts must be budgeted  to cover mandatory taxes and benefits.)

  • $12,000-$17,000/year (full time master's student)
  • $17,000-$19,000/year (PhD student)
  • $32,000 minimum (postdoctoral fellow)

(b)  recommended hourly rates for student research assistants (as of September 1, 2016).

 Undergraduate Students

 $16-22 per hour

(based on year of study)

 Master's Students  $22-28 per hour
 Doctoral Students  $28-33 per hour
In addition to the above hourly rate, an additional 14% must be budgeted to cover mandatory taxes and benefits (Canada Pension, Unemployment Insurance, Vacation Pay). Charges are calculated by Payroll and deducted from your account automatically.

If you have further questions about hourly rates, please direct your questions to Stacey Hawkins in Human Resources. 

Also refer to the settlement reached between the University and WLUSA regarding hiring people from research grant funding.

2. University limits for all university travel expenses include:

Meal Allowance: For travel in Canada, the maximum allowed for meals is $70.00 (Canadian) per diem; for travel outside Canada, the maximum per diem is $70 (U.S.), as per the 2014 WLUFA Collective Agreement. Receipts are not necessary to claim this meal allowance of $70 per diem.

Car Allowance: The allowance for mileage is $0.44/km; parking charges are also included for reimbursement. The use of personal vehicles beyond 500 kilometers is not encouraged and travel beyond this distance is reimbursed at the lesser of the mileage or air economy rate.

Train Fare: No stipulation or limit is placed on train fare but economy class should be used whenever possible and appropriate documentation must be provided.

Air Travel: Economy class should be used whenever possible. When special rates are available (e.g. advanced booking charter, advanced purchase fare), faculty are encouraged to make use of these opportunities. If this arrangement necessitates a few additional stay-over days at the point of destination, the standard per diem allowances will be granted. This arrangement will be considered only if the total expense is less than the economy fare.

Taxi: Taxi expenses are reimbursed if used on university business outside Kitchener-Waterloo.

3. Payment of Research Participants:

In submitting expenses to the Finance Office related to payment of research participants, researchers should submit signatures from individuals who have received payment. An exception to this requirement for signatures can be made in cases where the Informed Consent Statement promises anonymity and/or confidentiality. For these projects, the researcher will need to submit a copy of the Informed Consent Statement and the appropriate Finance form testifying that he/she has paid research participants, giving details as to the number of participants and the amount per participant. Note that the Informed Consent Statement will need to contain a sentence referring to anonymity and/or confidentiality. The Finance form will need to be signed by the researcher and his/her Chair/Area Head/Dean as appropriate.

If a funds are required in advance of the subject's participation, please use the Research Participant Advances and Reconciliations form. A copy of the consent form noting confidentiality of subject, as well as the authorized signature must be submitted with the Advance form. A follow-up to Finance detailing number of subjects and amount paid to each subject would be required to account for the advance. (See tab 3 of the form).

4. Relatives and dependents of a grant holder may not receive income from a grant or contract unless their special qualifications clearly justify their participation in the project. All such cases must be specifically approved by the Vice-President: Academic or designate prior to the commencement of the project in order to avoid any possible conflict of interest (See also, University Policy #12-5, Section VI (a) re: Conflicts of Interest; and Article 9.6.2 of the Collective Agreement).

5. The above expense policy will apply to all faculty holding grants authorized by the Vice-President: Research. Only expense claims which are prepared in accordance with this policy will be approved by the appropriate department chairperson, area coordinator, or dean and subsequently reimbursed by the Accounts Payable Office.

6. Faculty who run a deficit in one grant account must repay the University from an external grant or contract, from personal funds, or from another existing internal grant which has been completed with a surplus. Faculty who have been notified by the Office of Research Services that an internal grant is in a deficit position will not be permitted to apply for any internal grants until the deficit has been removed.

7. Internal grants are awarded for a specific project to be completed within an established period of time. Consequently, it is expected that a Final Report will be submitted for each grant within 24 months following the letter of award. Grant accounts may be closed 24 months after an award is offered unless the grant recipient requests an extension from the Dean of Research for a specific period of time.

Accounts Office Personnel

Recipients of internal grants are provided with an account number by the Office of Research Services. The account numbers for external grants are established by the Comptroller's Office. Receipts accompanying expense claims must be submitted to the Accounts Payable Office. Time sheets for the payment of research or student assistants are submitted to Payroll. The account number and the appropriate signature(s) must appear on all expense claims and time sheets. At the completion of an external grant, the Office of Research Services prepares a final financial report according to the agency's guidelines. During the course of the grant, it is the investigator's responsibility to manage the funds responsibly. To access your grant information on the web, please contact Donna Gross, x3883. You wil need to know your employee ID number.

To access your grant information on the web, Millennium is a computer program designed to sit on top of the Banner and give more meaningful access to information. For new users who require Banner accounts, use the Banner request form to get access to Millennium. 

If you have any questions pertaining to accounting procedures or regulations, please contact René Soto, Financial Administrator, Research Grants, by email to or phone at x2695.

Signing Authority

Applications for all WLU grants and for most external grants and contracts require the signature of the Department Chairperson and or Dean. In signing the application form the Chairperson/Dean is indicating that he or she is cognizant of the proposal, particularly with respect to time and space commitments. If you do not have a Chairperson, or if you are a Chairperson, the Dean of your Faculty must sign the application.

WLU Travel Grant applications require the signature of your Dean. The Dean's signature indicates that you have permission to be absent from campus if the conference will be held during the Fall or Winter semester.

If the University is to administer an externally-funded grant or contract, the application must be signed on behalf of the University by the Vice-President: Research.

Compensation of Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows Paid Out of NSERC Grants

NSERC compensation policy for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows now allows the payment to be in the form of employment income or a stipend (scholarship or fellowship). The type of payment is determined by the nature of the assistance provided by the graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. It is the responsibility of the grant recipient (the Grantee) to make this determination. The determination is important, as it affects the treatment of the payment for income tax purposes and the corresponding reporting and withholding requirements of the University.

The Grantee is responsible for clearly communicating the nature of the compensation payment to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows receiving payment from the grant.

Payments to NSERC-supported graduate students and postdoctoral fellows must be requested through the University Payroll Office. The payment request form to be used, and the information recorded on the form, will depend on the nature of the payment.

Employment Income

If a student performs specific work for a NSERC grant under a contract of service, the payment should be employment income. Generally, work is employment in nature if the person takes direction for the task accomplished. Direction implies control over the student on the manner in which the work is performed, the hours and place of work, and the quality of work completed.

Further rules and guidelines on employment compensation paid from NSERC grants are found in the "Compensation" section of the NSERC Researcher's Guide.

Income taxes and other payroll-related withholdings must be deducted from employment income payments. An individual receiving employment income can receive employment insurance benefits and contribute to RRSPs. The total amounts paid and deducted in the year will be reported by the University on T4 forms. Payment requests for work performed for NSERC grants should be made by submitting time sheets, approved by the Grantee, to the Payroll Office.


Scholarships are amounts paid to students to enable them to pursue their education and proceed towards a degree or diploma. Normally, a student is not expected to perform specific work in exchange for a scholarship payment.

No income taxes or other payroll-related withholdings are deducted by the University on scholarship payments. However, scholarship awards, exceeding the first $3000 of the payment, are considered taxable income for the student (see Canada Revenue Agency Interpretation Bulletin IT75R4 - Scholarships, Fellowships, Bursaries, Prizes, Research Grants and Financial Assistance for details). Scholarship recipients are not eligible to receive employment insurance benefits nor can they contribute to RRSPs. Scholarship payments are reported by the University on T4A forms.

NSERC scholarship awards should be requested on a ` Cheque Authorization - "Payroll Only" ' form, submitted to the Payroll Office. The form must be approved by the Grantee, and must clearly indicate the payment is a NSERC scholarship award. Also, the form must indicate the award is to be processed as a T4A payment to the recipient.


For income tax purposes, the treatment of a fellowship depends upon the primary purpose for which the fellowship was granted as determined by reference to the terms and conditions attached to the award.

If the primary purpose of the award is to further the education and training of the recipient in his or her individual capacity, such as studying for a doctoral degree, the award is treated like a scholarship, even though research is undertaken as a means to achieve that purpose.

If the primary purpose of the award is to carry out research for its own sake (for example, to further knowledge in a particular field by discovering new facts, or by reinterpreting existing knowledge), the award is considered to be a research grant. There is no $3000 exemption for research grants, but research expenses are deductible. Where the recipient's education and training is also furthered by such research, such a benefit does not invalidate the primary purpose of the grant provided the benefit can be considered to be a secondary purpose of the grant or an inevitable but incidental benefit.

If the fellowship is similar to a scholarship, NSERC fellowship awards should be requested on 'Cheque Authorization - "Payroll Only"' forms submitted to the Payroll Office. The form must be approved by the Grantee, and must clearly indicate the payment is a NSERC fellowship award. Also, the form must indicate the award is to be processed as a T4A payment to the recipient.

If the award is considered a research grant, the `Cheque Authorization - "Payroll Only" ' form should be used to request payment from the Payroll Office. The form must be approved by the Grantee, and must clearly indicate the payment is a NSERC research grant. The form must indicate the award is to be processed as a T4A payment to the recipient.