Monday, 12 December 2016

How Student Research Funding Works at RRU

Photo credit: Jessica Monte downloaded from

You’re approved!  Now how do you get the money?

This funding guide is intended to assist in the development of a research budget (required for Mitacs Accelerate applicants) and to inform major scholarship or grant recipients how their funding will be handled.

General rules you can bank on...

1. Scholarships are treated differently than grants

A scholarship is given in support a specific activity, like research learning in the case of Canada Graduate Scholarships, and there are no deliverables required except to maintain active enrollment for the duration of the award period and use the opportunity to its fullest potential.

A scholarship is taxable income. If the funding is being managed by RRU, we will issue a T4a for funds disbursed to you for the calendar year by the following February. If RRU does not yet have your SIN on file, please contact the Financial Aid & Awards office. Talk to an income tax professional for advice on potential income tax deductions.

A grant is normally awarded to faculty researchers who have a doctoral degree or PhD, with an intended expectation of deliverables. Grants normally pay for travel, equipment, research supplies, and wages for research assistants. Mitacs Accelerate Internship funding is administered like a research grant because an industry problem is being solved and the partner organization is receiving a research deliverable.

Equipment purchased with research grant funding must either be surrendered to RRU, or taxed as a personal benefit to whoever chooses to keep it at the end of the project. The Federal government requires that non-consumable supplies like laptops, voice recorders or cameras purchased with publically-funded research monies are intended for research activities for their lifetime. Educational institutions are responsible for ensuring compliance. You can download the Research Equipment Registry Form from the RRU website.

In order to minimize expenses for grant-funded projects, check with RRU to see if we have previously-surrendered equipment for loan. 

2. You must be actively enrolled and taking classes during the award period

All student funding has a period of study start and end. That is, you are expected to be actively engaging as a student doing whatever it is you got the funding for, whether it's research learning or conducting research. The Notice of Award/Funding you receive when your funding is approved makes it clear what the expectations are.

Financial Aid & Awards actively monitors enrollment and has an obligation to inform the funder if a recipient no longer meets the eligibility requirements. If you are considering taking a leave of absence for medical or personal reasons, talk to the Financial Aid & Awards team before you make any decisions to find out if there are any repercussions and if there are any options to interrupt or defer your funding.

3. Remain in good financial standing at RRU

It is very important to note that any tuition and fees due before the research funding arrives at RRU are your responsibility. We have a tuition deferral program if the award disbursement is expected within 60 days of the tuition deadline. Should you choose to participate with a Tuition and Fee Deferral, the amount of tuition and fees deferred will be automatically deducted from your award when it arrives.

RRU cannot approve deferral of tuition and fees for longer than 60 days because of the risk of debt accumulating on your student account. If something unpredictable were to happen, requiring an interruption in your study and you are no longer eligible for the funding, you would owe an unexpected debt to the university. This rule is in place for your protection.

4. Keep your contact information up to date on MyAdmin

RRU issues student research funding by cheque in regular mail. Please ensure your mailing address is always up to date in MyAdmin.

5. This is how we pay out NSERC/SSHRC/CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship Masters (CGSM) funding

This award funds 12 months of masters-level research training. All courses leading up to the research component of a program and the research activity itself are considered training. Award take-up dates are May 1st, September 1st, and January 1st following the competition for funding. RRU normally pays out these awards in two installments: half the award on the take-up date, and the other half six months later.  Students in accelerated programs that have fewer than 12 months of active study after the earliest award take-up date will receive a pro-rated amount of funding. 
Recipients are given the option of how they would like to receive the funding. 
  1. It can be credited to your student account to pay for upcoming tuition and fees, or mailed to you by cheque. Note: if a tuition payment plan is agreed upon by Student Accounts, directly remitting funding from the award, contact them if any late fees are charged by accident.
  2. It cannot be automatically credited towards textbooks, gift shop purchases, parking fees/fines, library fines, or cafeteria food cards.

6. And this is how we handle Mitacs Accelerate funding

Mitacs Accelerate funds are technically awarded to the academic supervisor. 
A minimum $10,000 for each accelerate "internship" is to be paid to the student conducting the research, and the remaining $5,000 can be used to cover eligible travel and expenses for the student and/or the academic supervisor, or paid out as an additional stipend. 
A budget is required as part of the application. If a portion of the funding is designated for travel and expenses, the funding will be issued as a reimbursement. 

For accounting/tax purposes, the stipend is treated like an award and a T4a is issued each February following each year a stipend was paid out.


7. Generally allowable expenses for Mitacs Accelerate and other Grants

Each granting agency will have its own financial management parameters but generally these are accepted expenses:
Hotel Accommodation - Federal grant recipients are expected to travel by the most economic means possible. Don't book the honeymoon suite at a fancy hotel, ok?  Try using your student ID and stating you are traveling for research purposes to see if you can get a government rate. Your Notice of Award might come in handy for proving legitimacy/eligibility.
Private Accommodation - When staying at a private accommodation where there is no charge, you are permitted to offer and claim a gift amount of up to $31.65 per day to your host. Please obtain a written statement from the accommodation provider acknowledging receipt (and value) of the gift.
Meals - The following rates are to be used for meals taken while traveling on research business. This is the per diem rate prescribed by RRU's Finance Department. Per diem rates default to RRU's unless the granting agency provides written permission to increase them.

These reimbursement rates cover meal and other out-of-pocket travel expenses and receipts are not required. Where a meal is provided without charge, no claim for that meal can be made. For example, many conferences offer lunch and build that cost in the registration fee. In situations where meals in a particular location are more expensive than the allowable rates, actual receipts may be submitted. The cost of alcoholic beverages cannot be claimed.
When reporting expenses, it is important to note the dates of travel and the time you left and arrived home. For example, if you left home at 2pm, you would be eligible for dinner and incidentals for that day. If you arrived home at 2pm, you would be eligible to claim per diems for breakfast, lunch, and incidentals.
Incidentals assume the cost of extra little things you needed to purchase because you were away from home, like if you need to buy ear plugs because you're staying in an airport hotel. No justification for claiming incidentals is required.
Transportation- Fares for transportation by air, bus, ferry, rail or taxi may be claimed. The type of carrier and accommodation shall be chosen to effect early completion of the trip. Economy class for air travel shall be used. 
Private Vehicle Allowance- For each independent trip, record the kilometers travelled and the date of travel. If a personal vehicle is used for travel, RRU reimburses mileage at a rate of $0.54 per kilometer. For rental cars, mileage is included in the cost of the rental and should not be claimed as a separate expense. 
These things are not eligible for reimbursement:
Travel Points - DO NOT USE YOUR PERSONAL TRAVEL POINTS to book airfare, accommodations, or car rentals. RRU will not reimburse for points used because they do not have a cash value.
Insurance - Any insurance coverage, including trip cancellation insurance, is the responsibility of the traveler.
Parking or speeding tickets.
Cell phone charges – unless you are expecting to be out of the country for an extended period of time, or your research requires a substantial amount of daytime minutes and you do not have an appropriate phone plan as part of your normal day-to-day personal use, you may wish to look into enhancing your existing plan. The extra cost, above your normal plan expenses, may be reimbursable. Unreasonable cell phone charges, like those accrued on an inferior cell phone plan where an enhanced plan could have been put in place, or roaming charges, are definitely not reimbursable. Ask the Financial Aid & Awards office for guidance.


8. How to submit an expense claim

Mail your original receipts to Financial Aid & Awards and include a simple table to help us complete the Finance Department's expense reimbursement form. We won't subject you to completing the actual expense reimbursement form because it is too complicated with cost centres and account codes. However, we would appreciate a table from you detailing expenses to make it easy for us to complete the form, like these below. Do the best you can and if we have questions, we'll let you know.
Travel and Supplies for In-Person Interviews in Surrey, BC
Business Name Issuing Receipt
Description of Item
Amount Before Taxes
Receipt Total
10 food cards for payment to research subjects
BC Ferries
Car, driver, and reservation
Comfort Inn
Hotel accommodation
BC Ferries
Car, driver, and reservation
PRIVATE Transportation
Travelled from where to where?
Total km traveled
Home in Victoria to Surrey
37.6 (home to Swartz Bay) + 36.3 (Tsawwassen  to Surrey) = 74.9
Surrey to home
36.3 (Surrey to Tsawwassen) + 37.6 (Swartz Bay to home) = 74.9
Per Diems
Departed at 2pm. Dinner and incidentals
Arrived home 2pm. Breakfast, lunch and incidentals.

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