Faculty Incentive Salary Increment Program (FISIP)


The goal of the Faculty Incentive Salary Increment Program (FISIP) is to reward principal investigators, co-principal investigators, colleges, departments, and centers/institutes with financial incentives to encourage the growth of research and external funding and to enhance grantsmanship. The program is designed to recommend the option of a salary incentive to high-performing faculty in the form of variable pay funded by PI incentive funds during the agreement. The FISIP recommendation is initiated by the Department Chair/Director, accepted by the faculty member, and approved by the Dean and Senior Vice President and Provost (SVPP).

This document provides the conditions under which incentive increments may be awarded. It remains important that a faculty member receiving a FISIP increment support their academic year salary and summer salary from grants consistent with effort. The college and department will not contribute any state funds for summer salary for any nine-month faculty member participating in this program (with the exception of faculty teaching summer session courses, or those with administrative duties or administrative assignments, such as director or chair).

Iowa State University policies and programs will comply with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200, “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards”) which sets forth the cost principles that institutions of higher education must follow in expenditures of federally-sponsored program funds. Specifically, the Uniform Guidance stipulates that institutions must have a payroll distribution system that allows salaries paid under federal grants to be properly allocated and that the institution confirms that individual compensation (including the salary rate) paid under federal awards are appropriate to that award.

When submitting a new proposal for sponsored funding, a faculty PI or Co-PI may be required to indicate their salary. Those PIs or Co-PIs receiving a FISIP increment should indicate their institutional base salary and should not include the FISIP increment. Providing the salary amount with the FISIP could result in excess or unallowable charges to the sponsor. In addition, the FISIP increment may not be directly charged to current sponsored awards.

The Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost will evaluate continually the effectiveness of the FISIP program and reserves the right to terminate the program if it is not meeting its intended goals.

FISIP Guidelines


FISIP is intended to recognize exceptional performance in research, and satisfactory performance in all other areas of position responsibilities, with the goal of incentivizing outstanding performance in grantsmanship. Only faculty serving as PI or co-PI are eligible to be recommended for FISIP. Faculty who have received an unsatisfactory annual evaluation for the most recent year are ineligible to receive a FISIP.  Please note: P & S staff members who serve as PI or Co-PI are covered under a separate program (see Extra-Meritorious Performance Pay Program).


When a Department Chair or Academic Unit Director determines through the annual performance review process that a faculty member serving as PI or Co-PI has exceptional performance in research, and satisfactory performance in all other areas of position responsibilities, the Chair/Director may recommend that the faculty member receive a FISIP increment. The Chair/Director may offer a FISIP increment pending approval by the Dean and SVPP. The FISIP increment is not meant to replace annual performance-based merit increases. The amount of the FISIP increment should be determined by the Chair/Director in consultation with the faculty member based on the individual's performance and salary competitiveness, as well as the availability of incentive funds. The Department Chair/Director should carefully evaluate the ability of the incentive funds to cover both the FISIP and all other costs for which PI incentive funds should be used. The faculty member's ability to initiate new research, provide bridge-funding between grants, etc., should not be compromised because of a FISIP increment.

FISIP in centers/institutes

Many Centers/Institutes collect PI incentive funds from their members to help cover the administrative costs of their units (e.g., a PI incentive pool). In order to allow faculty in those units to participate in the program, an alternate funding source may fund a FISIP. In consultation with the relevant Department Chair/Unit Director and Dean, general funds may be used to fund the FISIP when the general fund salary savings are a result of a buy-out to allow the faculty member to collaborate with the Center/Institute. Also, some Center/Institute directors, for administrative reasons, serve as the PI on the sponsored projects of their members and thus accrue PI incentive funds. These pooled funds cannot be used to award a FISIP increment to the Center/Institute director.

FISIP increment amount

The proposed FISIP increment may not exceed 20% of the faculty member's institutional base salary at the time of recommendation. The total amount of the FISIP increment and corresponding fringe benefits will be funded by the faculty member's PI incentive funds. The use of FISIP and the amount of the increment, once recommended by the chair/director and agreed to by the faculty member, must be approved by the dean and the SVPP. An increment may not be awarded retroactively.

The faculty member will be responsible for funding the entire incentive increment and corresponding fringe benefits during the academic year prior to funding any summer salary (if nine-month faculty) in each year of the agreement.

Any FISIP increment awarded must be taken from the faculty member's PI incentive account (490). If the faculty member is not able to fund the entire incentive increment and corresponding fringe benefits during any academic year, then the department will be obligated to pay the balance of the incentive (increment and fringe benefits) until the end of that academic year. If the incentive increment cannot be met thereafter by the faculty member, then the incentive increment agreement shall be ended. It is a violation of federal costing principles to transfer FISIP encumbrances to the PI's sponsored awards.

Summer salary

A faculty member who receives a FISIP increment can pay themselves summer salary from sponsored awards if actually expending effort. However, departments cannot pay summer salary from state funds with three exceptions: faculty who are teaching in Summer Session; faculty who are on administrative assignment, such as a department chair; and when an external grant mandates a match and that match is from state funds. A faculty member who pays themselves full-time on sponsored awards must work full-time on them. See the ISU Effort Reporting and Certification Policy for additional detail.

Duration of FISIP

The length of time for which a faculty member can be awarded a FISIP is one year, renewable. FISIP increments may be renewed pending the outcome of annual performance reviews and department chair/director recommendation. To end FISIP participation, a department chair/director must complete the FISIP agreement for the next fiscal year and indicate that the FISIP participation will terminate.


Recommendations for FISIP increments to begin July 1 of the following fiscal year must be forwarded from the department chair and dean to the SVPP Office by the second Friday of May.  

Approval and documentation

Following the faculty member’s agreement to the FISIP proposed by the Department Chair/Director, approval of the Dean and SVPP are required. The FISIP increment is processed as an allowance plan (variable pay) spread over the duration of the agreement similar to the disbursement dates for base salary. It does not appear as part of the base salary.

A FISIP Recommendation and Agreement Form shall be submitted annually for each FISIP proposed.

The FISIP increment will be reviewed at each annual performance review. At that time, the Chair/Director will decide whether to recommend a continuation or end of any FISIP increment. The FISIP increment cannot be continued without the recommendation and approval of the Chair/Director, Dean, and SVPP. The faculty member may request to reduce or eliminate their obligation and end the FISIP increment agreement at the time of the annual performance review.


Updated March 31, 2020 



Bright pink flowers in front of the campanile

FISIP recommendation and agreement form (PDF, 198KB)


"The FISIP program rewards faculty who have been highly successful in obtaining externally funded grants and is a unique way that the university supports and retains high-performing faculty. I appreciate the recognition through FISIP for my contributions to the university’s research mission, and it lets me know that my contributions are appreciated too. The program is a win-win for all involved. I always tell new faculty that Iowa State offers innovative programs like FISIP and other infrastructure that will strengthen their research competitiveness and impact."

Diane Rover
University Professor
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering



Akelo Harris
Faculty Personnel Data and Analytics Specialist,