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Research Financials FAQs

The Research Financials application should be used as a tool for managing research project expenditures much like a checking account balance statement.  Each month a researcher should quickly check the details on each of his or her funds to verify that the expenses were accurate and appropriate.  You should notify your unit business manager immediately of any questions or changes that are necessary. 

It is especially important to review the percentage of salary charged on each of your funds to verify that the charge matches the effort of the individual, so that corrections can be made in a timely manner.

Research Financials can be accessed through the Research Portal in My VT.  Go to https://my.vt.edu,  login with your Virginia Tech PID, then select the Research tab and click on the link labeled Research Financials.  Or go there directly with https://webapps.es.vt.edu/researchfinancials.

The list of funds should display by default when you enter the application.  You can also display it at any time by selecting the Monthly Fund Statement tab, then clicking on Your Funds.

Click on the fund number in the Monthly Fund Statement display, and you will be presented with three possible tabs:  SummaryDetail (showing individual expense transactions), and Funding Percentages (showing salaried personnel who were charged to the project).

This is lingo in the BANNER Financial System, which manages the post-award budgeting and spending for sponsored projects.  A “FUND” corresponds  to a research project with a sponsor.  As a rule, each distinct award results in the creation of a Banner Fund, a six-digit number starting with 3 or 4, e.g., 415886.  There are thousands of Funds in Banner, each with their own begin & end date, sponsor, PI, award amount, etc.  The purpose of this application is to allow researchers to view the summary and detail financial activity on each of their Funds.

There are two ways to find information on a specific fund:

  • Select the Monthly Fund Statement tab.  Then select Your Funds to see a list of all funds, or you may search for a particular fund if you know the Banner fund number (e.g., 415886).

  • The funds listed on the Monthly Fund Statement can be sorted by any of the columns by clicking on the column title.  An arrow will then appear that can be used to toggle between ascending and descending order.

No.  This display only includes DIRECT activity.  For example, an award may total $100,000.  $70,000 of that is the DIRECT budget, which is spent on salaries, fringes, tuition, supplies, travel, subcontracts etc..  The remaining $30,000 is the INDIRECT budget, which the PI does not control.  The Indirect budget and monthly actual expenses are, from the faculty’s perspective, accounting entries that take care of Virginia Tech’s required Facilities and Administrative charges.  The $70,000 in DIRECT budget is all that is available for the PI to spend, and this application is restricted to only display that amount.

This is probably because you are thinking of your entire award budget, which includes both DIRECT and INDIRECT. 

This application only displays the DIRECT portion of the budget.  For example, as explained in the previous question, an award may total $100,000.  $70,000 of that is the DIRECT budget, which is spent on salaries, fringes, tuition, supplies, travel, subcontracts etc..  The remaining $30,000 is the INDIRECT budget, which the PI does not control. 

The Indirect budget and monthly actual expenses are, from the faculty’s perspective, accounting entries that take care of Virginia Tech’s required Facilities and Administrative charges.  The $70,000 in DIRECT budget is all that is available for the PI to spend, and this application is restricted to only display that amount.

A commitment is an encumbrance created in Banner when an order is placed in HokieMart. 

For example, you order a $100 item and a commitment of $100 is posted as a Banner transaction, and the available balance on the fund (project) is reduced by $100.  The line item in this application is shown as a negative, e.g., ($100).   When the item is received and paid for, a $100 expense transaction is posted (shown as negative), and the commitment is ‘released’ by posting an offsetting commitment transaction of a positive $100. 

In situations like this where two commitment actions are linked to the same purchase and they net to zero, the transactions are removed entirely from the display for the sake of simplicity. 

The negative commitment actions you see in this display are for orders that are still outstanding, or in some cases where the original commitment was not released in its entirety for one reason or another. 

A positive commitment indicates a release of a commitment.  The positive dollar amount means that the action added to the available balance.  Dollar commitments are made in Banner when items are ordered in Hokie Mart, and then released when the item is received and paid for.  At that time the actual expense is posted.  For convenience all the commitment releases that happened on a fund in the selected month are summed into a single positive figure in this display. 

A negative commitment indicates that the commitment was incurred in that month.  This usually means that dollars were set aside as a result of a Hokie Mart order, and later that commitment will be released when the item is received. 

Another scenario is that OSP committed the sum of the subcontractor payments that are expected to occur during the life of this project.  This removes all subcontractor amounts from the available balance at the beginning of the project, to reduce the risk of overspending, since subcontractor commitments are usually large amounts.  

The new commitments are available on the Detail tab.  To access the detail view, first select the fund number in the Monthly Fund Statement table.  This will bring you to a summary view with a link to a detail view.

Combined Commitments Released is the sum of commitments that were made during prior months and released during the month you are viewing.   Each of these releases was caused by an expenditure action, which is shown as a line item in that part of the display. 

A negative number, indicated by parentheses, such as ($5,456), indicates an action that reduced the available balance on the fund.  These are normally expenditures or new commitments.

At this time there is not an inception-to-date (ITD) display per se, although it is possible to select and view any prior month going back to the beginning of the project.  Each of those views can be exported to Excel, and the different sheets combined into a single history of the project if desired.

The dollar breakdown is not available at this time.  Only a sum of the month’s payroll and fringe expenses is currently available.  Click on ‘Funding Percentages’ to see which employee salaries were charged to this fund during the month – that display will show percentage figures only, not dollars.

Click on a specific fund number, then click on ‘Funding Percentages’ to see which employee salaries were charged to this fund during the month – that display will show percentage figures only, not dollars. 

Percentages are only shown for salaried faculty and staff, and graduate students on assistantships.  Percentages are NOT shown for wage employees or adjunct faculty.

At Virginia Tech salaried personnel are paid twice a month, and you are seeing the detail of both times that the payroll process ran.

If the Percent Funded is 50%, it means that 50% of that person’s semi-monthly salary was charged to this particular fund.  The project paid a portion of the salary.  

Select the Semester Payroll Statement tab to see how your own salary is charged to different projects and other funds for the current semester.  You may also use the Select Term button to view past or future semesters.  You will notice that percentage figures are displayed for some pay periods that have not yet occurred (e.g., it’s February and you’re seeing percentages for March, April and May).  These numbers are projected by Banner based on what will occur if current settings in the payroll system remain in place. 

This semester display closely resembles the official Virginia Tech Effort Certification that will be released after the semester ends.   Keep in mind it is an estimate, and changes may occur as funding adjustments take place. 

This is an important tool you should use throughout the semester to catch any changes that need to be made.  By the time you see the official report it will be too late to apply some changes retroactively.

That amount is not available in this application.  The purpose of the display is to show the portion of salary charged to the fund so that the PI can verify that it matches the percent of effort that the person worked on the project.  It is very difficult to reconcile salary dollar charges to percentages because retroactive changes often incur extra dollar charges in the current month to reflect percentage changes from a prior month. 

Federal regulations require that the percent of salary charged to a sponsored project not exceed the effort, and that the PI verify the charge (by percent, not dollars) at the end of each semester.

For example, a PI may budget 10% of his or her salary to be charged to a sponsored project during an academic year. This is legitimate ONLY if that PI spends at least 10% of his or her time working on that project directly. After each semester, the PI must certify that salary charges align with effort, and this is achieved in the university’s Effort Certification process.

This application does not replace that process, but offers an easy way to review the charges immediately after they occur so that corrections can be made right away. The window for correcting errors closes after sixty days -- long before the Effort Certification report is available for review, in many cases.

For example the Effort Certification report for spring semester is made available to the faculty for review and verification in July. They are verifying charges that were made all way back to January, and if there are corrections that need to be made, the federal 60-day limit is long past.

No. These amounts are summed into the single figure for Combined Payroll and Fringes.

Click on the Select Month button to display a different month.

At this time there is not an inception-to-date (ITD) display per se, although it is possible to select and view any prior month going back to the beginning of the project.  Each of those views can be exported to Excel, and the different sheets combined into a single history of the project if desired.

If you are a business manager or fiscal support staff in a department, college or center, you may view the funds for a specific faculty in your unit.  Select Monthly Fund Statement and type a PID in the Search by PI tool, then click on the magnifying glass.  Keep in mind this is the PID (e.g., cjones), not the Banner 90xxxxxxx number.  You may also view the Semester Payroll Statement for your faculty in the same way.

PIs and their approved department administrators have access to the information about funds on which the PI is listed as financial manager.  Co-PI’s and their respective departments will only have access to sub-funds with the Co-Pi as the financial manager of the fund, though the lead PI and department also have access to the sub-funds.  

A fiscal support staff or business manager may view the funds for the faculty in their department or unit. 

Look in www.research.vt.edu/era/research-financials/training for support contact information and for the downloadable User Guide.