What happens if your research project goes over—or under—budget?
Faculty members: we know it’s important for you to deliver your research projects on time with the funds available, and in line with UBC and funding agency guidelines.
When expenses start to rise above or fall short of your approved budget, the Research Finance team can help support you. Here are some guidelines.
Over budget? The Research Finance (RF) team reviews research accounts for budget deficits twice a year. If a deficit is found, they will notify and reach a resolution with the Principal Investigator (PI), Department Heads, and Faculty Finance Directors.
Any remaining budget deficits are transferred to the department operating account. Deficits are not permitted (unless temporary), and with prior approval by the Department Head.
Under budget? The outcome depends on the funding agency guidelines and/or terms of your research contract. For example:
- For CIHR grants, there is a one-year automatic extension to use the funds, and the ability to apply for further extension.
- For NSERC and SSHRC grants, the surplus is transferred to the UBC General Research Fund (GRF) account. The UBC GRF committee approves funding requests from the researchers who need to access these funds.
- For CFI grants, it is best to directly email the Institutional Programs Office.
- For research contracts with a clause to return unspent funds, the RF team works with the PI to return funds after the research project is completed.
- For research contracts that are silent on unspent funds or have a clause to retain unspent funds, RF transfers the funds to the researcher’s unrestricted research account following UBC guidelines.