Salary Certification

Salary certification is a requirement for individuals with salary charges to sponsored accounts, federal appropriated accounts, or cost-sharing accounts.

Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (2 CFR 200) (referred to as Uniform Guidance) require institutions receiving federal funds to certify no less than annually the reasonableness of salary and wage charges in relation to work performed. Therefore, all Cornell units that charge individual salaries to accounts that include sponsored, including program income and cost-shared sources, and federal appropriations activity (i.e., Federal Capacity Funds) must submit signed "Salary Certification" worksheets to the Division of Financial Affairs (DFA) each fiscal year.

Those required to complete the Salary Certification worksheets should first review University Policy 3.11, Salary Confirmation. The policy addresses the requirements for salary certification and provides information on how to make changes to the university records, when necessary.

For further instructions, please refer to the FY 2021 training materials:

Effort Reporting Training for Principal Investigators

The Vice President for Research and Innovation announced in 2012 that "the university must require all our principal investigators (PIs) to complete a brief training regarding the regulations and policies governing personnel effort on sponsored awards and the related verification of salaries, also known as effort certification." The training and changes to the Salary Confirmation policy were implemented in response to a federal audit citing Cornell in this area. Below are instructions for completing the training through CULearn. You must complete the tutorial through the last slide and answer review questions before your completed course can be recorded.

To take the tutorial:

  1. Go to the DFA Yearly Effort Certification for Project Directors Tutorial course page in CULearn (Cornell NetID and password required).
  2. Click Enroll.
  3. Click Launch to launch the training.

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Highlights of the Salary Certification Process

  • The certification process for both the endowed division and contract colleges is required only for individuals with salary charges to sponsored accounts, federal appropriated accounts, or cost-sharing accounts. All other personnel are excluded from this process.
  • The report contains year-to-date (YTD) actual salaries. Reports will be generated by employee ID and position.
  • Summer salary will appear on a separate report.
  • Faculty or staff members can sign their individual reports, or units may use a group certification form. If using the group certification form, units must obtain suitable verification that the work was actually performed and is allocable to the sponsored award. Units must have written documentation that this verification was performed.
  • Reports will be distributed via Secure File Transfer or CALS Salary Certification System.
  • The certification process will incorporate all 12 months of the fiscal year. Data will include FY 2021 salary transfers that have been submitted and approved by July 15, 2021.
  • Any additional changes or corrections to FY 2020 payroll distribution must be made using the Salary Expense Transfer (ST) e-doc. The percentages and dollar amounts must be manually updated on the salary certification report and the ST e-doc number must be noted. Prospective changes can be done in Workday.
  • All final certified reports must be remitted to Sponsored Financial Services QA by Friday, September 3, 2021, using one of the following options:
    • Complete the Group Certification Form, including the suitable means of verification and insert as the cover page of a PDF file that includes each Salary Certification report produced for the respective org; certify the cover page with an authenticated digital signature and upload the completed PDF file via Cornell Secure File Transfer to Elizabeth Peet (eap2).
    • If the unit prefers to submit individually certified Salary Certification reports, ensure that each report has been certified with an authenticated digital signature and upload all certified Salary Certification reports produced for the respective org in one submission via Cornell Secure File Transfer to Elizabeth Peet (eap2).
    • If the unit prefers to provide physical paper reports that are either group certified or individually certified, ink-signed certifications are still accepted; please make arrangements with Elizabeth Peet to coordinate delivery by the due date.

Note: Salaries that have been certified through the salary certification process should only be transferred from a sponsored account for clearing an overdraft or removing an inappropriate charge. The salary must be transferred to an appropriate non-sponsored account or in the event of a true overdraft, to a cost share sub-account. In all cases, a complete explanation for the transfer must be reflected on the ST e-doc. A recertified salary certification report for the period affected, noting the ST e-doc number, must be sent to Sponsored Financial Services.

We are continually seeking ways to enhance our processes to minimize the administrative requirements for academic units, while fulfilling our obligation to meet federal, state, and other requirements. In this spirit, your feedback concerning the salary certification process, as well as any recommendations for future enhancements, are encouraged. Please direct suggestions, questions, and concerns regarding the current year's procedures to Elizabeth Peet or Janet Strait.