Overview: University Services Fee (USF)

All visiting scholars and visiting student researchers must pay the University Services Fee (USF) in order to be in compliance with Visiting Scholar Postdoc Affairs (VSPA) affiliation requirements and to gain access to university services such as library access, ID card, and a Berkeley email account. The new University Fee Schedule is posted on the VSPA website, and proposals to external sponsors that involve visiting scholars and student researchers should always budget for the appropriate USF unless other funding sources are available to pay this cost.

VCR Modification

To assist faculty that are proposing projects that involve high school student interns, undergraduate student interns and/or K-12 teacher interns in on campus activities that take place for three months or less during the summer, the VCR has issued a modification to the USF requirement:

  • Prior to June 1, 2020 the USF will be waived for qualifying interns if approval is obtained from the Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs Office (VSPA).
  • After June 1, 2020, the USF for qualifying interns will be reduced to $500 per intern if approval is obtained from the VSPA.

To qualify for the fee waiver/reduction, interns must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Interns’ activities must be funded by a domestically-based, external sponsor.
  • The proposed interns must be high school students, undergraduate students, or K-12 teachers.
  • The internship period must be for three months or less, occur during the summer, and be non-renewable.

Examples not eligible for waiver/reduction: 

  • Chinese undergraduate students participating in a summer science exploration program at Berkeley funded by the Beijing Jingyu Education Development Promotion Association. (Not funded by a domestic sponsor.)
  • K-12 teachers spending weekends throughout the academic year on campus to study and learn how to teach the works of Mark Twain. (Interns’ activities do not occur during the summer.)

New Internal Proposal Guidelines (effective July 15, 2018)

  1. Proposals with activities for qualifying interns (see above) that will occur before 6/1/2020:

    The Principal Investigator (PI) must submit a Pre-award Summer Internship Waiver Request Form real URL is to VSPA and provide a copy to SPO as a Phoebe proposal attachment.

    This form will be reviewed by VSPA, and the PI will receive notice via return email indicating whether the waiver has been granted or not, or if additional information is needed. SPO will check to make sure the form provided to VSPA also has been submitted as a proposal attachment in Phoebe before submitting the proposal to the sponsor.

    If the proposal is funded:
    • The PI should contact the VSPA Office (vspa@berkeley.edu) as soon as the PI is notified that the award has been received by SPO/IAO.
    • If the USF waiver is approved by VSPA, the USF will be waived for qualifying interns. If the waiver is not approved the PI will be responsible for paying the current USF for each intern from other sources.

  2. Proposals with activities involving qualifying interns that will occur after 6/1/2020:

    The proposal budget should include a reduced USF of $500 per qualifying intern under “participant support costs” or a similar budget line in their project budget for project periods occurring after 6/1/2020.  The budget justification should include the following an explanation of this cost:

    The reduced University Services Fee (USF) for qualifying summer interns is $500 per intern for domestically-based, externally-funded outreach and training programs occurring after June 1, 2020.

    If the proposal is funded:
    • The PI should contact the VSPA Office (vspa@berkeley.edu) as soon as the PI is notified that the award has been received by SPO/IAO.
    • VSPA will determine if the reduced USF will apply based on the criteria listed above. If approved, the USF will be reduced to $500 per qualifying intern. If the waiver is not approved, the standard USF in place at that time will be charged for each intern.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When does this new proposal requirement take effect?
    All proposals submitted through SPO or IAO after 7/15/18 are required to follow this procedure.

  2. What will happen if the Pre-award Summer Internship Waiver Request Form is not uploaded into Phoebe before the proposal is submitted to SPO/IAO?
    If it is clear from the information provided in the proposal that qualifying interns will be engaged in on campus activities prior to June 1, 2020, SPO/IAO will not submit the proposal until the Pre-award Summer Internship Waiver Request Form has been provided as a Phoebe proposal attachment.

  3. What if the PI does not include the required Pre-award Summer Internship Waiver Request Form, and SPO/IAO fails to note this omission.
    The PI is responsible for determining when to include the Pre-award Summer Internship Waiver Request Form as a proposal attachment in Phoebe and/or budgeting for the USF reduction as needed.

  4. If some intern activities take place before 6/1/2020 and others take place after 6/1/2020, what is required?
    The Pre-award Summer Internship Waiver Request Form (as described above) is required for any intern activities that will occur prior to and after 6/1/2020, and a $500 USF should be budgeted per intern for activities that occur after 6/1/2020.

  5. If all of my project’s intern activities take place after 6/1/2020, do I need to submit a Pre-award Summer Internship Waiver Request Form with my proposal?
    No. You are required to budget a $500 USF per intern for any activities that occur after 6/1/2020.

  6. Where should this cost be included in my proposal budget?
    The reduced USF may be budgeted as a participant support cost, if allowed by the sponsor, or as “Other.”

  7. How should I explain this cost in the budget justification?
    Include the following description in your budget justification:

    The reduced University Services Fee (USF) for qualifying interns is $500 per participant for domestically-based, externally-funded outreach and training programs occurring after June 1, 2020.

  8. What if the sponsor will not pay the USF for the interns involved in my project or VSPA disapproves the PI’s USF waiver request?
    The PI may request a waiver of the USF directly from the VCR. Waivers will be rare and granted on a case by case basis.  If the waiver is not granted the cost will be charged to the PI’s department/unit.

  9. What is required at the award stage? 
    As soon as the PI is notified that the award has been received by SPO/IAO, the PI should contact the Visiting Scholar Postdoc Affairs (VSPA) Office (vspa@berkeley.edu ) to finalize the USF waiver/reduction.

  10. What if I have questions about the eligibility of interns involved in my project at the proposal stage?

    Contact Andrew Green at vspa@berkeley.edu.

  11. What if I already have a funded project involving qualifying interns and I did not budget for the USF?

    If you have a project that involves the type of interns that meet all of the qualifications described above, the PI should submit a waiver request form to VSPA. VSPA will inform the PI as to whether the project can get a waiver of the USF for intern activities that occur before June 1, 2020 and/or a reduction of the USF for intern activities that occur after June 1, 2020.

  12. If I did not budget for the USF in the proposal can I charge my sponsor for the USF at the award stage?

    When the sponsor allows budget flexibility (without the need to obtain prior approval) as long as the USF cost supports the scope of work, the USF may be charged to the sponsor. In the other cases (when it is necessary to get sponsor approval of the USF cost) if the sponsor does not approve, the PI you should either use other unrestricted funds to pay the USF or ask the VCR for a waiver.