VSPA Summer Research Internship Fee Reduction Program

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 University Services Fee 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:

  • After June 1, 2021, the USF for qualifying interns will be reduced to $500 per intern if approval is obtained from the VSPA.

To qualify for the fee 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 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.)

Internal Proposal Guidelines

  1. Proposals with activities for qualifying interns (see above):

    The Principal Investigator (PI) must submit a Pre-Award Summer Research Internship Fee Reduction Request Form 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 reduction 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 reduction is approved by VSPA, the USF will be reduced for qualifying interns. If the reduction request 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:

    The proposal budget should include a reduced USF of $500 per qualifying intern under BFS account 56721 - "Non-Stdt/Vstng Schlr" Stipend or a similar budget line in their project budget for project periods.

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

    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 reduction is not approved, the standard USF in place at that time will be charged for each intern.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What will happen if the Pre-Award Summer Research Internship Fee Reduction 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, 2021, SPO/IAO will not submit the proposal until the Pre-award Summer Internship Fee Reduction Request Form has been provided as a Phoebe proposal attachment.

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

  3. 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.”

  4. 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, 2021.

  5. What if the sponsor will not pay the USF for the interns involved in my project or VSPA disapproves the PI’s USF fee reduction request?
    Contact VSPA Senior Manager Cecilia Fura at vspa@berkeley.edu to request exceptional approval consideration.

  6. 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 reduction.

  7. What if I have questions about the eligibility of interns involved in my project at the proposal stage?
    Contact vspa@berkeley.edu or 510-643-9681.

  8. 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 fee reduction request form to VSPA. VSPA will inform the PI as to whether the USF is reduced.