Q: Once I accept a Sagan Fellowship, what other paperwork is needed from me?
A: We need the start date and an institutionally-endorsed three-year budget with justification. Everything else should be worked out between Caltech and the host institution.
Q: When is the institutionally-endorsed budget due?
A: There is not a specific due date for the budget but it should be completed by June 30 so that you may start your Fellowship in August/September of that year.
Q: Is the contract between the Sagan Fellow's host institution and Caltech or JPL?
A: The contract is between Caltech and the host institution.
Q What is included in my Sagan Fellowship award?
A: Your budget will include your stipend, health care, moving expenses, research budget, and the overhead costs of your host institution.
Q: Is there a specific format or system that should be used for the budget by the host institution of the Sagan Fellowship holder?
A: We do not have a specific format or system for the budget, so use whatever format is easiest for you. The budget guidelines are very similar to Hubble's, and can be found at http://nexsci.caltech.edu/sagan/guidelines.shtml in section A4.
Q: Where should the budget be sent?
A: The budget can be submitted in electronic form to Dr. Dawn Gelino (email@example.com) and sent to her at: NASA Exoplanet Science Institute, Caltech 770 South Wilson Avenue, MS 100-22 Pasadena, CA 91125
Q: Do I have to be physically located at my host institution for the duration of the Sagan Fellowship?
A: The funding for your fellowship is routed through your host institution, so as long as an institution endorses you as an applicant, stating that they are willing to support you as a fellow, then you technically qualify. That being said, the selection committee wants to ensure that you are supported intellectually, in addition to financially, so in your application make sure to explain your plans to keep in contact with your advisor during the tenure of your fellowship.
Q: In the budget, should the stipend amount for Years 2 and 3 increase?
A: Yes, the stipend should be increased by $1000 each year.
Q: Is each budget item restricted to it's specified purpose?
A: Yes, the amounts specified for each purpose (e.g. stipend, relocation) are restricted for that purpose.
Q: Do I need to get special permission from the program to go on international travel?
A: No, you do not have to get any special permission to go on international travel. You can travel where you like as long as it pertains directly to your fellowship and that you stay within your research budget. Since this is government funding, you must travel according to government travel rules using US carriers where possible, etc.
Q: The indirect cost rate (IDC) cannot be charged on the stipend and fringe benefits, but can it be charged on the research budget? If so, do we need to stay within the total research budget for direct and indirect costs?
A: You are allowed to charge the indirect cost rate on the research budget and do not need to stay within the total research budget for direct and indirect costs.
Q: Can I receive funding in advance of my fellowship start date?
A: The funds prior to starting your Fellowship are for moving expenses and hardware purchases only. Unfortunately, you can not use them to travel to a meeting prior to your appointment. If you change your Fellowship start date to be before the meeting, then that would then be ok to use funds from the Fellowship to attend the meeting.
Q: How will my salary be paid to me as a Sagan Fellow?
A: NExScI/Caltech enters into a budget agreement with your host institution to provide funding to your host institution. After the start of your Fellowship, you are an employee of your host institution and are paid through them.
Q: Is my salary subject to U.S. taxes?
A: Some institutions provide your salary as a "stipend" which may not be entirely taxable. Other institutions will pay you as an employee. Contact your host institution to determine how post-docs are handled.
Q: During my Sagan Fellowship, may I accept other sources of funding to pay for my salary?
A: Under the guidelines of the Fellowship, you may not accept other sources of funding to pay for your salary.
Q: What health care plan will I be on as a Sagan Fellow?
A: You will be on the health care plan of your host institution. The Sagan Fellowship program mandates how much funding is available for health care per year, however your host institution determines how this funding will be spent. Talk with your advisor or the human resources department at your host institution to get the complete information on health insurance.
Q: Can the money provided for health care by the Sagan Fellowship be used to cover health insurance for dependents?
A: The fellowship will cover health care costs for your spouse (and any children) up to the amount available per year, but must be written into the contract.
Q: Is the Fellow prohibited from purchasing his/her own health insurance if the host institution provides a plan or plans from which to choose? For instance, if the institution offers three Health Insurance plans and has applied it's fringe benefit rate to the budget, can the Fellow opt out of those choices for a plan of his own, using those funds (even if they exceed the maximum healthcare funding available) to pay the premium?
A: The fellow may purchase his/her own health insurance if the institution provides a plan. The only restriction is that there cannot be more than the annual maximum health care funding of the fellow's budget allocated to health insurance. The Host Institution may apply its applicable negotiated Fringe Benefit rate to the stipend in order to fund the health insurance.
Q: Should the budget include only the premiums or can deductibles be included as well?
A: Deductibles cannot be included in your health insurance budget.
Q: Does the Sagan Fellow need to be primary on the health care account or can his/her spouse be the primary?
A: The Fellow's spouse can be primary on the health care account provided that there is sound reason for doing so. Sound reason will be determined by the Sagan Program Scientist, Dr. Dawn Gelino.
Q: Can the money for health care be used for dental coverage?
A: Yes as long as the overall budget (health + dental) does not exceed the total health care budget amount.
Q: How are moving expenses handled?
A: Your institution will be reimbursing you/paying for your move, using money we provide in your contract. Note that there is a maximum amount that can be used for moving expenses. Different institutions pay fellows in different ways, check with your institution for more information. However the maximum moving allowance included as part of your Sagan Fellowship award should be available to you.
Q: Are funds available for moving expenses before the start of the fellowship?
A: Yes. With the approval of the Sagan Program Scientist, Dr. Dawn Gelino, you may spend funds for moving expenses within ~10 days before the start date of your fellowship.
Q: If the funds needed to move at the start of the fellowship are less than the full amount allowed, may the excess be used to relocate at the end of the fellowship?
A: No. The funding can only be used to bring the fellow to their destination institution. Even if funds are left over, they can not be used for anything else. That is why we say "up to" a certain amount.
Q: Is there a limit to how much of the research budget may be spent in one year?
A: No. Sagan Fellows are awarded a research budget of a set amount. This money may be phased to cover the purchase of more expensive equipment at the beginning of the fellowship as long as the total of the expenses does not exceed the sum of the annual allocations.
Q: Can equipment be purchased before the start of the fellowship?
A: Yes. With the approval of the Sagan Program Scientist, Dr. Dawn Gelino, you may purchase equipment ~10 days before the start date of your fellowship.
Q: How can I get a Visa for the duration of my Sagan Fellowship?
A: Your host institution will assist you in obtaining the necessary Visas for yourself and your family. Caltech does not get involved with obtaining Visas for Fellows going to institutions other than Caltech.
Q: How should I acknowledge the Sagan Fellowship program for publications produced from work completed during my fellowship?
A: In the acknowledgements please include the following statement: "This work was performed in part under contract with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) funded by NASA through the Sagan Fellowship Program." For your affiliation, please include: "NASA Sagan Fellow" along with your institutional affiliation.
last updated Dec. 7, 2012