What Happens If A Research Award is Overspent?

What do I need before I can begin?

When is a Research Fund Overspent?

A research fund is overspent (i.e. in deficit) when one of the following occurs.

  • The research expenses are greater than the sponsor’s payment (revenue)
  • The research expenses charged to the fund are greater than the budget released

How to Determine if a Research Fund is Overspent

Once the fund end date has passed, take the following steps.

  • Run the Funds Centre Report for your grant to determine the final financial status
  • Refer to the research agreement with the sponsor to ensure full funding has been received and released. For newer awards, the research agreement may be attached to the University of Toronto Research Account (UTRAC) for the award. If you cannot access the agreement, contact the VPRI Research Officer, listed in the header section of the UTRAC, for assistance
  • Contact the VPRI Research Accountant ('Acountant' on the UTRAC) to ensure all deliverables have been met with regards to financial reporting/invoicing

Another option to get the same information is to run the Research Fund Summary Report (RFSR).  This report will show the final financial status, as well as the VPRI research administrator or officer and the Research Accountant.  For instruction on how to run the RFSR, please see How to Access & Understand Reports, Including RIS

Principal Investigator (PI) Responsibility

The Professor/Faculty member listed as the project’s PI is responsible for ensuring costs incurred on their research award conform to the following.

  • Costs must fall within the budgeted amount
  • Costs should follow any specific budget line item maximums. For example, a sponsor may limit the amount that can be spent on particular budget item such as salary, travel, or equipment
  • Costs must occur within the eligible period covered by the research award. For example, a PI cannot incur a cost prior to the end date of an award for an acquisition or an event that will occur after the end date of an award

Treatment of Overspent Amount on Research Award

The Department and/or Division is ultimately responsible for all financial costs authorized on a research. If no other eligible sources of funding are available when overspending occurs, the department and/or division must absorb the deficit.

Any overspending not absorbed or transferred to the department/or division’s fund centre will be subject to an auto-close out process which occurs 2 years after the fund end date. At this time, the deficit is automatically transferred to the PI’s fund centre. The 2 year deficit allowance period allows the PI to work with VPRI staff to address the deficit.

Forms & Downloads


  • Answer questions about eligible expenses
  • Provide guidance and information on expenditure timelines and deficit resolution

VPRI Contact

Find the appropriate VPRI staff member to assist you by checking our staff directory.