Research Incentive Accounts (RIAs) are specialized accounts established to hold funds for faculty and staff. Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) is responsible for the curation of these accounts and routinely fields questions about allowable purchases and deposits.  A number of programs on campus utilize the RIA as a vehicle for delivering incentives to employees, including  Inclusive Excellence, Online and Strategic Learning, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Immersive Learning, Vice Provost for Research, Community Engagement, Faculty Learning Communities, and Sponsored Projects Administration, just to name a few.  

I need to...

1. Request Roll Over or Transfer -

Provide justification to roll funds over for one fiscal year or request funds transfer to another's RIA
Click here to request an action.

2. Request the use of RIAs as a mechanism for incentives -

Provide detail on program(s) to obtain authorization to use RIAs
Click here to complete a use request.

3. Learn more about RIAs 

Continue reading for guidance, frequently asked questions, and contact information!

Research Incentive Account (RIA) Use Guidance 

  • Study incentives must follow the University Controller's Procedure for Research Participant Incentive Payments (PDF).
  • Any allowable expense must have appropriate documentation provided to the university within 60 days after it is paid or incurred in accordance with the University’s Accountable Plan (PDF) for reimbursements.
  • Stipends or salary enhancements are not allowable expenses. However, supplemental assigned time approved by the department chair specifically for scholarly activities is allowable.
  • Employees leaving the university, including retirees, may transfer funds in their RIA to another RIA with SPA prior approval. Use this form to request an action
  • Emeriti faculty members: there is a one-year time frame from the University's documented leave date to use or request a transfer to another RIA for any remaining funds. 

Allowable RIA Expenses

Generally, funds in your RIA may cover expenses related to an individual's scholarly agenda or professional development. 

Examples include:

  • consumable supplies
  • student wages
  • University-sponsored professional travel
  • publishing / dissemination costs
  • professional association dues
  • software licenses 
  • incentives for participants in a study
  • supplemental assigned time (time buyout) for scholarly work
  • graduate assistant for the summer

Unallowable RIA Expenses

  • personal use items
  • food or beverage purchases 
  • stipends or salary enhancements 

Frequently Asked Questions

Please work with your departmental support staff to access your RIA funding. You will need your FUND code. This number was emailed to you when your RIA was established. We encourage you to keep this email for reference. 

These accounts have been established to hold incentive funds for BSU employees, including programs like the Faculty Learning Communities, Inclusive Excellence, SPA's Submit program, indirect cost recovery distribution, and residual grant funds. Expenditures do not have to be approved by SPA but do need to be approved through a faculty/staff's home department/unit.

Please review the University Allowable Expenditures Policy for more information. 

Expenses and professional development in support of your scholarly agenda. In addition, account holders may use funds to support student engagement in scholarly activities. Examples include consumable supplies, professional travel, professional dues, publishing costs, supplemental assigned time (time buyout) for scholarly work, or student assistance. Food/beverages, gift cards for gifts, and personal use items are NOT allowable purchases.

Items purchased with RIA funds must follow University policies and procedures and will be considered University property. Consult the University's Allowable Expenditure Policy

Technology purchases must be made through the appropriate Information Technology purchasing channels in accordance with the IT purchasing procedures

RIA funds do not have a set expiration date. However, funds within an RIA need to be utilized at least once per fiscal year. RIAs that have had no significant activity for an entire fiscal year will be contacted and funds in the account will be returned to the program parent account within SPA, unless there is justification for a larger goal. 

Requests for a larger goal can be made with this form

No, it is not required to route RIA expenditures or Travel Authorizations through SPA. Please work with your home department/unit for the appropriate routing of Travel Authorization and Expense Vouchers. 

All University travel, including travel funded by RIAs, must follow the University Travel Policy (PDF) and the RIA Use Policy (PDF).

Eligible funding deposited into an individual's RIA will remain in that account for the duration of their employment at Ball State, regardless of departmental appointment. These accounts are tied to an individual, not a department or college.

To help with accounting, we encourage the RIA holder to contact the program administrators with the new information. 

For employees that are retiring or leaving the University, if arrangements are made with the SPA before the last day of employment, RIA funds may be transferred to another faculty of their choosing.  

For emeriti faculty members, there is a one-year time limit to use the remaining RIA funds. Balances remaining after that date will be reclaimed by SPA and the account will be closed.

No. The university tuition policy does not allow for this transaction.

A department can request to put funds for certain types of activities into an RIA account and should obtain SPA approval to do so. All funds regardless of source are subject to the RIA Use Policy (PDF).

If your program is interested in utilizing the RIAs to distribute incentives, please use this form to start the process

If an employee files and receives approval for any one of the approved University leaves of absence, the department or individual should notify SPA as soon as possible. The RIA will be left open and funds are protected from being reclaimed for a one-year period.  Employees may also choose to transfer funds to another employee (not a department). Please contact the program administrators for more information. 

No, funds within the RIAs are intended to be used by individuals to support their scholarly agendas. Departments may not recoup these funds. The employee or department must contact SPA prior to the last day with the University in order to designate an individual to receive the remaining RIA funds.

A departmental account backs each RIA. If you overdraw your RIA, and no additional funds are deposited into the account, the Office of the University Controller will charge the overage back to the department.  

Employees should work with their departments to query the balance of their RIA and track expenditures.

The FUND code that was given to you via email when your RIA was first opened is what you use to charge expenses and look up your account information. Using this number, one can use the following methods to look up balances:

Argos Report: FI> Controller> Public - - Report titled "Rev/Exp Transaction History WITH security"

  • Using this report, you will select the period of time you want to query (go big to capture the whole picture!).
  • Select both Revenue and Expense Accounts (select multiples by hold CTRL+click)
  • Uncheck the box that says "Include all FUNDS?" 
  • Find your FUND in the list and click to select 
  • At the top of the screen, find the Reports button
  • Select Activity Report by ACCT Summary for a summary view of expenditures.
    • This will show activity on the FUND, and the "Report Total" at the bottom reflects the FUND balance.

Alternatively, you can use Big Banner, and search for the FGITBSR table. 

If you have followed the instructions above and find that you don't have permissions to the report in Argos or the screen in Banner, you can enter a helpdesk ticket to gain access. 

  • Go to
  • Click on 'Request Services'
  • Click on 'Applications'
  • Click 'Show More' in the left navigation, then 'Security Access'.
  • Select Argos and/or Banner - Finance 
  • In the ticket, indicate what report and/or screen you need access to, and say it is to check balances of your departmental RIA funds.

Still Have Questions?

If something wasn't addressed in the FAQ or to learn more, contact:

  • Augusta Isley, Senior Proposal Manager
  • Linda Swartz, SPA Administrative Coordinator