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, Immersive Learning, Faculty Learning Communities, and Sponsored Projects. 

In fall 2022, two updates were made to the RIA program to assist with streamlining processes. 

  1. Request for Exemption: Rollover funds. According to the RIA use policy, RIA funds must be used at least once per year or request in writing for an exemption is required. Those requests can now be made with an Exemption Request.
  2. RIA Use Authorization: For programmatic use of RIAs. As mentioned above, many programs utilize RIAs for delivering incentives to employees so they are able to use those funds toward scholarly activity at the University. In order to capture those programs and contacts, those requests can now be made through an RIA Use Authorization request.

Research Incentive Account (RIA) Use Guidance 

  • Research incentives must follow the University Controller's Procedure for Research Participant Incentive Payments (PDF).
  • Any expenses must be substantiated to the university within 60 days after it is paid or incurred in accordance with the University’s Accountable Plan (PDF) for expense reimbursements.
  • Faculty 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 the balance of remaining funds in the ria to other active collaborators with prior spa approval. SPA must be notified before the employee's last day.
  • Emeriti faculty members, there is a one-year time limit to use the remaining RIA funds. Balances after that date will be reclaimed by the parent program account, reinvested into the Submit program, and the account will be closed by SPA.

Allowable RIA Expenses

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

Examples include:

  • project supplies
  • student wages
  • University-sponsored professional travel
  • publishing / dissemination costs
  • research 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 
  • faculty stipends, or salary enhancements 

Funding Expiration for RIAs 

In general, RIA funds do not have an expiration date. Regardless of the source of funding, RIAs should be used at least once per fiscal year to comply with the RIA Use Policy (PDF).
RIA’s that have had no significant activity for one full fiscal year (25% of the total funds in the account) will have all the funds in the account returned to the program parent account within SPA, unless there is justification for a larger goal. To make a request for a larger goal, please use this Microsoft Form

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 individual RIA was established. We encourage you to keep this email for reference. 

These accounts have been established to hold incentive funds for faculty and staff, including the Submit program, indirect cost recovery distribution, and other funds related to SPA incentive programs. 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. 

No, it is not required to route RIA expenditures or Travel Authorizations through SPA. Please work with your home department/unit for 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).

PIs should work with their departmental administrative coordinators to query the balance of their RIA and track expenditures.

Your 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, an admin coordinator 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. 

Expenses and professional development in support of the faculty/staff's scholarly creative or research agenda. In addition, the faculty/staff may use funds to support student engagement in scholarly activities. Examples include project supplies, professional travel, 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

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 within the University. 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. 

Faculty / Staff 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 but must obtain SPA approval first. 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 to faculty and staff, please use this form to start the process

If a faculty/staff files and received 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. Faculty/staff must contact SPA prior to their last day with the University in order to designate an individual to receive the remaining RIA funds. No exceptions will be granted.

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 bsu.service-now.com/helpdesk
  • 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.

RIA funds do not have a set expiration date. However, funds within the RIA need to be utilized at least once per fiscal year. RIA’s that have had no significant (25% of total funds in the account) activity for an entire fiscal year will have all the funds in the account returned to the Program Parent Account within SPA, unless there is justification for a larger goal/extension has been approved in writing by SPA. 

You can make such a request with this form

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.