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Faculty Development and Research Expense Allotment Guidelines

General Information

Each faculty member is provided funds, on an annual basis, to support professional development.  These funds are expected to cover the cost of travel, conferences, licenses, books and other publications, supplemental classroom experiences, research support and other appropriate professional undertakings. Faculty will receive regular updates regarding their year-to date expenses and available balance.  Faculty members are expected to budget accordingly to stay within the limits of their allotment. Any expenditure that will cause a faculty member to exceed their budget must be approved by the Dean prior to making the expenditure.

It is expected that invitations to speak at a conference and all international travel will be reimbursed by the conference organizers or those making the invitation. If the cost is to be borne by Penn State Law, prior approval by the Dean is required.  The University offers funds for international travel for which faculty may apply.  To find out more about this, please see the Global Programs website.

Computer equipment and other technologies are not normally paid from a faculty account.  Faculty and staff are provided with equipment appropriate to their needs and it will be replaced on a regular basis, as established by the IT department.  The need for other technology must be justified on a case by case basis.

All purchases made with University funds of which faculty accounts are a subset, including equipment and books, are the property of the University and must be returned to the University at the time of termination of employment at the University.  Please see below for information regarding book purchases.  Please work with your faculty support assistant to make other purchase as the University’s preference is to purchase items directly rather than reimburse faculty. In fact some items cannot be reimbursed, such as furniture and equipment, please see the purchasing decision matrix regarding reimbursement located on the Penn State Law website.


For travel related questions, please see

Travel may be booked on or through Anthony Travel ( or through an agency or website of your choice.

Airfare must be reasonable and in some cases will require comparison documentation, at the time of purchase, from Travel OnLion to show that the booked fare booked is lowest priced available.  To determine if documentation is required, please see the booking options at the PSU travel website

Itemized receipts are required for all purchases with the exception of local Metro/Subway/City Bus/Tools and meals while in travel status when reimbursement is made based upon a meal per diem policy. All travel reimbursement requests must be submitted for payment within 60 days of completion of trip.

Book Purchases (and Other Library Materials)

All book purchases made with faculty expense account funds should be made through the library so the material can be catalogued as part of the School’s collection. These books are processed by the Law Library as private office copies; they are not searchable in the online catalog and are not subject to the recall them from your offices.  They are not intended/expected to be integrated into the general library collection and can be used as one would a personal copy (e.g., writing on or highlighting pages is perfectly OK) for the duration of employment at the Law School or SIA.

University-funded book purchases are viewed as University resources to avoid having to count these items as taxable personal income. In the event that a faculty member leaves employment with the University, it is expected that the books bought with office/research funds will be returned to the Law Library for appropriate disposition or disposal. The book will be checked out to you, but not restricted by ordinary lending rules, and to all intents and purposes you will use it exclusively as long as you remain a faculty member. The easiest way to accomplish this is for you to ask the library to make the purchase you desire. However, you also may make book purchases on your own, in which case cataloging must occur in conjunction with your reimbursement request. Purchases undertaken by an Administrative Support Assistant on your behalf will be processed in the same manner. The idea behind the library processing faculty-ordered books is to build the library collection and avoid the issue of faculty-retained books constituting taxable income.

Research Assistants

Each faculty member is budgeted for the equivalent of one research assistant. This equates to one person working 20 hours per week during the academic year (2-16 week semesters) and 13 weeks during the summer at 40 hours per week. You may have more than one RA but the total hours worked by all RAs together must not exceed 20 hours per week during the academic year and 40 hours per week for the summer.  Work Study Eligible students are preferred. Undergraduate students and students from other schools or colleges do not provide work study savings for the Law School.

Research fellows are no longer allowed unless they are paid from outside/grant funding.

Any exceptions to the limit on RAs must be approved by the Dean prior to hiring of students.

Hiring of Students

Students are not allowed to work until all new-hire paperwork is processed through the human resources office and the student has received an email from the HR office confirming work status.  When a faculty member decides to hire a student, the student must go to the HR office to see what paperwork is necessary.  Please DO NOT allow students to work prior to HR approval because it may be in violation of certain employment laws regarding employment verification and eligibility.