Current and historical GAIR and fringe benefit rates can be found in our planning parameters (PDF).
For current year fringe benefits rates, and fringe rates by job code, visit the Campus Controller's Office webpage.
For an inside look into campus benefits, rate calculation and rate charging, explore the expandables below.
- Comprehensive benefits are offered to faculty, university staff (professional exempt), and state classified staff employees with 50% or greater appointments in eligible positions.
- Graduate student faculty, student employees, and retirees receive limited benefits.
- The overall benefit program is managed at the CU system level by Employee Services.
- Each campus decides how to pay for benefit costs.
- Employees may select or change benefits after hire, following "life events", or during annual open enrollment.
- The benefit plan year is July 1 through June 30.
- The Boulder campus has used a pooled benefit rate, charged on salary, since 2004. Prior to that, actual benefit expenses were charged directly to departments. Pooled rates spread risk, ensure coverage to all eligible employees who enroll, and minimize incentives to hire based on an employee's potential benefit needs.
- Rates are developed annually by a group from Budget & Fiscal Planning and the Campus Controller's Office. They are submitted for approval to the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) by the end of December. CU Boulder only uses DHHS-approved fringe rates.
- Rates are a cost recovery mechanism:
- Benefits expenses/salary expenses = fringe benefit rate
- Each employee group has a different rate because different benefits are offered
- Benefits are a closed financial system (i.e. not a revenue source for the University). Prior year over- or under-recoveries must be built into next year's rate.
- Medical coverage
- Health insurance - employer contribution is the same regardless of the provider/plan selected
- Dental insurance - employer contribution is flat regardless of level of coverage
- Vision coverage - employees pay the full amount
- Retirement benefits
- Employer contributions to PERA
- Other retirement plans (TIAA, Vanguard, etc.)
- FICA - Social security
- Annuitants insurance - HLD (Health, Life, Dental) for retirees
- Termination pay - separation payouts for accrued sick and vacation leave
- Life insurance - flat contribution for all eligible employees
- Disability insurance - short-term and long-term
- Unemployment compensation - based on actual claims
- Worker's compensation - based on actual claims, managed by University Risk Management
- Parental leave
For more detailed information on benefit coverage, visit the Employee Services webpage.
For a financial summary of fringe rate components, visit the Campus Controller's Office webpage (scroll to the bottom of the page and click "FY22 Fringe Components").
Employees elect benefit plans and are then charged for the employee-paid portion of benefits on their monthly pay advice. The employee-paid portion then goes to the Office of Employee Services (CU System).
Employer-paid benefits are recovered through the automatic charging of fringe benefits rates to campus departments. Rates are applied automatically to salary expenses as part of the month-end close process. Monies flow through the all-campus benefit pools in fund 28 to the Office of Employee Services. Employee Services pays insurance providers with these contributions.
For a better understanding, view our visual representation of how fringe benefits flow in the CU system. (PDF)
The fringe benefit rate calculation uses the most recent fiscal year actual amounts to calculate future fiscal year benefit rates. These figures form the basis for projecting current year salary and benefits activity, which are used in turn to project the fringe benefit and salary expenses for the following year. Calculations of the estimated fringe benefit expenses determine the rate necessary to adequately fund projected fringe benefits expenses based on estimated changes to employer contributions.
For your convenience, we've created a chart that graphically displays the two year lag in actual expenses and the inclusion of calculated carryforwards (PDF). The campus is required by federal rules to include the prior year’s surplus or deficit (carry forward) in the following year’s rates.
Fringe benefit rates are submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Cost Allocation, by the end of December annually.
In FY21, General Fund benefits budgets and expenses were localized. Prior to FY21, General Fund benefits budgets and expenses were held centrally in the General Fund benefits pool. On July 1, 2020, General Fund benefits budget was localized (moved out from the General Fund benefits pool and returned to local General Fund departments). The General Fund benefits pool has since been deactivated. Benefits expenses on the General Fund now charge locally to the same departmental speedtypes where salary expenses are incurred, as part of the month-end close process.
General Fund benefits localization was part of the Benefits Initiative, also known as the Benefits Shared Solution. For more information and resources, please visit BFP's Benefits Initiative webpage.
Salary and benefits budget amounts on General Fund speedtypes should align with current year fringe benefits rates. When transferring General Fund salary and benefits budget, salary and benefits budget must be transferred together in the same journal entry according to current year fringe benefits rates, so that salary and benefits budget amounts remain in alignment at the speedtype and account code levels.
When converting non-salary budget to salary budget, the corresponding benefits budget must be converted as well.
Increases and decreases to General Fund continuing benefits budget amounts due to year-on-year changes in benefits fringe rates are executed by the Office of Budget & Fiscal Planning in July of each year. General Fund salary and benefits budgets should be reviewed and adjusted as needed prior to the FYE General Fund continuing BJE cutoff in mid-April, so that the necessary increases and decreases can be allocated.
Current and historical GAIR rates can be found in our planning parameters (PDF).
The General Administrative and Infrastructure Recharge (GAIR) is a combination of the General Administrative Recharge (GAR) and the General Infrastructure Recharge (GIR). GAR & GIR are overhead charges that the university levies on self-supporting operations, primarily Auxiliary fund groups, which benefit from central campus services and support. The two rates are distinct and are calculated separately, but are commonly referred to in combination as GAIR. Charging self-supporting operations for central support and services is common practice in Higher Education since this overhead charge supports the notion that an auxiliary is to be self-supporting.
The GAR portion is calculated using the federally defined general and administrative (G&A) cost pool divided by total campus operating expenditures per the annual audited campus financial statements.G&A expenditures are commonly found in the General Fund. Examples include accounting, human resources, budget office, a portion of OIT, and CU-system services (e.g. purchasing, payroll, IT functions). GAIR proceeds come into the general fund and are used to cover these general administrative costs.
The GIR portion is calculated by determining the auxiliary share of common infrastructure costs and then dividing that amount by total auxiliary operating expenses excluding GAIR expenses. Examples of common infrastructure costs include sidewalks, roads, garbage cans and bike racks.
GAIR is a cost recovery model. The GAIR rate is calculated annually using data from two years in arrears. For example, the FY2019 GAIR rate is calculated during FY2018 using FY2017 and earlier data in efforts to project the upcoming year as closely as possible. In general, if the G&A cost pool grows more slowly than the total operating expenditure base, the rate will go down; if the reverse is true, the rate will go up.
GAR is charged on a monthly basis to auxiliary and self-funded operations (20, 26, 28, 29) and their renewal and replacement plant fund (78) and to agency funds (80). GAIR is only applied against expenses, not cash transfers or revenue.
GIR is charged on a monthly basis to auxiliary and self-funded operations (20, 26, 28, 29) and their renewal and replacement plant fund (78).