Guidelines for the General Graduate Studies Fund (NSERC and SSHRC only)
A General Graduate Studies Fund (GGSF) is a special account opened as a trust account under the authority of the president of the institution (or his/her authorized delegate), into which the eligible residual funds of awards allocated in previous fiscal years are transferred with the authorization of the granting agencies.
Institutions will be required to keep separate GGSF accounts for each of the agencies, namely the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The financial administration of the funds must also be kept separate. The funds must be administered in a centralized manner, and the institution must manage the funds meticulously. The institution must thus ensure that it has clearly stated policies and directives with respect to the management, disbursement and use of the funds. It is the responsibility of the person responsible for the GGSF, that is, the president of the institution or his/her authorized delegate, to authorize expenditures charged to the GGSF in accordance with the requirements and the policies of the institution or the agencies. No other party may initiate or authorize expenditures without the president’s or his or her delegate’s written delegated authority.
The GGSF is used to provide additional support to graduate students in the disciplines supported by the individual agencies.
Residual funds at the institution resulting from an early termination of an award may be eligible for the GGSF if they were paid out by one of the agencies in a previous fiscal year. Institutions must inform NSERC or SSHRC immediately in the case of an early termination.
Also eligible for the GGSF are overpayments to award holders whose funding was paid out in a previous fiscal year, if the university was able to recover it in a subsequent fiscal year. The institutions are required to advise the Finance and Awards Administration Division of the agency concerned with information on all overpayments it has recovered. It may provide this information at any time during the fiscal year. For additional information on overpayments, see Section C of the NSERC's and SSHRC's Canadian Universities Global Payments Guide.
Transfers to the GGSF are authorized by the agencies under the following conditions:
- The institution has submitted the annual Statement of Account (Form 300) for the GGSF.
- The institution has spent at least 50% of the opening balance of its GGSF during the current year.
In the case of an institution that has not spent 50% of the opening balance of the GGSF, new transfers are put on hold, and the institution must demonstrate a tangible need for additional funds. If no rationale is provided, a reimbursement is required.
To facilitate the annual reconciliation of the GGSF, a list of all authorized transfers to the GGSF for each institution as of March 31 will be displayed solely on the Grants and Scholarships Administrative Portal (GSAP).
The list of authorized transfers to the GGSF is posted once a year, in mid-May.
For example, for the GGSF annual reconciliation exercise for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the list of authorized transfers to the GGSF as of March 31, 2017 will be posted on GSAP in May 2017.
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Use of Funds
The university is free to determine its own method for distributing the GGSF funds, subject to the following restriction:
- The use of each agency’s GGSF funds is restricted to providing support for the research training of graduate students, including travel to conferences, in a field supported by the respective agency. Funds must be used in accordance with the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration.
Statement of Account (Form 300) and Annual GGSF Reconciliation
Every year, the institution must submit to the agencies a Statement of Account (Form 300) for the GGSF for the period from April 1 to March 31. The deadline for submitting a Form 300 for the GGSF is June 30.
This annual GGSF reconciliation exercise allows the agencies to track incurred expenses and accumulated balances. It is also used to authorize or not authorize transfers to the GGSF of the upcoming fiscal year.
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