RELEASE TIME AND COURSE BUYOUTS
IMPORTANT: The 9-month base salary for tenured and tenure-track faculty members is paid out over twelve months. However, the terms “course release” or "buy out" apply to teaching load during the academic year only. (A course release during the summer is actually summer salary).
What is a Course Release?
A course release is when a faculty member is permitted to have a reduced teaching load under their normal academic year appointment. In other words, the person is “released” from part of their teaching obligation while still being paid their regular full time salary. This may be done to offset other department activities—such as for lab and center directors—or to allow time for scholarly and research activities, grant work, special services, etc.
What is a Course Buy-out?
A “buy-out” situation usually means that a course release has been given so the faculty member can work on an externally funded grant. The corresponding percentage of the person’s appointment is directly charged to the grant account during the term of the buyout. In effect, the grant “buys” the faculty member’s released time by paying for that portion of their salary so that the equivalent amount of effort can be spent working on the grant.
How does a buy-out affect my operating account?
Releases and buy-out offset your normal department budget costs by charging a portion of the person’s salary to a grant account instead of to the department, creating salary savings for the unit. In other words, a grant is paying for part of the person’s salary so the cost to the unit is reduced leaving the unspent funds available to be used at the department’s discretion. (Part of this savings is generally used to hire a lecturer who will teach the course during the buy-out period.)
How much will my department save?
Most commonly a course represents 1/9 of the faculty member’s nine month (U-year) salary, or 33% of their effort during the term in which a course release is covered by grant funding. Therefore, the cost equivalent of each course bought out is the same dollar value as one-third of a faculty member's salary during that term.
IMPORTANT: Salaries for lecturers hired to teach for faculty doing grant work should NOT be charged to the grant account. The salary savings from the faculty grant appointment will cover the cost of the lecturer from your department account. (See Effort Reporting.)