Composite Benefit Rates

A composite benefit rate is an average cost of benefits for an employee group, where groups are defined by attributes such as benefit eligibility, employee class, exempt and non-exempt status, and job code. Departments are charged for benefits based on the CBRs for their employee group(s), rather than actual benefit costs for each employee.

Composite Benefit Rates Advantages

  • Decreases the administrative burden to budget and manage sponsored awards and decreases the risk of under-recovering funds.
  • Provides consistent accumulation and allocation of composite benefit expenses to all functional activities as required by Cost Accounting Standards.
  • Improves the budgeting process for all university funds and standardizes benefit costs across employee groups; principal investigators and financial managers will be able to use the CBR to budget costs and no longer be concerned with the wide variations of employee benefit costs.
  • Simplifies the accounting for composite benefit expenses.

General Questions

Once composite benefit rates are implemented, we cannot mix between charging actual costs and composite benefit rates.

The composite benefit rates applied to applicable gross salaries replace the actual benefit costs to your ledgers. The actual costs to the university will still be accumulated, but they will not appear in the ledger. Departments will only be responsible for covering the benefits charge determined by CBR.

The composite benefit rates represent the percentage of benefits that will be applied to the employee salary (Salary x CBR %). This amount will be charged to the account for fringe benefit costs regardless of the actual costs to the university. Some earnings codes are not charged CBR. Refer to CBR Group Determination Guide for more information on determining the proper CBR group.

Following federal regulations and the approved, systemwide CBR model, the rates are calculated by allocating a pool of composite benefit costs on the basis of institution-wide salaries and wages of the employees receiving the benefits. The pool of fringe benefits for a group of employees is divided by the total salaries of that group. The resulting rate is known as the CBR, and is applied against the total institutional base salary of the individuals.

The general campus and medical center will be viewed as two distinct business units and will have their own composite benefit rates.

In collaboration with UCOP, actual benefits costs incurred by the university will be reconciled with the amount charged using the composite benefit rates on an annual basis. Any over- or under-recovery will be adjusted in future year rates, similar to that of recharge activity. This is only done at the campus and medical center level for each CBR employee group.

No. The employee's cost and eligibility for benefits will not be affected when UCI transitions to this new CBR structure. This new structure only changes how fringe benefits are charged within the university.

The composite benefit rates are applied to all employees who are eligible for benefits regardless of whether or not they accept the benefit and regardless of which benefit options they elect.

The benefit cost for an employee is the applicable rate multiplied by gross salary. If the appointment percentage is lower, the salary is lower and, thus, the benefit cost will be lower, even if the employee receives full benefits. This is a considerably simpler calculation and also reduces benefit expenses for part-time employees as compared to the old method of calculating benefit costs.

CBRs are applied to all components of pay except honorariums, perquisites, allowances, incentive payments, sick leaves, and vacation leaves. Refer to Benefits Included/Excluded from CBR for a more detailed list of earnings codes excluded from CBR.

Yes, the "Student" CBR applies to both undergraduate and graduate students. Note this applies to fringe benefits, not fee remission or GSHIP, which is charged separately.

The process to charge graduate student tuition remission is unchanged, and will be the actual costs for each student employee. Likewise the process for GAEL, vacation leave assessment, and sabbaticals are unchanged. There will be separate GAEL and vacation leave assessment rates and UCRP supplemental interest assessment.

Faculty Summer Salary rates apply to earnings paid under the following DOS Codes for all faculty:

CBR Identification and Budgeting

Employee will fall into a CBR group based on 1) employee class, 2) Eligibility Configuration (BELI equivalent), 3) the fair labor standards act (FLSA) status and 4) Job Code.

One of the advantages of moving to a composite benefit rates is that a department will no longer need to account or budget for benefit rates that are unique to each employee. This should make budgeting easier to manage because one would only need to manage the costs that will be charged through the fringe benefit rates. Any concerns with the wide variation of benefits for employees doing the same job is essentially eliminated.

The rate is based on job code and benefit eligibility and is against the amount paid. So while the rate would not change for a 50% or a 100% appointment, the actual charge would be half for the 50% appointment.

CBR groups are assigned using Employee Class, Eligibility Configuration (BELI equivalent), FLSA status and Job Code. If someone waives their UCI medical insurance, it will not affect the CBR group or rate they are assigned.

Below are Vacation Accrual Rates to be used once campus transitions to UCPath.

Vacation Accrual Rates  
Fiscal Year Faculty 7.0%
Accruing Staff & Non Faculty Academics 7.0%
Non-Accruing Staff & Academic Year Faculty 0.0%

The employees would each be assigned to the employee class that is appropriate for the terms of their employment. The marriage would have no impact on the CBR rate.

Opting out of health insurance would have no impact on the CBR rate. The rate will depend on the terms of employment.

In UCPath, CBR groups are assigned using Employee Class, Eligibility Configuration (BELI equivalent), and Job Code. As positions are assigned an Employee Class, they are also assigned the appropriate CBR for that class. It is possible for the Eligibility Configuration to override this initial mapping and assign an individual into the partial benefit rate groups if the Eligibility Configuration is set to do that. Ultimately, it would not depend on the Title Code of the position, but rather the terms of their employment.

Contracts and Grants

We understand that many researchers have multi-year awards and proposals which were approved with different fringe benefit rates than the composite rates. A C&G mitigation strategy committee was formed to develop the criteria to be used to cover substantial shortfalls created by the transition to composite rates to alleviate the impact to contracts & grants. The final plan is here. To submit a request, please complete the CBR Impact Calculation.

There is no difference in the composite benefit rates for employees regardless of which campus department they work in. Composite fringe benefit rates are applied based on the benefits profile, regardless of where the employee is appointed. The Medical Center has CBR separate from the campus. In no instance should UCIMC CBR be used for federal contracts and grants.

Please refer to Sponsored Projects for planning rates.

It is expected that CBRs will be built into any new proposal or renewals of existing awards effective immediately. Temporary financial mitigation will be available for proposals submitted prior to November 15, 2018.