What is soft money?

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison soft money is the term used to refer to funding that is not part of the University's state-supported base budget. If your position is on soft money, it is probably funded through grants - usually from state, federal, or private sources. These grant monies are allocated for a specific program or project (e.g., research study) for a specified period of time. Funding agencies periodically review programs and may renew funding. In the case of research projects, when the study is completed, the funds stop, and staff may be nonrenewed or laid off unless other sources of funding are secured.

Other types of soft money may include generated program revenues and flexible internal monies such as those funding credit outreach timetable courses. While some of the soft money information on these web pages apply specifically to grant-funded positions, there is also information that applies to any type of soft-money position.

There are many employees in the School of Education in positions funded on soft money. The first source of information for every employee on soft money should be the supervisor, who can provide details about the funding situation for a specific position. The School of Education Committee on Academic Staff Issues created these web pages to provide employees on soft money with general information, to encourage them to do everything they can to understand the specifics of their own funding situation, and to share ideas and perspectives from some of their SoE colleagues who have worked in soft money positions for a number of years.