COLA, Merit Plan and Bonus 2021 FAQ

Fiscal Year 2021-22 General Increase for Eligible State Employees

In accordance with the State of South Carolina’s Fiscal Year 2021-22 General Appropriation Act, Clemson University will provide a base salary increase of 2.5 percent for eligible classified employees. Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions related to the General Increase are available below.

FY21-22 Merit Plan

Clemson University’s FY21-22 Merit Plan represents a foundational component of the University’s compensation philosophy, Compensation Guidelines and FY21-22 Compensation Plan: Recognizing and rewarding individual performance (merit) based on measured results. To be eligible, employees must be faculty or unclassified staff, hired before June 2, 2021, in Full-time Equivalent (FTE) positions, Time-Limited Positions (TLP) or Temporary Grant Positions (TGP).

Trustees Approve One-Time Bonus for Employees

Clemson’s Board of Trustees approved a compensation bonus for all eligible Clemson employees. The one-time bonus will be 1.5% of base compensation with a minimum bonus of $500 and a maximum of $5,000, and the bonus payments will be distributed in the July 30 paycheck – less withholdings and authorized deductions.

Bonus plan frequently asked questions are provided below.

COLA/General Increase Frequently Asked Questions

The General Increase is a 2.5 percent increase to the base salary of eligible employees.

Please refer to the chart below to determine your eligibility for the general increase.

Eligibility for the General Increase

Eligible for General Increase (COLA)

Not Eligible for General Increase (COLA)

Full- and part-time classified staff, hired before June 2, 2021, in the following position types:

  • Full-time Equivalent (FTE) positions
  • Time-Limited Positions (TLP)
  • Temporary Grant Positions (TGP), grant permitting

Employees hired on or after June 2, 2021, regardless of position type (on or after August 15, 2021, for 9-month employees), and employees whose last day of employment was on or before June 16, 2021, regardless of position type.

In addition, the following employees are not eligible:

  • Faculty (FTE, TLP, TGP)
  • Unclassified staff (FTE, TLP, TGP)
  • Employees in Temporary Positions (TMP)
  • Student workers (graduate and undergraduate)
  • Judge/judicial classified employees

A list of classified titles for South Carolina institutions of higher education is available on the Division of State Human Resources (DSHR) website. State agencies, including higher education institutions, also have unclassified titles which include certain executives, academic personnel and unclassified-other. For more information, employees should consult their supervisor or contact Ask-HR.

For most eligible employees, the General Increase will be reflected in their July 15 paycheck. 9-month employees who are eligible for the General Increase will see the increase beginning with their August 30 paycheck.

Unclassified staff and faculty will be eligible for performance-based and merit increases. Faculty or unclassified staff, hired before June 2, 2021, in Full-time Equivalent (FTE) positions, Time-Limited Positions (TLP) or Temporary Grant Positions (TGP) are eligible for the FY21-22 Merit Plan.

Yes. With the implementation of the General Increase, the minimum, midpoint and maximum of the current pay band schedule will be adjusted upward by 2.5 percent, except for the minimum of Band One. The general base pay increase will be limited to the maximum of the new pay band.

You receive the 2.5 percent general increase on your annual base salary. Your annual base salary already takes into account your part-time status.

If you receive supplemental pay in addition to your base salary, the supplemental pay is not always eligible for the increase. Supplements based on a whole dollar amount rather than a percentage of base salary are not eligible. In such cases, your pay history will show less than a 2.5 percent increase. Pay history increases (in percentage) are based on the following equation:

Percent increase = (Total increase in dollars / (Current compensation in dollars including base salary + supplements)) x 100


Employee A has a base salary of $40,000 a year and a temporary or administrative salary adjustment of $5,000—which is not included with their base compensation under the state general increase guidelines—for a total compensation of $45,000.

  1. HR computes Employee A’s general increase as: $40,000 X .025 = $1,000.00
  2. 2. HR then enters the $1,000.00 pay increase to Employee A’s base salary.
  3. 3. The system computes the change on Employee A’s total salary as: ($1,000.00 ÷ $45,000) X 100 = 2.22%

In this example, Employee A still received a 2.5 percent general increase to their base salary. When the dollar amount was applied to Employee A’s total compensation, it only computes to an increase of 2.22 percent of total compensation because the employee’s temporary or administrative salary adjustment is not included in base compensation.

Supplemental pay such as temporary or administrative salary adjustments are not included in base pay for the purposes of calculating the General Increase. However, for employees who receive the General Increase and have a supplement based on a percentage of their base salary, their supplemental pay will increase based on the increase to their base salary.

History of State's General Increases

Fiscal Year

General Increase


2.5 percent for eligible classified employees




2.0 percent for regular FTE employees making less than $100,000






3.25 percent


$800 one-time bonus for those making make less than $100,000


2.0 percent




3.0 percent








1.0 percent


3.0 percent

Please visit HR Services to contact your HR Service Representative or HR Generalist with any questions.

Annual salary increases are to be proportionately allocated across all projects to which they are charged. If the individual was charged 70% to grant project 1 and 30% to grant project 2, then any increase should be allocated 70/30, based on their earning distribution percentages in the HR/Payroll system at the time the pay is posted.

FY21-22 Merit Plan Frequently Asked Questions

Faculty and unclassified staff in Full-time Equivalent (FTE) positions, Time-Limited Positions (TLP) or Temporary Grant Positions (TGP) hired before June 2, 2021.

Merit increase decisions should be based on employee performance.

  • Eligible employees who receive an increase will receive a communication from OHR by 10/22/21

  • Eligible employees who receive a merit increase will see the increase in their 10/29/21 paycheck

  • The increases will be backdated to 7/1/21 for 12-month employees and 8/15/21 for 9-month employees so they will see the “catch up” pay in that same 10/29/21 paycheck

The increase will appear in the October 29, 2021 check and will be retroactive.

Eligible 12-month employees retroactive to 7/1/2021

Eligible 9-month employees retroactive to 8/15/2021

Yes. The Office of Human Resources worked closely with the Budget Officers and Senior leadership and provided training and resources for the Department users to assign the appropriate increase.

Yes. Supervisors will communicate with their employees regarding the Merit increase.

Bonus Plan Information

Eligible employees for the bonus plan include:

  • Full-time employees, including FTE’s, Time Limited Positions (“TLP”), Temporary Grant Positions (“TGP”) and full-time hourly workers.

  • Employees who meet both of the following service date thresholds:

    • Are currently employed in an eligible position as of the date of this approval

    • Were employed in an eligible position on December 31, 2020

  • Employees in good standing (excludes employees on a Performance Improvement Plan or suspended in FY21).

Ineligible employees excluded from the bonus plan include:

  • Student employees

  • Intermittent or Part-time Temporary employees

  • The President of Clemson University

Bonus Plan Frequently Asked Questions:

The employee’s effective salary on 12/31/2020.

This was the snapshot date selected to capture employees that worked during the fall semester of FY21.

No, the bonus pool is being funded centrally.

Post docs and unclassified personnel that are considered Full-Time are eligible.


Bonuses are not prorated.

If you are eligible, you will be issued a bonus on 7/30/2021.

No. Due to the timing and quick turnaround for this bonus plan, we are not able to allow deferrals.

Yes, assuming all other eligibility criteria are met.


If you are eligible, in your 7/30/2021 paycheck.

The parameters of the bonus payments (including the percentage) enabled the University to provide the bonus to all eligible employees within financial constraints.

No, this is in addition to any COLA increases or awards to be disbursed in the upcoming merit pool.

Yes, it will be a minimum of $500 regardless of salary level.

Should you have concerns regarding your eligibility for the bonus based on a disciplinary action or performance plan, please email

Contact HR

Clemson University 
Office of Human Resources

108 Perimeter Rd,
Clemson, SC 29634

Phone: 864.656.2000
Fax: 864.656.4672