Budgeting Research Proposals

Below are some common components of proposal budgets.  You are encouraged to also discuss proposed budgets with your department as if effort is requested or there are other cost overrun.  

Full Cost Budgeting

Project Teams assembling budgets are encouraged to think about the full cost of the project.  Any work proposed under the aims that does not request funds from the sponsor is a form of institutional “investment” in the project.  

Budgeting & Justifications

Below are the categories that are traditionally requested to be addressed and justified.  While always recommended, some sponsors do not require the detail in the budget or even provision of the justification.  In those cases, it is recommended that the Principal Investigator decide how to address the sponsor's expectations.  



Salary of personnel who will be spending time on the project are included in the budget. Provide the name, title, amount of time on the project, institutional base salary (not necessarily full-time rate) and the amount of support requested.  In addition, include a narrative on what each person will do on the project and tie to the specific aims presented.

Fringe Benefits

Fringe Benefits are calculated on all salaries.  

Consultant Costs

Consultant services may be requested as a part of a grant proposal.  The consultant’s expertise, primary organizational affiliation, and amount of proposed compensation are normally detailed in the budget justification.  You will want to compare to the work statement provided by the consultant.


Equipment is defined by the federal government as an item of property that has an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more and an expected service life of two or more years. Proposed equipment should be itemized by descriptive name and estimated cost. Shipping and/or installation charges associated with equipment acquisitions should be included in the cost estimates but generally are not itemized.

Items costing less than $5,000 or with a life expectancy of less than two years normally should be included under "Materials and Supplies."  Also, non-federal sponsors have a different threshold and individual instructions from the sponsor need to be consulted.


Detail on each trip, the destination, purpose, and expense, should be incorporated, including transportation, lodging, and per diem.  Some sponsors request explicit explanation if there is foreign travel.  Occasionally, sponsors also want extreme detail (e.g., miles driven * rate per mile).  Be aware, scrutiny of the mathematical validity will be applied in the review process.

Materials and Supplies:

Consumable supplies such as office supplies, glassware, chemicals, and computer supplies would normally be included in this category.


The costs of preparing and publishing the results of the research project may be included in the budget request for most sponsors.  Sponsors have a vested interest in making sure results are distributed and normally welcome this budget line.  Costs may include printing, illustrations, and other journal costs.

Subcontract Costs:

Subcontracts are typically established when funds awarded to the University will be paid to an organization outside of the University for work performed on the project.  

Facility & Administrative Costs (F&A or Indirect Costs):

Overhead must be requested at the institutionally established rate based on the type of activity being proposed. This may only be waived if a sponsor has a published policy restricting the payment of indirect costs that applies to all applicants. See the University’s indirect cost rates.