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Develop the Budget


Frequently, a line item budget and detailed budget narrative will be required. Always refer to the agency guidelines to determine allowable activities and costs.

A few resources for basic budgeting guidelines, applicable to nonprofits or proposals submitted to private foundations are listed below:

Proposal Budgeting Basics Self Guided Tutorial - Foundation Center

Introduction to Project Budgets (Free Video)- Foundation Center

Federal Government's Travel and Per Diem Rates - use this site to calculate travel expenses for federal grant proposals

Most federal agencies include budget forms as a part of their application package.  OSRP is available to assist in preparing the final budget and will also review the budget prior to submission to ensure that it is aligned with funder and university guidelines.

Direct Cost vs. Indirect Cost

Charges to a grant can be categorized as either direct costs or indirect costs.

Direct costs are defined as the charges to a project or program that can be easily identified with the immediate operation of the grant (i.e. project personnel, supplies, equipment, travel, and consultants). Direct costs to a sponsored program are as described by the RFP and the guidelines of the funding agency.

Indirect costs, also called Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs or indirect cost recovery (ICR), pay for charges that are not specifically attributed to an individual project. Indirect charges are defined as costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives. Indirect costs reimburse the college or university for services to the grant such as: accounting services; salaries not reimbursed by the project, such as clerical and administrative involvement; computer laboratory fees; the institution’s infrastructure; office supplies; postage; local telephone charges; photocopying; and facility maintenance. Any portion of the F&A not recovered from the funder would be considered a match by the university. Institutional policy requires full F&A be claimed except where a lesser amount is authorized.  

An important point to consider is that F&A costs are not recovered from sponsoring agencies until the direct costs have been incurred. The F&A rate is recognized by funders and the university as the legal basis upon which the university can make claims for reimbursement for F&A. The current F&A rate has been negotiated with the federal government through the Department of Health and Human Services at 34.4 percent for on-campus activities and 22.8 percent for off-campus activities. Refer to the Negotiated Rate Agreement document on file with OSRP for any clarification as to which rate would apply for your project.

Copy of MSU Denver's current Indirect Cost Rate Agreement 105 KB  

Creating the Budget

Typically, sponsored projects allow the grantee to request compensation for the following direct costs: personnel (salaries and wages); fringe benefits; equipment; materials and supplies; travel; and other. Read guidelines carefully to determine what restrictions, if any, are placed on the categories, or if some line items are not allowed.

Several budget templates may be utilized by investigators to prepare a project budget.

NSF Budget Template

NIH R&R Detailed Budget Template

NIH Modular Budget Template

U.S. Department of Education Budget Template



Faculty Release Time/Summer Month Calculations

It is not unusual in a federal or state project to find that the proportion of faculty time supported by a sponsor is limited. In proposing a project with grant funds, the principal investigator must select a workable and fundable methodology, including the amount of time that is available to work on a project as a faculty member. If the principal investigator is a faculty member, check with the respective Chair and Dean to ensure that proposed workload is feasible.

Person-Months Conversion Calculator and Chart

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