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Pre-Award | Prepare a Budget

Parts of a Budget

The categories below gives you an overview of each budget section generally required when creating a budget for a sponsored program. Contact Beth Walsh ( | 62399) for additional information and expertise on preparing your budget.

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1. Personnel

Includes SU faculty, contractual employees, graduate and undergraduate students. In general, faculty can receive re-assigned time and/or summer stipends equivalent to a percentage of their academic salary. Contractual employees may be hired by the University in accordance with Human Resources policies. Students can be paid an hourly rate or may be awarded a Graduate Assistantship (for research or teaching).

2. Fringe Benefits

Fringe benefits are charged as the University provides a percentage of salaries for all employees to cover such benefits as social security, unemployment, retirement and health care. Fringe benefit rates and requirements for health care will vary; contact OSP for current rate information.

3. Travel

Travel costs should distinguish between International, Domestic, and Local Travel. For budgeting purposes, the schedule of per diem rates permitted by the federal agencies may be used to estimate costs. Indicate briefly the purpose and frequency of expected travel and its applicability to the program. The University, however, reimburses on an actual expense basis. In addition, some sponsors may place limitations or restrictions on travel outside the United States. Be sure to follow sponsor guidelines. Additionally, any foreign travel to a country on the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory List requires special approvals. Travel policies and reimbursement information are provided at

4. Equipment

Equipment means an article of nonexpendable, tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by the organization for financial statement purposes, or $5000.  General-purpose office equipment may normally not be purchased on federal awards. Further, it is necessary to check program guidelines carefully to be sure special-purpose equipment purchases are allowable. Itemize capital equipment to be purchased, providing a description, a written vendor cost estimate, and justification of need. The cost of a single unit of equipment should include related charges, such as those for accessories needed to make it operable, installation fees, delivery costs, insurance, and taxes, if any. Under 2 CFR, 220, OMB Circular A-21, where the purchase of equipment or other capital items is specifically authorized under a sponsored agreement, the amounts thus authorized for such purchases are assignable to the sponsored agreement regardless of the use that may subsequently be made of the equipment or other capital items involved.

Additionally, when submitting a proposal, Principal Investigators should estimate whether equipment purchases will require renovations, additional power and the like over the life of the program. Principal Investigators should also endeavor to identify several vendors who can provide bids for supplying the equipment. Any proposed charges for equipment maintenance should be based on charges for maintenance agreements specific to the equipment proposed.

5. Participant Support Costs

Participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (non SU students or staff) in connection with meetings, conferences, symposia or training projects. Participants may be paid a stipend, per diem or subsistence allowance, based on the type and duration of the activity, as outlined in the pertinent program solicitation and in the grant.

6. Other Direct Costs

Following is a partial list of the more common types of Other Direct Costs that are budgeted. The emphasis is on what information is needed to enable the Principal Investigator to assemble information for proposing these Other Direct Costs.

  1.  Materials and Supplies - This category includes, but is not limited to, the following items: chemicals, glassware, small electronic components, computer and printer supplies, and animal purchases. Provide estimated costs for each category. In proposing these types of supplies, differentiate between allowable items, such as computer software and supplies, and general-purpose office supplies in the budget justification. 
    Costs for general purpose office supplies such as paper, pens, paperclips and the like are recovered indirectly through SU's F&A rate and are generally not allowable as a direct charge. The same federal regulations that restrict administrative and clerical salaries also identify general-purpose office equipment and supplies as unallowable direct costs. There is an exception to this rule that allows these items to be proposed in the relatively rare cases where Major Project status has been conferred on a program. This categorization allows administrative and clerical salaries as well as general office supplies to be appropriately charged if such a Major Project status exception to normal 2 CFR, 220 OMB Circular A-21 principles meets requirements under exhibit C and the sponsor agrees.
  2. Publications Costs/Documentation/Dissemination - This category includes preparation expenses, illustration costs, and page and reprint charges in established journals. 
  3. Consultant Services (anyone not employed by SU) - Consultants are expected to come from outside the proposing institution. Consultants are paid a Honorarium for performing distinct, short- term tasks such as evaluation, workshop presentation, or technical advisement.
  4. Computer Services - An annual fee will be applied to all computer purchases for service, internet usage, etc.
  5. Subawards - When SU plans to enter into a subaward with another organization, the Principal Investigator/Project Director will indicate on the Internal Routing Form that a subaward is required. A budget and scope of work must be attached to the proposal along with any additional funder requirements. URS will review the subrecipient's budget to determine if the costs proposed are reasonable and realistic for the work being performed.
  6. Other Costs - May include telephone, postage, subsistence, rental costs and payments to human subjects. This is not an exhaustive list. There may be other costs not mentioned above based on project need and allowability.

7. Facilities and Administrative Costs (Indirect Costs)

The F&A cost category covers all the costs associated with a grant project which, for reasons of practicality, cannot be directly assigned to specific grant activities. For example, virtually all projects require the use of University facilities which must be heated in the winter, cooled in the summer and lighted at night. It is impossible to determine exactly how much of the University fuel and utility bills to assign to the grant project based on this use. Nevertheless, these costs are real. Similarly, all grants require the preparation of financial reports. It is impractical to divide and assign the administrative cost of staff time spent on different accounts. Without full F&A cost recovery, each grant project which Salisbury University conducts costs the University money.

The University's F&A cost rate is determined through negotiation with a federal "lead agency." This rate should be used for all federal, state and private foundation grants. The calculated F&A cost rate for Salisbury University is currently 35.9% of direct costs, with some exceptions. This should be added to the grant request. Note: At this time, this is an externally approved federal rate, and the detailed rate can be found here

Some funding agencies stipulate that F&A costs cannot be recovered as part of the request for funding or limit F&A cost recovery to a specific percentage. In these instances the F&A costs, or the unrecoverable portion of these costs, should be listed as institutional support. Obviously, handling of indirect costs in this way simply indicates the magnitude of the costs that the University will incur in conducting the proposed project.

8. Total Costs

Includes total direct plus indirect costs.

9. SU Institutional Costs (Matching Funds or Cost Sharing)

Some funding agencies require that the University make a substantial contribution to the completion of the proposed project. The categories of institutional support funds are essentially the same as those for the grant request.

Applicants must keep in mind that, with the single exception of F&A costs, all institutional support funds devoted to a grant project will have to be taken from existing, approved University budget lines. Therefore the source of institutional support funds must be of primary concern to Project Directors. Determining from which accounts institutional support funds may be drawn is one of the topics that grant applicants should address in early consultation with the Chair of their Department and the Dean of their School (or appropriate Vice President).

Cost share may also come from outside the University from community based organizations or state agencies, or as revenue generated by enrollment or fees. It may be calculated as an in-kind contribution or be actual cash dollars donated to the project. It is the Project Director's responsibility to obtain documentation indicating off-campus contributions (i.e. letters of support) which clearly indicate the amount of cost share. All documentation must be in accordance with 2 CFR, 215, OMB A-110, section 23.

Budget Narrative or Justification

The budget narrative section of the proposal is designed to explain the basis for calculating the expenses contained on the budget page and the role of the expenditures in conducting the project. 
A budget narrative is mandatory for grant proposals. This is used both as an internal and external tool for monitoring the project as well as the auditing of the project. It is a good idea to include a budget narrative in grant proposals, either as a separate section or an addendum to the budget itself.

This is intended to serve as a guide in preparing your budget. For additional guidance, please contact Beth Walsh in the Office of Sponsored Programs ( | 62399)

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