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Budget Development

The budget is the investigator’s best estimate of the total costs to complete the objectives identified in the proposal. Investigators should contact their Grant Coordinator early in the proposal process so that a comprehensive draft budget may be formulated for inclusion in the institutional routing and final proposal, if applicable. Your Grant Coordinator can provide an initial draft budget and work with you to refine the budget as the proposal is prepared.

It is important to demonstrate that the budget proposed is reasonable. A budget justification should be submitted in order to allow each budget item to be explained relative to the proposed research. The specifics of the sponsoring agency’s budgetary guidelines should be followed carefully. Budgets should be prepared for the entire proposed project. Both direct and F&A costs should be identified in the budget.

Budget Templates 

NSF Budget Wizard Spreadsheet

A template for the development of budgets for the National Science Foundation.

General Budget Template

For use in developing budgets for a variety of single or multi-year proposals.

Developing Proposal Budgets

Two types of expenses are associated with sponsored funding: direct costs and Facilities and Administrative costs (indirect costs).

Direct Costs

Direct costs can be clearly identified and directly benefit a specific project or program. See the Uniform Guidance Subpart E – General Provisions for Selected Items of Cost.

General categories are as follows:

  1. Personnel:
    • List the names of all personnel involved directly in the project as well as proposed but unfilled position titles and the percentage of time each individual will devote to the project.
    • Pay rates must follow university pay scales.
    • Faculty summer salary charged to sponsored projects must follow university policy.
    • Salary support for sponsored activities conducted during the academic year may result in release time from teaching or service activities. Contact the department chair and dean early in the planning stages to discuss release time.
    • Realistically define the percentage of the time and effort to be expended on the project.
    • Costs for administrative and clerical staff may not be allocated as a direct cost unless these individuals are identified, integral to the project, included explicitly in the budget, and not recovered as indirect cost.
  2. Fringe Benefits:
    • The University uses employee fringe benefit rates to recover the actual cost of employee benefits from external funding sources. While on an individual basis, an employee may not participate in all benefits, the use of benefit rates serves to apply an average percentage to all employees within the same group. Fringe benefits should be applied to all personnel salaries and wages and noted in the budget.
    • Calculated based on actual costs and include FICA/MED taxes, retirement, health, and life insurance.
  3. Equipment:
    • Generally, an article of non-expendable tangible personal property having a useful life of one year or more and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more is considered capital equipment.
    • Each item of equipment costing over $5,000 with a useful life of one or more years should be itemized in the proposal budget; accessories, attachments, and shipping costs should be included in the estimate.
    • Bids for equipment purchases must be documented when sponsors require them.
  4. Supplies:
    • Generally, office supplies are unallowable costs, unless they are allocated to the specific project and justified as a direct cost, not a routine expense like postage and memberships.
  5. Travel:
    • Identify the type and extent of travel and its relationship to the sponsored activity. The proposal should explain and the budget justify foreign travel.
    • Use university per diem rates to calculate travel costs.
    • Federal and university restrictions may apply to certain travel costs.
  6. Consultants:
    • Costs of consultants should be explained in the proposal and fully justified in the budget.
    • Sponsors expect the university to have policies governing the use of consultants that are applied consistently, regardless of the funding source. Refer to the University policy on subawardees, consultants and vendors.

Other direct costs may include outside services, evaluation services, communication costs, tuition, or equipment rental.


Section 889 of the 2019 NDAA (the “Huawei Ban”): A new Uniform Guidance § 200.216 provides for a broad prohibition against purchasing any “equipment, services, or systems that uses [sic] covered telecommunications equipment or services as a substantial . . . component of any system.”  Covered telecommunications equipment or services include such items provided by Huawei Technology Company, ZTE Corporation, or any of their many subsidiaries or affiliates.  When it is to be used for certain public security purposes, such equipment also includes products provided by Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, and Dahua Technology Company, and their subsidiaries and affiliates. 

Fringe Benefit Rates

The University uses employee fringe benefit rates to recover the actual cost of employee benefits from external funding sources. While on an individual basis, an employee may not participate in all benefits, the use of benefit rates serves to apply an average percentage to all employees within the same group. Since these rates are applied to University grants and contracts, they are subject to annual audit by the Federal Government.

Faculty and staff are responsible for using these rates in budgeting and planning documents, including external grant proposals which are being asked to fund employee salaries, wages and benefits.  The benefit rates associated with the salary or wages paid to an employee must also follow any costing changes made within the payroll system.  The rates provided may not be equivalent to actual costs on awarded projects; the faculty and staff should understand these rates are subject to change during the span of the award.


Full Time

Salaried Hourly



Students and Temp Positions














Full Time Fringe Benefit – Components (Employer Paid)

  • Social Security (FICA)
  • Medicare
  • Retirement
  • Health Plan 
  • Life Insurance 
  • Dental Plan
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Transportation 
  • Benefits Administration 
  • Employee Educational Assistance

Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A) or Indirect Costs

The university incurs F&A costs through common activities that cannot be attributed easily to an individual project or program. General categories include:

  • plant operation and maintenance (e.g., utilities, janitorial services, building maintenance and repairs)
  • use of buildings and equipment
  • sponsored project administration and accounting
  • library expenses and collection acquisition
  • institution-wide administrative expenses
  • general office supplies.

Each sponsored project is expected to pay its share of these research infrastructure costs. The F&A cost rate is negotiated between Georgia Southern and the US Department of Health and Human Services and applied to all projects, regardless of sponsor. Some sponsoring agencies do not reimburse F&A costs at the full rate. The university will honor these exceptions when the organization has written guidelines or agency policy on payment of F&A costs.

All project budgets should include F&A costs appropriate to the sponsor as determined by the university’s federally negotiated rate. Exceptions to this policy may be considered on a case-by-case basis if the sponsor has an established, written policy for any and all potential applicants that deviates from the federally negotiated rates. All deviations are subject to approval by the Vice Provost for Research prior to submission of the grant or execution of the contract.

Cost-Sharing on Federal Grants and Contracts

Cost-sharing occurs when a sponsor requires or the university commits funds beyond those awarded to support a particular grant or contract. The Vice Provost for Research must approve any voluntary cost-sharing before the funding application is submitted. In-kind faculty salary time, unrecovered F&A costs, and/or tuition waivers for graduate assistants working on the project may be applied toward the cost-sharing requirement.

Budget Justification

The budget justification provides the rationale for proposed expenditures. Its primary purpose is to ensure adequate funding. Follow agency guidelines in preparing the justification; requirements about documentation to support proposed costs and the detail of descriptions vary. See sample NSF budget justification for detailed information. 

Budget Development Handout

Provides detailed explanations of the categories within the budget.

Last updated: 10/26/2020