Skip to main content

Budget FAQ

How do I estimate the time I plan to spend on the project?

Budgeting for your salary and benefits takes careful planning so that your account will not run out of funds. Because we do not know from year to year what the state will allocate for raises, your budget is really a “best estimate.” The university does not charge the grant account more than the actual salary and fringe benefits expenses.

You will need to work with your assigned grant coordinator early in your proposal process to accurately project your budget.

Why is the budget important?

The budget presents a financial picture of your project to the reviewer and helps the reviewer understand your project. It can also help you more accurately determine the scope of your project.

How do I develop my budget?

First, consider your project’s resource needs. Read the sponsor’s guidelines and note any limitations.  Contact your grant coordinator to begin the budget process.

I understand that the University has a federally approved Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Cost Rate. How is that applied in my budget?

The university’s approved on-campus F&A rate (also known as Indirect Cost Rate) is 40% of a modified total direct cost basis.  For more information on the F&A rate, contact your grant coordinator.

If I want to ask for one course reassigned time in both the spring and fall semesters to work on my project, how do I calculate the cost of the reassigned time?

Know your current salary. If you are requesting a starting date for your project after the new fiscal year begins, you need to add some inflation to the current figure, probably a 1-3% raise (it is understood that this will be an estimate). A basic one course release for one semester is based on 10% of your academic year salary. Example: A $60,000 salary would mean that you would ask the funding agency for $6,000 in salary for a reduction of one course each semester (this does not include fringe benefits).

If I need to work on the project in the summer, how do I calculate the salary for that period?

A simple way to calculate: If you plan to work one month on the project, use 11.11% of your academic salary.  Using $60,000 as a salary estimate, you would request $6,666 in summer salary (this does not include fringe benefits).   Remember that some funding agencies, notably the National Science Foundation, do not allow more than two summer months per year on a project. For further assistance on calculating summer salary please contact your grant coordinator.

How do I figure fringe benefits on my academic year and summer salaries?

Work with your grant coordinator on your budget needs.

The funding agency requires matching funds from the University. What does this mean?

A funding agency will often require that the University contribute a specific percentage of the total project costs. For example, some agencies require a 1-to-1 match (if your total project sponsors budget is $50,000, the university will be asked to contribute $50,000 as a match).

What about equipment purchases?

Equipment is defined by the federal government and the university as tangible, nonexpendable property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit (including tax,
shipping and installation). However, when the terms of an award set a lower dollar threshold for equipment – $1,000 for example – the PI’s department must track it as if it falls under the university’s definition of

Important considerations before purchasing equipment on a sponsored project:

General-purpose equipment is unallowable as a direct cost, except with the prior written approval of the sponsor.

If a piece of purchased equipment will benefit more than one sponsored agreement or activity, the cost should be distributed to all benefiting activities using a reasonable and documented method of allocation.

Maintenance and repair costs to keep project-specific equipment – whether existing or purchased with project funds – in operating condition may be allowable within the time frame of the project performance period; if the maintenance agreement or repair cost benefits more than one sponsored agreement or activity, the cost must be allocated to the various projects and activities proportionately based on the benefit directly received by each.

Budgeted equipment is generally purchased in the beginning of a project unless the scope of work is such that the equipment is essential during a later period of performance. If the equipment purchase is to be made within 60 days of the award end date, the justification must be reviewed and approved by Research Accounting before purchase.

Last updated: 8/13/2020