Grant Writing

Grant Budget Preparation: An Advanced Guide

When you begin preparing your project budget, you need to consider all of the aspects related to your project. Consider: salaries and wages, fringe benefits, equipment, materials and supplies, travel, facilities and administrative costs, and all other costs. The more preparation work you complete, the easier it will be to make the final budget. 

  • Know your limits! Carefully read the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for budget criteria. You should look for limits on the types of expenses (e.g. no construction allowed), spending caps on certain expenses (e.g. travel limited to $10,000), and overall funding limits (e.g. total costs cannot exceed $300,000 per year).
  • Identify all the costs that are necessary and reasonable to complete the work described in your proposal.
    • Salaries and Wages
      • Who is working on the project? List: position, salary and wages, percentage of effort, consider multi-year budgets and future salary increases.
    • Fringe Benefits
      • Use the institute rate of 28% for faculty, 34% for staff and 1% for students.
    • Equipment ($5000 per item or above)
      • Consider all equipment you’ll be using, include model number and manufacturer.
      • Determine cost of equipment using the latest vendor catalog price or quote.
    • Materials and Supplies
      • List all consumable supplies that you’ll need to use, including a cost estimate.
    • Travel
      • Are you traveling? List who is traveling, the purpose and destination of each trip and include reasonable travel costs for airfare, hotel and per diem. Double check your calculations for the number of people attending and the number of days per trip.
    • Administrative Costs
      • Be sure to double-check the funding agency to see how they handle indirect costs.
    • Patient Care
    • Alterations and Renovations
    • Other Costs
      • With there be any other direct costs? List any consultant, subctontract, or participant costs associated with your project, and any other direct cost fees.
  • Throughout the budgeting process, round to whole dollars and use only U.S. dollars.
  • Stop and Consider: Significant over- or under-estimating suggests you may not understand the scope of the work.
  • The best strategy is to request a reasonable amount money to do the work, not more and not less because:
    • Reviewers look for reasonable costs and will judge whether your request is justified by your aims and methods.
    • Reviewers will consider the person months you’ve listed for each of the senior/key personnel and will judge whether the figures are in sync with reviewer expectations, based on the research proposed.

Further Reading