Grant Writing

Rules for Including Equipment and Supplies in Your Grant Budget

In addition to your team members, there are most likely certain supplies or equipment that are vital to the success of your project. As you approach this section of the budget, there are several requirements from within your institution and from the funding agency that need to be considered in your budget preparation.

  • Supplies are consumable items used in the course of research (i.e., syringes, pipettes, primers, assays).
    • Supplies are general-purpose consumable items that are used on a regular basis or other tangible items that do not meet the definition of equipment. Include the category of supplies needed and the cost for each.
    • Tangible items with per-unit costs of $5,000 or more are considered equipment and cannot be accounted for under this category.
    • Office supplies, or other items that are not generally trackable to specific projects, are generally not allowable costs.
    • You should indicate general categories such as glassware and chemicals including an amount for each category.
    • Include details for each cost that exceeds $1,000.
  • Equipment is any durable item of tangible nonexpendable personal property having a useful life of more than one year that costs over $5,000 or more per unit.
    • Some funding agencies require that you must obtain price quotes from at least three different vendors for each planned equipment purchase. Double check your instructions.
    • You should state the full name, intended use, cost including installation, and maintenance/service cost.
    • Equipment costs should be reasonable and necessary for the project and not otherwise easily available or accessible at lower costs.
  • Does equipment purchased under a grant belong to the Principal Investigator?
    • All equipment purchased using grant funds is the permanent property of your institution.
    • The Materials Management office should be contacted for equipment and supplies quotes.
    • Most funding agencies recognize that equipment acquired with grant funds belongs to the PI’s institution or organization.
  • Can the funding agency require the transfer of equipment to another party? 
    • Yes, some funding agencies, such as the NIH, retain the right to require equipment purchased with grant funds to be transferred to the Federal Government or to an eligible third party named by the awarding Institute/Center; although it is seldom necessary to do so.
  • Is depreciation or use charges on equipment an allowable cost on a grant?
    • Depreciation or use charges on equipment are an allowable cost, but not normally allocable as a direct cost to a grant. Such charges are usually included in the organization’s indirect cost base for determination of its indirect cost rate. Depreciation or use charges on equipment acquired under a federally supported project are unallowable.

Further Reading