Almost all funders request a budget for submission and the college requires one for all projects.
Creating a budget is one of the best ways to begin planning a project. It can provide a framework to build your project and proposal around. Budgets can include a wide range of expenses including material; salaries and/or stipends; travel expenses including airfare, hotel and food; publicity; and registration fees. If you are planning an event, you might need to include lunch or coffee costs. If you are planning a performance, there may be site expenses to consider. As you build your project or research budget, think as broadly as possible understanding that it may be possible for some costs to be absorbed by your department or the college.
Use the Trinity Grants Office budget template to start building your budget.
The University of Southern Indiana has this handy list of common budget items. (Note that some of the specifics, such as indirect and fringe benefit rates, are different from those of Trinity.)
Keep in Mind
Proposal budgets, particularly those for government grants, often include special considerations. The Grants Office will help you understand which of these you will need to think about for your budget.
Cost-sharing and matching refer to a financial commitment on the part of the college. Cost-sharing refers to the reallocation of already budgeted resources from the department or college to support part of the costs of a sponsored project. Funders usually indicate what kinds of contributions are eligible for cost-sharing. Cost-sharing may be mandatory or voluntary. Mandatory cost-sharing means that funds are required by the sponsor in order for the proposal to be eligible for funding. Recently, federal funders have been prohibiting cost-sharing as a way of leveling the playing field.
Matching occurs when the college agrees to allocate new funds beyond those provided by the funder to support a project. The ratio of the match is usually set by the funder. Any cost-sharing or matching funds must be outlined in the budget and approved via the internal transmittal form before submission.
Federal regulations (OMB Circular A-21) define cost principles for educational institutions. Facilities and administrative costs are defined as those “that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity.” Facilities covers college borne costs such as depreciation and use allowances, interest on certain debt, equipment and capital improvements, operation and maintenance expenses, and library expenses. Administration covers general administration and expenses, departmental administration, sponsored projects administration, student administration and services, etc.
F&A rates for most federal grant requests are set every three years, in negotiation between the college’s Budget Office and federal auditors from Region I of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The current rate in effect through June 30, 2024, is 67 percent of salaries and wages. For research projects that take place off-campus, the rate is 28 percent of salaries and wages.
It is the college’s policy to recover indirect costs as allowed by funding agency guidelines. Proposals submitted by members of the faculty should use the predetermined F&A/indirect rate whenever allowed. If the funding agency will not permit the full rate to be charged, consult the Grants Office.
For most research proposals, faculty members may request summer salary support for up to two months, calculated as 2/9 of the academic year base salary. Grant requests to support non-faculty personnel (e.g., administrative positions, student assistants) must conform to the salary scale and benefit eligibility of regularly budgeted college positions. Grant-funded positions of six months’ duration or longer, and of half-time or greater are eligible for benefits as defined in the college’s benefit plan. The funding request must cover the full cost of salaries and benefits for any grant-funded position.
Benefits may include the employer’s contribution to FICA, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, medical coverage, life insurance, and pension plans, depending on the person and period of time in question. The current average benefit rate for regular, full-time employees is approximately 31 percent. However, the actual rate to be included can vary: for example, in most cases when a faculty member is requesting summer salary for themselves, the only applicable benefit is the employer’s contribution to FICA, at 7.65 percent. Faculty members are urged to consult with the Grants Office on personnel costs in their budgets. Benefits costs are treated as direct costs in proposal budgets, but are not counted against the salaries and wages base for the purposes of calculating the F&A amount.
Salary supplements or substitutions for teaching during the academic year must be negotiated on an individual basis. Any grant that requires that the faculty member take a leave should be reported to the dean of academic affairs responsible for that department as soon as possible. Please refer to the faculty manual for policies regarding leave.
Project proposals that cover more than one year should include salary and wage increases of 2-3 percent in subsequent years. Please check with the Grants Office when preparing the budget as salary increases will affect the amount budgeted for benefits.
Grant-funded student research assistants working during the summer months should be paid at rates approved by the college based on the rate currently used by the Faculty Research Committee for the Student Research program. These rates are currently in flux as state and federally mandated minimum wage rates are increasing. For grant-funded student work with lesser responsibilities, refer to the rates set by the Financial Aid Office for work-study.
Grant requests for student summer support should add the cost of the employer’s FICA share at 7.65 percent. Full-time students are exempt from FICA withholding during the academic year.
Principal investigators/program directors (PI/PDs) are responsible for making summer on-campus housing arrangements, as needed, for student research assistants. Contact the Office of Residential Life, as soon as possible. The cost of summer housing and board (currently estimated at $165/week) is sometimes contributed by the college when students’ stipends are paid by a grant.
The college’s rate for mileage reimbursement is $0.625/mile; grant requests should not exceed this rate. All budgeted travel charges should be based on reasonable and customary costs.
Please email Amy Myerson for this information.