How to Develop a Grant Budget
A grant budget includes all the costs associated with carrying out the grant project or program. In order to determine how much you will spend, you must know what activities and services you will provide, when they will be provided and by whom. A multi-year program will have a budget for each year of funding. Plan out all the activities in a monthly timeline and think of all the people you will need to do the work.
Determine what qualifications each person will need and whether you will hire them as an employee or if they will be retained as an independent contractor. If the person will be working on campus, using college equipment and tools, s/he will likely be hired as an employee. Estimate how long it will take for each person to carry out the tasks s/he will perform. Develop a draft job description with educational requirements and job tasks for those you will hire. Submit the job description to human resources to determine which union contract the job will fall into and which union job description can be used to hire the individual. Human resources will also provide you with a current and projected rate of pay which can be used for budgeting.
Human resources can tell you how many hours an employee can work in a week to be considered full or part-time. Benefit rates differ for full-time and part-time workers and vary by union contract. To obtain the correct rate of pay and fringe benefit rate, be sure to submit job descriptions to human resources before you finalize your budget.
Major budget categories in most budgets are salaries, fringe benefits, supplies, equipment, travel, student scholarships or stipends, contractors or consultants, and overhead/ facilities and administrative (F&A) costs. Your budget may have additional categories or “line items”. The sponsor may suggest a budget format it prefers with particular budget categories. Use the sponsor’s budget format or template to complete your budget.
Obtain the current federally negotiated facilities and administrative rate. This F&A rate or overhead rate must be applied to salaries. Contact the director of grant initiatives to obtain the current F&A rate.
Each item in the budget must be justified in the narrative budget justification. The budget justification describes what will be spent and why it is needed to make the project successful.
For example, if you will be buying supplies you should state the unit price of each item, the number of units to be purchased, and how they will be used. Equipment should be described similarly. For major purchases, obtain an estimated cost from the manufacturer and keep the estimate on file.
If you will be traveling include the cost of airfare, train tickets, hotel costs, ground transportation and per diem amounts for the city you will be traveling to. Use current General Service Administration per diem rates from this website https://www.gsa.gov/travel/plan-book/per-diem-rates. If you will attend a conference include the conference fee.
If you plan to hire a consultant or independent contractor, obtain an estimate from the contractor for the services they will provide. Describe the need for the services in the budget justification.
Sample budgets and budget justifications can be found below. However, every grant application is unique, and you must follow the guidelines specified in the individual solicitation.
Sample Budget Justifications
The following budget justifications are primarily for university research grants, but the same principals apply to all budget justifications.
University of Connecticut General Cost Principles