Building a budget for your project is a critical component of designing your overall research program and proposal. The “detailed budget” is a line item representation of the expenses associated with the proposed project. The “Budget Justification” provides a detailed narrative of the costs associated with each line item, a justification of need for each line item, and the calculations on how costs were derived. Cost estimates should be as accurate as possible to cover the expenses proposed in the project and developed with your departmental research administrator, in consultation with appropriate financial specialists or accountants. All costs need to be allowable both by the institution and funding agency. Sponsors customarily specify how budgets should be presented and what costs are allowable. The overview given here is for preliminary guidance only.
Typical divisions of the line item budget are personnel, fringe, materials and supplies, equipment, travel, consultant/contractual costs, and indirect costs (IDC). Other categories can be added as needed. The budget should define how totals for each category of expenses were calculated. Salary information, for example, often needs to be specified in detail in a budget justification: At a base salary of $100,000 (12-month appointment) and 3% cost of living increase in years 2 and 3, the salary justification for the Principal Investigator is: Year 1: $10,000 for 1.2 calendar months (0.10 FTE); Year 2: $20,600 for 2.4 calendar months (0.20 FTE); and Year 3: $26,522 for 3 calendar months (0.25 FTE).
The links below provide a access to a wealth of resources for research administrators and investigators to help develop detailed budgets, including current salaries, fringe rates, indirect cost rates, and more. Several example detailed budgets and budget justifications are also included below.