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Submitted by kathleen.local on Mon, 06/01/2015 - 12:42am

The research budget is an integral part of any grant application: A poorly prepared budget can mean the difference between success and failure. As such, your budget should never be left until the last minute- it should be developed in tandem with the proposal itself. Here are some tips to help you with the budgeting process:

Getting started

Carefully read the application instructions provided by the funding agency:

  • Adhere to all listed requirements:
    • Use any budget form or template that is provided.
    • If no template is provided, be sure to pay attention to general formatting guidelines.
    • Use the specified format for the budget justification.

Understand what the grant can support:

  • Operating costs vs. infrastructure
  • Eligible and ineligible costs

Know where to find help:

  • The granting agency's key contact for the competition to which you are applying (e.g., grants officer; program officer)
  • Relevant contacts in your own institution (e.g., Faculty Research Office; University Research Services Office; trust account representative; etc.)

The Budget

General components

  • The budget- this is the actual list of costs, which can be divided into two major categories and several subcategories:
    • Operating costs: personnel; materials, supplies and services; travel
    • Infrastructure: equipment; building/renovations

The budget justification- this is where the necessity of each budget item is justified.  The importance of a clear budget justification cannot be understated!

Create a budget worksheet in a spreadsheet program such as Excel and build in the details as you work through the proposal. This is a very useful step as it allows you to:

  • Take advantage of formula functions that will do the math and avoid addition mistakes. (Although you should still double check manually, just to be sure!);
  • Easily add items or make adjustments to existing items;
  • Create separate sheets for different scenarios;
  • Use the final scenario throughout your project to keep your own record of expenses (this is helpful in case there is a disagreement between your records and those of the Finance Office).

Research Budget Basics

The budget

  • An integral part of a research proposal
  • Should not be an after-thought
  • Proposal and budget develop together

To begin

  • Request for Funding (RF A)
  • Read the instructions
  • Know the requirements
  • Budget form/template

Budget justification

  • Understand what the grant can support
  • Operating costs vs. infrastructure
  • Eligible and ineligible costs

Getting help

  • Granting agency's general guidelines. For example:
  • Granting agency's key contact (e.g., grants officer; program officer)
  • Relevant contacts in your own institution (e.g., research office; research grants officer/trust account representative)