Office of Sponsored Programs
Download ORA Budget Template
The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) requires that a budget and justification be included in all proposal submissions. This document assists the sponsors in better understanding of the financial requirements of a sponsored project.
A consistent approach to all sponsored projects assures compliance on every level. When ECU is audited, the auditing agency seeks to insure that costs are allocable to the appropriate project, allowable, reasonable and treated consistently across all sponsored projects in accordance with federal regulation MB A-21. It is one of OSP’S main functions to review budgets with the A-21 cost principles in mind. OSP reviews budgeted line items in concert with a details budget justification.
The preparation of a realistic and appropriate budget for a proposal is important for many reasons. Project planning is demonstrated by a careful and reasoned budget plan.The budget indicates, in a very concrete manner, the funds required necessary to complete the proposed project. A well-constructed budget and justification demonstrates that the project director/principal investigator possesses the experience and skills to successfully execute and complete the project. The justification information protects the budget by demonstrating a thorough and thoughtful budget preparation. It builds credibility in the eyes of the reviewers/sponsor, thus increasing the likelihood of funding.
Budget preparation can be challenging and can consume significant time and energy. OSP has developed a budget template to simplify and standardize budget preparation for the Principal Investigator and departmental staff.
Three columns of figures: total cost of a budget item, the sponsor contribution, and the ECU contribution in covering the cost. This presentation clearly shows to the sponsor how ECU is contributing to the project, and also alerts chairs and deans to the specific commitments they will need to make.
Each ECU person (faculty, staff, or student) associated with the project is listed separately with his or her percent effort, salary requirement and benefits.
A budget for each individual budget year is developed (including inflationary increases), as well as a consolidated budget for the entire project period.
Advertising / Periodicals
Animals / Postage
Audio-Visual Instruction /Publications
Auditing / Recruitment
Binding / Registration. Fees
Books / Relocation
Computer Time / Rent
Consultants / Repairs
Dues / Salary/Wages
Equipment / Security
Fringe Benefits / Subcontracts
Indirect Costs / Supplies
Instruments / Telephone
Insurance / Travel
Legal Services / Tuition
1. Don’T construct a 'bare bones budget'. You will short change yourself. It will also diminish your credibility in the eyes of the prospective sponsor if you do not have a realistic budget.
2. Estimate your budget needs realistically but generously.
3. Request only budget items allowed by the sponsor. Asking for a disallowed item creates a poor impression of your application.
4. Write justifications for each personnel position and major piece of equipment requested. Write general justifications for all other items. Don't give the sponsor an opportunity to cut your budget due to a poor justification.
5. Request faculty salary in 25% increments for the academic year. 25% is the course equivalent in most units.
6. Where feasible, include support for Graduate Assistants, as aids for research training, etc. The university has very limited funds available for graduate assistantships.
7. General office supplies should not be included as they are covered by FA&A costs.
8. Salaries for faculty and staff in Year 1 of the budget should be based on the best estimate of what the salary will be at the time the grant begins. The first year salary may or may not be higher than it is during the current period. OSP recommends building in a 3-4% annual salary increase to account for increases in salaries and attendant fringe benefits. Budgets that do not include such increases will not be rejected. However, be advised that the grant will be charged for such increases by the ECU financial systems regardless of whether funds were budgeted.
9. Include hidden costs when purchasing equipment, e.g., shipping, renovations, setup, initial supplies, training of personnel to use equipment, manufacturer's technical support and maintenance.
10. Include something for your unit that can be justified. For example, equipment that can be used in courses or by other faculty, a unit administrative fee or part of a secretary (non-federal applications only).
11. If your project requires alterations or renovations of university buildings, request funds for facilities renovations in your proposal. (Note: Some sponsors do not permit renovations so check the sponsor's guidelines.)
12. When requesting salaries for new personnel to be hired, request a salary in the middle of the range allowed by the NC state personnel regulation. This will allow you to hire a more qualified person.
13. If you need to use 'creative accounting' in your budget construction, contact OSP well before the submission date of the proposal. Your chair and dean might approve the budget, but approvals at the University level may take time.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) proposal budgets have a couple unique elements – the use of modules and the exemption of Consortium F&A from calculations of maximum permitted Direct Costs. The OSP Budget Template has features intended to assist in accurately creating budgets containing these elements.
On NIH modular budgets, Direct Cost Minus Consortium F&A should be in evenmultiples of $25,000. If the NIH Modular Budget setting is activated on theSTART tab, the template will depict Direct Cost Minus Consortium F&A in aseparate line and display an error – “Not Modular” – the total on this line isnot a multiple of $25,000. Consortium F&A is tracked on the SUBCONTRACTStab.
On non-modular NIH budgets, also called Full Detail Budgets, the template willdisplay the Direct Cost Minus Consortium F&A line but will not monitor theline for compliance with modular totals. Users can use this line to determineif their budget is within the maximum direct cost cap appropriate to theproposal type. This setting is also found on the START tab.