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Budget Preparation Guidelines

The proposal budget is the financial plan of action that reflects the costs required to perform the proposed work statement.  The following information has been prepared to help you develop your budget plan.  

It is important to demonstrate that the budget proposed is reasonable.  A budget justification should be submitted in order to allow each budget item to be explained relative to the proposed research.  The specifics of the sponsoring agency’s budgetary guidelines should be followed carefully.  Budgets should be prepared for the entire proposed project. Both direct and F & A costs should be identified in the budget. The following categories are generally included in the preparation of a proposal budget.

Budget Categories and Justification

Salaries and Wages

List all personnel, including the names, roles, how many months, or the percent of effort that will be devoted to the project. Salaries and wages should typically be budgeted with an inflation rate of 3% per year.

Faculty

The DHHS (“NIH”) salary cap should be applied to all awards originating from any DHHS agency (NIH, HRSA, AHRQ, SAMHSA, CMS, among others).

Graduate Assistants

The Graduate School regulations state that full-time graduate assistants will devote 20 hours per week to their assistantship duties during the academic year which is 12 months for UConn Health GAs. University policy requires that tuition costs are included in proposal budgets, when allowed by the sponsor, per the guidance below.

Student Labor / Special Payroll

Costs should reflect the hours, the hourly rate and length of time being spent on the proposed project.

Other Professionals

Personnel included in this category are typically research assistants and associates, technicians, and computer programmers.  Be mindful of salary requests and level of effort for part-time employees (less than 1.0 FTE).

Postdoctoral Fellows

Stipends for “To Be Named” postdoctoral fellows should follow the NIH NRSA stipend levels which can be found on the NIH website.

Administrative/Clerical Staff

OMB Uniform Guidance states that the salaries of administrative/clerical staff should normally be treated as F & A costs; however a request for administrative and clerical salaries may be included in a federal proposal budget when the following conditions are met:

1. Administrative or clerical services are integral* to a project or activity;

2. Individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity.

Such costs must be explicitly included in the budget.

If these requirements are met, PIs/departments should include a justification statement that explains how the services are integral for the project to facilitate the required agency approval.

*Integral means the services are essential, vital, or fundamental to the project goals or activity, rather than necessary for the overall operation of the institution.

Programmatic Salary Costs

Costs related to protocol development and maintenance, managing substances/chemicals, managing and securing project-specific data, and coordination of research subjects are allowable direct costs when they are “contributing and directly related to work under an agreement.” Thus, these programmatic costs may be direct charged using the same underlying requirements as other types of direct costs, and are not subject to the extra approval requirements required of administrative and clerical costs. They are still subject to all regular costing requirements (e.g., allocability, reasonableness, allowable by terms of the award, incurred within award period).

Fringe Benefits

The fringe benefit rates should reflect the institution’s estimated “Proposal Rates” for the employment category being proposed.

– Faculty: 40%

– UHP: 68%

– Graduate Assistants / Foreign Nationals: 28%

– Special Payroll: 20%

– Classified: 79%

Tuition Costs

Unless prohibited by the sponsor, graduate tuition charges should be itemized as a direct cost on all proposal budgets.  Budgets must include a line item for 60% of the full time in-state tuition for each graduate student assigned to the project.  The tuition charge for graduate assistants budgeted at less than full time will be pro-rated based on the percentage of their effort on that particular grant.  Tuition increases for the outgoing years will be projected at 6%.  For more information, refer to the Guidelines for Charging Graduate Tuition on Grants Policy.

Equipment

Equipment is defined as tangible, non-expendable, personal property having an anticipated life of one year or more with a unit acquisition cost of $5,000 or greater. Equipment includes, but is not limited to, furnishings, scientific apparatus, machinery, library volumes, artwork, motor vehicles, boats and livestock. You will need to identity the individual pieces of equipment requested, the importance to the project, and why existing equipment does not suffice.  Price quotes or the basis for projected prices may be required for larger pieces of equipment. Equipment costs are excluded from the Facilities and Administrative base.

Travel

Travel costs are classified as those expenses for transportation, lodging, subsistence and related items incurred by employees who are traveling on official University business. Domestic and foreign travel should be separately identified. Unless otherwise stated by the sponsor, domestic travel is considered to be travel among any of the 50 United States, its possessions and territories, and Canada. Foreign travel is classified as travel outside these areas. Travel justification should include who is traveling, where, the purpose of the trip, the number of trips, the costs for the air fare, per diem, lodging, car rental and other costs associated with the travel.

Materials and Supplies

Supplies and materials are any consumable item having an acquisition unit cost of less than $5,000.  These costs should be project-specific, reasonable and based on actual or historical use. It is not necessary to break down each individual item, but a general description and amount by general classification should be provided (e.g. glassware, test tubes, or chemicals).

Publication Costs

Publication costs consist of the documenting, preparing, publishing, disseminating, reprint charges, and sharing of project findings.

Subawards

If a portion of the work is to be completed by another institution, SPS must receive a Consortium Statement, signed by an authorized representative of the subawardee institution, stating their willingness to participate with UConn Health on the proposed project. The subawardee will also need to provide a statement of work, budget, and budget justification.  In most cases, F & A costs are allowed for the prime applicant on the first $25,000 of each subaward.

Consultants

Consultants are independent contractors, not employees, who provide a service that cannot be performed satisfactorily by existing University personnel during the performance of the project.  The consultant costs should include the period of service or the number of days on the project, the professional fee, travel expenses and other related expenses.  Consultants will often provide a letter of support to be included in the submitted application.

Animal Care Costs

Animal costs should reflect the type of animal, the number of animals and the unit cost per animal.  Per Diem costs should reflect the number of days required for care of each animal/cage.

Other Expenses

Indicate any other project-related expenses, such as equipment maintenance, core services, and human subject costs.  The justification should provide as much detail as possible on each item budgeted for.

Facilities and Administration (F & A) Costs

Facilities and Administrative costs, also called indirect or overhead costs, are those costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project.

It is the policy of the University to collect full F & A costs at the federally negotiated rates from all funding sources whenever possible.  Occasionally, a sponsoring agency will specify an F & A policy inconsistent with the University’s negotiated rate.  Only the Office of the Vice President for Research has the authority to accept a reimbursement rate other than our negotiated rate. These payments from the various programs are reimbursement to the University for certain actual costs incurred by support functions to conducting sponsored research programs at the University.  In addition, a portion of this money from research grants goes to the Research Council to be used for research incentive funds, grant programs for faculty and graduate students, and to meet cost sharing requirements for large equipment purchases. The University negotiates its rate with the DHHS, and is based on Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC).  Our negotiated rate agreement can be found under Frequently Requested Information, along with the name and address of our Cognizant Agency.

Cost Sharing/Matching

Definition

Cost sharing or matching on grants and contracts reflects the University’s contribution to the total costs of a sponsored research project. Cost sharing, therefore, represents the portion of the project costs not paid for by the sponsor.

General Information

Cost sharing should be limited to those situations where it is mandated by the sponsor. Some sponsors require cost sharing, and in certain circumstances, the University may determine that a contribution is necessary to ensure the success of a competitive award or competition. All cost sharing dollars require written approval from the Department Chair, Dean, and OVPR.

The PI should refrain from making commitments voluntarily, as any promised cost share becomes part of the project cost, even if only mentioned in the narrative and not in the budget. Once awarded, the commitment will have to be tracked in the University’s accounting system and is subject to audit. Failure to comply with the cost sharing commitment may result in a loss of funding.

Criteria for Cost Sharing Commitments

The Uniform Guidance  states that contributions, including cash and third party in-kind, are acceptable as cost-sharing contributions.

The cost sharing/match must meet the following criteria to be accepted:

  • The match must be verifiable from the recipient’s records;
  • Not included as a contribution for any other project;
  • Necessary and reasonable to accomplish the project’s objectives;
  • Allowable under the Cost Principles;
  • Not paid by the Federal Government under another award, except where authorized by Federal statute to be used as cost sharing or matching;
  • Are provided for in the approved budget.

General Cost Principles

Sponsoring agency’s budget requirements vary considerably depending on the sponsor and type of proposal. Cost principles specified in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Grant Guidance are used to describe the cost principles for all sponsored agreements at the University of Connecticut. The tests for appropriateness under these principles are:

  • Reasonableness – A cost may be considered reasonable if the nature of the expenditure and the amount involved reflects the action that a prudent person would take under the circumstances.
  • Allocability – A cost is allocable if it is beneficial to the project.
  • Allowability – Costs must be allowed in accordance with the Uniform Grant Guidance and the terms of the sponsored agreement.
  • Consistency – Costs incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances must be treated consistently as either direct or facilities and administrative (F&A) costs, and the method used to estimate, record, and report costs must be consistent as well.  See the table below for a description of how costs should be treated.

Nonrecoverable (Unallowable) Costs

Expenditures that cannot, by federal regulation (Uniform Grant Guidance) be reimbursed, either in whole or in part, from the federal government are considered non-recoverable (unallowable) costs. When preparing a budget, the following costs are considered non-recoverable and should not be included in your proposal budget. Please consult with Sponsored Program Services if you have questions regarding these items.

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Alumni activities
  • Bad debts
  • Commencement and convocation costs
  • Donations and contributions
  • Development/fundraising costs
  • Entertainment costs
  • Employee morale
  • Excessive employment recruitment costs
  • Fines and penalties
  • Goods or services for personal use
  • Housing and personal living expenses
  • Investment management costs
  • Lobbying costs
  • Memberships
  • Moving costs
  • Student activity costs
  • Travel costs in excess of commercial coach airfare

Direct and F & A (Indirect) Costs Items

Direct costs are those costs that can be specifically identified with a particular sponsored activity.  Direct costs are those costs that can be assigned to an activity relatively easily and with a high degree of accuracy.

F&A costs are costs 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.

Costs must be treated consistently.  Consistent treatment means that similar costs must be treated uniformly in the same manner as either a direct cost or as F & A costs.  Certain types of costs, such as the salaries of administrative and clerical staff, office supplies and postage are normally treated as F & A costs, therefore, the same types of costs cannot be charged directly to federally sponsored agreements.

Direct Costs F & A Costs
Salaries & Wages/Fringe Benefits: Faculty, other professionals, technicians, post doc associates, research associates, graduate students. Salaries & Wages/Fringe Benefits: Typically clerical and administrative assistants, fiscal manager, secretaries, directors.
Office Supplies: Office supplies are normally included in the indirect costs base. Office Supplies: Pens, pencil, paper, staple, transparencies, toner cartridges, diskettes, printer paper, word processing and spreadsheet programs.
Lab and Computer Supplies: Medical, scientific pharmaceutical supplies. Software and/or diskettes for research data collection and/or scientific and technical purposes. General Computer Supplies: Diskettes, printer paper, word processing and spreadsheet programs.
Equipment: Equipment and computing devises used for scientific, technical, and research purposes. Equipment: General office equipment such as copiers, printers, computers, fax machines.
Facilities: Project specific space rental for off-campus facilities from a third party. Facilities: Utilities, building use, grounds maintenance, renovations, and alterations.
Postage, printing and photocopying: Normally indirect unless the specific project scope of work, such as surveys or questionnaires, clearly indicates a need for a volume of costs beyond routine. Postage, printing and photocopying: US non-priority or inter-office mail delivery, printing of administrative forms, or photocopying of routine low volume material.
Telephone:  Long distance calls, phone surveys or calls to project participants. Telephone: Local calls, cell phones, installation and maintenance.
Maintenance & Repairs: Requires justification that the expenditures are directly related to the specific award. Maintenance & Repairs:  Maintenance and repairs to general purpose equipment, buildings and grounds.
Advertising: Recruitment of research subjects or for personnel approved for a specific project. Advertising:  Public relations.
Publications:  Project specific research. Publications: General.
Freight/express deliveries: Justification required that cost was needed to transport project material in a timely manner. Freight/express deliveries: Routine or internal courier.
Consulting:  Project specific research. Consulting:  General.
Miscellaneous Costs: Subcontract Costs; Service Center Charges;  Training costs, Miscellaneous Costs:  Dues, memberships and subscriptions; Computer network charges; Utilities.

See also the Implementation Guide (Uniform Grant Guidance)  for Principal Investigators and Department Administrators.

The OVPR SPS reviews the appropriateness of costs to determine if they qualify as direct costs. Exceptions (allowing costs listed in the F & A Column as direct costs) to the above list are rare and are reviewed on a case by case basis by the OVPR SPS. Exceptions may occur when:

  • The program is a large complex project such as a center project that involves assembling and managing teams of investigators from a large number of institutions or units.
  • The project involves extensive data collection, analysis and entry, surveying, tabulation, cataloging, searching literature, or reporting.
  • The project requires coordinating travel and meeting arrangements for a large number of program participants, patients or subjects; or for conferences or seminars.
  • A project where the principal focus is the preparation and production of manuals, large reports, books or monographs (excluding routine progress and technical reports.)
  • The project is off campus and does not have access to normal department administrative services.