Budget Guidance

               The guidance below is to assist investigators to develop a budget in coordination with the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs. This general guidance is applicable to most circumstances; however, there may be exceptions or circumstances related to a particular funder’s requirements that modify the guidance below. Please be aware that specific exceptions may apply; however, OGSP will closely evaluate any change or alteration to guidance prior to approving a budget. The OGSP intends to follow those policies and regulations necessary to accomplish the sponsored project with a maximum of accountability, while recognizing the need for some flexibility due to differing sponsor requirements.  However, under no circumstances will OGSP approve a proposed budget that is found to be deficient with respect to UNA Policies and Procedures, the laws of the State of Alabama, or the sponsor’s requirements. Programs using federal funds must comply in all respects with the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, whether funded directly from federal funders or as a pass through from other entities. In addition, OGSP requires that all costs included in a proposal budget, regardless of sponsor, be necessary, reasonable, and allocable. Although derived from federal regulation (CFR §200.403-404) and strictly enforced with respect to federal grants, these three basic principles ensure the accountability for all expenditures made with funds managed by the University of North Alabama in pursuit of sponsored research or grant-funded efforts. Generally, this means that OGSP will not approve any cost that is not part of an approved budget and specified in an award, either specifically authorized in a line-item budget or allowed as part of the contract's general terms and conditions of the grant agreement (e.g. the reallocation of funds between budget items of an approved budget).

Grants and Sponsored Programs Budget BuilderThe budget builder can be used for projects with a duration of 1-5 years.  To use the budget builder, enter information in the purple highlighted cells. 

Budget Guidance for Proposal Preparation

                The budget is the financial representation of the statement of work and should provide to a clear picture of the anticipated financial needs of the project. The format and/or allowable costs may vary from one agency to another, but the items comprising the budget are generally the same. Sponsors typically require, or encourage, budgets that present the total amount requested for the life of the award by annual increment and budget component (e.g. total salaries, salaries for year one, salaries for year two, etc.).

Direct Costs: Direct costs of sponsored projects are those that can be directly associated with the project with a high degree of accuracy and are necessary and reasonable to accomplish the project. For proposal purposes, OGSP encourages providing budget information in as concise a form as allowed by the sponsor, but some items may need more detail in order to analyze the budget. Also, more detail may be required, if awarded, in order to establish the budget in Banner.

                Salaries:  List each UNA person/position to be included. Using annual salary rate and percentage of time to be devoted to the project, compute the salary allocable to the project for each individual. The salary charged to the grant should be an accurate estimate of the percentage of time each person will spend on the project. A cost-of-living increase of 1-3% should be added to each base salary in each subsequent year of the proposal. Many sponsors require proposed effort to be shown in person-months, which can be calculated from the proposed percentage of effort and the number of months in the individual’s appointment (typically 9 months or 12 months).

A faculty member on a nine-month appointment can request summer salary of up to 33% of his/her base salary. Generally, these additional funds will be paid out during the summer and will not affect the faculty member’s academic year base salary. A sponsor may limit the amount of faculty time eligible for compensation within its program(s) or allow payments outside of the summer months, which requires review by OGSP and approval of Department Head, Dean and/or supervisors.

Additional pay (supplemental or extra-compensation) during the academic year or for an individual with a 12-month appointment is allowable ONLY in unusual cases. Refer to UNA’s Extra Compensation/Supplemental Pay Policy for guidance.

If a sponsor will not allow faculty salary to be paid, but faculty effort will be required, then the University is providing the faculty salary as cost share and UNA’s Cost Sharing Policies and Procedures apply.

Administrative and clerical support is generally not allowable as a direct cost unless the position is part of a major project with requires an extensive amount of administrative or secretarial support, greater than the routine level of such services provided by academic departments.

                Fringe Benefits: The fringe rate is expressed as a percentage of salary, and the dollar amount is calculated by applying the appropriate rate to each UNA employee’s salary that is charged to the grant. The proposal’s fringe benefit rates vary based on employee pay classifications such as full-time, part- time, or summer salary. The OGSP will assist PI’s in calculating the fringe benefit rates. These rates are an ESTIMATE of the actual costs that might be charged based on University averages. ACTUAL fringe charges will be based on the fringe benefit rate in effect during the grant period of performance. Undergraduate students and graduate students are not eligible for UNA paid health insurance and do not incur a fringe rate. 

               Tuition: If tuition is to be paid from grant funds, include the estimated cost of tuition. OGSP can assist to obtain current rates.

               Travel: List anticipated travel expenses for project personnel by purpose and show basis of computation. Include costs such as conference registration, personal car mileage, transportation (air and/or ground transportation, and parking), hotel, and meals. Domestic and foreign travel should be shown separately. If foreign travel is not specified within the budget, prior approval from the agency may be required before travel takes place. Regardless of the funding source, UNA travel policies must be followed at all times for all personnel on travel status funded by UNA.

                Participant Support: Expenses for Participant Support are for training projects, conferences, symposia, etc. These costs are for non-UNA employees. Additional information regarding both Participant Support Costs and Stipends (Tuition, Stipends and Other Student Payments) can be found in ‘Participant Support Costs-Policies and Procedures’.

                Supplies: Supplies include expendable items with a useful life of less than one year or a unit cost under $5,000. Include a description of each category (e.g. glassware) and best estimate of cost for expendable items directly related to the project. The University must provide office supplies, general-purpose computers, and computer accessories, and recover the cost for them through the University’s indirect cost rate. The University normally may not treat office supplies, postage, local telephone costs, and memberships as direct costs, unless they are part of a major project and have a specific, allocable, and high-demand usage that justifies separate funding within that activity.

                Equipment:  List any item of equipment having a unit cost of $5,000 or more and a useful life of one year or more. Include the cost of shipping and installation and any fabrication costs. Also, anticipate any modifications to buildings or facilities required and list as “Other” expenses for budget purposes. General-purpose equipment (equipment not limited to research, medical, scientific, or other technical activities necessary and reasonable for the project) is generally not allowable. See also Equipment Policy.

                Consultants/Professional Services: List each consultant, the specialty or service they will provide to the project, the daily, weekly or monthly rate of reimbursement, and the consultant’s total projected cost on the project. List other services required that will be purchased with project funds, such as service or maintenance contracts for equipment utilized on the project. Present funds for University faculty serving as consultants in the Salary section of the budget by including a portion of their UNA effort in the proposed budget. Federal agencies assume that intra-university consulting is a university obligation requiring no compensation in addition to full time base salary, except in certain circumstances where work is performed across departmental lines and the expense is approved in advance in the budget proposal. Additional pay during the academic year or for an individual with a 12-month appointment is allowable only in unusual cases and with prior approval as specifically identified in the proposed budget. See Extra Compensation/Supplemental Pay Policy.

                Sub-agreements: A sub-agreement is a contract or award to another organization that conveys a portion of the UNA project’s scope of work. You should obtain an acceptable budget and scope of work, signed by the sub’s authorized organizational representative, which may be required to be included as part of the proposal package. PIs have substantial responsibility for monitoring the progress and reviewing the financial reports of their subrecipients. See University’s Subrecipient Monitoring Policy.

                Other Direct Costs: Other costs typically include items such as research publications, lab usage fees, animal costs, and/or other project related costs not proposed in the previously mentioned categories.

Indirect costs: Indirect costs of sponsored projects are those that cannot be directly associated with the project with a high degree of accuracy. The University normally recovers indirect costs incurred by University personnel through the Indirect Cost Rate (sometimes known as a Facilities and Administrative Cost Rate). The University uses a simplified indirect cost rate that the largest federal funding agency negotiates and approves based on a periodic assessment of indirect costs versus direct costs. The current indirect cost rate for UNA is 41% of all salaries and fringe benefits paid for on campus personnel and 17% of salary and fringe benefits paid for off campus personnel. Unless otherwise required by a sponsor, UNA does not reduce or waive indirect costs, but may negotiate these when required by a sponsor. PIs, Deans, Department Heads, OGSP and the Office of Business and Finance Affairs each receive a portion of this cost to reimburse indirect charges. See UNA’s Indirect Cost and Residuals Policy.

Cost Share: Cost sharing or matching means the portion of project costs not paid by Federal funds (unless authorized by Federal statute) (CFR § 200.29). The funder’s notice, funding announcement or RFP will specify the amount of cost sharing or matching funds required, if any. Amounts provided for cost share by the University must be reasonable and allocable project costs, necessary for the execution of the proposed contract or award, as well as follow UNA policies related to that category of expenditure. Amounts provided as cash or in-kind from third parties must be likewise be necessary, reasonable and directly related to the execution of the award. The proposal and the contract must specify sources of cost share. UNA does not provide voluntary committed cost share, except as specified in notices, funding announcements, and RFPs that accept voluntary cost share, and only to the extent such sources are readily available and are approved in advance.