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Office of Research Administration

Budget Development

Developing A Budget

The PI Handbook 2: Grant Budgets provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive information. Below is a general overview of Grant Budget Development.

The budget, also called a cost proposal, is equally as important as the technical proposal. This comprehensive planning document integrates all of the details for attaining the objectives of the proposal. The budgetary process should take into account preparation for the long-range goals, as well as the short-term objectives.

Budgets can typically include direct, other direct, indirect, and other budget elements.

The project budget is the instrument through which the cost of the project's activities plans, priorities, and organization are expressed. The funding agency grants a certain amount of money to the project on the basis of the line-by-line budget estimate.


Budget Expense Categories

Personnel Salaries and Wages: Senior Personnel Salaries & Wages: Salaries requested must be consistent with the regular practices of Morgan State University. In addition to making provisions for the above categories, it is imperative that the budget includes funds to cover fringe benefits for both regular and contractual employees.

Other Personnel:

  • Post Doctoral
  • Lab Technician
  • Graduate Students
  • Undergraduate Students
  • Teaching Assistantship
  • Secretarial/Clerical

Fringe Benefits: Employee benefits such as social security, worker's compensation, retirement, unemployment, health insurance, etc. should be factored into this object using the appropriate rates, which are listed below. Included in the budget should be provisions for the following cost categories:

  • Regular employees - 42% of the gross salary
  • Faculty during the academic year - 42% of gross salary
  • Faculty during the summer - 9% of gross salary
  • Contractual employees - 9% of the gross salary

Equipment: Refers to an item of property that has the acquisition cost of $5,000 or more and an expected service life of more than one year. A brief description and justification to show the purpose, function, and cost of the equipment is necessary. A written quote is required in many cases.

Travel: Includes domestic and international travel for fieldwork and attendance at conferences and seminars needed by the investigator to enhance his/her ability to perform the work of the proposal or to present the results of the project.

Domestic travel includes travel in the United States, its possessions, and travel to Puerto Rico and Canada. All other travel is considered foreign travel. Government sponsors generally require persons traveling under a grant or contract to travel by U.S. flagged carriers, if available.

The current 2023 reimbursable rates under the State of Maryland are:

•   Use of personal automobile - $.655 per mile.
•   Portage - $1 per bag.
•   For meals -

Meal Per Diem $
Breakfast $15.00
Lunch $18.00
Dinner $30.00
Total Allowed $63.00

Gratuities are included in the above rates for meals.

Due to price fluctuations from state to state, the employee who travels out-of-state and is entitled to
meal reimbursement may receive an adjusted amount depending upon geographical location. Please check here for the most up-to-date information on meal reimbursement allowances.

See more about University Travel

Participant Support: Participant support cost is used to defray the cost of students participating in a training activity, conference, or symposium related to the project. Faculty and staff can be participants if funds are used exclusively for training and conferences and if approved by the funding agencies. It includes stipends, subsistence allowances, travel, and registration fees paid on behalf of or to participants or trainees involved in the project.

The number of participants to be supported must be entered in the parentheses on the proposal budget. Participant support costs must be specified, itemized, and justified in the budget justification section of the proposal. Indirect costs (F&A) are not allowed on participant support costs. Participant support costs must be accounted for separately should an award be made.

Persons (students) compensated for services rendered on a sponsored project based on the hours worked are considered employees, NOT participants.

  • Who is a participant?
    A participant is defined as a non-MSU employee who is the recipient, not the provider, of a service or training associated with a workshop, conference, seminar, symposium, or other short-term instructional or information sharing activity. Participants do not perform work or services for the project or program unless it is for their own benefit. Participants may include students, scholars, and scientists from other institutions, representatives from the private sector, teachers, and state or local government agency personnel.
  • What costs are not considered Participant Support Costs?
    Participant Support Costs do not include honoraria for guest speakers, expenses for the PI, project staff or collaborators to attend project meetings, conferences, or seminars, payments to GRAs, or payments made to research subjects as an incentive for recruitment or participation in a research project. Morgan employees are not considered participants therefore costs incurred for Morgan employees do not qualify as Participant Support Costs.

Stipend: For some educational projects conducted at local school districts, however, the participants being trained are employees. In such cases, the costs must be classified as participant support if payment is made through a stipend or training allowance method. Accounting mechanisms are in place (i.e., subaccount code) to differentiate between regular salary and stipend payments.

Travel: Funds may be requested for the travel costs of participants. If so, the restrictions regarding class of accommodations and use of US-Flag air carriers are applicable.

Subsistence: Subsistence allowance is based on the type and duration of the activity. Such allowances must be reasonable, in conformance with the policy of the proposing organization and limited to the days of attendance at the conference plus the actual travel time required to reach the conference location. Where meals or lodgings are furnished without charge or at a nominal cost (e.g., as part of the registration fee), the per diem or subsistence allowance should be correspondingly reduced.

Materials and Support: Include items such as printing instructional materials, office supplies, and audiovisual and computer supplies. The budget should indicate in general terms the type of expendable
materials and supplies that are required to meet the goals of the project.

Publication/Document: Documenting, preparing, publishing, or otherwise making available to others the findings and products of the work conducted under the grant.

Consultant Services: A consultant provides advice or services and may participate significantly in the sponsored project. Since inter-departmental or intra-institutional consulting is regarded as professional courtesy, MSU faculty may not be listed as consultants. They should be listed as project personnel if they contribute substantively and measurably to the development or execution of a project.

In the budget justification a description of the services or activities to be performed by each proposed consultant in the project should be provided, as well as an estimate of time required, and the rate of payment, usually per hour or per day. Payment for consultant services should be comparable to the normal or customary fees charged and received by the consultant for comparable services on sponsored projects. PIs should check sponsor proposal instructions for any required limit on the rate of payment.

Computer Services can include the following:

  • maintaining of special computer related equipment
  • data processing
  • the cost of computer services, including computer-based retrieval of scientific, technical, and educational information

Communications: Can include postage, mailing services, and telecommunication charges.

Subawards: Subawards are called subgrants, subagreements, or subcontracts. These are issued to a
subrecipient for assistance in carrying out a specified programmatic effort on the sponsored project, and the University passes-through a portion of the sponsored award to the other entity. All the terms and conditions that are part of the prime award, which are applicable to the type of subrecipient entity involved, must be included in the subaward document. The term subaward also includes awards made by a subrecipient to a lower tier subrecipient with prior approval.

PIs/PDs must make clear provisions in the budget to pay for such subawards if they are included in the proposal. Each subagreement should be identified separately and followed with a brief explanation of the services that the sub-awardee or subcontractor will provide and the appropriateness and reasonableness of the cost.

Sub-agreements, sub-awards, and subcontracts are not executed until the award or contract is received by the University

Others: These costs can include such expenses as tuition, grants, scholarships, and awards. They are provided for support of graduate or undergraduate research assistants to help carry out the proposed research. Tuition remission is not taxable.

Facilities and Administrative Cost: (Indirect Cost) appears as a single separate item in the budget. This item is not University profit; rather, it represents the total real costs to the university in support of the project, which cannot be directly attributed to a project activity. This includes a portion of the University's overall administrative costs, such as purchasing and procurement, personnel, payroll, building and equipment maintenance, office space, utilities, maintenance of the library, and research administration. The current F&A cost is 51% of the modified total direct cost at Morgan State University, approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Cost Allocation, Region III. The modified total direct cost (MTDC) is the total direct cost excluding capital expenditures, equipment, charges for patient care, student tuition remission, rental costs of off-site facilities, scholarships, and fellowships, as well as the portion of each subgrant and subcontract in excess of $25,000.