Preparing Your Budget

One of the most important elements of the proposal is the budget.  Many agencies review budgets separately from the proposal so it is recommended that any text regarding funds (especially specific dollar amounts) remain in the budget and budget justification.  Budgets should be done in accordance with the sponsor’s specific guidelines. 

The following are some general guidelines to follow when constructing your budget.  When constructing the budget, you should show how you calculated your figures for every item presented. 


The first main section of the budget is key personnel.  This section is for Kettering University personnel only unless sponsor guidelines direct otherwise explicitly in the application instructions.  Senior personnel should be listed in order of project commitment with principal investigator listed first.  Any other proposed staff should be under a subcategory called other personnel or consultants (if they are consultants).  For University personnel, provide the name and job title. 

    Some cautionary notes on personnel budgeting:

  • Clerical or administrative personnel are generally unallowable as direct charges to a federally sponsored project. 

  • Sponsor funded activities will not result in any Kettering University employee receiving compensation at a rate in excess of authorized salary. 


Describe the activity associated with each class of employment listed in your proposal.  Administrative and clerical effort will normally be apportioned to indirect (F&A) costs.  The direct charging of these costs may be appropriate where the nature of the work performed under a particular project requires an extensive amount of administrative or clerical support that is significantly greater or very different than the level of such services normally provided by academic departments at Kettering University.  In order to include these costs as direct, a justification of the different nature of the activity must be provided with a detailed explanation of the activity.  A portion of administrative and clerical effort will be allocated as a direct charge if the justification supports this treatment. Salary allocations above the base amount normally earned during the period will not be permitted. 

To determine total salaries and wages for both Senior/Key Personnel and Other Personnel, list the percentage of effort to be spent by each person who will work directly on the project. Effort should be shown in terms of percentage of full-time effort, person-months, hourly rate, or other basis as required by the sponsor.  The proposed effort must reconcile as a proportionate share of base salary and cannot exceed this amount. Refer to the OSR Research Employee Descriptions and/or the Frequently Required Proposal Data sheet for student and graduate assistant rates.


Fringe benefits are only charged for non-Kettering employees hired full-time specifically for this project. Kettering University uses fringe benefit rate of 31% of salary. Benefit package provided a full-time research employees is equal to that of all Kettering employees.


Capitalized equipment is university owned item with a useful life of more than one year and a cost of $5,000 or greater.  Modular components of equipment will meet this definition if the parts are inseparable.  Include any predictable delivery, installation or special training costs to bring the equipment to an operable state.  Any anticipated equipment maintenance should be itemized as Other Direct Costs.  Vendor quotes should be obtained to substantiate proposed costs for equipment.


The type of travel should be explicitly stated in the budget along with a brief description of connection to the project.  Each assumption for travel should be detailed in the budget, such as estimated airfare, lodging for the locality if known, ground transportation, and per diem allowance. Reimbursement for travel expenses is subject to sponsor requirements and Kettering University Travel Policy.  Domestic travel within the U.S. and Canada should be separately budgeted from foreign travel.  The Federal Travel Rates for common localities must be followed.  Estimates should not exceed the search engine FTR rates where provided for lodging or the current maximum Kettering University daily reimbursement rate for meals ($45).  All foreign travel on federally funded projects must utilize US flag air-carriers whenever possible regardless of cost or convenience.  Refer to the Kettering University Travel Policy for additional information on this topic.


Support for participants to attend conference/workshop program is provided for some sponsored programs.  Participant support is defined in the funding announcement and does not include the personnel or travel costs associated with University personnel.


A research project will usually consume expendable supplies and minor equipment such as laboratory items, instructional materials, laboratory notebooks, etc. A reasonable amount should be budgeted for these items.  Office supplies are normally unallowable under federal awards unless specifically requested and justified as a programmatic need, i.e., a survey would require paper and envelopes.  The purchase of computers for research purposes must also be justified in the proposal as directly related to the project and used exclusively for research purposes.  Purchase of computers subsequent to the proposal without original justification will not be allowed as a direct charge. 


By definition, consultants are not employees of the University. Consultants should be budgeted only for tasks where on-campus expertise does not exist or is not readily available.  Normally, consultants are paid a fee plus travel and other expenses.  If travel is included in the fee, you will need to indicate this.  In all cases, consultants should be contracted at a reasonable rate. A Independant Contractor Sheet consultant eligibility prior to completion of the Independent Contractor Agreement.


A subaward is issued to complete a substantive portion of research or other programmatic activity. A subawardee must provide the statement or scope of work, budget, period of performance, negotiated F&A agreement to verify the indirect costs proposed, and the signature of a representative authorized to contractually commit the institution that can be in the form of a letter of intent. A subaward should be justified in the proposal as a necessary substantive portion of the research or other programmatic activity.


Publication charges, reprints and page charges, postage (allowable as a direct charge ONLY when the scope of work includes recruitment of participants or surveys), equipment maintenance, graduate assistant tuition, etc.  These charges should be anticipated and described as part of the budget narrative.


Indirect Costs are calculated in accordance with Kettering University's indirect cost rate approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at 54% of salaries and wages.