Budget Guidance

Budget narrative or budget justification. This is often a required element of a grant application and is a good addition even if not required. The budget justification explains how you derived the costs shown in your budget, and it is where you make the case that your costs are reasonable and necessary. Make it easy for the reviewer to follow: Show your math! A sample NSF budget and budget narrative can be found in Box.

Cost sharing or matching funds. The Provost will evaluate any proposal that requires cost sharing beyond what Rhodes would normally provide. When a grant proposal requires fundraising to be done by the College to obtain matching funds, the initiator must send the final draft of the proposal along with a list of prospects for the matching funds to the Vice President for Development, the Provost, and the Vice President for Finance and Business Affairs for initial approval, and then to the President for final approval when necessary.

Course release. Faculty members who wish to seek course releases during the academic year of a grant may request funding for no more than one course release per academic year that the grant support covers. Any exception to this limit must be approved by the Provost before the grant application is submitted. The course release should be included in the grant budget, at 10% of the faculty member’s salary or $7,500, whichever is higher, plus fringe benefits figured at 7.65%. See salaries and benefits below; see course release policy.

Direct Costs include salaries, wages, and stipends for you or any other personnel associated with or working on your project (including students); equipment and maintenance; supplies; payment for participation, honoraria, or colloquia fees; travel; communications (telephone, fax, photocopying, and postage); and fringe benefits.

Equipment. If your proposed grant budget includes new equipment to be purchased, discuss with the Finance office (x 3760) whether the purchase requires bidding or pricing. Also consider whether the equipment requires special installation (requiring physical plant staff or building alteration) or a maintenance or service contract.

Facilities and administration costs (aka F&A; see indirect costs).

Fringe benefits (see below for “Salaries and fringe benefits for faculty and staff” and “Student wages and benefits”).

Indirect costs (also known as Facilities and Administration or F&A) are those costs that cannot be attributed to one project (as direct costs can) but that are necessary to doing business and administering the grant. These include items such as utilities, building maintenance, library services, Provost’s and department’s office expenses, grant accounting and auditing, I.T., etc. Fringe benefits are NOT included in indirect costs; they are considered a direct cost of grant activities.

Indirect costs must be charged to all grants except those programs where they are not allowed.  

Rhodes’s federally approved rate for indirect costs is 47% of all salaries and wages (faculty, staff and student) that are included in the grant budget. In drafting federal grant proposals, departments should budget 47% of salaries and wages, excluding fringe benefits, for indirect costs. (See policy.) If a grantor caps indirect costs at a rate lower than 47%, then use the lower rate.

Per diem rates (lodging, meals and incidentals) for U.S. cities can be found here.

Salaries and fringe benefits for faculty and staff. When calculating faculty or staff salaries for a multi-year grant budget, include a 3% cost of living raise each year. Grant proposals that include salaries should also include fringe benefits. For federal grants, these are calculated at 28% of faculty and staff salaries. Rhodes’ actual cost for faculty/staff fringe is 36.5%; this higher percentage can be used when allowed by the (non-federal) funder. At minimum, your grant budget must cover federally mandated FICA tax for Social Security and Medicare (7.65% of salary/wages). If you fail to include any fringe in your grant budget, the 7.65% will be backed out of your grant-funded pay when it is processed by Rhodes’ payroll office. (Example: you budgeted $5,000 as “stipend.” You submit a Payment Request or Personnel Action Request (PAR) for $5,000. Payroll will process this as $4,629.60 in stipend paid to you and $370.40 for FICA.)

Student wages and benefits. Student wages are typically $9.70 per hour. A higher rate is unlikely to be approved due to campus commitment to pay equity. If you believe a higher rate of pay is warranted, you must discuss with and get prior approval from the Vice President for Finance and Business Affairs. Benefits for students who will work during the summer and are not enrolled in an associated class should be included in grant budgets, figured at 7.65% of their wages. This covers their FICA tax for Social Security and Medicare. Students who are enrolled full time in classes during the academic year are not charged FICA.  Thus the 7.65% for student fringe is not necessary in your grant budget if student wages will be paid during the school year.

Summer housing. If your grant project includes having students working or doing research on campus during summer months, you may budget grant funds to pay for their on-campus housing. Consult the grants office for current rates. (For reference, the 2019 rate for summer housing at Rhodes was $120 to $175 per week.)

Travel. College travel policy can be found here. When creating a grant budget that includes travel, consult online resources or call vendors for airfare or car rental costs. It is a good practice to itemize travel costs in your budget justification narrative. Lodging and meals estimates for U.S. cities can be found here. Include your daily costs for needed local transportation (Uber, cab fare, shuttles, airport parking fees). If you are driving, the standard mileage reimbursement rate for 2020 is $0.575 per mile.