Budget Templates and Justification

Budget Templates

A detailed budget template is available specifically for NIH award (utilizing the salary cap and NIH direct charging elements) and another template is available for all other sponsored projects. Both templates are organized by cost category and calculate fringe benefits, salary as a percent of effort, MTDC, and F&A across all budget years, requiring only that project-specific information be entered into the yellow-highlighted fields. The NIH sheet will also create modular budget figures from the detailed entries.

Budget Justification

The budget justification should be used to state why an item costs what it does, and to indicate how each item relates to the research plan or statement of work. The information should be sufficiently detailed to address all sponsor concerns with respect to cost and need.  The information in the justification must exactly match the information to which it pertains in the budget.

In general, explanations should be more detailed for competing than for non-competing applications. Common explanations that are needed:

  • Calculations for project salary amount, including percent of effort and total salary base.
  • Brief statements of the technical effort provided by personnel and consultants.
  • Specification of the fringe benefit rate used.
  • Explanation of the travel purpose and specification of the number of persons traveling, airfare, lodging, per diem, etc.
  • Basis of expense determination for supplies, analyses and/or equipment (i.e., from past experience, quotes, etc.).
  • Explanation of the F&A rate used (type and amount).
  • Justification of any restricted items (otherwise unallowable costs), specifying why they are unique to the particular project.

Be careful: Avoid mentioning in the budget justification that additional effort not listed in the budget will be provided or indicating that the funds requested in other budgetary categories are insufficient for the proposed research and will be supplemented from other sources. This is considered a cost-sharing commitment that will have to be tracked if awarded and should only be included if required by the sponsor.

Sample Budget Justification


To submit an NIH Modular Grant application to the Office of Sponsored Proposals and Awards (OSPSA) for review and processing, please choose the correct budget form in your application as required with the following components specifically addressed:

  1. Modular budgets require you to subtract estimates of the following items from any direct cost totals before indirect costs are derived:
    1. each piece of equipment costing over $5,000
    2. costs for patient care or participant cost (stipends, parking, etc.)
    3. costs for tuitions, scholarships or fellowships
    4. any costs for each subcontract above $25,000 (combined direct & indirect). The Narrative Budget Justification pages also require documentation of subcontract costs to the nearest $1,000 for direct and indirect and additional personnel information for all subcontracts/consortium/contracts
    5. Costs of alterations and renovations
  2. Do not include typical detailed budget for initial budget period or budget for the entire proposed period of support or other support pages which will be requested right before the time of award in a "just-in-time" process.
  3. Do include the Budget Justification page - Modular Research Grant application. Be sure to list all personnel, including consultants and those on subcontracts by name, include percent effort and roles on the project. You do not have to provide salary information. Also include the Additional Narrative Justification if you are requesting a different number of modules ($25,000 increments) in any budget period (e.g., period 1 - $200,000; period 2 - $150,000, etc.).
  4. Please note that the PI has even greater responsibility to ensure that their direct and indirect cost projections for their modular grants are accurate and adequate to meet their research project needs over the entire length of the project. NIH has given notice that the total amount of modular grant awards cannot be changed once awarded. Given that the OSPA cannot cross-check PI's modular budgets (unless they want to develop a detailed budget with OSPA assistance or review), any errors will have to be managed by the PI.
  5. Once awarded, PI will have to provide the OSPA with their budget broken down into standard Spectrum budget categories, including any cost sharing requirements. All costs charged to a modular grant must still conform to all the standard OMB Uniform Guidance accounting requirements. Note though that modular grants allow for significant re-budgeting across budget categories without NIH notification.