Budget preparation can be challenging and time-consuming but OSP staff is here to guide you smoothly through the process and provide administrative support.  Early in the proposal development process, give thought to your budgetary needs throughout the life of the project. There is no need to put budget figures into a spreadsheet at the outset; simply contact us to discuss your budget needs or send an e-mail containing the information. To alleviate time you must spend on budget development, we will do the calculations for salary, fringe, etc. and detailed travel projections for you, placing your input into an excel file for your review and use. 

The OSP and most sponsors require that a line-item budget and justification accompany all proposal submissions. A well-crafted budget helps the sponsor to better understand the financial requirements of your proposed project. The budget and justification clearly indicate that the project director or principal investigator possesses the experience and skills to successfully execute and complete the project. The justification is a key piece of the budget information because it demonstrates thorough budget preparation and creates credibility among reviewers.

To protect you as the PI and the interests of the university, OSP staff must work with you to build a budget to insure that costs are allocable to the appropriate project, allowable, reasonable and treated consistently. Careful preparation meets the federal compliance costing standards of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards" (2 CFR Chapters I, II, Part 200, et al) and ensures that we adhere to state and university costing regulations as well. Sponsors may also impose additional rules regarding budgeting. OSP will thoroughly explore sponsor requirements to ensure your budget is pristine.

Items of Cost to Consider 

The following are key categories to keep in mind when building a budget. All costs must be allocated in the line item budget.

Personnel: Salaries & Wages:

Salaries are based on the verified contracted rate (9 month basis for instructional faculty, 12 months for administrative faculty or classified staff) or wage from HR records of each named individual on the budget.  Salaries should be based on the best estimate of what the salary will be at the time the grant begins and be reflective of any merit or other planned increases. At the time of proposal, check with OSP to see if an annual merit increase should be included.  For positions to be hired, consult with OSP to determine a reasonable rate. Also consider if the requested salary will be additional compensation (summer pay) or if it is release time/buyout. All salaries require fringe benefits, discussed below.

This category includes others who are paid by the hour including part-time temporary help. Some students may fall into this category for hourly wages during the academic year or during the summer months. All personnel employed through externally funded projects require that fringe benefits be projected in the budget submission. The fringe benefit rate for part-time personnel is calculated on the employer's share of FICA at 7.65%.

Fringe Benefits
At minimum, all salaries and wages require inclusion of FICA at 7.65%. All projected full-time salaries require the inclusion of the university's contribution to fringe benefits (i.e. retirement, social security, health insurance, etc.)  Current fringe rates are published through the Office of Budget Management.  Office of Sponsored Programs staff will perform or check fringe calculations.


Most agencies want to know where you are going, the purpose of the trip and the cost. When travel to professional meetings or conferences is required, remember to allow funds for those collaborating on the project. All travel costs should be calculated on the least expensive means of travel, economy class. Check sponsor guidelines carefully to ensure that travel expenses are allowed and for any special requirements they may have. Some sponsors do not allow or restrict international travel or place a cap on how much travel is allowed per award. OSP staff will make detailed travel projections for you based on your likely destination, duration and number of travelers.

Travel Requirements
M&IE Rate Table

Supplies and Equipment:

Supplies & Materials
Include here the costs of materials and supplies necessary to complete the project. For example these could be disposable lab supplies, educational books, software and small equipment items with an acquisition cost of <$5,000. Caution: Do NOT include items like pens, pencils, copy paper and toner cartridges and the like as these items are general office supplies and not trackable with any degree of accuracy to a specific project.

Only items of acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit and an expected service life of more than one year should be listed in this category. If below this threshold, they are considered "Supplies & Materials." All equipment to be purchased must be justified, estimates should be obtained from vendors, and Procurement should be contacted in case bidding procedures are necessary. Check to see who retains possession of the equipment at the end of the project. Some sponsors will retain possession and the equipment will have to be returned at the conclusion of the project.

Contractual: Subawards & Consultants:

Often projects involve collaborators outside of the university either at other educational organizations or non-profit or industry partners. In all cases, their costs must be incorporated into our budget as the lead applicant by way of a line item budget. We will need to receive their proposed budget costs broken down by category for each year of the project as well as a budget justification.

Use of a consultant may be justified when the project requires expertise of a specialized nature for a certain period of time. Consultants should only be budgeted for those instances where expertise is not available on campus.

For a collaboration checklist and examples, see this URL: http://www.jmu.edu/sponsoredprograms/proposalprocessing/collaborationchecklist.shtml

Other Direct Costs:

This can include many items of cost that don’t fall neatly into the previous categories. Some examples follow:

Publication costs, including photographic and graphic services and page charges
Equipment maintenance, repair, and service contracts
Telephone charges (long distance tolls only)
Human subject incentives fees
Space and equipment rental
Food service

Student Stipends
List any undergraduate student assistants or graduate students who will receive stipends rather than wages here. For a list of current GA stipends, see the following URL:

Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costs/Indirect Costs/Overhead:

F&A or Indirect costs refer to expenses that are necessary for the execution of a sponsored project, but that cannot be directly affixed and charged to the project. This rate is negotiated between the university and our Federal Cognizant Agency. Our cost Rate Agreement is determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. F&A rates for research, instructional and other types of projects are calculated differently as well as project which occur off campus. The current F&A rates are available from the OSP website. We will help you with the correct application of F&A rates.
Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA)

Note that the F&A/Indirect costs calculation excludes equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, student tuition remission & stipends, rental costs of off-site facilities, scholarships, fellowships, and the portion of each sub recipient in excess of $25,000.

Budget Justification

In a written narrative, explain each line-item identified in the budget.


Justify all Personnel and describe their role or contribution(s) to the project. If some individuals are not yet named, describe necessary qualifications and roles for these individuals. List the PI first; followed by any other senior personnel, trainees, support staff and student assistants. All personnel providing support should be listed, even if there is no salary requested. Explain and justify annual increases in salaries or wages.  Below are some commonly used project roles:

Principal Investigator (PI): The individual who bears primary responsibility for technical compliance, completion of programmatic work, fiscal stewardship of sponsor funds, and compliance with administrative requirements of the project. Please see the Statement of Principal Investigator Eligibility for the institutional requirements for who may service as a Principal Investigator.

Project Director (PD): This role is sometimes used interchangeably with the PI designation.  The PD may oversee the technical portion or handle the overall management of the project.

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): Shares in the responsibility of the project with the PI thus also sharing in the credit of the project.

Senior/Key Personnel: An individual who contributes to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive and  measurable way.  This is not a role that can be replaced without significantly affecting the direction or conduct of the project.

Other Personnel: Individuals that are not considered Senior/Key Personnel.  The category can include other professionals, undergraduate students, graduate students, etc.


Explain the purpose of the trip and justify those traveling. If possible, add specificity about the likely conference, location, and duration and number of travelers.

Supplies, Equipment, and Other Direct Costs:

Supplies & Materials

Supplies may include software programs, collection traps, computers, ect, that cost less than $5,000. Be sure to explain the purpose of the supplies to the proposal.


For items with acquisition costs greater than $5,000 and an expected service life of more than one year include them under Equipment. Provide details about the purpose for the Equipment, make and model info if available and provide supporting vendor quotes when required.

Other Direct Costs

Briefly mention the remaining direct costs associated with the project and their purpose. This may include stipends, student tuition, or publication costs.


Describe each subawardee in terms of total request and roles on project. Be sure to collect and have on file a full proposal inclusive of collaborators’ line item budgets and justifications.

Consultant Costs:

Provide names and organizational affiliations of involved consultants. State the number of days of prospective consultation and basis for payment (daily or hourly rate), travel, and any additional related costs.

JMU Rate Information - Click Rate Information for a PDF version of JMU's F&A, Tuition, and Fringe.

Back to Top