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Budget preparation can be challenging and time-consuming but OSP staff are 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.

You Should:

  • Contact us to discuss your budget needs by phone or by sending an email containing the information

So We Can:

  • Do the calculations for salary, fringe, etc.
  • Create detailed travel projections for you
  • Place your input into an excel file for your review and use

Why do OSP and most sponsors require a line-item budget and justification for all proposal submissions?

A well-crafted budget helps the sponsor 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 either:
    • The verified contracted rate (9 month basis for instructional faculty, 12 months for administrative faculty or classified staff)
    • 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.

Effort Reporting

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

Please note that JMU disallows alternative lodging accommodations. An Alternative Lodging Request Form to be completed to request an exception for any lodging not taking place at a hotel/motel, including free lodging. This must be completed and submitted 14 days prior to reserving the accommodations.

Participant Support Costs

What are Participant support costs (PSC)?

PSC are direct costs for items such as, stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, participant supplies, registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, workshops seminars or training projects.

The same individual cannot receive both PSC payments and salary/wages on that same sponsored project.

It is important that these costs be identified correctly at the proposal stage as it affects the indirect costs calculation.

  • Indirect costs (F&A) are not allowed on PSC and must be accounted for separately from the remainder of the award budget.

Some sponsors, most notably the National Science Foundation, require prior sponsor approval to re-budget from the PSC category into other categories.

  • Adding a participant support component to the project might require prior approval from the sponsor. 

Funds may be requested for the travel costs of participants.

  • In training activities that involve field trips, costs of transportation of participants are allowable.
  • PSC must be specified, itemized and justified in the budget justification section of the proposal.

If any portion of an individual's activity is classified as salary, then all payments to that individual is salary.

  • Example: The individual will participate in the training but will then train others as part of a sponsored project. Though the individual is first trained, the training of others is a service and therefore the entire expense is a personnel expense not PSC. 

Unallowable Participant Support Costs

  • Honoraria or Speaker Fees - Payment to a guest subject matter expert for speaking at a conference, symposium, a workshop
  • Honoraria - Payment to an individual for providing peer review or evaluation service or participating on an advisory board related to a sponsored project
  • Conference support costs - such as a facility rental or media equipment rental
  • Travel to bring collaborators together to meet and discuss the project
  • Incentive payments to an individual who agrees to participate as a human subject in a research study. This includes participation in surveys and interviews.
  • Food expenses for the PI or other project team members.
  • NSF restriction: Although local participants may participate in conference meals and coffee breaks, funds may not be proposed to pay per diem or similar expenses for local participants in the conference.
Supplies and Equipment

Supplies & Materials

  • Include here the costs of materials and supplies necessary to complete the project.
    • For example: 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: Sub-awards & 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.

Collaboration checklist and examples

Other Direct Costs

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

  • 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
  • Tuition
  • Student Stipends
    • List any undergraduate student assistants or graduate students who will receive stipends rather than wages here.
    • List of current GA stipends
Facilities & Administration (F&A) Costs/Indirect Costs/Overhead

What are F&A or Indirect Costs?

F&A or Indirect costs are 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, however, 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.

Additional Resources

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