The project budget should be developed in accordance with sponsor and UNL guidelines. Before the submission or negotiation of any budget, the budget and Facilities and Administrative cost rates (“F&A” rates or “indirect costs”) must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Sponsored Programs or, in the case of USDA proposals, by the appropriate IANR officials. An initial review of the budget should be scheduled early in the proposal-writing process to ensure that an investigator’s plans are in accordance with agency and university requirements.
Steps for budget preparation:
1. Review the sponsor’s guidelines for budgets, including:
- Allowable and unallowable costs
- Required costs (funds for annual PI meetings, etc.)
- Required cost-sharing
- Limits on the total amount requested
- Facilities and Administrative cost restrictions
- Required budget forms and format
Please note that even if the sponsor does not require an itemized budget, a detailed budget for the project must still be provided to the Office of Sponsored Programs along with the proposal and routing form for review before proposal submission.
2. Download the most recent copy of the UNL budget template, available at the forms and templates link above. Identify the costs associated with conducting the proposed project (e.g., personnel, equipment, supplies, etc.) and enter them in to the budget template. The budgeted costs must follow the sponsor’s guidelines and must match the work to be conducted in size and scope.
Please keep in mind when building your budget that personnel time is a major cost of doing research and other sponsored activity at the university. Whenever allowed by the sponsor, funding for faculty time, regardless of type of appointment, should be requested in proportion to time committed to that project.
If funding for faculty time will not be requested in the budget, it is important not to quantify the amount of time that the faculty member will commit to the project anywhere in the proposal. Quantified time committed to a sponsored project in a proposal submission that is not compensated by the sponsor is considered committed cost share. It is the university’s practice not to include committed cost share when it is not required by the sponsor. If a proposal includes such commitments, the cost of the amount of time committed must be approved in NUgrant in advance of proposal submission by the department and college, and, if the project is funded, the cost shared time must be tracked and reported through Project Verification Statements (PVS).
If faculty will not be requesting funding for their time in the budget, but would like to demonstrate their commitment to the project to the sponsor, the following language can be included: “The PI will devote the time necessary to complete the project objectives.” Since this language does not describe a specific quantity of time being committed, it is considered uncommitted cost share and is not required to be tracked or reported.
3. Consult with departmental budget support staff or grants managers to confirm typical rates for graduate assistants, post-docs and other project personnel (e.g., hourly rates for undergraduate assistants), supplies and equipment. Upon request, the Office of Sponsored Programs will provide initial consultation in developing your budget.
4. Submit the entire proposal application, including the prepared UNL budget template, to your Pre-Award Coordinator in the Office of Sponsored Programs for a final review. The Office of Sponsored Programs will review the budget to ensure that it meets sponsor guidelines (e.g., for scope and format) and university guidelines (e.g., for F&A).
Some sponsors require the submission of a formal pre-proposal or letter of intent in advance of a full proposal. If a pre-proposal requests detailed budget information, the full budget preparation guidelines above should be followed, and a copy of the prepared UNL budget template should be provided to the Office of Sponsored Programs for review before submission to the sponsor. The Office of Sponsored Programs will also provide an institutional signature for a pre-proposal if one is required.