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Grant Writing Services & Guides


This section of your proposal states how much the project will cost and outlines the specific cost categories. Accuracy and detail are essential in this section. For federal grants, costs must also be allowable as defined by OMB circular, A–21. Be sure to show all costs related to the project and specifically, how costs tie to the project's objectives and outcomes. Keep in mind that sponsors will support costs that are reasonable and justified in a budget description. Follow guidelines completely. Elements of most budgets include direct costs, indirect costs, and when required, cost sharing at the level required for funding. Where there is no requirement for cost sharing, SVSU will not quantify other costs associated with the project.

A draft of the budget should be provided to SP as soon as possible in your proposal preparation process.

Elements of most budgets include direct costs, indirect costs, and when required , cost sharing at the level required for funding. Where there is no requirement for cost sharing, SVSU will not quantify other costs associated with the project.

The SVSU Operations Manual outlines policies that must be followed. Principal Investigators and staff directly involved with a program’s budget and purchases must be familiar with the policies at .

Direct Costs

Salaries and Wages
The time and effort of all personnel should be included in your budget. Proposed salaries must be in accordance with University rates and expressed in terms of percentage of effort. For faculty, that rate is the amount approved for the eight-month academic year. SP will assist you in determining faculty release time and summer salary.

Fringe Benefits
Fringe benefits include such items as health insurance, retirement benefits, life insurance, disability and social security. The current rate of 39% is an average used to estimate fringe benefits costs. Actual costs could be more or less, depending on the actual benefits selected by the employee and their salary.

Consultants provide technical expertise for a limited duration necessary for the conduct of the sponsored project. Consultants are temporary arrangements with external companies or individuals. Consult SP for guidance on the use of consultants and approved contractual rates.

Equipment critical to carrying out the project must be included in the budget with a catalog price or accurate estimate of the cost of each item listed. Equipment is defined as an item costing more than $5,000 and having a useful life of one year or more.

Materials and Supplies
Materials and supplies are defined as expendable items less than $5,000/item.  Each item should be listed and carefully justified in terms of need to support goal/objectives.

Travel costs include meals, lodging, airfare, and ground transportation. See the SVSU Operations Manual for reimbursement guidelines.

A subcontract agreement between SVSU and an external organization is appropriate when a significant portion of the research/project will be performed at another institution. Contact SP for guidance in including subcontract costs in proposed budgets.

Additional items may include publication costs, equipment maintenance, human subject fees, postage and material reproduction.

Indirect Costs - Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A)

Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costs are costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives. Therefore, these costs cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity.  F&A cost rates can be expressed as a percentage of total direct costs, a percentage of salaries and fringe benefits, or a predetermined rate required by a sponsor. The F&A cost components are classified under two major cost categories: (1) Facilities and (2) Administration. Facilities costs include depreciation, interest on debt associated with certain buildings, equipment and capital improvements, operations and maintenance (physical plant) expenses, and library expenses. Administration costs include the costs associated with general University administration and expenses, departmental administration, sponsored projects administration, student administration and services, and all other types of expenditures not listed specifically under Facilities.

The F&A cost proposal is prepared by the Controller’s office and is negotiated with and approved by the University’s cognizant Federal agency, currently Department of the Navy.  Consult with SP for the current indirect cost rate for your project and to understand how this cost will be included in your budget. F&A cost rate applicable is 45% of salary and benefits, and if allowed is a mandatory expense that will not be waived. If a sponsor has a written policy limiting indirect costs, the University will accept that policy in determining the level of F&A costs that are included in the budget; SP will determine how this rate should be included within a proposal.

Cost Sharing/Matching Funds
Some sponsors require that the University contribute a certain portion of funding to the overall cost of a project or the purchase of a piece of equipment.  It is the University’s practice not to propose/offer cost-sharing unless the sponsor requires it and not to cost-share in excess of the sponsor’s stated requirements. Contributions of University resources may come from in-kind (non-cash) or cash contributions and must be approved by the appropriate Dean and Vice President. For this reason, SP will obtain written authorization and the University account number to be charged for cost sharing before submitting a proposal. Whether cost sharing is required in the budget or not, it is important that the University understands its full commitment to supporting a proposed project if funded.

Miscellaneous Proposal Information

Clearly label supportive information that relates directly to the proposed project. The use of appendices and any restrictions on number of pages in proposals is specifically limited by most sponsors. For this reason, consult the sponsor's proposal preparation guidelines and note whether or not the page limitation on the overall proposal length also includes the pages in the appendices.

Active and Pending Grant Support
Many sponsors request applicants to supply information on both active and pending support. SP can assist faculty in compiling this list of current/pending projects.  Usual listing includes: (1) project title, (2) funding source, (3) duration of project, and (4) total approved budget. This information should be included on required application forms. This is particularly important on Federal programs where possible sources of support may come from different funding agencies. Private foundations often want to see where an applicant has submitted an application for support.

Facilities and Equipment
Information pertaining to resources available to the PI for the conduct of the project should be described in detail. Examples of such resources include: lab space, equipment, library resources, and University computer system.

Information and Technology Support
All sponsored project proposals with a significant information and technology component are to be reviewed by Information Technology Services (ITS) early in the proposal preparation process.  “Significant information technology components” are defined as computing hardware, software, and services that require ITS technical support services, connection to the network, or the purchase of nonstandard hardware or software. This review ensures that proper technical support will be planned and provided and enables ITS to assist faculty and staff in:

  • identifying ways in which technology can further research aims;
  • ensuring that proposed computing uses take advantage of state-of-the-art technology;
  • ensuring that the costs of significant information technology components are identified and accurately estimated;
  • determining any permanent funding that may be required from University sources to support significant information technology components following the end of the sponsored project funding period; and
  • identifying any acquisition and/or ongoing expenses, including those related to moving, storage, space requirements, and other special conditions associated with the significant information technology components of gifts obtained by private sources in support of SVSU.

The following are some PowerPoints® that may assist you as you formulate a budget.

  •  How to budget (115kB) - This PowerPoint® illustrates some of the basic concepts as you put together a budget.
  •  grant_preparation (774kB) - This PowerPoint® takes you through the entire grant process, with particular emphasis on avoiding red flags that arise in the budget stage.