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1. Salaries and wages

Salaries and wages for all personnel who will be working on the project should be included. Internal Revenue Service regulations require that anyone contributing effort to the project must be considered a temporary employee of the University, unless the person being paid is in a business which normally provides the services being performed.

For each person, indicate the time to be spent on the project and the amount to be paid by the funding agency. Where appropriate, indicate the base salary and the method used to arrive at the requested amount. Include estimates of salary increases and explain in the budget justification.

  • PI academic year salary is calculated so that the amount equals the % of effort contributed to the project (based on the PI's actual salary).
  • Summer salary for faculty members on academic-year appointments is limited to no more than two-ninths of their regular academic-year salary. This limit includes summer salary received from all NSF-funded grants.
  • USI considers that full time administrators work 1,950 hours annually      (52 x 37.5)
  • Salary for other key personnel or support personnel (e.g. faculty collaborator, technician, research assistant, and interviewer): salary included should be adequate to cover the current average compensation for the level of expertise and the degree of experience required for the position.
  • Student assistants paid hourly wages: Consult with the Office of Human Resources to determine hourly wage for student employment.

2. Fringe benefits

Fringe benefits are calculated as a percentage of salaries and wages and include all benefits: retirement, health and life insurance, social security, etc. The current rate may be obtained from the Grant Accountant.

Wages of (a) employees not eligible for full benefits and (b) students working during the summer are subject to a reduce rate of 7.65%. The reduced fringe benefit rate can also be obtained from your Grant Accountant.

Student wages during the academic year are not subject to fringe benefits.

3. Equipment

The federal government defines permanent equipment as property with a purchase price of $5000 or more and a useful life of two or more years. Equipment purchased under a grant must be necessary to the research and not available or easily accessible. It is the PI's responsibility to determine the lack of availability or accessibility before including an equipment request in the budget.

Each item of equipment requested should be listed separately (with as much specific information about name, model number and manufacturer as possible) and justified in the budget justification. The cost of shipping and installation should also be included.

Ordinarily, the purchase of general purpose equipment (e.g. office furniture, data processing equipment, word processors, etc.) is not allowed.

4. Travel

Domestic and foreign travel are listed separately. The budget justification should indicate who will travel, where, and why, estimated air fare (or other cost of transportation), cost of meals and lodging, meeting registration fees, etc. Unless further restricted by federal regulations, all travel is subject to USI policy.

5. Materials and supplies

Materials and supplies include consumable items (e.g. chemicals, laboratory breakables, stationery, printer ribbons, etc.) required for the project. The amount requested should be supported by descriptions of the items included and estimates of their costs.

6. Publication costs

Publication costs include handouts, journal charges, cost of illustrations, and costs of preparing and reproducing reports required by the agency. They should be itemized in the budget.

7. Other

Other allowable expenses include such items as postage, telephone, photocopying, animal care, equipment repair, and subscriptions to periodicals. These expenses should be itemized in the budget.

8. Less frequently used categories

Less frequently used budget categories include consultant services and subcontracts to collaborating colleges and universities. PIs including such items in the budget should consult the Sponsored Research Office and your Grant Accountant for assistance.

9. Indirect costs

Indirect costs are expenses that are related to the conduct of research but that can not be directly attributable to a particular project. The indirect cost rate used by USI is negotiated periodically with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in accordance with federal regulations. Current USI negotiated indirect cost rate is:

Award type

F&A rate

On campus grant, contract, or sponsored agreement

45% MTDC

Off campus grant, contract, or sponsored agreement

15% MTDC

MTDC -- modified total direct cost (MTDC) base.  MTDC includes salaries, wages, fringe benefits, materials, supplies, services, travel, and up to $25,000 of subgrants or subcontracts issued by the University to another organization.  Capital equipment, rental of off-site facilities, tuition remission, scholarships, fellowships, and portions of subgrants or subcontracts in excess of $25,000 are excluded from the MTDC base.

(Some of the information on this page was adapted from Wellesley College.)