Proposal Budget Development

Proposals (applications) normally include a detailed breakdown of the financial support being requested from a sponsor. A proposal budget is a best estimate of the costs requested to complete a project. Budgets should be prepared with as much detail as possible.

Projects costs are usually broken down into direct and indirect cost categories. Direct costs are those that can be directly attributable to a specific project. Indirect costs are those costs incurred by an institution for facilities and administration of sponsored projects that can not be directly attributable to a specific project. Both are real costs that must be included in a budget.

F & A Rates

Budgets for applications to federal agencies must reflect the appropriate rates as established in the negotiated F & A Rate Agreement. Applications to non-federal entities should reflect appropriate rate.

Budget justification

Written explanations for the inclusion of items such as equipment purchases, travel, and subawards are normally required along with a formatted budget. Budget Justification pages should be as specific as possible. Specific products and potential vendors should be identified whenever possible.

Multi-year projects

Unless otherwise indicated in an agency’s guidelines, a proposal for a project that is expected to be funded for more than one year should include an itemized budget for each year. One should employ the same format for each year and prepare a cumulative summary budget for the entire proposed project period. The summary page should be in the same format as the annual budget, with all the costs combined. Note that PHS does not require an itemized budget for each year.


Make sure to indicate the dates covered by each budget year at the top of each budget page.