Budget Development

A project budget is a key component of a grant proposal as the budget defines the amount of funding necessary to conduct the project. A reviewer can determine a great deal about a project based on the associated budget, and often uses that budget to determine whether the project is feasible.

Principal Investigators are encouraged to follow a sponsor’s guidelines exactly and provide information in the precise format as specified. Proposal Developers at ORS, Cluster Research Administrators (CRA) and Grant Managers may be available to assist investigators in developing budgets that are consistent with University policy and agency requirements.

Typical budget categories include: Direct and Indirect Costs

Direct costs are those Typical costs charged directly to a sponsored project may include but are not limited to: compensation of employees working on the project; employee benefits; supplies and equipment used solely in the performance of the project; travel; subaward costs; service center charges; and human subject fees. For Georgetown University Policy on Direct Cost please visit here.

Typical allowable direct costs include: Salaries and Wages, Fringe Benefits, Subawards, Lab Supplies, Equipment, Participant Support Costs.

Not all charges are allowable on Federal awards. Typical unallowable charges include: Alcohol, Alumni/ae Activities, Audit Services, Lobbying. For a full listing of allowable and unallowable costs, please refer to Uniform Guidance §200.420 –

Indirect costs are those costs that cannot be directly assigned to a particular project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity with a high degree of accuracy. Typical costs may include but are not limited to: building utility costs, building and equipment depreciation, compensation of central administrative employees such as those working in Sponsored Programs or Human Resources, Department Administrators.

a. Direct Costs

Personnel Costs

Identify the personnel who will be involved with the conduct of the project and determine the percentage of effort required. The salary amount is calculated by multiplying the percentage of effort by the individual salary. For example, if one of the project staff is on a 9-month contract, and one month of effort will be devoted to the project, then the effort would be 11% (1 divided by 9). 

For additional resources visit Fringe Benefits, for Staff and AAP classification and Compensation; for Faculty Course Buyouts.

Faculty Summer Salary

Faculty on academic-year appointments may receive summer salary on external grants as defined by guidelines set by the Office of the Provost. Faculty members may earn additional summer salary at the same base salary up to the monthly full-time rate of 1/9, normally not to exceed two ninths and absolutely capped at three ninths. Payment of a third ninth is exceptional and is always subject to advance Provost approval. Faculty may not receive additional compensation in the form of summer ninths for work performed during the academic year.

  • Information regarding the above policy can be found on the Faculty Affairs page on the Office of the Provost Web site.
  • Beginning January 5, 2020, the National Institutes of Health’s salary limitation on grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts is $197,300.  For additional information, please refer to NOT-OD-20-065
  • Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) should also be added to subsequent years’ salary estimates. NIH allows a 2% COLA, while NSF allows up to 3%.

Fringe Rates

Fringe rates should be included for all personnel costs.  The latest fringe rates are included in our GU Rates and Figures page. 

Student Costs

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences encourages all faculty members to write student support costs onto their grants wherever applicable. Current rates are as follows:

  • Ph.D. Stipend Support: this varies by department, so this should be obtained from the department administrator.  For example, the Chemistry department’s current minimum is $32,670.   
  • Thesis Research: $2,750 per semester ($5,500 per year)
  • Graduate Student Health Insurance: $2,905 per year
  • Published university tuition and fees schedules


Capital Equipment is equipment that is durable (useful life greater than one year), portable and has a cost which equals or exceeds $5,000 as established by the University in accordance with federal guidelines. Refer to definitions for detail on Georgetown University’s capitalization threshold.

Expensed Equipment is equipment that is not durable (useful life is one year or less), portable or has a cost below certain thresholds established by Georgetown University in accordance with federal guidelines. Refer to definitions for detail on Georgetown University’s capitalization threshold.

For more information on purchasing guidelines for equipment, refer to the Equipment Manual on the Financial Affairs Web site.


Travel is classified as domestic or foreign. Domestic travel includes trips within the U.S., its possessions and territories, and Canada only. However, certain agencies like NSF and NIH now consider travel to Canada as foreign. Domestic and foreign travel should be shown separately. Include transportation costs (coach airfare, Fly America Act compliant), registration fees, accommodation fees, and other related expenses. GSA domestic and U.S. Department of State foreign per diem rates should be consulted and used as a reference for hotel and meals/incidentals. Justifications and identification of the travelers are required for each trip.

Additionally, although per diem rates can be used in the proposal budgeting process as a guide for estimating costs for travel to a particular city, the University’s Travel Policy requires original receipts to reimburse travel costs, but a per diem option is available using standard GSA rates.

Other Direct Costs

Other associated costs need to be delineated in the budget and their use justified in the budget narrative. Typically these costs include items such as materials and supplies, data service, equipment use, research publications, fees, animal per diem costs, student tuition or health insurance, or other project related costs not included in the other categories. Also included in Other Direct Costs are Consultants and Subcontracts (or Subawards)..


A consultant is an individual or entity that provides expert or professional advice or service on a topic germane to the sponsored project. List each consultant, their specialty or service to the project, and their daily, weekly or monthly rate of reimbursement, and show the consultant’s total projected cost on the project.

Subaward or Subgrant

Contracting to other organization(s) of some scientific or programmatic aspect of the grant or contract made originally to Georgetown University. Include in the main proposal the subawardee’s authorized proposal, letter of intent, statement of work, and budget with justification. All subaward agreements must be negotiated and drafted by the Office of Research Services (ORS). Please see Georgetown University Policy for Subrecipient Monitoring.

b. Indirect Costs

Budgets submitted to federal agencies must reflect the appropriate indirect cost rates as established in the University’s federal negotiated F&A Rate Agreement. Applications to non-federal entities should reflect the maximum rate permitted by the non-federal entity. If a rate is not specified, the budget should include a 15% rate.  For IDC exceptions and waivers please visit Rates and Figures. Please refer to the NICRA (negotiated rate agreement with the DHHS) for a full rendering of the terms.