Institute for Research & Scholarship

Budget Development for External Grants

A sound grant budget will not only help you win grants, but it will also make your project management run smoothly.  When preparing a budget for a grant application, always consult the granting agency's guidelines to be sure that all of your proposed costs are allowable and that you are using the proper formatting.

In addition to budget guidelines for each external grant opportunity, your budget must also comply with those at Butler.  Below are the Butler Budget Guidelines for External Grants.  If you have questions, please contact Robert Marcus at rmarcus@butler.edu or 940-9910 for assistance.

PDF version of Butler Budget Guidelines for External Grants

Grant Budget Guidelines

  1. The office of Budget and Grants Administration (BGA) is service-oriented and can assist you with the entire process of grant budget development.  For this to happen, you need to meet with BGA early in the process.  BGA can advise on all budget and grants categories, including payroll and fringe benefits, indirect cost rates, matching requirements , etc.  If you are unfamiliar with budgets or with writing grant budget narratives, we will assist with both.
  2. Get an early start in preparing your budget.  Budget development can be an effective tool to help you conceptualize your project from beginning to end.  Think about the daily activities associated with your project.  If there will be substantial administration involved, be certain to arrange and budget for release time or hiring administrative help.  If there is an assessment phase in the middle or at the end of the project, allot sufficient time and resources to undertake the assessment(s).
  3. Make sure your budget is realistic.  Get discounted prices from vendors.  Reviewers generally will know the prices of equipment and supplies.  Unrealistic prices will harm your chances of being awarded the grant.  Butler's Purchasing Department can assist with price estimates.
  4. Grantors frequently require cost-sharing, in the form of a cash or in-kind match, as evidence of institutional commitment to a project.  Matching funds must be approved in advance by your Department or Program Chair and College Dean (or appropriate supervisor if you are not faculty), as well as the Provost and Vice President of Finance and Administration before a proposal is submitted.  It is a good idea to get this commitment early in the process-even before you have begun formally writing your proposal.  Matching funds, in the form of smaller cash matches, are also available through the Butler Institute for Research and Scholarship (BIRS). For more information, contact the director of BIRS.
  5. Many grantors allow for general Facilities and Administrative costs, (also called "indirect costs," "overhead costs," or simply "F & A").  If a grantor allows for these costs, the University budgets them at the maximum rate allowed by the grantor.  For federal grants, if a grantor requires Butler University's federally-negotiated Facilities and Administrative cost rate, that rate is 38.0% of  direct costs (with some exclusions - see below).  In some cases a percentage of the total direct costs may be used on federal grants.  Check with the BGA and the grant program guidelines to ensure that you are applying the correct rate.
  6. The university's fringe benefit rate is 32% during the academic year for full-time employees and 8% for graduate students, part-time employees, and full-time faculty who are on a nine month contract and are seeking funding for the summer.  Faculty on twelve-month appointments should use the 32% rate year-round. There are no fringe benefit costs associated with full-time undergraduate students.
  7. Avoid general language and categories.  Use budget categories which describe in detail the item or activity being purchased.  For example, instead of "faculty development" use terms such as "travel, conference registration, food and beverage." Also, avoid use of undefined "miscellaneous" and "other" categories. The BGA can provide you with the list of current and suggested account categories.
  8. If the grantor requests a budget in a form incompatible with Butler's chart of accounts, the BGA will require a parallel internal budget, which translates the proposed budget into a form compatible with Butler's accounts. Both of these budgets must be completed and reviewed by the BGA before the proposal is submitted.
  9. An Authorization for External Funding form must accompany all applications submitted to external entities.  This form has a brief description of the grant and space to detail any cost-sharing or other University commitments.  The BIRS Office and BGA can assist with filling out this form and routing it to the appropriate individuals on campus.  The form can be found on the Butler Institute for Research and Scholarship's website at http://www.butler.edu/birs.
  10. All grant applications (including proposal narratives and budgets) must be submitted with the  Authorization for External Funding form to the Butler Institute for Research and Scholarship a minimum of two weeks before the application deadline.  This procedure allows adequate time to ensure that you have a fully-developed application and also ensures that the University has approved of any cost-sharing requirements or other grant-related commitments.  Failure to submit these materials by the internal deadline will jeopardize chances of timely University approvals and could result in a delayed or missed submission.

(See Appendix Below for Specific Rates and Contact Information.)

Grant Budget Guidelines: Appendix

Fringe Benefits and Payroll Tax Rates

Fringes and payroll taxes must be included in your budget for all individuals paid through Butler's Payroll Office, including students.  There are no exceptions.  The following rates should be used in preparing your budget:

  • 32% for full-time (FT) staff and FT faculty on 12-month contracts
  • 32% for FT faculty on nine or 10-month contracts during the fall and spring semesters
  • 8% for 9-month or 10-month faculty during summer semesters
  • 8% for part-time staff
  • 8% for adjuncts
  • 8% for graduate students
  • 8% for part-time undergraduates *
  • 0% for full-time undergraduates*

*    A full-time undergraduate is any student taking 12 or more credit hours of courses during the fall or spring semesters or a minimum of 6 credit hours (combined) over the two summer semesters.  A part-time undergraduate student is any student taking less than this amount, or a student working over the summer but not enrolled in classes.

Non-employees (i.e., those not paid through Butler's Payroll Office) do not have fringe benefits applied to their payment; nor are payroll or income taxes withheld.  So you do not need to apply a fringe rate for these individuals.  Non-employee individuals receiving more than $600 in remuneration in a calendar year will receive a 1099 form and will be responsible for their own tax reporting.

Indirect Cost Rate

This rate is negotiated with the Department of Health and Human Services, Butler's cognizant federal agency, every three years.  If a federal grant program allows indirect costs to be applied, you must include this in your budget.   The current rate is 38.0% of all direct costs including payroll supplies and operating costs.  However, there are three exclusions:

  • Capital expenditures of $5,000 or more on a single piece of equipment or capital project are excluded from this rate.
  • Fringe benefits and payroll taxes
  • Payments to subrecipients in excess of $25,000 are excluded from this rate.

Contact Information  

Bob Marcus (rmarcus@butler.edu; 940.9910), Exec. Dir. of Financial Planning and Budgeting
Kathy Hankins (khankins@butler.edu; 940.9077), Director of Budgets