Office of Sponsored Programs and Research (SPAR)

Budgeting Tips

Preparing a budget is usually the most unfamiliar part of the proposal process. Most grant applications or submissions processes have a unique budget form and often differ in way they describe or categorize budget items. It is suggested that you meet with the director/staff of SPAR prior to starting the budget section of the submission.

For seasoned grant writers or those interested in more information prior to their meeting with SPAR, the following "tips" are offered: A typical budget includes two main parts: a year-by-year and cumulative breakdown of expenditures and a "Budget Narrative," which justifies why each expenditure is necessary to conduct the project. In order to aid faculty, SPAR has prepared Budget Template. Most necessary calculations are done automatically when you enter numbers into the fields. The Budget Template is a tool only and not a form required to submit your proposal. There are certain things you should keep in mind when preparing your budget, whether you use the template or not:
  • Personnel and Fringe Benefits
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Payroll Tax Deduction
  • Other Than Personnel Salaries (OTPS) Expenses:
    1. Most of these are self-explanatory. $2,000 is a good estimate of the cost of a standard Pentium-based PC; factor in more if you need highly specialized computer equipment or a lot of peripherals. Specialized lab equipment goes into the "Other Equipment" line. Local travel, postage and other office supplies go into the "Supplies and Materials" line. Only figures in the Personnel area will be used to calculate the indirect costs in the spreadsheet, but you can manually enter in a different base and rate if the proposal requires it.
    2. If you intend to travel, please refer to the resource links regarding the per diem rates at our Grants Online Center
  • Indirect Costs (click here for an explanation of Indirect Costs):
    1. Baruch's federally negotiated indirect cost rate of 69% is calculated on a base of salaries, wages, and fringes. For agencies and foundations that do not recognize this rate, sponsor guidelines will dictate how much indirect cost money you may request.
    2. For sponsors that cap the indirect cost rate at less than 69%, the base is "all direct costs".
    3. It is College policy to always request the maximum indirect costs allowable on a grant.
    4. In applications where the sponsor's guidelines clearly state that they do not pay "indirect costs", one's budget should include a 15% fiscal agent fee. The fee is calculated on all direct costs. The fee is usually budgeted or listed under "other direct costs" or "contracts/contractual."
  • General Information:
    1. For multi-year projects, repeating figures can be entered into all five pages by right-clicking on one of the "Year" tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet and selecting the "Group" command. Select "Ungroup" to delete entire years or one-time expenses from the other years on the individual pages.
    2. If a sponsor provides you with their own budget form, you may need to re-enter the appropriate figures manually into that form. Often, the Baruch spreadsheet can be included in the budget narrative portion.
    3. Most RFPs list will state the maximum amount of an award and the number of awards the sponsor plans on issuing during a particular round of funding. The spreadsheet makes it easy to play around with figures and get your proposal to a fundable level.
    4. Please feel free to schedule an appointment or discuss with the Director any budget concerns or questions.
    5. What is Indirect Costs? Many sponsors recognize that in addition to the direct costs needed to carry out a project, awardee organizations incur a wide range of Indirect Costs. These include hard-to-quantify expenses such as the cost of a project's use of library facilities, office and lab space, phone service, computer networks, waste disposal, depreciation of equipment and the costs of administering a program through the Research Foundation. Indirect cost rates are now known as Facilities and Administrative Rates. The Research Foundation negotiates these rates with actuaries from the US Department of Health and Human Services for each of the CUNY schools every three years. Effective from 7/1/07 to 6/30/09, Baruch's F & A rate is currently 69% (on-campus/research & training) calculated on a salary base consisted of direct salary/wage + fringes. When applying for a grant, full indirect costs should always be requested, but often sponsor restrictions will prevent you from doing so. When a sponsor's guidelines place restrictions on indirect costs, one should contact the SPAR office to determine how best to comply with these limits.

Lasted updated 3/17/14

Sample Budgets

Budget Template updated
Excel | PDF