Guidelines for Preparing a Budget

The first rule in developing and preparing a budget is to explicitly follow the sponsor guidelines. Read the Request for Proposal (RFP) or sponsored program solicitation. Most sponsors provide either a form or a format for the budget presentation or instructions on budget composition and budget preparation. Be cognizant of budget limitations, cost constraints, unallowable costs, or special matching requirements.

The items included in a proposal budget can be divided into three broad categories: Direct Costs, Indirect Costs, and Matching Contributions. When preparing a budget, it must reflect all of the project's anticipated costs. Proposal reviewers generally use the budget as one of the criteria to determine whether or not the investigator is fully aware of the program's requirements. Agencies are unlikely to fund a proposal that purports to do too much with too little money and vice-versa. If the agency has an award limit, adjust your proposal's scope or target to fit the resources you may obtain. You must also follow all University policies associated with these three budget categories.

When submitting your proposed budget and budget justification, please provide either a link to or an electronic copy of the program guidelines when contacting these offices.