DePaul University Research Services > Pre-Award Services > Proposal Development, Review & Approval > Budget Guidelines

Budget Guidelines

When preparing a grant proposal budget similar cost categories are typically used for a variety of different funding agencies. The format of the budget and level of detail that is required on the budget typically varies by agency and occasionally by programs within an agency, so please refer to the specific application guidelines when preparing the budget. 

Budgets on DePaul grant proposals must conform with institutional costing practices, agency guidelines, and if applicable, relevant sections of the Uniform Guidance (formerly the OMB Cost Circulars). The following categories are typically found in proposal budgets.

Full-Time Salaries

To involve full-time DePaul faculty and staff in your grant project, request funds for their project effort as follows:

Faculty Salaries

    • Faculty Course Releases: Calculate course releases for full-time faculty at 11.1% or 1.11 person months of base salary for each course release.
    • Faculty Summer Salary: Calculate summer salary for faculty in desired increments not to exceed 20% effort or 2.0 person months.
      Note: faculty on 12-month contracts are not eligible for summer salary.
    • Faculty Academic Year Research/Service Effort: Research, service, and instruction are normally considered part of a faculty member’s contracted responsibilities. As such, faculty can determine what portion of their available academic year research or service effort is appropriate to allocate to a grant proposal project. This allocation should be commensurate with the effort they anticipate expending on the project.
    • Adjuncts and Instructors: As adjunct and instructor contracts typically vary from tenure-track/tenured faculty contracts the above descriptors are not necessarily applicable to them. Faculty in the rank of instructor or adjunct should consult the Office of Research Services (ORS) early in the proposal planning process as to determine how to best budget their effort on a sponsored project. Typically ORS consultation with the adjunct or instructor’s Dean’s office is required as part of such discussions.

Full-Time Staff

Calculate release time for full-time staff at a percentage of annual salary that reflects their time commitment to the project.

New Positions

Include full-time salaries of any new faculty or staff who will be hired to work on the grant project.

Part-Time Salaries

Include funds for any DePaul University staff who will be involved with the project on a part-time basis. Salaries for PT employees are occasionally detailed as number of hours at the employee’s hourly rate, when dictated by funding agency requirements.

If you are adding hours to a current PT position that could change its classification to FT, please consult with ORS Pre-Award staff. See the below section for the inclusion of student salaries in a grant budget.

Student Salaries

Salaries for graduate and undergraduate research assistants or support are usually shown as number of hours or percentage of time multiplied by an hourly rate. As anticipated rates of pay for student work vary by job responsibilities and academic department, ORS suggests that you consult with your academic unit or the Office of Student Employment prior to costing student salaries.

During the academic year, the typical workload for students is a maximum of 20 to 25 hours per week depending on student citizenship status/visa regulations.

Employee fringe benefits are real and identifiable costs in direct support of employee salaries. Fringe benefit rates are applied to all university salaries and wages listed in the proposal and typically appear as a separate line item in the proposal budget.

Consult the table below for current rates.

Salary Type Fringe Benefit Rate
Faculty Academic Year Salary 37.00%
Faculty Summer Salary 7.65%
Full-Time Staff Salary 37.00%
Part-Time Staff Salary 10.00%
Student Academic Year Salary 0%
Student Summer Salary 7.65%

Include the costs of limited services provided by individuals and firms external to DePaul, including for example, transcription, consulting, project evaluation, and laboratory services. Costs for such services can be calculated on an hourly, daily, or flat-fee basis, depending upon project needs and the billing practices of the contractor.

Keep in mind most funding agencies require a letter from named contractors indicating their willingness to provide services in support of the project. Agency guidelines should be consulted as to whether the contractor's rate of compensation must appear in this letter.

If a portion of the work under the proposed contract/grant will be performed by another academic institution or other organization such as a hospital, school district, and/or a community organization, those costs are included in the budget as a subaward or subcontract. Subawards/subcontracts are typically a single line item on DePaul’s budget.

A separate detailed budget for each subaward/subcontracting organization is usually also included in a proposal, as is an official endorsement letter signed by the authorized institutional representative of the partner institution approving the proposed subcontract/subaward scope of work/budget.

DePaul typically defines capital equipment as equipment or furniture having a unit cost of more than $5,000 and a useful life of at least one year. Items with an acquisition cost of less than $5K are typically considered supplies. Most agencies have proposal guidelines that specify the amount of detail needed for budgets that include equipment.

Many federal agencies will not fund what they consider to be general-purpose equipment such as desks, chairs, shelves, file cabinets, or general purpose computers. Please note that some funding opportunities do not allow expenditure of funds for equipment purchases.

This category includes most expendable items and expenses necessary to carry out a grant that can be directly allocated to a project, such as lab supplies, books, chemicals, glassware, non-capital equipment less than $5,000, etc. 

Office supplies, such as printer paper, ink, toner, pens, pencils, etc., to sponsored projects may not be allowable charges on federal grant submissions as these costs are considered part of indirect charges (see Uniform Guidance).

Detail other cost that do not necessarily fit into one of the other above referenced categories in an "other" or "miscellaneous" expense category.

  • Include here the costs involved in holding meetings that are part of the proposed project.
  • These costs might include, for example, rental of meeting space and of equipment used in making presentations.
  • Check the guidelines of your prospective funder before requesting funds to cover catering and/or meeting refreshment expenses.

Travel costs are frequently necessary to complete a project. Costs include registration fees, airfare or mileage, hotel, per diem for meals, ground transportation, and miscellaneous expenses related to travel to conferences, fieldwork, etc. 

Budget the costs based upon actual travel plans. Include the costs of consultant travel under Professional Services. Check the proposal instructions and/or agency guidelines carefully as special criteria may apply to requests for foreign travel.

Keep in mind most funding agencies require that budgets distinguish between foreign and domestic travel. For foreign air fare, U.S. carriers must typically be used whenever they are available even if the cost is somewhat higher. Consulting the per diem rates for domestic travel and foreign travel that are established by the federal government can be helpful. 

  • Include here the costs of tuition paid to or on behalf of project participants.
  • Consult the guidelines of your prospective funder carefully to determine the allowability of such costs.
  • Information on DePaul's tuition rates is available here.

Indirect costs, referred to as "Facilities and Administrative Costs" by many government agencies, are costs involved in the conduct of a grant project that cannot be attributed directly to the project. These include university expenses involved in financial and human resources management, and in maintaining facilities in which multiple grant projects are conducted.

DePaul University's federally negotiated indirect cost rates, which apply to most federally funded projects, are detailed in the table below. In those cases where these negotiated rates do not apply, DePaul charges the maximum indirect cost rate allowed by the funder (for example, 8% in the case of training grants funded by the U.S. Department of Education, or 10-15% in the case of most private foundations).

If for some reason your project budget cannot accommodate the indirect costs that are allowed by the granting agency, please discuss indirect cost waiver request procedures with ORS staff early in the budget preparation process.  Full consideration of indirect costs waivers typically requires 5-7 business days. 


Activity Indirect Cost Rate
On-Campus Research Activities 49.00%
On-Campus Instruction Activities* 52.00%
Other Sponsored Activities 49.00%
Off-Campus Activities 26.00%

*Qualification Criteria Apply

Current DePaul University Indirect Cost Rate Agreement

For guidance on how to apply the indirect cost rate to the modified total direct cost base, please consult with ORS PreAward staff. ORS Pre Award staff can also provide guidance on use of the off-campus and instruction rates. 

Some introductory information on this subject is detailed below:

DePaul’s off-campus indirect cost rate applies to those projects that meet all of the following criteria:

  • The project is conducted in facilities not owned or operated by the university.
  • Charges for rental of the facilities are included in the project budget as a direct expenditure.
  • More than 50% of the DePaul salaries and wages charged to the project are for effort conducted in the rented facilities.

"Rented facilities" are defined as structures such as buildings, warehouses, mobile office buildings, or commercial spaces which are rented over a significant period of time. The term does not include conference rooms or lodgings.

Sponsored projects will be determined to be wholly "on campus" or "off campus" on the basis of these criteria with the exception of large international projects that involve the establishment of an in-country office. In those cases, Chicago-based project staff and other such on-campus expenses will be assessed the negotiated on-campus rate while the remaining expenditures are assessed the negotiated off-campus rate.

Instruction means the teaching and training activities of an institution. This term includes all teaching and training activities, whether they are offered for credits toward a degree or certificate or on a non-credit basis, and whether they are offered through regular academic departments or separate divisions, such as a summer school division or an extension division.

Sponsored instruction and training means specific instructional or training activity established by grant, contract, or cooperative agreement. This term does not include the training of individuals in research techniques, commonly referred to as research training.

The Office of Research Services (formerly OSPR) issued a Guidance for Cost sharing on Sponsored Agreements in May 2009. A copy of this guidance can be found here.