There are many factors to consider when planning the budget for your proposal.

Budget Justification

Include the need for budgeted items in the text of the proposal unless sponsor guidelines indicate otherwise. Actual budget figures should be provided on a separate sheet or on agency forms and should always include a budget justification page. The justification should correspond with the budget page(s) and should provide detailed information on the need for items listed in the budget. Budget worksheets should be saved in case detailed calculations are requested by the sponsor during the review process.

Note: The Office of Sponsored Programs requires a detailed budget with explanation pages for pre-submission review.

Capital Projects

Formal estimates for equipment to be constructed on campus or for alterations to facilities must be included in the proposed budget. Principal investigators should send a request to the director of the Physical Plant requesting a cost estimate for the work to be done. The request should outline the scope of the work, the name of the project, the funding agency and proposal deadline. A copy of the estimate of costs should be sent to the Sponsored Programs Office prior to proposal submission.

Cost Sharing

See specific details on cost-sharing.


Budgets should reflect "educational discounts" when possible. The federal government's definition of "equipment" is "any item with an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more and a useful life of more than one year." Equipment costing less than $5,000 should be listed in the "other" section of federal budget application forms.

See specific details on purchasing equipment.

Facilities & Administrative Rates

Facilities and administrative expenditures are related to a particular research project and may include costs incurred by the college for utilities, building space, and administrative services.

Specific details on facilities and administrative rates.

In-Kind Contributions

In-kind contributions are goods or services with a monetary value that are donated towards the cost of a project. Examples include the value of free use of vehicles, equipment, or facilities; the services of an office such as public relations; and free printing or publicity. Sponsor guidelines will usually outline the allowable in-kind contributions toward the cost of a project.

Matching Funds

Sponsors sometimes require that the institution provide a cash percentage of the total costs of the proposed research project. In some cases, the institution may be required to match or even double the amount requested from the sponsor; percentages vary according to sponsor guidelines. Matching funds may be requested in the form of an institutional contribution or in the form of external funding from another sponsor.

While Davidson College is committed to supporting research by providing matching funds when required, financial obligations on the part of the College are not automatic. Principal investigators and project directors are encouraged to consult the Office of Sponsored Programs as soon as possible during the proposal/budget development stage in order to provide sufficient time for review of matching fund requests.

Materials & Supplies

Indicate the types of expendable office or laboratory supplies (including research animals) and materials required along with estimated shipping charges. Refer to sponsor guidelines when calculating inflation rates for supplies; if no guidelines are provided, a general provision of three percent is appropriate.

Other Direct Costs

Principal investigators should contact the Office of Sponsored Programs to discuss other allowable direct costs that may be charged to the grant. "Miscellaneous" or "contingency" categories are not appropriate and should not be listed in the budget.

Publication Costs

Costs associated with page charges, graphics, reprints or other publication items specified in the proposal may be charged to the grant. Note that journal page charges are often billed well after the project has been completed so that time extensions may be required to pay these charges before project close-out.

Research Agreements & Contracts

Research agreements and contracts are approved of and/or prepared by the Director of Sponsored Programs. Faculty may not negotiate research agreements on behalf of Davidson College.


To justify this expenditure, provide a copy of the subcontractor's formal proposal, a work statement, a detailed budget, and a cover letter with original signature (s) from the subcontracting agency. All subcontracts must be reviewed and approved by the Director of Sponsored Programs prior to proposal submission.

Summer Student Stipends

Specific details on summer student stipends.

Travel & Per Diem

When calculating mileage expenses for private vehicle use, the Controller's Office has the current mileage reimbursement rate. Travel estimates should be adjusted to accommodate airfare increases and inflation when projecting travel one or two years in advance. Principal Investigators who pay for foreign travel out of federally funded grants must use US flag carriers and code share alliances (except where allowed by U.S. "Open Skies Agreements"). Also see Davidson College Official Travel Policy.

Per Diem: When no guidelines are provided, costs should reflect sensible estimates of food and lodging needs. Budgets for travel abroad should take value-added hotel and food taxes into account.