Budget Preparation

Office of Research Administration (ORA) pre-award staff will work with you to develop your budget based on project needs, sponsor guidelines, and university policies. Below are the general expense categories you should consider when thinking about the costs associated with your project. 

Personnel Costs

Project staff salaries are based on each person's annual university salary and expected amount of time they will work on the project, usually expressed as "person-months" or a percentage of effort. 
Associated fringe benefits are calculated as a percentage of salary, dependent on various factors, but commonly estimated at around 30%.
Graduate Student Research Assistants (GSRA) minimum salaries are set each year by the university and include tuition waiver as a benefit of the position. GSRA salary and tuition cost estimates can be found here.

Faculty salary costs: as stated above, Office of Research staff will assist with calculating the costs of summer or academic year salary amounts that are consistent with the anticipated levels of effort needed to perform the work being proposed. We do not "budget for course buyout," we budget the estimated cost of time being devoted to a project according to the faculty member's institutional base salary. Office of Research staff do not know the cost of a course release or buyout for your unit. Release time and buyouts are a matter to be discussed with your department chair or dean's office, based on your college's business process. Proposal budgets are based on the expected amount of time project personnel will devote to carrying out the project and the associated cost of that time. 

General Expenses

Expenses such as data sets, materials, outside services, facility user fees, lab supplies, consulting costs, publication fees, human subject incentives, software, and travel are generally allowable by most sponsors. Travel cost estimates usually require details such as destination, # of travelers, and # of days per trip.

Federally Monitored Expenses

Costs that may be monitored under federal Uniform Guidance regulations must be specifically identified and explained in your budget request. If you expect to have any of these types of expenses, let us know and we will help ensure they are appropriately itemized in your budget justification. Examples of these items include: 

  • clerical and administrative salaries
  • computers, printers, etc.
  • office supplies and postage/mailing
  • telephone line charges, cellular and local calls
  • memberships and dues
  • books or journals and subscriptions
  • hosting and food expenses


Subagreements to other institutions usually require a statement of work and separate budget that has been approved by their Sponsored Programs Office.

Capital Equipment

Stand-alone items of $5000 or more and with a useful life of one year or more should be included in this category.

Participant Support Costs

This category can include stipends, travel, and sustenance for non-employee individuals who are participating in a training or educational program.

Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costs

F&A costs (also known as indirect costs, IDC, or overhead) are real costs of University operations that are not readily or uniquely assignable to a specific project, but help make it possible to conduct organized research at U-M. This category includes expenses like heat, light and custodial services for labs and facilities, building maintenance, occupational safety operations, telecommunications, departmental administration, and central support services.

F&A rates are negotiated with the federal government under the guidelines of Title 2, Part 200 of the Code of Federal Regulations and are applicable to all externally sponsored projects. The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) publishes a list of current F&A rates by sponsored project activity.

Office of Research

1060 - Administration Building
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
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Phone: 313-593-5468
Fax: 313-593-6790