Budget Development

Various components may be found in a typical budget. This page is meant to be a guide, but principal investigators (PIs) at Case Western Reserve University are urged to consult the specific program guidelines or contact their department administrator or pre-award specialist if they still need assistance. 

Guidelines for Developing Your Internal Budget

Your proposed budget should be clearly displayed and should reflect Case Western Reserve University’s accounting categories. For example, primary budget categories should be clearly identified, such as those for personnel, benefits/fringe, travel, supplies, equipment, facility and administrative costs, etc.

Conformance with CWRU’s accounting categories will ensure that your project, if awarded and funded, will be efficiently and accurately entered into CWRU’s accounting system, which will expedite your award setup. There are circumstances where a program budget or bottom-line budget may also be appropriate to submit to certain potential funding sources. 

Defining Roles

As you’re developing your budget and research proposal and want to use expertise from outside CWRU, you need to determine their roles and responsibilities. Typically those are:

  • Vendor: A vendor competes for customers with other similarly situated providers. They are outside service providers to whom we pay for a service or a product. These services are ancillary to the statement of work. These are paid for through a procurement agreement.
  • Subawardee: A subawardee has responsibility for the internal programmatic decision making and design of a project. They are paid through a subaward.
  • Consultant: This is an independent service provider that is paid on an hourly or daily rate. This is paid for through a procurement agreement. 

If projects include Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine (CCLCM) faculty and staff, you must indicate that information in the main project budget. If the funding is awarded, an Inter-Institutional Agreement (IIA) will be established.

Budget Categories

The following budget categories are typical and serve as a guide, rather than a template:

  • This is normally treated as facilities and administration costs. Specific programs may allow these to be proposed as direct costs if they are (1) Integral to the project; (2) Identified specifically within the project; (3) Explicitly included in the budget or have received written approval from the awarding agency; and (4) Are not recoverable as indirect costs.
  • If you budget these costs as direct costs, you must provide a budget justification in the proposal.
  • CWRU base salary is the annual compensation that CWRU pays for a faculty’s appointment. This does not include any income earned outside of the university. 
  • Salaries for personnel are calculated based upon the % of effort the PI is dedicating to a specific project. This can be determined by either calendar months or percentage of time. 
  • Personnel estimates of effort should accurately describe the amount of time expected to be spent by those involved in the project, along with the total associated costs, including salary and fringe benefits. 
  • Federal agencies require percent effort to be expressed as “person months.” You can receive help with conversion of percent effort to calendar months by visiting the FAQ information provided by the NIH.

It is CWRU policy to include salary escalation at a level of 2% on all proposals unless the funder specifically prohibits escalation. Questions regarding salary escalation should be addressed with your pre-award specialist.  

  • Tuition and standard required fees may be included in the budget. This must be clearly indicated on the proposed budget. IDC is not charged on tuition. Fore more information, please visit the tuition aid page.
  • Fringe benefit rates are to be calculated using the CWRU applicable rate as applied to the actual total annual salary earned.
  • The current fringe benefit rate is available in the Commonly Requested Information.
  • Equipment is defined as items that cost more than $5,000 per unit, have a life expectancy of greater than one year, and is/are capable of being “tagged” by CWRU.
  • You must provide justification for the purchase of any equipment and what its usefulness will be. Vendor quotes are always helpful. 
  • Equipment is not considered in facilities and administrative calculations.
  • For questions about equipment accounting, please contact Capital Assets & Equipment Accounting.
  • You must provide a detailed explanation for the purpose of the travel costs. Transportation costs and per diem rates must be in compliance with the CWRU Travel Policy.
  • All consumable items required for research, such as laboratory supplies, clinical supplies, chemicals, gas, animals, etc, are required to be included in the budget. 
  • Estimates for supplies and expenses should be supported by a complete description of the supplies to be used, including the basis for computing estimates. 
    • Examples: Animals: 20 rats x 4.25 ea. = $85.00; 2000 assay kits x $30 per/kit = $60,000
  • Subaward: An agreement to an outside entity to perform a portion of the tasks of a project. Note: When using the federally negotiated rate, CWRU will charge IDC on only the first $25,000 of each subaward. Some non-federal sponsors will not allow charging IDC on the first $25,000 of a subaward. Consult with the sponsor’s guidelines on indirect costs.
  • Please list the subawards or contractor name(s) and the total cost for each. If the subawardee is an academic institution, IDCs might be incurred and need to be added to the budget, as well as their direct costs. 
  • Consortium: An agreement under which a research project is completed by the grantee and at least one other separate entity.
  • If you are entering a project where there are outside investigators from other entities who will participate in the project, the PI(s) at the collaborating institution must submit the following to CWRU:
    • Subrecipient Commitment Form
    • Scope/statement of work (SOW) specific to the subrecipient
    • Detailed budget and justification specific to the subrecipient
    • If a required element of the proposal, biosketches of PI and all key personnel
  • Consultant definition: A consultant is a person employed on a short-term basis to provide expert advice without the responsibility for any portion of the SOW. This may be an individual hired to provide professional advice or fee-for-service activities. Consultants are paid on an hourly basis or daily rate. This must be provided and explained in your proposal.
  • If you intend to utilize an outside consultant, you must include a description of the role they will play in the project in both the research plan and in the budget justification. Each consultant must have their own biosketch and letter of participation (Letter of intent to collaborate).
  • You must list all external consultants, regardless of whether they are being paid or not.
  • Budget inclusion: You may include a consultant or lecturer, along with their associated costs including travel.
  • For medical researchers, only the costs associated with the routine and ancillary services provided by hospitals to individuals participating in research programs, including patients and volunteers, are allowable. IDC is not applied to these costs.
  • Procedures such as x-rays, laboratory, pharmacy, pathology, etc are not considered patient costs for budget purposes as they are typically considered standard of care covered activities under health insurance.
  • Patient expense reimbursement costs, such as travel, parking, professional physician fees, supplies (such as syringes, specimen collection kits) can be included in your budget under “Supplies” or “Other Expenses.” 
  • Stipends or gift cards given to patients for their participation in a trial are not considered patient care and should be charged IDC.
  • Indirect costs must be included in all proposed budgets.
  • CWRU will honor published IDC restrictions and reduced rates, provided the dean of the school is in agreement.
  • Total direct costs consist of all salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials, supplies, services, travel, and subcontracts up to the first $25,000 of each subgrant or subaward, regardless of the period of time covered by the subgrant or subaward. 
  • Some funding agencies will allow IDC on all categories, including charges for patient care, tuition, rental costs of off-site facilities, scholarships and/or fellowships. Please be cognizant of the funders rules when creating your budget.
  • The current IDC rate is available on the Commonly Requested Information page.
  • This occurs when an individual contributes more effort to the project than the person-months being requested. These costs all refer to the portion of the total project costs that are not borne by the sponsor but instead by the university.
  • Cost sharing should be included only if mandated by the sponsor or needed to accurately reflect the effort required to complete the project. 
  • Cost sharing, matching, and/or in-kind contributions must be approved by the dean of the school, your management center, and an appropriate ORTM official.
  • Printing and publication costs: These are allowable and may be charged to federally sponsored projects.
  • Equipment maintenance costs and services contracts: The cost for repairs and maintenance of project equipment that is necessary to keep it efficiently operating, yet does not appreciably add to its “permanent value or prolong its intended life” are allowable and should be budgeted accordingly. (See 2 CFR Part 220).
  • Please note: Costs associated with the general maintenance and upkeep of a building used for research are generally considered IDCs and therefore should not be charged as direct costs. This includes things such as repair of light fixtures, custodial costs, plumbing costs, and other maintenance that cannot be directly related to a specific grant or contract.
  • Other expenses are those that do not fit into the above categories. For example, if you have costs associated with publishing, that would be listed under “Other Expenses.”
  • Examples of allowable expenses include:
    • Participant travel and other direct payments to participants: These are allowable under “Other Expense.” Participants include patients, donors, subjects, and volunteers.