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Budget Planning FAQs

How do I estimate the time I plan to spend on the project?

Budgeting for your salary and benefits takes careful planning so that your account will not run out of funds. Because we do not know from year to year what the state will allocate for raises, your budget is really a "best estimate." Coastal does not charge the grant account more than the actual salary and fringe benefits expenses. If you learn during the grant period that these expenses will be less than budgeted, you can request that the funding agency allow you to shift those funds to other categories for which you have needs. These requests often are approved.

Why is the budget important?

The budget presents a financial picture of your project to the reviewer and helps the reviewer understand your project. It can also help you more accurately determine the scope of your project.

How do I develop my budget?

First, consider your project's resource needs. Find out about the sponsor's guidelines and limitations, as well as institutional policies and procedures. Finally, make sure that you adhere to federal and state regulations. More information can be found in the Budget section of this Web site.

I understand that the University has a federally approved Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Cost Rate. How is that applied in my budget?

Coastal's approved on-campus F&A rate (also known as Indirect Cost Rate) is 45.5% of salaries, wages and fringe benefits for all University personnel, including students, who will work on the project. For more information on the F&A rate, see the Budget Development section of this website, or contact the Office of Research Services.

If I want to ask for one course reassigned time in both the spring and fall semesters to work on my project, how do I calculate the cost of the reassigned time?

Know your current salary. If you are requesting a starting date for your project after the new fiscal year begins, you need to add some inflation to the current figure, probably a 3-4% raise (it is understood that this will be an estimate). If you teach four three-hour courses per semester, you would be requesting release time for one quarter of your academic year salary. Example: A $60,000 salary would mean that you would ask the funding agency for $15,000 in salary for a reduction of one course each semester.

If I need to work on the project in the summer, how do I calculate the salary for that period?

A simple way to calculate: If you plan to work one month on the project, divide your academic year salary by nine. Using $60,000 as a salary estimate, you would request $6,667 in summer salary. Remember that some funding agencies, notably the National Science Foundation, do not allow more than two summer months per year on a project. For further assistance on calculating summer salary please contact the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs.

How do I figure fringe benefits on my academic year and summer salaries?

If the funding agency requires a break-out of each fringe benefit expense (social security, retirement, medical insurance and unemployment), consult the Budget section of the website. If the agency does not require this breakdown, calculate the percentage of the salary using the current Fringe Benefit Rate

I am considering including a new position in my budget request. How should I do this?

You should work with the ORS in developing your budget, and you should contact Human Resources for guidance on hiring procedures and appropriate compensation for grant or time-limited employees. Don't wait until the grant is awarded to create a new position!

The funding agency requires matching funds from the University. What does this mean?

A funding agency will often require that the University contribute a specific percentage of the total project costs. For example, some agencies require a 1-to-1 match (if your total project budget is $50,000, Coastal will be asked to contribute half, or $25,000 as a match). You may be able to use cash, faculty and staff time, equipment and supplies as the match. Unrecovered
indirect costs often can be used as a match. Contact your dean's office or the ORS for guidance in this process. The funding agency also will answer specific questions about what the  University can contribute as a match.