Preparing a Proposal Budget

Direct Costs. Direct costs are expenses that can be clearly linked to a specific grant-funded project.

Salaries and Wages. When calculating salaries to be included in a proposal budget, Project Directors/Principal Investigators (PD/PI) should use the current academic year salary as the base and project a five percent increase for each subsequent year. A faculty member's actual increase is determined during the annual salary increase process and may differ from the budgeted increase. If the award is made and the actual increase exceeds the budgeted amount, the PD/PI may be allowed to cover the overage by moving grant funds from another budget line to the salary line. Such changes should be made in consultation with the funder and Bowdoin's Office of Sponsored Research Programs.

Calculating Summer Salary. In accordance with Bowdoin policy, an employee may receive up to 100% of a twelve-month salary. Therefore, faculty, who are generally on a nine-month contract, may receive up to 12/9 of their base faculty salary. Most federal funding sources limit summer salary to 2/9 of the academic year salary. Summer salaries are based on a faculty member's coming academic year’s annual salary rate.

Requesting Sabbatic Pay. Faculty who anticipate being on sabbatical during the proposed project period and who wish to include part of their salary in the project budget, must obtain approval from the Dean for Academic Affairs prior to submitting the proposal. According to College policy, the amount requested through external funding sources may bring the faculty member's total salary payments up to his or her base salary rate, but may not exceed it.

Requesting Course Release. Under certain circumstances, PD/PI may request funds to support release time from teaching. The PD/PI must discuss this possibility with his/her Department Chair and the Dean for Academic Affairs well in advance of submitting a proposal for review. If the grant is awarded, the faculty member must notify the Department Chair and Dean for Academic Affairs of which semester the course release will take place.

Requesting Compensation for Non-Faculty Employees. Grant proposals may include funds for new or continuing staff positions (e.g., laboratory technicians) to support a project. All costs associated with the position, including salary or wages, benefits, startup costs, computing equipment, etc., must be fully supported by the grant. The College does not normally provide matching support for salary-related costs, nor is the College committed to continuing a position once grant funding ends.

Grant-supported personnel are employees of the College and their terms and conditions of employment, including salary ranges, are governed by College policy; therefore, the Dean for Academic Affairs or the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer must explicitly approve any request for support of new personnel in a grant proposal. PD/PI who wish to include new positions in a proposal should contact the Director of Academic Budget and Operations to discuss an appropriate salary range and other related issues, including space considerations. In general, the College does not provide additional space, such as an office, for research-related staff positions.

Non-Fellowship Student Employees. Any matriculated student may be hired to conduct non-research work (e.g., caring for laboratory animals) on an hourly basis determined in consultation with the Student Employment Office.

Summer Fellowships. PD/PI may wish to include in their proposal budget summer research fellowship opportunities for students who will conduct independent research in cooperation with the PD/PI. The work should be comparable to what would be done on a College-sponsored fellowship such as a Surdna or Coles student fellowship. Under a fellowship, the grant must support a weekly stipend ($400/week), summer housing ($600/summer), any supplies the student may use (usually a set amount ranging from $500-$1,000 per student), and travel.

Fringe Benefits. Fringe benefits consist of the institution's contributions to an employee's social security account, a retirement plan (such as Fidelity), health and dental insurance, unemployment compensation, worker's compensation, life insurance and disability insurance. Employee benefits are calculated as a percentage of salaries and non-student wages. The fringe benefit rate is periodically negotiated between the College and the federal government and is subject to change. The current rate can be obtained from Rates and Useful Facts for Bowdoin Faculty on Bowdoin's Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs' web site. The benefit rate is applied to all benefits-eligible positions, regardless of whether the employee opts for coverage. Additionally, all proposals that include compensation for benefits-eligible positions must budget full support for benefits at the current negotiated fringe benefit rate.

Travel. Travel costs allowed under a grant are subject to the policies and procedures outlined in the Expense Reimbursement Policy. PD/PI should review the Allowable Expenses section of the College's travel policy prior to developing a budget. Funders may have further restrictions on allowable expenditures, and PD/PI are responsible for understanding and adhering to any such restrictions.

Equipment and Other Capital Expenditures. Equipment is defined as tangible property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost greater than or equal to $5,000. PD/PI should budget for and describe all equipment needed to perform the activities described in the proposal that is not available or easily accessible to the PD/PI from College resources. For grant purposes, equipment is typically used for research, scientific, or other technical activities (e.g. microscopes, x-ray machines, spectrometers, etc). Special attention must be paid to determining the acquisition cost of the equipment. Acquisition cost is defined as the cost of the equipment, including the cost to install the equipment and make it ready for use. Therefore, costs such as freight, installation and accessories, which are necessary to make the equipment usable for the purpose for which it was acquired, are considered part of acquisition costs.

In order for the College to plan for the successful use and maintenance of equipment purchased with grant funds, the PD/PI must contact the Director of Academic Budgets and Operations to discuss space requirements, maintenance contracts, insurance, annual supplies and other associated costs prior to submitting a proposal.

Materials and Supplies.

Indirect Costs. Indirect Costs, also referred to as “Facilities and Administration Costs” or overhead, represent an important revenue source for the College and support the College's efforts to create an environment conducive to faculty research and curriculum development. Indirect Costs are defined as costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives, and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project (e.g., library services, facilities maintenance, utilities and administrative support). The College negotiates the Indirect Cost Rate with the federal government according to federal regulations. The current rate can be obtained from Rates and Useful Facts for Bowdoin Faculty on the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs' web site. At Bowdoin, the Indirect Cost Rate is calculated as a percentage of salaries and non-student wages (excluding benefits) budgeted for the project.

Matching Funds and Cost Sharing

  • Funders may require institutions to contribute to the cost of the project through either matching or cost-sharing funds. Matching funds are generally defined as a cash amount (i.e., a percentage of the cost of a piece of equipment) and are either supplied by the institution or by other, usually private, funding sources.

  • Cost sharing occurs when the institution makes an in-kind contribution towards a project's required resources. Faculty salary, fringe benefits, computer use and indirect costs are often proposed for cost-sharing.

It is the College's practice not to propose matching funds or cost sharing unless the funder requires it. PD/PIs are encouraged to meet with the Dean for Academic Affairs to discuss support from the College to meet matching requirements. Discussions with the Dean regarding the availability of such funds should begin early in the planning stages of the proposal. The Dean requires an explanation of the project's impact on the instructional program, accompanied by a written statement of support from the department chair.

Sub-awards. Typical sub-award situations include arrangements in which two (or more) qualifying legal entities/institutions are working collaboratively on a grant project. Each institution has its own PD/PI; however, one of the collaborating institutions takes on the role of prime awardee with the funder. Sub-award agreements are made in the form of a legally binding agreement, generated by the prime awardee, which is also referred to as the lead organization.

When a Bowdoin PD/PI wants to include a subaward in a Bowdoin Proposal:
If a Bowdoin PD/PI wishes to include a sub-award in his/her grant proposal, prior to submission, the Bowdoin PD/PI must:

  • Provide the Office of Sponsored Research Programs with a statement from an authorized representative of the sub-recipient institution, indicating a commitment to perform the scope of work proposed, assuring the accuracy and reasonableness of the budget, and agreeing to enter into a formal sub-award if the proposal is funded.
  • Provide the Sponsored Research Programs Office with a written Scope of Work to be completed by the PD/PI at the subrecipient institution.
  • Provide the Sponsored Research Programs Office with a detailed budget and budget narrative of the sub-awardee's project that meets the requirements of the funder and Bowdoin College.
  • Provide the Sponsored Research Programs Office with all required certifications and assurances (e.g., human subjects assurance) relating to the sub-awardee's proposed scope of work.
  • Receive approval from the Dean for Academic Affairs or the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer to include a sub-award agreement in his/her project budget.
  • If the proposal is funded, the PD/PI must work with the Sponsored Research Programs Office to execute a formal sub-award agreement, which must be signed by authorized organizational representatives of both institutions. A complete list of Subrecipient Responsibilities can be found here.

When a Bowdoin PD/PI wants to be included as a subawardee on another Institution’s Proposal:

  • If a Bowdoin PD/PI is asked to be included as a subaward on a collaborator's grant, the Bowdoin PD/PI will consult with the Office of Sponsored Research Programs. Prior to submission the Bowdoin PD/PI must:
  • Provide the OSP with a written Scope of Work to be completed over the period of performance
  • Provide the OSP with a detailed budget and budget narrative that meets the needs of the funder and the College
  • Provide the OSP Office with all required certifications and assurances related to the proposed Scope of Work

Upon Review by OSP, the Office for Academic Affairs, and the Controller's Office, the Director of OSP will send required materials to the prime with a letter of commitment to enter into a subaward account.