A step-by-step guide to building your budget.

Direct Costs

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

Indirect Costs

Indirect Costs, also referred to as “Facilities and Administration Costs” or overhead, 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 Department of Health and Human Services, and it is used for all grant applications unless another rate is specified in the guidelines. The current rate can be obtained from the Rates and Useful Facts page. 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.


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.