Preparing the Budget
The budget section of the proposal should reflect, as accurately as possible, the funding needed to carry out the proposed research. The investigator/director should neither overestimate nor underestimate the funds required. ORSP personnel are experienced in preparing the budgets and encourage investigators to contact them when they have a draft of the budget.
Estimated grant expenditures include direct costs, Facilities and Administrative (F&A) or indirect costs, cost sharing and/or matching funds, and consortium expenses. The ORSP staff can provide expertise in completing budget requests and applying costs for all cost categories. All costs must be justified to the level of detail required by the funding agency. Proposed costs must be necessary, reasonable in proportion to the benefit provided or other equitable relationship, allocable to one or more of the costs objective(s), and allowable according to the Uniform Guidance, 2 CFR Part 200.
Salaries and Wages
University personnel compensated for services on sponsored programs will be based on established University employment and payroll policies and procedures. Compensation of University personnel on sponsored programs is administered through the University of Houston System payroll system and shall accurately reflect the time and effort dedicated to award activities based on University personnel base salary. Base salary is defined as an authorized salary or academic rate. Faculty members whose compensation includes funds from external grants administered by the University shall not exceed 100% of their annualized salary. Please, refer to the UHV Faculty Manual, Section 3.12.5 “Salary Supplementation from Research Funds or External Grants.”
The salaries of staff hired to work on grant projects are charged to grant funds unless part of a matching provision. The compensation levels and new job classifications must conform to the university staff compensation plans. Appointments do not exceed the duration of the grant project.
The use of graduate and undergraduate students is encouraged. Student pay must be consistent with those customarily paid. Refer to the Dean’s Guide and Work Study Program Guide for Student Employees for the proper rates.
The cost of authorized leave, such as vacation leave, sick leave, holidays, court leave, military leave administrative leave, and during the periods of the project may be applied to sponsored program costs.
Fringe benefits are calculated separately from salary and wages and paid at a percentage of salary and wage. Fringe benefits include FICA, Retirement, Worker’s Compensation, Unemployment Insurance, Health Insurance and Life Insurance.
Personnel costs applied to federally funded awards must adhere to 2 CFR, Part §200.430, Compensation – personal services.
Reimbursement for any travel expenses (foreign and domestic) is subject to University, Federal, and sponsor regulations. The University’s travel policy generally governs the reimbursement of sponsor program-related travel. Travel costs should be itemized per trip and directly related to sponsored project activity. Travel reimbursement can include transportation, lodging, subsistence, and related items incurred by employees who are in travel status on official business of the university. Such costs can be charged on a per diem and or actual cost basis for the entire trip. If the actual cost basis is applied, costs should not exceed the per diem rate. Registration fees may also be included in travel costs. Travel costs applied to federally funded awards must adhere to 2 CFR, Part §200.474.
The federal definition of equipment is tangible personal property (including information technology systems) having a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the lesser of the capitalization level established by the university for financial statement purposes, or $5,000. Equipment acquired with Sponsor funds must be managed according to the award terms and conditions, Federal regulations, if federally funded, sponsor requirements and University policies. Equipment purchased with Federal funds may not be purchased in the last ninety days of the program award or re-budgeted into another cost category unless the sponsor grants prior approval.
- Participant Support
A participant is defined as a non-university employee who is the recipient of service or training associated with a sponsored project workshop, conference, seminar, symposium or other short-term instructional or information sharing activity. Participants do not perform work or services for the project or program unless it is for their own benefit. Participants may include students, researchers from other institutions, and representatives from the private sector, teachers, and state or local government agency personnel.
Participant costs applied to federally funded awards must adhere to 2 CFR, Part §200.75 which defines participant support as direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences or training projects. Funds may not be re-budgeted into other cost categories without the written prior approval of the sponsor. To incur participant costs when the costs are not budgeted and awarded by a sponsor, prior approval of the agency is needed.
Scholarships, fellowships, and other programs of student aid costs are allowable when the purpose of the award is to provide training to selected participants, and the charge is approved by the sponsoring agency. Tuition remission and other forms of compensation paid as, or in lieu of, wages to students for performing necessary work are allowable provided that the individual is conducting activities necessary to fulfill the program requirements; if payments are in accordance with University policy and consistent for similar activities; the activities are conducted during the academic period the student is enrolled in an advanced degree program; and the tuition and other payments are reasonable compensation for work performed. Scholarships and student aid applied to federally funded awards must adhere to 2 CFR, Part §200.466.
- Other Costs
Other direct costs items may include materials and supplies, publication, and consultant costs.
Materials and Supplies
Materials and supplies purchased on sponsored program funds must adhere to University Procurement Policies. The cost of material, supplies, and fabricated parts necessary to carry out sponsored program activity are allowable. Permissible items are determined by the sponsor but could include books, manuals, computing devices, software, chemicals, laboratory items, non-capital equipment, and field samples. The item(s) must directly benefit the project. Items applied to federally funded awards must adhere to 2 CFR §200.453 – Materials and supplies costs, including costs of computing devices. Purchased materials and supplies must be charged at their actual price, net of applicable credits. In the specific case of computing devices, charging as direct costs is allowable for devices that are essential and allocable, but not solely dedicated, to the performance of the Federal award. Where federally-donated or furnished materials are used in performing the Federal Award, such materials will be used without charge.
Publication costs for electronic and print media, including distribution, promotion, and general handling are allowable per 2 CFR, part §200.461. To estimate costs, consider page charges, reprint, publishing, and distributing numerous copies of a large report. The costs to publish the results of the research or project may vary from journal to journal.
Contracts for good and services are subject to University, Federal, and sponsor regulations. Contracts for goods and services, which create a procurement relationship rather than a sub-recipient relation, is generally included unless specifically prohibited or limited by the sponsor. A Standard Purchasing agreement, administered through Contract Administration, will be used when paying a contractor for goods and services from a grant where the contractor provides goods and services within normal business operations; provides similar goods or services to many different purchasers; normally operates in a competitive environment; provide goods or services that are ancillary to the sponsored program activity; is not directly responsible for the research or determining the results; and has no employment relationship with the University.
In addition to University requirements, for contractors paid on federal funds, 2 CFR, Part 200 identifies the following specific standards:
- 200.212 Suspension and debarment –contractors are subject to the non-procurement debarment and suspension regulations.
- 200.305 Payment- the University must make timely payment to contractors, and payments amounts can be withheld by the University from contractors to assure satisfactory completion of work.
- 200.318 General procurement standards -Maintain oversight to ensure that contractors perform according to the terms, conditions, and specifications of their contracts or purchase orders.
- 200.319 Competition -Must be conducted in a manner providing full and open competition consistent with the standards of this section.
Subaward and Subrecipients
A subaward is an award provided by a pass-through entity or primary recipient of the prime sponsored agreement to a subrecipient for the subrecipient to carry out part of a federal award by the pass-through entity. It does not include payments to a contractor or payments to an individual that is a beneficiary of a Federal Program. A subaward may be provided through any form of legal agreement, including an agreement that the pass-through entity considers a contract.
Per 2 CFR 200.330, Subrecipient and contractor determinations, a subrecipient is an institution, company, or organization that receives, at any level, financial assistance that is passed down from the primary recipient of the pass-through or primary recipient of the prime sponsored agreement. Characteristics of a subrecipient relationship include when the primary recipient
- determines who is eligible to receive what Federal assistance;
- has its performance measured in relation to whether objectives of a Federal program are met,
- has responsibility for programmatic decision making;
- is responsible for adherence to applicable Federal program requirements specified in the Federal award; and
- in accordance with the agreement, uses the Federal fund to carry out a program for a public purpose specified in authorizing statute, as opposed to providing good or services for the benefit of the pass-through entity.
ORSP has the overall responsibility for issuing and monitoring subawards/subrecipient agreements under sponsored awards. ORSP will maintain documentation relative to a subaward/subrecipient agreement and subsequent amendments. Agreements will be negotiated in accordance with standard business practices. The agreements will comply with all standard and special provisions of individual awards. After the subaward/subrecipient agreement is fully executed and work has commenced, it is the responsibility of the PI to:
- review and approve all invoices from the subawardee/subrecipient to determine if the charges are appropriate,
- prepare a requisition and voucher(s) to make payment for all appropriate charges,
- monitor the progress of the subaward/subrecipient, and
- obtain all required deliverables from the subawardee/subrecipient.
The PI must maintain documentation for these activities.
- Facilities and Administrative Costs
Facilities and Administrative (F&A)/indirect costs must be included using the UHV’s federally negotiated rate unless restricted or is not allowed by the sponsor. F&A costs are provided in externally sponsored programs to reimburse the University for general support costs not readily identifiable in amount and, therefore, not recoverable as direct charges. The current negotiated rate is 55%, on campus, and 32%, off campus, based on direct salaries and wages including vacation, holiday, sick pay and other paid absences but excluding all other fringe benefits.
The above list of grant expenditures reflect the most common costs applied to sponsored program awards. It is non-inclusive. Sponsored program costs vary depending on the sponsor and program requirements. Contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs for additional information regarding allowable grant expenditures and the allocation of costs.