2.4 Budgets

The Grants, Foundation and Corporate Relations staff will help you assess your budget needs and ensure compliance with Macalester’s requirements. The budget should be as accurate as possible and should conform to funder requirements and allowable costs. We can also help you answer the following questions:

  • What staffing needs will you have? Will you fill them with faculty, staff, administrators, students or consultants?
  • What equipment will you need? Will it require installation and maintenance costs? Will you need to solicit bids? Will there be a major purchase of computers to coordinate through ITS?
  • What space or renovation needs do you expect?
  • What travel costs will you incur?
  • What costs will you incur to disseminate your findings?
  • Will you require funds for storing/accessing your data?
  • Will Macalester need to sustain the activity after the grant expires?
  • Will institutional matching funds or contributed costs be required?

The budget consists of direct costs, those which are directly attributable to the project, and may also include indirect costs, which cover grant-related administration, office supplies, use of office space, equipment, custodial service, etc. Please keep in mind that allowable budget costs are determined by the funding agency.
Some potential budget categories are discussed below.

2.4.1 Salaries

The PI/PD should list all personnel required for the performance of the project, as well as the estimated time each staff member will commit. Personnel time estimates should be separated into academic year and summer. Students participating in the project during the summer may be paid either a stipend or hourly wage, depending on the nature of the work. During the academic year, students will be paid an hourly wage. Please contact GFCR for current rates. The grant budget should allow for annual salary increases. Some funders will limit or prohibit salary support. For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) generally limits salary compensation from all NSF-funded projects to no more than two months in a year.

In instances in which you receive external funding for salary to extend your sabbatical and that funding does not fully meet your salary for that extension period, you may be eligible for up to $10,000 in salary match from Macalester, subject to the following conditions:

  1. External funds will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $10,000;
  2. The total salary received from all sources must not exceed the faculty member's salary of record;
  3. The faculty member must request the Macalester match as part of the internal clearance process before applying for external funds and for each application submission, so that the College is able to account for the additional expense; and
  4. The match funding is for sabbatical extensions only and may not be used for other kinds of leaves.

2.4.2 Benefits

Benefits are budgeted for all salaries or wages requested from the funder with the exception of academic year student wages. Current rates, which vary between academic year and summer, can be obtained from GFCR.

Grant-funded duties count toward a staff member?s total FTE. In some cases, the addition of grant-funded hours will raise an employee?s FTE and make them eligible for additional benefits. These additional costs need to be included in the proposal budget. Benefit costs are a significant budgetary issue for the college, so it is important to estimate them as accurately as possible.

2.4.3 Equipment

Equipment items with a per-unit cost greater than or equal to $10,000 are expected to hold value for more than one year, and therefore are considered capital expenses. For items purchased with non-federal funds, those items with a cost beyond this $10,000 threshold are considered capital expenses. For federal funds, however, the threshold is $5,000. The federal uniform guidance defines equipment as “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 organization for financial statement purposes, or $5,000.” Therefore, items greater than or equal to $5,000 are considered equipment when purchased with federal funds.

2.4.4 Supplies

This category includes materials and supplies directly related to the proposed project. Macalester considers supplies to be any materials purchased for less than $10,000. For federally-funded projects, supplies will include materials and equipment costing less than $5,000 for any one item. In many cases, this will also include computers specific to the project.

2.4.5 Food

Funders have different requirements regarding food. Unless associated with travel, food should rarely be charged to a federal grant. Therefore, only include non-travel associated food in your budget if it is integral and necessary to the project. Alcohol can never be charged to a federal grant.

2.4.6 Travel

All transportation, lodging, and subsistence costs related to travel on the grant should be estimated. These travel costs should be broken down into domestic and foreign travel. For federal grants, airfare needs to be on a US Flag Carrier. If a US Flag Carrier is unavailable, special rules apply and the Grants Accountant will provide assistance.

2.4.7 Participant Support

This includes costs for participants (stipends, travel, subsistence) for projects which include activities such as training and workshops. The stipend rates under the participant support category are inclusive of fringe benefits.

2.4.8 Data Management

Some funding agencies require a data management plan as part of the proposal. Generally, the plan describes the types of data you will collect and your plans for data storage and access. In some cases, there may be an existing subject repository for your data. In others, you may require storage space and/or hosting on a Macalester server. It is important to consider your data requirements early in the proposal process. Contact your AIA and/or Library Liaison with questions.

2.4.9 Publication

This includes costs incurred in disseminating research outcomes. Costs might include journal page charges, website management, or subventions to publishers.

2.4.10 Consultants

If your grant includes payments to consultants or participants not currently employed by Macalester, you should contact Payables to determine if the consultant or participant will be hired as an independent contractor or as an employee on the Macalester payroll. This determination must be made before any work is performed or service provided. When consultants are included, you should consider the number of days, rate of compensation, and any other related costs such as travel.

2.4.11 Housing

When students are involved in the project, you may want to include on-campus housing in your proposal, assuming the funder is willing to pay this cost. Contact GFCR for current rates. If the funder does not allow this cost, students may qualify for on-campus housing paid by the College. As this represents a cost to the College, this cost needs to be approved at proposal stage and is considered Macalester matching funds.

2.4.12 Subawards

In some instances, the College passes a portion of the grant award it receives on to another institution. It is important to determine if the relationship with the other institution is considered a vendor relationship or a subcontract (subrecipient) relationship. If programmatic decision-making remains entirely at Macalester, the transaction is considered to be a simple procurement of goods or services, and the other institution is considered a vendor. If the other institution has responsibility for programmatic decision-making, a subcontract (subrecipient) relationship is created. Most often the nature of the relationship with the other institution will be determined in the proposal process.

In all instances, grant funds awarded to the College for the named Principal Investigator make the PI responsible for oversight of all grant funds and research/activity performed, whether or not those activities occur at the College or at another institution. Federal grant regulations clearly state that the federal government holds the College, not the subrecipient, responsible for compliance.

The College may also be a subawardee on a grant awarded to another institution. The proposed subaward must go through the same internal review process as a proposal submitted directly to the funder. Contracts outlining the work to be performed and the particulars of the budget must be routed through GFCR. GFCR will arrange for the signature of an institutional official (VP for Administration and Finance or Provost) on required subaward documents, including any letters of support.

2.4.13 Indirect Costs

Indirect costs include administration, office supplies, use of office space, equipment, custodial service, etc.

Negotiated indirect cost rate

The College has a federally-negotiated rate for the calculation of indirect costs. This rate is calculated on salaries and wages only. Contact GFCR for the current rate.

Other indirect rates

Some funding opportunities indicate a maximum rate for indirect costs which may be different from our negotiated rate; while others prohibit them entirely. Refer to the funder guidelines to ensure that your proposal includes the maximum rate allowed.

2.4.14 College Matching Funds/Cost Sharing

Some funding agencies may require the College to demonstrate support of the project by contributing a portion of the funds it requires. These match expenses should be explicitly discussed while you are planning the proposal. If your project requires a Macalester match, your Line Officer must agree to the match and will make budgetary arrangements to provide it (See Policy for Cost Sharing on Sponsored Projects).