Appendix C: Sample Budget Justification

Costs for Project Budgets - Appendix C

The budget justification is one of the most important non-technical sections of the proposal, and it is often required by the sponsor. In this section, the Principal Investigator (PI) provides additional detail for expenses within each budget category and articulates the need for the items/expenses listed. The information provided in the budget justification may be the definitive criteria used by sponsor review panels and administrative officials when determining the amount of funding to be awarded.

The following format is a sample only; not all components will apply to every proposal. Many sponsors prefer that budget justifications follow their own format. In all cases, however, it is best to present the justification for each budget category in the same order as that provided in the budget itself.

Salaries and Wages:

Note: The quantification of unfunded effort (e.g., "The PI will donate 5% effort...") in the proposal narrative, budget, or budget justification is considered Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing. This is a legal commitment which must be documented in the University's accounting system. Consider quantifying effort only for the requested salary support. See for additional information.

  • Principal Investigator: This proposal requests salary support for _______% of effort during the academic year and 100% of effort for _______months during the summer.
  • Other Professional Support: List title and level of effort to be proposed to be funded. Other personnel categories (Research Associates, Postdoctoral Associates, Technicians) may be included here.
  • Administrative and Clerical: List the circumstances for requiring direct charging of these services, which must be readily and specifically identifiable to the project with a high degree of accuracy. Provide a brief description of actual job responsibilities, the proposed title, and the level of effort. (See note at the end of this Appendix regarding direct charging costs that are normally considered indirect.)
  • Graduate Students: List number and a brief description of project role. Include stipend, GRA allowance (tuition), and health insurance.
  • Undergraduate Students: List number and a brief description of project role.
  • Employee Benefits have been proposed at a rate of ______% for all non-student compensation as approved by the Department of Health and Human Services. See

Capital Equipment: The following equipment will be necessary for the completion of the project: Include item description(s), estimated cost of each item, and total cost. Provide a brief statement on necessity and suitability.

Travel: For each trip, list destination, duration, purpose, relationship to the project, and total cost. Indicate any plans for foreign travel.

Technical Supplies and Materials: Include type of supplies, per unit price, quantity, and cost. When the cost is substantial, provide a brief statement justifying the necessity.

Publications: Page charges (number of pages multiplied by the per-page charge).

Services: Include type of services, cost per type, and total cost.

Consultants: Include the consultant's name, rate, number of days, total cost per consultant, and total consultant cost. Provide a brief statement outlining each individual's expertise and justifying the anticipated need for consultant services. Note: Justifying a specific consultant in the proposal may avoid the need to competitively bid consulting services.

Subcontracts: Include the subcontractor's name, amount, and total cost. Provide a brief description of the work to be performed and the basis for selection of the subcontractor. A separate budget and corresponding budget justification should be completed by the subcontractor, and is required by many agencies. Note: Justifying a specific subcontractor in the proposal may avoid the need to competitively bid subcontracted services. Post-award changes to subcontracts (additions, deletions, scope or budget modification) may require sponsor approval.

Other Expenses: May include conferences and seminars (see Appendix D), Repair and Maintenance, Academic and User Fees.

Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A): F&A costs have been proposed at a rate of _____% of Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC) as approved in Cornell's rate agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services. A copy of this agreement may be found at MTDC exclusions include Capital Equipment, GRA Allowance and Health Insurance, and Subcontract costs in excess of $25,000 per subcontract.

Annual escalations are proposed in accordance with University policy as outlined HERE.

Special information for direct charging costs that are normally considered indirect. Many costs such as administrative and clerical salaries, office supplies, monthly telephone and network charges, general purpose equipment, and postage are not typically considered direct costs. These may be proposed as direct costs where "unlike and different" circumstances exist. In such cases a budget justification detailing the request must be submitted to OSP for review and approval. Please read the University policy at or contact your Grant and Contract Officer for additional assistance.