Contact the Business Office for help with budgeting for your project, and read below for a description of the major cost categories to consider when budgeting. Comprehensive guidance on budgeting is available on OSR's Operating Standards and Procedure's website.

1. Salaries

  • Confirm salaries with the Office of Business and Finance.
  • Read the sponsors instructions carefully. Look for limitations on salary.
  • Effort can be described as monthly or percent of effort. No hourly rates should be used.
  • A 3% inflationary increase is recommended per year.  Some sponsors limit this to 2% (National Institutes of Health) and some do not allow for inflated salaries.

2. Fringe Benefits

  • The current fringe benefit rate is: 24.519% for permanent employees
  • Health insurance is currently $6,104 for permanent employees
  • For more information and a comprehensive listing of benefit rates, see UNC Fringe Rate Memo FY2019

3. Travel

  • Travel expenses can be estimated through a reputable travel agent or website such as Travelocity or Expedia
  • Per Diem rates for meals and travel allowances for lodging can be found here.
  • Review sponsor's instructions for travel limitations. Federal agencies require only US air carriers can be used.

4. Food 

  • In most cases, food is an unallowable cost to federal grants (but there are rare circumstances where this could be allowable with explicit permission from the funder). This does not include food as part of per diem travel expenses. 

6. Indirect Costs (Facilities & Administrative Costs)

  • Sometimes referred as overhead, these are costs that cannot be directly identified to a specific project. Examples of indirect costs would be utility bills, office supplies and administrative costs. These are not to be charged directly to a federal grant. 
  • The current rate for the School of Government projects is generally 36% of direct costs
  • Some foundations do not allow for indirect costs. Check for a written indirect cost policy from the funder.
  • For help identifying the appropriate indirect cost rate, see UNC's Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement.

7. Cost Sharing

  • Sharing the cost of the project should only be included in your budget only if it is required by the sponsor. For more information on cost sharing, see OSR Policy