Budget Form (90-4) and Budget Justification

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Download 90-4 Form

Download Sample Budget Justification

Each proposal must contain a budget for EACH YEAR and a SUMMARY combining the two years of support requested. If your budget includes a subcontract, the subcontract budget information should also be submitted in the form of a completed 90-4 form (again, one for each year of support and a summary).


[Separate EXCEL file titled: ‘PI Last Name’ – Budget Form 90-4]

The budget form is divided into two budget columns. The Sea Grant funds column indicates what you will need from Sea Grant to support the project. The Matching funds (or cost share) column indicates what you (your institution, collaborators, or partners) will commit to the project. Be sure to list the appropriate amounts within each category. It will be your responsibility to ensure cost share commitments are met on your project.

Matching Funds (Cost Sharing)

Matching funds are those portions of project costs that are not borne by federal Sea Grant funds. More specifically, for every $2 in federal Sea Grant funds requested, $1 in non-federally sourced matching funds must be committed. These costs may be funded by your university or by a third party. It is the responsibility of the PI and the PI’s institution to ensure that cost share commitments are met as presented on the budget sheet. In general, expenses that are allowable as project costs are also allowable as cost sharing. For example, salaries and related benefits paid from non-federal sources for faculty, staff and students working on the project are allowable as cost share.

All cost sharing funds from colleges, departments, and outside sources should be listed on the budget form under the appropriate categories and described in the budget justification in detail. Federal funds may not be used as cost sharing. Letters signed by the officer at the institution or business responsible for providing the proposed cost share must be included with the proposal.

Cost share is difficult to modify later and is a firm commitment. All PIs are asked to pay extra attention to cost share sources and documentation. This information will be subject to extra scrutiny this year and can potentially hold up the submission of your proposal.

Detailed definitions and instructions by budget category for 90-4

Leave the Grant/Project No. box blank.

A. Salaries and Wages

Actual numbers of personnel in each category should be shown in “No. of People.”

The “Amount of Effort” columns refer to labor-months. The number you enter in these columns would be the total number of labor-months—by personnel category—for the total effort (Sea Grant request and matching funds). Please use months (not weeks, hours, years, etc.).

Under the “Sea Grant Funds” and “Matching Funds” columns, enter the dollar totals for all categories.

Please review the following list of personnel definitions; most proposals use categories 1.a., 1.b., 2.b., 2.c., and 2.f.

1.a    (co) Principal Investigator - is responsible for the activity; if two people share the responsibility equally, they should be listed as co-PIs.

1.b.  Associates - professional persons who are full time (includes three-quarter time) on the faculty or staff of the institutions involved

2.a.  Professionals - any non-staff or non-faculty person associated with the project

2.b.  Research Associates - professional persons who are part-time employees, professionals who are retained solely for the project, or staff members of other participating organizations. Consultants should be listed under “Other Costs.”

2.c.  Research Asst./Grad. Students - Institution GRAs should be listed in this section

2.d.  Prof. School Students - enrolled in medical, legal, and other professional schools

2.f.    Secretarial-Clerical  - office personnel

2.g.  Technicians - persons with special but non-professional skills

2.h.  Other - as needed, if not included in categories above.

The line for “total salaries and wages” should show the sum of each category.

Budget Justification Tip: In addition to listing name, title, months of salary requested and personnel cost, indicate the role each member will play in the project. The investigators’ commitments must be reflected as either funds requested or cost sharing funds.

B. Fringe Benefits

To list fringe benefits, use the rates established by your institution. The dollar amount listed on the fringe benefit line should represent total fringe benefits for all personnel listed. If different rates apply to various personnel, note that in the budget justification.

C. Permanent Equipment

Permanent equipment is defined as tangible property with a unit value of at least $5,000 and a useful life of more than one year. List each item and the cost.

Budget Justification Tip: Briefly explain how each requested item of permanent equipment will benefit or be used for the project. Indirect costs do not typically apply to permanent equipment.

D. Expendable Supplies and Equipment

List supplies and expendable equipment, excluding general office expenses. Expendable equipment includes items under $5,000 or having a useful life of less than one year. Software is categorized as expendable supplies.

Budget Justification Tip: Provide a brief breakdown and explanation of anticipated needs for services, supplies, and expendable equipment, such as what you will purchase and how much each item will cost. You may group items under generic categories such as laboratory glassware. Do not include ordinary office expenses. “Miscellaneous” and “etc.” are not allowable terms to use in budgets or budget justifications.

E. Travel

List estimated transportation costs (including costs for ground transportation such as personal car mileage or rental car), per diem and lodging. Domestic travel is travel within the United States. Funds may be requested for work in the field, attendance at meetings and conferences, other travel associated with the proposed work, and per diem. Foreign travel is travel outside of the United States, Mexico and Canada. Persons anticipating foreign travel must budget for it as foreign travel and must travel by U.S. flag carrier per federal policy.

Budget Justification Tip: Provide a brief explanation of each anticipated trip, including name of travelers, destination, breakdown of costs (i.e., per diem, airfare, ground transport), purpose and how it benefits the project.

F. Publication and Documentation Costs

Estimate the costs of publishing the results of this project. In addition to peer-reviewed literature, proposed publications include outreach materials, which may be web-based, printed, or alternative media products, depending on the expected audience. For academic journals, consider both page charges and the cost of reprints. (NOTE: PDF versions of journal articles will now be accepted to fulfill Sea Grant’s requirement of publication submission.)

G. Other Costs

List other direct costs as outlined below.

Budget Justification Tip: List other items such as computer time, equipment rental, photocopying, communications (telephone, fax, and electronic mail charges), shipping/postage charges, shop services time, CIS time, ship time, facility charges (e.g. Mass Spec, HP Plotter, ION Microprobe), consultants, GRA tuition, summer student fellows, subcontracts. Again, “miscellaneous” and “etc.” are not allowable terms to use in budgets or budget justifications.

Subcontract - If a portion of the proposal’s research is to be completed by another institution or business, the work to be completed by the subaward institution should be described in the narrative of the proposal. The following items must also be submitted:

  • A separate budget form (90-4) for each project year (and summary) and a corresponding budget justification
  • Name and signature of the officer at the institution or business responsible for approving the subcontract (need original as well as electronic copy)

Budget Justification Tip: Briefly describe the purpose and scope of work to be completed by the subcontractor.

Indirect Costs

An explanation for all indirect costs must be included in the budget justification.

Budget Justification

[Separate WORD file titled: ‘PI Last Name – Budget Justification]

In addition to preparing the budget worksheet, you must submit a budget justification that provides details for expenditures in each budget category on the 90-4 (e.g., Salaries and Wages, Fringe Benefits). For every dollar value you enter into your budget, you are required to enter a justification for that line item. Failure to do so may compromise your proposal submission. The budget justification must be a detailed description of each cost item on the 90-4. Multi-institution proposals should document all cost items in one summary budget justification (subcontracts must have their own budget justifications). Please list each budget justification following the same headings as on the budget sheet, indicating the item, the cost, and an explanation of the item

See the sample Budget Justification to get an idea of what type of information to include.