The budget justification includes not only budget information, but explanations as to how all cost figures were arrived at, the details of how cost will translate into deliverables, and additional narrative information regarding costs and personnel. Most institutions do not put a page limitation on the budget justification, so use this free space to brag on your team members and expand upon those pieces that were excluded from the main proposal due to space limitations.

  • Once the budget is finalized, the Principal Investigator must write a budget justification:
    • Explain how the figures in the budget were arrived at,
    • Provide the details that link the budget with the research itself,
    • In general, it is better to explain too much than too little. Tell the reviewers what they are being asked to pay for and why, and
    • It is up to the PI to provide explanations for who is doing what and to produce at least the first draft of the justification.
  • The budget justification should explain the role and responsibilities and percentage of effort of each person listed, either in the requested budget or in the cost share.
  • Categories:
    • Personnel: role, specific tasks, and percent effort of each person.
    • Supplies and Equipment: details giving prices and numbers of items and what they will be used for. (Example: [10 mice x $100/mouse] + [60-day per diem @ $8/mouse x 100 mice] = $1000 + $800 = $1800. )
    • Travel: national or international; for meetings or conferences; number of people traveling. 
    • Patient Care: inpatient or outpatient; must be itemized and based on your institution’s actual costs or the marginal/research rate.
    • Other: anything not captured by another category (e.g., patient stipends, equipment maintenance fees, publications costs)
  • Personnel Costs should include:
    • Names and titles of staff (“To Be Determined” is acceptable for some).
    • A short biography of each person and their role for the project.
    • Percentage of effort for each person.
    • Fringe benefits.
    • The NIH salary cap is $199,300.  They will not pay an individual at a rate exceeding this cap.
    • It is okay to use effort only—that way there’s less need for adjustment in the budget justification if the budget changes for some reason.
    • Example format: Dr. ____’s salary and fringe benefits in the first year are requested in the amount of $_,___ calculated at __% effort of salary (0._ x $___,____) plus fringe benefits. Salary and fringe benefits are requested in the second year in the amount of $_,___ calculated at __% effort of salary (0.__ x $___,___) plus fringe benefits. Total salary and fringe requested for Dr. _______ is $__,_____.
  • Stop and Consider: One of the very few places where there are no page limitations is the budget justification! Use this free space to brag on your team members and expand upon those pieces that were excluded from the main proposal due to space limitations. Use this space to your advantage!