Grant Applicants - Program Guidelines

Hints for Writing a Budget Justification

The Budget Justification is a very important part of your application. Peer reviewers will use it to evaluate the appropriateness of the financial resources you have identified as necessary for your project, and IMLS staff will use it to check your calculations and to make determinations regarding the allowability of specific expenses according to the appropriate set of cost principles.

Your Budget Justification should coordinate closely with your IMLS Budget Form in format and content. It should identify the purpose for each expense and explain how you arrived at each cost, including any that you may have consolidated and summarized on the budget form.

Below is a suggested format with hints about what to include.

1. Salaries and Wages
For each person whose salary or wages will be paid with IMLS funds or by cost share, identify them by name, describe his/her role in the project, the percent time to be devote to the project, and at what rate of pay. If cost share is being provided by unpaid volunteers, explain how you arrived at the dollar figure used to represent the value of their services.

2. Fringe Benefits
Identify your institution’s fringe benefit rate and explain the base for the calculation for each person. If you have consolidated several people’s fringe benefits into a single line on the IMLS Budget Form, break out the detail here. Provide at least one listing for those whose fringe benefits will be paid with IMLS funds and one for those whose fringe benefits will be provided as cost share.

3. Consultant Fees
Identify each consultant by name, describe his/her role in the project, the amount of time they will spend on the project, the tasks they will accomplish, and the rate of compensation. If the consultant will make more than one visit or will phase his/her work, describe what will be accomplished within each. Explain the basis on which you selected each consultant for the project.

4. Travel
For each trip, explain the purpose of the trip and specify the points of origin and destination, the name of the traveler, and break out the costs of transportation, lodging, per diem, and any other expenses associated with the travel. Explain how you arrived at the cost figures, and provide written quotes or estimates as supporting documents with your application.

5. Supplies and Materials
List each type of supply and material you propose to purchase or provide as cost share for the project. Detail the number and unit cost for each item, and explain how you arrived at the cost figures. Provide vendor quotes or price lists as supporting documents with your application.

6. Services
Identify each service you propose to acquire by name, describe the importance to the project, the tasks the service provider will accomplish, and the cost. Explain the basis on which you selected each service provider and detail their qualifications. Provide service quotes or price lists as supporting documents with your application.

7. Student Support
If you are applying to a program that allows student support, detail the nature and cost of each scholarship or other form of support. Explain the process for identifying recipients of student support and how their work is important to your project. Identify the nature, number, and cost of any student materials including books or other supplies, student memberships in professional organizations, internship expenses, and travel, and explain how you arrived at each cost figure.

8. Other Costs
Use this section for costs that are not assignable to other categories, such as equipment purchases. List each piece of equipment you propose to purchase or provide as cost share for the project. Detail the number and unit cost for each, and explain how you arrived at the cost figures. Provide vendor quotes or price lists as supporting documents with your application. (NOTE: Permanent equipment is defined as nonexpendable personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more. Items costing less than $5,000 under Supplies and Materials.)

9. Total Direct Costs
Indicate the total direct costs, and specify how much you are asking from IMLS and how much you intend to provide as cost share.

10. Indirect Costs
If you include indirect costs in your project budget, identify the rate and explain the base on which you are calculating the costs here. If you are using the 15% indirect cost rate, explain how you have treated the costs of any equipment or individual consultant fee, contract, or service cost in excess of $5,000 in your indirect cost calculation. If you are using an indirect cost rate already negotiated with a federal agency, verify that the agreement is current. If you are using an indirect cost rate proposed to a federal agency but not yet approved, specify the date of your proposal and describe your plan if the rate is not approved by the time IMLS award determinations are made.

11. Total Project Costs
Indicate the total project costs here, and specify how much you are asking from IMLS and how much you intend to provide as cost share.