Proposal Development Resources

Developing the Budget

The budget is the financial expression of the scope of work. A project budget should reflect the activities outlined in the scope of work as well as the time/effort of involved personnel. The budget should not include items or categories which are not adequately or expressly addressed in the statement of work.

Below, templates for a budget and a budget narrative/justification are included for informational purposes. Any unit is welcome to use these for their proposal development activities.

The budget template is built to enable a research administrator to enter year 1 costs and have them automatically included and calculated in subsequent years. It includes the most common budget categories for federal research proposals and the ability to hide those major categories if they are unnecessary for a particular proposal.

Budget template

Similarly, the budget justification template is built to include most common budget categories, but also includes narratives for each of these categories and line items to demonstrate what the Dean's Office and the University look for when reviewing a budget narrative. Individual sponsors may require more detail, which would be outlined in the solicitation or the request for proposals. All proposals must include a budget justification, whether or not the sponsor requires it. The budget justification is used in the internal proposal review process to evaluate the allowability and reasonableness of costs. The routing memo should indicate those cases where the budget justification does not go to the sponsor.

Budget justification sample

More detail on budgeting specific items of cost.

Fringe Benefits

The University of Maryland negotiates a fringe benefit rate with the Federal Government every year. This is the rate that gets charged (depending on employment category) to departmental and sponsored accounts to cover the actual cost of fringe benefits. The FY25 rates are below:

CategoryFY25 RateObject Codes
Faculty30.8%1011, 1012, 1015, 1016,1018 -- Includes 12-month and academic year faculty
Staff36.20%1013, 1014 -- Includes exempt and non-exempt staff
Limited Benefits22.10%1020, 2067, 2068, 2069, 2072, 2073, 2090 -- Includes contractual faculty and staff and graduate assistants
Legislated Benefits5.9%2071, 2074, 2075, 2080, 2081, 2100, 2120, 1099, 2099 -- Includesstudents with hourly wages, and faculty/staff additional pays

Cost Sharing

Cost sharing (or matching) is the portion of a project's cost that is not paid for by a sponsor. Mandatory cost sharing is that which is required by the funding agency. For federal awards, this will be outlined in the solicitation/RFP. Voluntary cost sharing is that which is not required by the sponsor but which the PI wishes to include anyway.

Federal awarding agencies may not use voluntary cost sharing as a factor in the merit review of a proposal. Some federal awarding agencies (e.g., NSF) explicitly disallow voluntary cost sharing and may reject a proposal without review if voluntary cost sharing is included. For non-federal proposals, cost sharing is still highly discouraged, in part because it imposes a substantial burden on the PI and the department in terms of dollars, resources, and reporting.

In all cases, it is the responsibility of the PI and their Department Chair or Center Director to identify the source of funds that will pay the University cost share. If money is expected from the College, the Dean should be contacted at least two weeks prior to submission with a draft of the research design and a budget. 

For more information on cost sharing, including links to the University's Cost Sharing policy, please visit ORA's cost share webpage.

Salary Limitations

Some federal and non-federal sponsors place limitations on the amount or rate of salary an investigator can be paid from a sponsored project. In these cases, the department and PI must determine the source of funds to cover the amount over the salary cap. The department should work with their Sponsored Projects Accounting and Compliance (SPAC) accountant to have a cap account created and linked to the sponsored account.

For more in-depth information on dealing with salary caps please visit the BSOS Salary Cap webpage.


A subaward is an award (be it grant, contract, procurement) that is issued under a sponsored award. It is important to decide at the proposal stage whether another organization or institution will be a subrecipient, contractor, or consultant, as there are budgetary implications for this decision. Per the University of Maryland's indirect cost rate agreement, award budgets calculated on a modified total direct cost (MTDC) basis exclude the portion of subawards greater than $25,000 when determining the indirect costs. Consulting agreements, procurements, and other contracts are charged the applicable indirect cost rate on the entire contract amount.

For more information on determining whether an entity with whom you are working is a subrecipient, contractor, or vendor, refer to this short document with the distinguishing characteristics of each, or to a longer, more detailed version on ORA's website.