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Office of Sponsored Awards Management

Budget Justification

A budget justification is an explanation of factors used to determine costs on each budget line item in a proposal. If the sponsor does not provide a budget justification form or list specific budget justification instructions in the guidelines, the justification should include a detailed explanation for each budget category.

Typical budget categories include: Senior/Key Personnel, Other Personnel, Equipment, Travel, Other Direct Costs (Materials and Supplies, Publication Costs, Consultant Services, Computer Services, Subcontracts, Tuition, Participant Incentives, etc.) and Indirect Costs.


Sample Budget Justifications

NSF Sample Budget and Justification [pdf]: This is a simple example of a National Science Foundation proposal budget with a detailed budget justification for each budget category on the last page. Note: Justifications are limited to three pages for the lead institution and three pages for each subaward insitution in the proposal.

NIH Modular Budget Samples: There are three different types of justifications that may be used in NIH modular budgets: Personnel [pdf], Consortium Justification [pdf] (for subawards personnel) and Additional Narrative Justification [pdf] (explains why different modular amounts were requested each year). The modular budget should have a Personnel Justification. The budget sample linked above is a Personnel Justification example from a National Institutes of Health modular budget.

NIH Research and Related Budget: All cost categories for the budget should be explained in detail on the budget justification. Review the funding opportunity announcement to see if there are any special requirements. NOTE: If the proposal budget has $500,000 or more in direct costs during a yearly budget period, the PI should contact the NIH staff member listed in the funding announcement.  If approved by NIH, the written approval must be attached to the proposal package. Otherwise the proposal will be returned without review. Download a sample research and related budget justification [docx].

NIH Research and Budget Form Notes: There is no page limit for an NIH budget justification. Each budget category used should be justified:

  • The Senior Key Personnel (A) and Other Personnel (B) sections should show the effort months for which the investigator will be paid each year of the project.  
  • Other sections of the budget include: Section C. Equipment, Section D. Travel, Section E. Participant/Trainee Support Costs, Section F. Other Direct Costs, which includes 1. Materials and Supplies, 2. Publication Costs, 3. Consultant Services, 4. ADP / Computer Services, 5. Subawards / Consortium / Contractual Costs, 6. Equipment or Facility Rental / User Fees, 7. Alterations and Renovations, 8-10. are blank and are used for other costs such as tuition, participant incentives, long-distance phone charges, etc.
  • The Subawards section should include the explanation of the Consortium lead PI’s scope of work and the effort months for each year of the project. A separate R&R Subaward Budget Attachment must be completed and attached to the R &R Subaward Budget Attachment(s) Form in the proposal package. A budget justification for the subaward institution must be attached as part of the subaward budget form.

NIH Application Guide [pdf]: This guide provides general guidance for NIH and other Public Health Service agency proposals.

NIH Modular Research Grant FAQ: Visit the NIH website for common questions about modular grant applications, including budgetary issues.