Budget Building


Budget Development ToolsBack to Top

Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) office has developed several spreadsheets to assist in budget calculations. These spreadsheets are not required, but may be helpful. These spreadsheets are also available on RSP’s Budget Tools page.

  • UW Standard Budget Spreadsheet
    Spreadsheet  | Instructions
    Useful in cases where sponsor does not have a prescribed form; spreadsheet calculations include fringe rates and escalation factors.
  • NIH Modular Budget Spreadsheet
    Spreadsheet  | Instructions
    Useful in preparing NIH Modular budgets; correctly calculates the number of modules you should request for your project, including associated F&A costs.
  • SF 424 R&R Budget Spreadsheet
    Spreadsheet
    Useful for grants.gov applications; template calculates and follows format of the 424 R&R budget form.

Budget FormsBack to Top


Grants.Gov Budget Forms

  • Grants.gov Subcontract R&R Budget Form
    This is a SAMPLE of the adobe budget form that will be used when the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a subcontract under a proposal being submitted by another organization and that organization is using the adobe form set to submit to grants.gov.
  • Grants.gov Subcontract R&R Fed/NonFed Budget Form
    This is a SAMPLE of the adobe budget form that will be used when the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a subcontract under a proposal being submitted by another organization and that organization is using the adobe form set to submit to grants.gov. This form should be used when there is a MANDATORY cost share commitment as part of the RFP.

THE GRANTS.GOV FORMS ARE SAMPLES ONLY AND SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR SUBMISSION PURPOSES. THE FORM SHOULD BE REQUESTED FROM THE PRIME SPONSOR. THE PRIME APPLICANT SHOULD DOWNLOAD/EXTRACT A SUBCONTRACT FORM FROM THE PRIME APPLICATION AND SEND TO YOU TO COMPLETE. THERE HAVE BEEN DOCUMENTED SUBMISSION ISSUES WHEN THESE FORMS HAVE NOT BEEN EXTRACTED FROM THE PRIME APPLICATION.

Other USDA Budget Forms

  • SF424A Budget Form
    Some USDA divisions will request a budget using the SF424A Budget Form. The CALS Research Division will request a detailed budget in order to confirm budget categories on the 424A form. For example, applicants will need to provide detail on the personnel costs that are charged to the grant so that base salaries and fringes can be confirmed. A detailed budget narrative is also required in most cases when using this form.
  • Form REE-454 Cooperative Agreement Budget Form
    This budget form is used with USDA Specific Cooperative Agreements. It includes budget information for USDA and for the Cooperator (UW Madison) contributions to the project.
    A detailed internal budget is required in most cases when using this form.

USDA and other sponsors also have a variety of other budget forms that are requested. If a specific form is being requested, please include that form on WISPER or forward to the CALS Research Division contact assigned to your department.

Direct CostsBack to Top

Direct Costs are costs that are associated specifically with a particular sponsored project, instructional activity, or other institutional activity.

Costs incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances must be treated consistently as either direct or F&A costs.

Examples of direct costs include salary, fringe benefits, supplies/materials, publications, equipment, travel, and tuition remission.

Note: Costs above are examples only – allowability of these or other costs depends upon federal, state and sponsor regulations related to a specific project.

Facilities and Administration (F & A) CostsBack to Top

Facilities and Administration (F & A) Costs (or indirect costs) are costs incurred by the University for common or shared objectives. F & A costs cannot be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, instructional activity, or other institutional activity.

Examples of F & A costs include library services, utilities, department and sponsored project administrative expenses, office supplies, postage, local telephone service, memberships and depreciation of buildings/equipment.

Calculating F&A Costs

F&A costs for a project are calculated by multiplying the appropriate Cost Base and Rate:

F&A Cost   =   F&A Cost Base   x   F&A Cost Rate

F&A Cost Base

F&A Cost Base indicates the type of calculation used to determine F&A costs. There are three main types:

  • MTDC (Modified Total Direct Cost)
    Total of direct costs, excluding equipment totaling over $5,000, subcontracts over $25,000, capital expenditures, rent/lease, patient care, tuition remission, and scholarships/fellowships.
  • TDC (Total Direct Cost)
    Total of all direct costs (no exclusions)
  • Salary, Wage, & Fringe
    Sum of salary, wage, and fringe benefits costs to be charged to the project

Other types of F&A Cost Base may be specified by individual sponsors.

F&A Cost Rate

The University’s F&A rate is negotiated between UW-Madison and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and is updated periodically.

Current F&A rates: https://www.rsp.wisc.edu/rates

  • In general, use the, highest allowable rate.
  • Some sponsors specify F&A rates lower than the Federally negotiated rate; in these cases, documentation of a sponsor’s rate is needed in order to grant an exception.
  • For more information on F&A rate application and exceptions, see RSP’s F&A Policy Guidance page.



*Contact the CALS Research Division immediately on questions related to the appropriate indirect cost rate to include in your proposal.

Budget NarrativeBack to Top

In addition to the budget itself, you will also need to create a Budget Narrative, sometimes referred to as a budget justification. Within the budget narrative, you must:

  • Explain how costs were estimated
  • Justify the need for each cost

The CALS Research Division can assist with the development and writing of a budget narrative.

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