Other Direct Costs
Travel costs include transportation to the destination, lodging, and expenses for meals, local transportation, tips, etc. The College allows you to charge actual expenses to your grant budget. If the granting agency allows you to use Federal per diem rates, and your approved budget uses them, the College allows you to base your request for reimbursement (lodging, meals, and incidentals) on these rates. Most grantors require that travel arrangements be the equivalent of economy class, and they may scrutinize this section of the budget for "reasonableness."
The College will reimburse use of personal cars on College business at the rate currently approved by the Budget Office. All travel on College business (including grant-funded travel paid through the College) must be arranged according to College travel policies. The College's designated travel agents are a good source of information for proposed costs. You could also talk with people who have recently made trips to the proposed area. Adjust your estimates for inflation and other cost increases between the time you submit your budget and the time that you will travel.
Use the U.S. State Department Foreign Per Diem Rate appropriate for the location and season of your proposed research. Most countries impose a value-added tax on hotels and food, which can add substantially to advertised costs. Most funding agencies require that foreign travel be specifically authorized through the awarded budget, contract, or post-award memo. Some will not pay for foreign travel; check with the Grants Accounting Office if you're not sure. Foreign travel paid for with federal funds must be on U.S. flag carriers (with certain exceptions). Check the guidelines for other restrictions on federally funded travel.
The College requires that all allowable direct costs be included in grant application budgets, depending on granting agency policies and funding limits. Multi-year budgets may be adjusted by 3% per year to allow for inflation.
Consult the program guidelines carefully to see what other costs are allowed. For example, some grants allow equipment and computer purchases; others prohibit them. Costs that customarily may be charged to a research grant include:
- human subjects payments
- supplies, including animals
- field expenses
- expendable laboratory equipment
- software and licenses
- publication costs (editing, media, printing, copying, binding, shipping, distribution, etc.)
- participant support (travel, lodging, meals, speaker fees, etc.)
Communication costs (phone, fax, postage, etc.) can be included in federal grant budgets if they will be a significant expense directly tied to the project (e.g., postage costs for mailing a survey, or telephone costs associated with an international collaboration). For most federal grants, however, routine communications costs are not allowed because they are considered indirect, administrative costs. For non-federal grants that don’t allow the college to use its federal indirect cost rate, budget these expenses as direct costs.
If equipment maintenance is an allowable cost, you must include it in your budget. If guidelines allow an allocation to the department or College or a payment "in lieu of overhead," this amount must be included in your budget.
If your proposed budget includes any equipment, you must fill out the equipment section of the blue Internal Endorsement Form and provide information about the cost, maintenance provisions, and installation requirements. You must estimate annual equipment-maintenance costs and provide College budget numbers (and authorizing signatures) for the accounts that will be charged for these costs during the grant and after it expires. Contact Dean of Curriculum Bob Cluss by email at least six weeks before your deadline to discuss these issues. He must sign the blue Internal Endorsement Form for any proposal that includes a budget request for equipment.
For federal grant proposals, equipment is defined as items with an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more and a useful life of more than one year. These are the only items of equipment that should be included in the "Equipment" section of a federal grant budget; items that don't meet this definition should be included in the "Other" section, as supplies or as "other."
Computers & Media Gear
Contact Carol Peddie if you are requesting funds for (or committing the use of) computers or media equipment or if your project will need extra technology resources. LIS must verify that the estimated cost is reasonable, that the equipment selected is compatible with our systems, and that maintenance costs can be handled by the College or have been included in the budget. This verification must be provided by a signature on the blue Internal Endorsement Form or by email to Franci Farnsworth.