Your budget is a financial proposal that reflects the work proposed. It outlines the expected project costs in detail, and should mirror the project description. A budget is presented as a categorical list of anticipated project costs that represent the researcher's best estimate of the funds needed to support the proposed work. The term “best estimate” is important here. You will be held to using the costs detailed in your budget, so make sure you’ve correctly estimated what you will need to complete the project.

Reviewers want to know how reasonable the cost of your project is. They will ask themselves whether you are over or underestimating your expenses. A careful review of the budget lets the reviewer know that you're not asking for too much or too little, but rather, just enough funding.

A UCSB Detailed Budget should be prepared for each proposal. This will assist in the completion of any sponsor budget forms and the budget justifcation, as well as assist with sponsor requests for additional details about how you generated your overall figure, or where the money will be going. Remember, all budgets are to be prepared in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Guidance (the UG) and the UC Santa Barbara Departmental Costing Guidelines.

For proposals to State of California agencies, in addition to the information contained below, please see our State of California Proposal Guidance page for forms, instructions and indirect cost information specific to State proposals.

Preparing Your Budget

Direct Costs

The budget category Salaries and Wages is designed to account for UCSB employees only. Non-UCSB employees will be listed on their appropriate subaward or MCA budget, as consultant costs, or as contracts for services. To assist in determining the appropriate role an individual or entity should have on a project, see the Who's Who on my Sponsored Project guide.

In the Salaries and Wages category, you should include the individual's name, University payroll title, annual or monthly salary, number of months or percentage of time on project, and the total salary requested for each person listed. Always note that the summer salary for faculty is "1/9 annual salary," as many sponsors question how summer salary is calculated.

If you know the specific person who will be working on a project, you should use their actual salary. When an actual salary rate is used, it must be must be indicated as such in the proposal budget. For academic appointments, if an individual's salary is above-scale or off-scale, indicate such on the budget. Remember: Off-scale means appointed at a specific on-scale level, but the salary is above that level, while above-scale means appointed at a salary that is above the highest possible level for that title.

If an individual is not yet identified, list as "TBN" (to be named) with the appropriate salary from the approved salary scales. Remember to consult the bargaining unit contract for covered academic and staff tittles.

Remember that departmental approval is required for any faculty release time included in a proposal budget.

Clerical or administrative salaries and wages should normally be treated as indirect costs.  However, such costs are allowable as direct costs if the four criteria in the UG § 200.413(c) are satisfied. To be included, such costs must be specifically justified in the proposal and in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Guidance (the UG).

Note for NSF proposals only: The definition of “year” is required to be included in the budget justification when you are requesting salary for Senior Personnel. See NSF 18-1 PAPPG Section II.C.2.g.i(a). When applicable, include the following statement, "UCSB defines 'year' as the fiscal year than spans from July 1 to June 30 each calendar year", in the section of the budget justification where you are justifying the salary request(s). (updated 2/7/18)

Escalation Rates for Salaries and Wages (updated 11/07/2017)

Projected merits/promotions should be factored in for all titles.

  • For faculty with appointments outside your department, contact their home department staff person in charge of academic merits/promotions to get the current pay rate, rank, and next scheduled merit. Academic salary range adjustments are projected to increase by 2%.
  • Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) salaries are projected to increase 3% each year.
  • Staff salaries for merit-based plans are projected to increase by 3.5% on July 1 of each year (there are no separate calculations for cost-of-living and merit).
  • Minimum wage increases should be budgeted in accordance with the UC Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan and/or state minimum wage requirements, as appropriate.

UCSB is implementing Composite Benefit Rates (CBR) beginning September 1, 2018. On and after this date, benefits charged to all fund sources will be based on CBR, not an employee’s actual benefit costs. CBRs are used to simplify the budgeting and standardize the accounting of employee benefits to be predictable and consistent.  All proposals and revised budgets submitted should use CBRs.  

The CBR contains the following costs: Benefits Administration; Medical, Dental, Disability, Life, Unemployment, Vision, and Worker’s Compensation Insurance; Employee Support Programs; FICA and Medicare Taxes; Incentive Award Programs; Retiree Health Benefits; Retirement Benefits; Senior Management Supplemental; PFCB; and Post Doc Childcare. CBR does not include Vacation Leave Assessment, UCRP Supplement Interest Assessment, Tuition remission, Graduate Student Health Insurance, and General, Automotive, and Employee Insurance (GAEL).

CBRs are fixed for an entire fiscal year and will be adjusted annually. As of June 13, 2024 the rates are approved through June 30, 2025 (FY25). 

The CBRs, including projections for future years and rates to use in current proposals, are located on the budget and planning website. Budget and Planning has a CBR website with additional background information on CBR, including a CBR FAQ.

Fringe benefits are listed on the proposal budget as a set percent of salary. Fringe benefits must be budgeted to the same funding source as the corresponding salary (UC C&G Manual Ch. 7-206Ch, 2-520). The budgeted fringe benefit rate is comprised of up to three different rates, the composite benefit rate (CBR), vacation accrual, and UC Retirement Program (UCRP) interest charge*.

Please note that fringe benefit rates for some academic titles change in the summer months.

For CBR questions, contact

*UCRP interest charge is allowable on non-federal fund sources only. It should not be budgeted on federal or federal flow-through funds.

Graduate students employed by the University in eligible classifications receive partial or full tuition and fee remission, depending on the percentage of time appointment, from the same fund that pays their salaries. In cases when an eligible graduate student is paid from more than one fund source, the cost of remission should be prorated. Graduate students employed in the title classification Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) are among those eligible for remission. Questions regarding eligibility of particular students should be directed to the UCSB Graduate Division.

Please refer to the UCSB Office of the Registrar's Summary of Quarterly Fees and Expenses for the current tuition, fee, and health insurance rates.

Indicate on the budget if tuition, fees and insurance are for an in-state or out-of-state Graduate Student Researcher (GSR).

GSR appointments up to 24% time are not eligible for remission. However, if a GSR has an appointment that is less than full time in your department/unit, make sure they do not have an additional appointment, as eligibility for remission is based on the total percent of all appointments combined on campus.

Partial Remission

GSRs employed between 25% and 34% time (all GSR appointments combined) qualify for partial remission. This includes payment of 100% of the university's mandatory fees: Student Services Fee; Tuition, All Students; and Non-Resident Tuition, Supplemental where approperiate. It also includes payment of Health Insurance. However, partial remission does not currently include the payment of UCSB Campus Based Fees.

Full Remission

GSRs employed at least 35% time or at least 140 hours of a three month quarter (all GSR appointments combined) qualify for full fee and tuition remission. This includes payment of 100% of the university's fees: Student Services Fee; Tuition, All Students; UCSB Campus Based Fees, and Health Insurance. It also includes payment of Non-Resident Tuition, Supplemental for international students, and non-resident domestic students during their first year only.

Non-Resident GSRs who have advanced to candidacy are eligible for a 100% reduction in supplemental tuition for a maximum of three years after the advance to candidacy.

Tuition, Fees, and Health Insurance Escalation Rates (updated 09/14/2020)

  • Tuition, All Students (aka Educational Tuition) is comprised of three elements: Resident Tuition, Student Service Fee and Campus-based Fees.
2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023 2023-2024 2024-2025
3% 3% 3% 3% 3%


  • Non-Resident Tuition, Supplemental is not estimated to increase.
  • Health Insurance (aka GSHIP or UCSHIP) is estimated to increase 8% each academic year.

Sponsored Projects staff use this unofficial GSR Tuition/Fees and UC SHIP Projection Chart as a tool when reviewing proposals. It may be used by departments to assist in determining the appropriate rates when preparing proposal budgets. It is not intended to replace use of the official rates found on the UCSB Office of the Registrar's Summary of Quarterly Fees and Expenses website.

The University defines equipment as articles of non-expendable tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year, and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit. Sometimes an agency will have a higher or lower dollar value than UCSB. In this case, UCSB's dollar value takes precedent.

Tax, shipping, and any transit costs should be factored into the cost of the equipment. If the quote is from an out-of-state or foreign supplier California Use Tax should be factored into the cost as well. One exception: Sales tax is not paid on government owned equipment. If the guidelines of a proposal state that any equipment purchased will vest in the government, do not add in sales tax.

Fabrications are generally treated like equipment and excluded from indirect costs under MTDC calculation. However, if an item is fabricated and title title is not retained by the UCSB, all costs of its fabrication are subject to indirect costs. Fabrication costs may include associated labor. Please consult with UCSB Equipment Management to confirm that all anticipated fabrication costs are correctly categorized as equipment.

If proposing to purchase a single item or fabrication of equipment budgeted at $100,000 or more, and not submitting to a specific equipment or instrumentation proposal call (such as a DURIP), please contact BFS Procurement Services to discuss additional purchasing requirements that may apply. It’s important to note that even if a specific make/model of the equipment is included, federal purchasing procedures may not allow the campus to purchase that specific make/model.

Travel should be broken down into domestic and foreign categories, and as much detail as possible should be provided. Include travel destinations, number of people traveling, number of days traveling, ground and/or air transportation costs, lodging and substanance or per diem, etc. Remember to always check the sponsor guidelines to make sure foreign travel is allowed before including it in a proposal budget.

All travel funded directly or indirectly by the Federal Government must comply with the Fly America Act.

All state-funded travel must comply with the travel restrictions imposed by Assembly Bill No. 1887. For information, see the Business and Financial Services website or the State Attorney General's website.

See the UCSB Business & Financial Services travel webpage and the UCOP Financial Services & Controls travel policy webpage for additional travel guidance, including per diems rates and mileage expenses.

If the project involves international travel, we recommend the travelers review the UC Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services' information on international travelhand-carrying items abroad and export control laws & regulations prior to traveling abroad. Additional export control information is available on the UCSB Research Integrity website.

Per the Uniform Guidance, participant support costs means direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, or training projects.

A stipend is defined as a fixed sum of money paid to a participant. Stipends are not paid in compensation of work performed.

This article from the May 2017 NSF Policy Newsletter answers some frequently asked questions about participant support.

Sponsored Projects staff use this unofficial participant support flow chart as a tool when reviewing budgets.

The total amount of each subaward or Multiple-Campus Award (MCA) should be listed as a seperate line item on the UCSB Detailed Budget. An authorized scope of work, budget, and budget justification must be submitted for each subaward or MCA. A Sub-recipeint Commitment Form or MCA Commitment Form, signed by an authorized official of the recipient entity, must be provided to Sponsored Projects prior to submission of the proposal. See UCSB Office of Research - Subawards page for details.

Indirect costs are assessed on the first $25,000 of each individual subaward for all New and Renewal proposals (effective July 1, 2009). If the first budget period is less than $25,000, remember to add the remaining amount to equal the $25,000 in the remaining budget period(s).

If UCSB is submitting a proposal that includes an MCA, no indirect costs are assessed on any part of the MCA amount. See Indirect Costs (IDC) or Facilities and Administration (F&A) Costs for additional guidance.

If unsure if the other entity's costs should be budgeted as a subaward or a service agreement (in Other Direct Costs), please review the Subaward Determination Tip Sheet. If still unsure after reviewing the tip sheet, contact your Sponsored Projects Team.

Other Direct Costs include Materials and Supplies, Publication Costs, Consultant Costs and Contracts for Services, UCSB Campus Recharges, and Other.

Materials and Supplies

Material and supply costs are defined as items that cost less than $5,000. They must be reasonable and directly allocable to the supported activity, and should be listed on the budget with information detailing quantity, unit price, and a description of the item. Office supplies, postage, copy charges and local phone calls are examples of costs not normally allowed as direct costs. To be included, such costs must be significantly above what is normally covered by Indirect Costs (IDC) or Facilities and Administration (F&A) Costs, and must be specifically justified in the proposal and appropriate to the project.

Hazardous waste disposal costs are not allowable as a direct cost.

Publication Costs

You may include the costs associated with the dissemination of research findings from the proposed research. Publication costs typically include page charges for professional publications.

Consultant Costs & Contracts for Services

Consultant Costs generally may only be paid to individuals not employed by UC campuses or labs. The consultant should provide special knowledge that is needed for the project. Include the same information provided for UCSB project personnel (name, title, etc) and be specific about daily rate and amount of days for which they will be paid.

Contracts for Services should be included in the budget as a line item. The total amount of the contract is accessed the appropriate IDC rate.

If unsure if the other entity's costs should be budgeted as a consulting/service agreement or as a subaward, please review the Subaward Determination Tip Sheet. If still unsure after reviewing the tip sheet, contact your Sponsored Projects Team.

UCSB Campus Recharges

Intercampus recharges for research related goods and services such as facility or equipment usage, university automobile rentals, or specialized technical services may be included in a project budget. All recharges must be directly allocable to the project, and should be estimated and escalated based on the Estimating Project Costs guidance found below. See also the UCSB Budget & Planning Income & Recharge webpage for additional information on recharge policies and procedures at UCSB.

Indirect Costs (IDC) Or Facilities and Administration (F&A) Costs

Indirect Costs (IDC) a.k.a. Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs represent those expenses that cannot be easily identified to any specific project but are incurred for common or joint objectives. They include operation and maintenance of facilities, including building depreciation, library expenses, space, utilities, payroll, accounting, and other services. The indirect cost rate is determined by the type of project i.e. research, instruction, or other. The rate is also determined by whether the project is performed on-campus or off-campus. Refer to UC Research Policy and Coordination's indirect cost recovery webpage and an Introduction to Indirect Costs at UC Santa Barbara for additional information.

The Council on Government Relations (COGR), an association of research universities and affiliated medical centers and independent research institutes, has prepared three documents to help explain what IDC (F&A) costs are, their importance and how the system works. 


UCSB has pre-determined IDC rates that have been negotiatied with the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). See the current negotiated rate agreement for UCSB which applies to all proposals submitted on or after 04/10/2018.

The applicable IDC rate is determined by the type of project (i.e. Research, Instruction, Other Sponsored Activities, etc.) and by whether the project is performed on-campus or off-campus. Refer to the negotiated rate agreement for UCSB and the UCOP Contract & Grant Manual Chapter 8, or contact your Sponsored Projects Team for assistance determining the correct IDC rate for your project.

UCSB's indirect cost is assessed on Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC). The MTDC base consists of salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials, supplies, services, travel, and subcontracts (up to the first $25K of each). The costs of equipment, capital expenditures, graduate student remission (including tuition, fees, and health insurance), rental costs of off-site facilities, scholarships, fellowships, the portion of each subcontract in excess of $25K, and the total of each MCA is excluded from the MTDC base. When the new rate agreement comes into effect with proposals on or after 04/10/2018, Participant Support will also be excluded from the MTDC base.

A DHHS agreement statement should always be included at the end of the detailed budget to let agencies know which authority has negotiated our IDC rate agreement; "This is the DHHS negotiated, predetermined, on-campus rate for Research Projects covering the period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2021. The rate thereafter is provisional."

Proposals must include the negotiated IDC rate unless an exception to the UC's policy on IDC recovery has been approved. Using written documentation of an alternate IDC rate or IDC base, Sponsored Projects will request an IDC exception. The sponsor's IDC policy should be published and apply equally to all applicants. Contact your Sponsored Projects Team for assistance preparing and documenting an alternate IDC rate or base.

See also Calculating Indirect Costs with a Total Costs Base for assistance working with a sponsor imposed Total Costs IDC base.

Proposals to State of California agencies should apply the appropriate IDC rate from UCSB's federally negotiated rate agreement if the funds are ultimately flowing down from a federal agency. For proposals funded with state funds (and no federal funding), please apply the appropriate indirect cost rate in accordance with the guidance on our State of California Proposal Guidance page.

Budget Justification (Budget Narrative)

The Budget Justification (aka Budget Narrative) provides the rationale for proposed expenditures. Follow sponsor guidelines to prepare the budget justification for submission to the sponsor. If sufficient detail is not provided on the UCSB detailed budget, UCSB may require additional justification.

Note for NSF proposals only: The definition of “year” is required to be included in the budget justifiation when you are requesting salary for Senior Personnel. See NSF 18-1 PAPPG Section II.C.2.g.i(a). When applicable, include the following statement, "UCSB defines 'year' as the fiscal year than spans from July 1 to June 30 each calendar year", in the section of the budget justification where you are justifying the salary request(s). (updated 2/7/18)


Once you know your direct cost budget categories, you will need to identify and project the costs for a sponsored project using generally accepted cost estimation methods. For categories other than Salaries and Wages, Fringe Benefits and Graduate Student Tuition, Fees, and Health Insurance, you will need to estimate your costs. There are multiple accepted cost estimation strategies:

  • Historical Costs - What has it cost in the past?
  • Current Costs - What do catalogs and website that sell this product currently charge?
  • Vendor Quotes - What is a vendor telling you it will cost for them to supply you with the product?
  • Approved Recharge Rates - If you are using a UCSB resource, what is the approved campus approved recharge rate?

You may utilize methods other than these to estimate your costs. However, you must ensure that your process is logical, you can explain it to someone else, and you are able to document how you obtained your numbers.

When you estimate your costs, you should remember that costs increase over time. Because of this, we recommend that you include a modest escalation in the estimate of costs for direct charges. Escalating costs is consistent with the University's cost principles, and with the University's policy of recovering all costs of conducting sponsored projects. Escalation helps to ensure that your project receives adequate funding. You should use an escalation rate of 3 to 5% for most direct costs. There are three exceptions to this - Salaries and Wages, Fringe Benefits, and Graduate Student Tuition, Fees, and Health Insurance should be escalated in accordance with those rates indicated in these sections.

Once you've estimated your direct costs, you will also need to make sure you keep detailed documentation. Documentation supports how the costs were estimated and the reasons why costs were proposed. This is our proof that we are not just making up all of the numbers.

You can use any of the materials you used for your cost estimation as documentation. These could be things like payroll records, published merit & range increases, catalogs, on-line or other, vendor quotes, proposals, or documentation of historical costs for like projects.

If you are using web-based information as your documentation, you should save either a printed copy or PDF version of the page, not just the link. Auditors will need to see the information you used when you wrote your proposal budget, and the website will most likely update the information, or may not be available at the time of an audit.

Revised Budgets

A revised budget is a revision to the budget of a proposal that has already been submitted to the sponsor for review, but not yet awarded. Notification of a request for a revised budget may be sent to the SPO team, the administering department, and/or the PI either via email or via the sponsor’s electronic grants management system (e.g. Fastlane). The notification will come with directions (a.k.a. Guidelines) indicating what changes to the budget are needed.


  • Guidelines from the sponsor (email, notice from online grants management system, etc.)
  • Revised UCSB detailed budget
  • Revised budget using sponsor's template (if requires, e.g. NSF Fastlane budget pages)
  • Revised budget justification
  • Sponsor Deadline for receiving the revised budget
  • Budget impact statement - ONLY for NSF is the budget is reduced by at least 10%

 **Note: All revised budgets must use the originally proposed IDC rate UNLESS the sponsor requests to rebudget with our current rate.