Proposal Budgeting Guidance

ExpandEstimated Inflation Factors

FACULTY/STAFF 4 - 7%/project year (raises generally awarded July 1)*
GRADUATE ASSISTANTSHIPS 4 - 7%/project year (raises generally awarded July 1)*
TUITION 4 - 7%/project year (tuition rate decided at beginning of acad. year)

* or as approved by sponsor

ExpandEstimated Fringe Benefits

36.09%, (FTE salaries > $40,000/year) estimated, actual will be paid. For significantly lower or higher salaries, refer to Fringe Benefits Rate Chart
24.13% of salary
0.73% of salary, plus tuition
0.73% of wages if assured of enrollment and attendance status (8.48% Summer when not full-time enrolled)

ExpandProposal Review


To obtain Sponsored Programs review you e-mail your proposal budget as a properly formatted attachment (i.e. Excel, etc.) to your cognizant Administrator, or FAX a copy of the budget along with your detail sheets to Sponsored Programs Administration at (662) 325-3803. To schedule an appointment with your Administrator call the office at (662) 325-7404.


SPA requires three days to review and process a proposal, therefore send the proposal to SPA at least three days before the proposal must be submitted.

ExpandSalaries and Wages

Faculty and Staff (including Research Assistants and Post Doctoral Candidates

Use current salary figures with an appropriate inflation factor as of July 1 of each year thereafter. If an MSU faculty is only consulting on a project, it is calculated as a percentage of the appointment. No extra compensation may be paid from a sponsored project unless specifically identified and requested from the agency in the proposal, and then approved.

Wages/Temporary Employees

Use hourly rates as appropriate for work performed within the guidelines issued by Human Resources. We strongly suggest use of a 4% to7% per year inflation factor.

Salary to Hourly Rate Conversion

To convert 9 month salaried employees to an hourly rate divide the 9 month salary by 1,560 hours. To convert 12 month salaried employees to an hourly rate divide the 12 month salary by 2,080 hours (173.3 hours per month for 12 months = 2,080; The average month has 4.33 weeks). If asked to provide a "loaded" rate remember to load the hourly rate calculated using the aforementioned convention with appropriate fringe AND appropriate F&A rate.

All proposals including an hourly rate should include a disclaimer similar to the following: Mississippi State University does not operate on an hourly basis for full time employees and estimated hourly rates shown here are provided to comply with the sponsor RFP and for comparison purposes only. These rates are neither verifiable nor auditable in the MSU financial system.


Only items costing $5000 (with exceptions, see Receiving & Property Control website at or more per unit cost should be listed here, cost estimates must include sales tax and shipping. Identify equipment with its corresponding cost.


If travel is to a foreign destination, contact the MSU Travel Office for procedures. Inflation suggested at 4 - 7% per year but not mandatory. Include only travel for MSU employees as Consultant, Participant or Honorarium Travel will post as a contractual expense.

Always provide justification of travel expenses. Sponsors often ask for detail when they perform proposal cost analysis. Keep in mind lump sum figures with no destinations and/or detail may hold up the award process.

Always check the MSU Travel web site for current information.

When budgeting mileage, budget $0.56/mile. However, please be aware of travels policy on state owned vehicles. (

ExpandMSU Categorizes as Commodities

Materials and Supplies

When preparing the materials budget, the PI must estimate or catalog price, tax, and shipping for each item. Prepare for 4% to 7% inflation per year. Individual component to be used for equipment fabrication should be identified as such.

ExpandMSU Categorizes as Contractual


Prepare for publication expenses within the budget, be mindful of page charges, etc. Prepare for 4% to7% inflation per year.

Consultant Services

Some agencies limit the maximum daily compensation rate for consultants, so care should be taken to consult agency guidelines.

Inflation suggested at 4% per year but not mandatory.

Computer Services

Contact Information Systems and User Support for rates on special services or access. Prepare for inflation, suggested at 4% per year.


Have each subawardee prepare and submit a detailed budget and budget justification. They will want to obtain their standard institutional/agency approvals first. Each subaward should be listed separately. Math on budgets submitted by subawardee should be checked. If the subawardee is requesting facilities and administrative (F&A) costs, include it as a direct cost to MSU.

Submit a copy of the subawardee's most current negotiated F&A cost Agreement for audit purposes. Inflation rates used by subawardee should be in accordance with subawardee's normal practices. MSU F&A cost on subawardee costs is calculated using the appropriate rate for the first $25,000 of subawardee total costs only.

ExpandOther Direct Costs

Any MSU service center used must be noted. Each center is contracted by the PI to obtain estimates for services required.

Telephone tolls, photocopy charges, equipment maintenance, conference registration fees, etc. also belong in this category. If telephone equipment/line rental is to be charged to the grant, it should be separately identified here as such and not included as tolls. Charges for equipment and line rental will need to be strongly justified in the budget justification (MSU categorizes as contractual). Inflation factor for all above items is at the Principal Investigator's discretion. MSU suggests 4 - 7% per year.

ExpandFacilities and Administrative Costs

Normal F&A cost rates are applied on all proposals unless the funding agency prohibits F&A costs or has its own rates. Obtain prior approval from SPA or from your college administrator for exceptions.

Indirect Cost Rates:

Type of Rate Through
As of
For Research on campus: 44.5% 45.5%
For Research off campus: 26.0% 26.0%
For Instruction on campus: 50.9% 50.0%
For Instruction off campus: 26.0% 26.0%
For all other sponsored activities on campus: 31.1% 27.2%
For all other sponsored activities off campus: 24.0% 22.8%

Proper classification of your project is essential to the selection and application of the appropriate rate. Generally, the following definitions apply (source: OMB A-21; American Heritage Dictionary):

Research: Separately budgeted scholarly or scientific investigation or inquiry; to study thoroughly.
Instruction: Training or teaching activities (other than research training) including the possible development and distribution of curriculum
Other Sponsored Activities: Programs and projects that involve the performance of work other than instruction and research. Examples of such programs and projects are health service projects, and community service programs.

Sponsored agreements will not be subject to more than one F&A cost rate. If more than 50% of a project is performed off-campus, the off-campus rate will apply to the entire project. Similarly, if your project contains components from more than one classification (i.e. Research and Instruction) then only the rate of the most significant component will apply.

*For a definition of "on campus" and "off campus" please see Rate Agreement:

Standard F&A costs are charged on all costs with the exception of:

  • Equipment items costing $5000 or more each
  • Alteration and Renovation costs
  • Costs over $25,000 of each subaward. F&A costs are charged on the first $25,000 of each subaward only.
  • Tuition.
  • Some agencies such as the NSF do not allow F&A costs charged to participant support costs for activities such as symposium, seminars or workshops. If in doubt check with Sponsored Programs Administration.

MSU Federally Negotiated Rate Agreement

** --- You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files.

ExpandCost Sharing

Cost Sharing is a phrase used to indicate when more than one sponsor share in costs associated with a project. The most common relationship is external sponsors providing most of the funds and for the University providing the remainder of the necessary funds to carry out a project. Matching is a form of cost sharing that generally defines a specific ratio of sponsor and University dollars. This type of cost share is usually an eligibility requirement stated in the RFP (request for proposals) and usually, but not always, provided from institutional resources. Cost sharing and matching are nearly synonymous and are often used interchangeably.

Cost share only when specifically required by the sponsor. Typical cost share items are: PI Salary and fringe benefits and the related F&A cost. These costs are easily identifiable and documented. Cost sharing in excess of the amount required should be questioned at the departmental/college level.

You should be familiar with two primary types of cost sharing/matching: In-kind contributions and cash contributions. In-kind contributions are those wherein a value of the contribution can be readily determined, verified and justified but where no actual cash is transacted in securing the good or service comprising the contribution. Two examples of in-kind contributions are: (1) The donation of volunteer time valued at a rate that would be reasonable for the time devoted had the volunteer been compensated for the time. For example, if you solicit volunteers from the local high school to help run surveys on a research project without compensating the volunteers, it would be appropriate to value the volunteer's time at, say, minimum wage for the number of hours volunteered; (2) The donation of non-institution space where such space would normally carry a fee for purposes other than supporting this particular project (i.e. some negotiation between the PI and the donator, or a benefit will accrue to the donator of the space other than immediate monetary reimbursement for the use of the space). This might be utilization of the local Bank Conference Center without having to pay the pre-defined and published rate.

Cash contributions differ from in-kind contributions in that an actual cash transaction occurs and can be documented in the accounting system. This includes allocation of compensated faculty and staff time to projects. Although it is easy to mistake the allocation of compensated faculty/staff time as a donation or as in-kind because the faculty or staff member would be compensated regardless of the advent of the sponsored project, the value is the result of a cash transaction and should be treated as a cash contribution. Other examples of cash contribution include the purchasing of equipment by the institution or other eligible sponsor for the benefit of the project requiring cost sharing.

Cost sharing included in a proposal or a proposal budget must be documented in the official accounting records upon acceptance and management of an award. At MSU cash contributions (including faculty time and the like as described above) will require the transfer of budget from an appropriate fund to cover the cash contribution amount. This transfer of budget must initiate from an E&G, Designated, or Gift fund belonging to the University or from a Restricted fund allowing such use. In-kind contributions must be documented with official correspondence from the organization providing the in-kind cost sharing to include appropriate substantive documentation such as published rate schedules, time cards for volunteers, etc.

It is the responsibility of the Principle Investigator and the department to insure all cost share commitments, including those offered by a third party, are met. The PI and the department must make sure cost share expenses are booked to the cost share fund in a timely manner and budget transfers must be completed periodically to cover these expenses.

Restricted funds with cost share have a corresponding fund that is set up at the time the sponsored account is established to track cost share expenses. Cost share fund numbers start with an "8" and end with the last five digits that tie to the sponsor fund.

Third party and in-kind cost share must be approved in the budget and documentation should be provided to Sponsored Programs Accounting on a timely basis so expenses can be reported on the invoices submitted to the sponsor.

The transfer of funds from the cost sharing source to the cost share fund (8xxxxx) needs to be done periodically. It is important that expenses occurring during a fiscal year are covered within that same year.

To transfer funds to cover cost share expenses, the department must complete a Request for Budget Transfer. Once completed, the form needs to be mailed to Budget at Mail Stop 9602. If the department cost shares from a general fund it will be a two part entry. For example, if $10,000 in salaries is required for cost sharing, the following entries are required:

Part 1:

Fund Org Account Program Amount
Transfer From: 100000 xxxxxx 401000 011000 $10,000
Transfer To: 100000 xxxxxx 409000 011000 $10,000

Part 2:

Fund Org Account Program Amount
Transfer From: 100000 xxxxxx 409101 011000 $10,000
Transfer To: 8xxxxx xxxxxx 359101 xxxxxx $10,000


If the department cost shares from a designated fund, the following entry is required:

Fund Org Account Program Amount
Transfer From: 25xxxx xxxxxx 409101 xxxxxx $10,000
Transfer To: 8xxxxx xxxxxx 359101 xxxxxx $10,000


If Cost Sharing is in the proposal, an obligation will be set up at the time the award is set up. Every effort should be made to meet the obligation within the grant period. Grants whose cost sharing obligation has not been met may be subject to reduction by the agency.

Some agencies require Cost Sharing on research grants such as DOE at 20% total project costs, some are dollar for dollar, etc. If Cost Sharing obligations are not required, they should not be listed on the budget page and should not have a dollar value assigned in the narrative. Lab space should not be shown as a MSU contribution. Be sure you are not over-committing a person's time beyond 100% effort -- if a person is being paid 100% on other projects and that situation will not be changing, do not commit him/her to this project. As a general rule, cost share the minimum amount required.

Using federal dollars as matching or Cost Sharing toward another sponsored project is not allowed unless you have written authorization from both federal agencies.

F&A costs "waived" on the sponsor portion as well as F&A costs associated with the University contribution can generally be claimed as Cost Sharing. If F&A costs are defined as unallowable by the sponsor, then such costs are also unallowable as cost share. Unallowable F&A costs may only be used if F&A costs are only considered un-reimbursed rather than unallowable costs."