Proposal Preparation Information
Proposal Submission Guidelines Accordion Closed
Download the Proposal Submission Guidelines (memo from Vice President for Research)*
*All references to “days” means “business days.”
Budget Information Accordion Closed
Typically, budgets are computed on a 12-month basis. Your budgets must contain both Direct Costs and Indirect Costs (Facilities & Administrative costs), but the level of detail required varies from sponsor to sponsor. All your proposals to Federal agencies need to be in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulatory guidelines contained in the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR Part 200); for “quick lists” and detailed guidance to help in preparing proposals and managing awards, go to https://in.nau.edu/osp/uniform-guidance/.
Direct Costs and Indirect Costs. The two main categories in your budget are direct costs and indirect costs (also called facilities and administrative costs, or F&A).
Direct cost share those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular final cost objective, such as a Federal award, or other internally or externally funded activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy (UG, § 200.413). Examples of direct costs include salaries and wages of investigators, research associates, technicians, post-docs, and graduate students; employee related expenses (fringe benefits); capital equipment such as computers and instruments; travel to collect data and present the research results; participant support; materials and supplies such as laboratory supplies; subawards with collaborating institutions that are responsible for part of the scientific or programmatic work; and other direct costs such as publication costs, research equipment repair and maintenance, long distance phone charges, animals and animal care costs; specialized machine shop costs; and consultants.
Indirect cost share costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and which therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular cost objective (UG, § 200.56). These costs are not itemized in the proposal budget, but are represented as a percentage of total direct costs (TDC) or modified total direct costs (MTDC). The indirect cost rate that will be used for the proposal is determined by the type of project that is proposed; i.e., research, instruction, public service/other; and whether the project is performed on- or off-campus. Examples of indirect costs include building and equipment depreciation and use allowance; general administration; departmental administration, research management and sponsored project administration; interest; operation and maintenance expenses; library expenses; and student administration and services expense. Examples of expenses that are not usually allowable in proposals include general purpose office supplies (pens, pencils, paper, staples, toner cartridges, printer paper, etc.), general office equipment like copiers and fax machines, basic telephone service, routing postage, etc. Most federal agencies and other sponsoring organizations pay the university for indirect costs in addition to the direct costs of a grant or contract award.
Salaries, Wages & ERE Rates Accordion Closed
Faculty and staff wage rates are calculated based on the appointment period. Faculty contracts are typically 9-month academic year appointments whereas service professional contracts are renewed annually based on the July 1st to June 30th fiscal year.
Use the following table to calculate hourly, daily, or weekly rates:
Academic, Summer, Fiscal, and Calendar Year Work Period Calculations
|Academic Year:||8.77 mos.||38 weeks||190 days||1,520 hours|
|Summer:||3.23 mos.||14 weeks||70 days||560 hours|
|Fiscal / Calendar Year:||12 mos.||52 weeks||260 days||2,080 hours|
Faculty and exempt staff salaries on sponsored projects must be paid as buy-out or release salary unless supplemental compensation is specifically allowed by the program and applicable terms and conditions of the award.
A special note about administrative costs. In accordance with the Uniform Guidance, §200.413, administrative and clerical staff salaries should normally be treated as indirect (F&A) costs. However, direct charging of these costs may be appropriate if all of the following conditions are met: the services are integral to the project or activity; the individuals can be specifically identified with the project or activity; the costs are explicitly included in the budget or have the prior written approval of the awarding agency; and the costs are not also recovered as indirect costs. If you believe these services are integral to your project or activity, discuss including the costs as part of budget development discussions with your grant administrator.
Employee Related Benefits (ERE) – (Fringe Benefits)
Employee-related expenses (ERE) are rounded estimates based on the projected cost of health, dental, life, disability, FICA and Medicare, unemployment, and retirement benefits relative to the employee’s salary and/or wages, FTE, and election of benefits. The employee’s ERE rate is calculated by dividing his/her salary by the total cost of his/her benefit package. A benefit rate calculator is available under Forms, Worksheets, & Tools. All voluntary benefits, including health, dental, vision, etc. are calendar year benefits (January 1 to December 31).
Non-benefit eligible employees (part-time temporary) receive the following benefits:
Workers’ Comp. (0.37%) (Effective: 7/1/2017); FICA-OASDI (6.2% on the first $128,400 earned for a maximum of $7,961, effective 11/27/2017); Medicare (1.45%) (no limit); and State Unemployment (0.15% of the first $7,000 earned in a calendar year up to a maximum of $10.50 annually, effective: 1/1/2015). Note: State Unemployment information applies only to employees who work for NAU in Arizona; rates vary from state to state.
Benefit-eligible employees receive the following additional benefits (FY19):
|Retirement||Optional Retirement plans (ORP) (TIAA-CREFF, Fidelity)||7.0%|
|AZ State Retirement System (ASRS)||11.640% (Effective 07/01/2015)|
|PSPRS (Public Safety Personnel Retirement System)||50.55% (Effective 07/01/2015)|
|Health||NAU BCBS||$803.82 per pay period (Family)
$561.06 per pay period (Employee + 1)
$278.83 per pay period (Employee only)
|For budget calculations, escalate health insurance costs 5% annually|
$119.08 (Employee + 1)
$59.54 (Employee only)
|For budget calculations, escalate dental insurance costs 5% annually|
|Long-term Disability||ORP||0.27% (revised 01/01/2015)|
|Basic Life||$0.69 per pay period ($17.94 annually) (revised 01/01/2015)|
|Retiree Sick||0.4% (Funds are used to reimburse retiring employees for unused sick leave)|
Students: (graduate and undergraduate) who are enrolled full time are eligible for worker’s compensation. If the student is not enrolled full time, the student also is eligible for FICA and Medicare benefits. Typically, students are enrolled full time during the AY (fall and spring) but part time or not at all during the summer.
Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) Compensation and Benefits: A GRA appointment is a professional position which is compensated based on either an academic year (38 weeks) or a semester (19 weeks); it is not an hourly wage position. If a student is funded by more than one project, benefits should be charged proportionately to each sponsor.
Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) are eligible for tuition and insurance benefits. Full-time GRAs (20 hours per week) receive a 100% tuition remission benefit (calculated at the in-state rate); part-time GRAs (10 to 19 hours per week) receive a 50% tuition remission benefit (calculated at the in-state rate). Student fees are not included in the GRA tuition benefit. Only full-time (20 hours per week) GRAs receive the insurance benefit.
|Period||Hours per week||Tuition Benefit||Insurance Benefit|
|AY 2018-2019||Full time = 20 hours/week (0.5 FTE)|
100% tuition remission
|$2,088 full year
|Part time = 10-19 hrs/week|
50% tuition benefit
|$4,898 per year|
$2,449 per semester
|No insurance benefit|
|Less than 10 hours per week||No tuition benefit||No insurance benefit|
|For budget calculations, escalate|
tuition and insurance costs 5% annually.
Specific information about GRA compensation and benefits is available from the Graduate College.
Other Budget Items Accordion Closed
Other Budget Items
Participant Support: The sponsoring agency provides funds to the university to conduct a workshop, conference, seminar, symposia or other short-term training or information sharing activity. A participant is not involved in providing deliverables to NAU or to a third party. A participant would not be terminated or replaced if they did not perform certain services. Participants in the activity may be paid for that participation if such payments are in the approved budget. Contact the assigned Fund Manager or Post Award Administrator for assistance in determining if a participant payment is appropriate. Further details may be found by downloading the Participant Support Costs Explained PDF document.
Professional Service Costs (e.g., Consultants): Consultants are independent contractors that provide expertise or a service to a particular project, and who (for federal awards) are not officers or employees of the university. See 2 CFR §200.459 for specific guidance. Consultant pay should be listed under services rather than included in the salaries and wages category.
Equipment: NAU defines equipment as movable tangible property having a life expectancy of one year or more and a unit cost of $5,000 or more. NAU also distinguishes between equipment acquisition and equipment fabrication, consult with your grant administrator if you will be fabricating equipment to assure that the component parts are not included in the F&A base. See CMP 130: “Capitalization and Depreciation” for additional information on NAU’s equipment policy available at https://nau.edu/university-policy-library/comptroller-policies/.
Subawards are used to transfer programmatic effort to a collaborator. Agreements are negotiated by OSP and a signed agreement or modification is required prior to issuing or increasing the amount of a purchase order.
Proposals to Sponsors Requiring 501(c)(3) Status Accordion Closed
NAU and the NAU Foundation (NAUF) are tax exempt entities under separate codes of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). As a public entity, NAU is eligible to receive tax-exempt charitable contributions under IRC §170(b), while the NAUF is eligible as a 501(c)(3) entity.
OSP and the NAUF work collaboratively to respond to grant announcements from foundations, with proposals submitted through the University unless the sponsor requires submission from a 501(c)(3) entity. In these cases, the NAU Foundation is able to submit the proposal and accept the award on behalf of the University. Based on the award terms and conditions, the award will be managed either by the Foundation or by the University.
Faculty and staff are requested to notify the Office of University Advancement prior to submitting a proposal to a foundation or corporate sponsor. Notification assures that the Foundation is aware of all potential submissions so that proposals can be managed to maximize gift funding. In limited cases, faculty may be requested to delay submission so as not to conflict with a planned or current solicitation.
Note: Unless a sponsor does not allow facility and/or administrative costs, all proposals submitted through the NAU Foundation must include a 5% administrative fee. When the University will be managing the Award, the 5% administrative fee will be transferred to the University.
Cost Items that Require Prior Written Approvals Accordion Closed
Download the Cost Items that Require Prior Written Approvals document.
Guidelines on Allowability of Expenses Charged to Indirect Cost Via Federal Funded Sponsored Projects Accordion Closed
Guidelines on Allowability of Expenses Charged to Indirect Cost Via Federal Funded Sponsored Projects
Federal regulations provide detailed guidance on the cost accounting treatment of costs as direct or indirect (F&A) costs, as well as set forth allowability and allocability principles for selected cost items. These “cost principles” are described and codified at 45 CFR 75 Subpart E.
In short, indirect cost (IDC) funds can be used for research related expenses that are generally not permitted as direct costs on federally funded sponsored grants.
Examples of Allowable IDC research related expenses are:
- alteration/renovation of research space or facilities;
- costs of preparing proposals;
- publication fees (e.g., open access fees)
- general equipment (i.e. computers, fax machines, etc.) used for research related purposes1
- international fees; banking fees (international research fees)
- local telephone;
- office supplies;
- seed projects for future research proposals;
- research/lab meetings;
- student travel to research conferences;
- faculty travel related to future research projects;
- administrative and clerical salaries2
Examples of Unallowable IDC expenses are:
- Faculty salary (compensation)3
- Faculty travel for current funded research4
- Student support that involves work directly related to the federal sponsored project5
- Student field trips unrelated to sponsored research
- Personal/Departmental invitation subscription service (e.g., Evite) expenses
- Faculty and staff party expenses
- Textbooks, including e-books, purchases for students
- Meal and lodging expenses unrelated to student travel conference attendance
- Meal and lodging expenses unrelated to faculty travel for future research projects
- Food, refreshment, and catering expenses for school or dept. open house events and retreats
- Guest speaker fees and entertainment (travel, meals)
- Personal gift expenses (e.g., student award gift)
- Sporting event purchases for faculty or students
- Office equipment unrelated to alteration/renovation of research/lab space (e.g. standing desks)
As with all charges, costs must be reasonable and necessary, allocable, consistently treated, and conform to the limitations and exclusions as contained in the terms and conditions of the sponsored project award. Please see 45 CFR 75.403 for more information on allowable costs. Please also be advised NAU CMP 400 policy address the uses of local (2400) funds, which must be taken into consideration when expending from this funding source.
1 When not specifically unallowable by the sponsoring agency or per the terms of the sponsored award.
2 Salaries of administrative and clerical staff can be charged directly to the sponsored award if all of the following conditions are met: (1) administrative or clerical services are integral to a project or activity; (2) individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity; (3) such costs are explicitly included in the budget; and (4) the costs are not also recovered as indirect costs. Such charges must also meet the criteria for allowable costs described in 45 CFR 75.403.
3 Meaning the salary of faculty performing sponsored project related work should be treated as direct costs, and thus charged as “direct” costs to the sponsored project.
4 Meaning travel for current funded sponsored research should be charged directly (as direct costs) to the sponsored project. IDC funds can be used for future research travel.
5 Meaning support of students (including graduate students) who are directly working on the grant should be treated as direct costs and thus charged as “direct” costs to the sponsored project.