Starting with the budget will clarify thinking about the work and scope of the project. The budget determines the project work, and therefore shapes the direction of the narrative proposal. It is also often the first thing a foundation program officer or board reviews. Budget requirements often present unanticipated problems that will take time to resolve before final submission. Budget questions may also arise during Office of Research Services (ORS) review. For assistance in budget preparation, contact Nadine Addo via email, Director of Grants Administration in the Law Center Office of Financial Affairs.

The following are two budget elements that need to be taken into consideration:

Direct Costs

Direct costs represent the amount of money that it will cost the PI to conduct the project. They are usually costs that can be specifically and easily identified with a particular project or program.

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs are costs that benefits many activities or projects (e.g. building operations and maintenance, administrative personnel, IT expenses, security, etc.). It is the amount of money that it will cost the University to house the PI’s project and administer the grant and represent costs that cannot be specifically or easily assigned to a particular project or program. Indirect costs are also called overhead or F&A (facilities/administrative).

Your budget should include indirect costs at Georgetown’s full Facilities and Administration rate, which is currently 15% for Foundation and Corporation Agreements, unless you have an exemption or an approved waiver. Also known as the indirect cost rate or IDC, this rate is calculated on the total direct costs in your budget.

If the foundation does not allow any IDC, or does not allow IDC at the full federal rate, its policy may be on Georgetown’s indirect cost waiver list, which permits you to submit your budget to ORS with IDC at the rate allowed by the foundation.

If the private foundation is not on Georgetown’s waiver list, you should inquire with the foundation about their IDC policy. A foundation’s official written policy (or statement in the RFP) regarding IDC is normally acceptable to Georgetown, and should be submitted along with your proposal and other materials to ORS.

IDC must be included in (not added on top of) the maximum total grant amount allowed by the funder. To determine how much project money you will have after IDC is deducted, take the total grant amount and divide by 1.X, where X = IDC rate. (E.g., a $100,000 grant proposal with a 15% IDC rate yields not $85,000 in direct costs but $86,957 in direct costs [100,000/1.15 =86,957] for your project.)


Read more about rates here.