The University of Iowa

Budget Preparation Information

Each sponsor/program carries specific budget guidelines, specifying, to one degree or another, the eligible budget categories and any funding limits. Examples of major budget categories, which may or may not be allowable in any given case, include the following:

Federal Policy: Direct Costs

The following guidelines should be observed when preparing budget proposals or directly charging costs under federally sponsored agreements:

Administrative and Clerical Salaries and Benefits

Administrative and clerical salaries and benefits associated with routine services such as typing reports, filing, handling mail, making travel arrangements, answering telephones, etc., should not be budgeted or charged as direct costs, even when there is a direct benefit to the project.

Office Supplies

Office supplies that are normally used in the general administrative support of a project should not be included in the budget. Office supplies that are used exclusively for project-specific activities may continue to be included in the budget. Since many items of office supplies are used for both general administrative support and project-specific activities, it is important that these items, when included in the budget, be described in terms of their proposed use.

Local Telephone Costs

Local telephone rentals used to conduct routine business of the project should not be included in the budget. Telephone lines, including data lines, modems, and telephones, used to conduct surveys or to maintain contact with project activities conducted at remote locations may continue to be included in the budget.

Telephone Toll Calls

Telephone toll calls (long distance) may continue to be included in the budget. However, care must be taken to ensure that calls are directly related to project-specific activities.

Memberships in Professional and Scientific Organizations

Memberships in professional and scientific organizations may no longer be included in the budget.


Postage may be included in the budget when it is directly related to the conduct of the study, including correspondence with the sponsor and project participants. Additional postage may be included in the budget to disseminate surveys and materials produced as a result of the project activities.

When any of the above costs are included in proposal budgets, they should be explicitly justified and explained. Before any of these charges will be allowed against sponsored agreements, awards must provide evidence that the budget has sponsoring agency approval. Principal investigators and their departments are responsible for ensuring that costs assigned to federal projects are appropriate. Restricted cost categories and other inappropriate charges can be detected readily in audits, and resulting disallowances must be reimbursed to the federal government from departmental funds.