The Grant Seminar
* Getting Started
* Developing Need Statements
* Developing Project Activities
*The Grant Budget
* Evaluating Your Proposal
* Putting It All Together
* Sample Grant Proposal

The Grant Budget

The proposal writer must consider many elements when pitching a proposal in written form. One area that enhances your proposal and gives the reader a clear idea of what you are going to do is the budget. Budgets are scary for novice grantseekers. Good sense seems to dictate that after you develop your program and activities, you determine what it will cost. In fact, in some funding situations, the total cost versus the potential benefits will play a major part in a "go" or "no go" by the reader. However, I don't work that way. I often take the general idea of the proposal (even if it's not written and only floating around inside my head) and generate a list of costs. This tells me whether or not the project I would like to do is even "doable" with the funds I am asking for or the funds that are being offered. Grants that issue Requests for Proposals (RFPs) will spell out exactly how much you can write for or give you an idea of the range they are willing to fund. My rule of thumb is that your budget reflects what it will take to do your project, no more, no less. I cannot stress enough the importance of funding your program implementation, evaluation, and dissemination and not just "stuff."

As you create your proposal you will need to consider:

Salaries and/or other stipends paid to project personnel

Fringe benefits

Materials required to implement the program

Preservice and inservice activities

Outside consultants

Project evaluation


Indirect costs as determined by your local educational agency

Most proposals will give you a budget form to fill out. Follow that form. If the grant is from a state agency, this form will no doubt have an accounting system that reflects your state's financial accounting numbering system. Talk with someone in your accounting department and in your payroll department. You will need to find out the percentages that your district wants to put for benefits. For example, your State's Teacher Retirement System might collect 8% of your earnings each month. Your payroll department will be able to help you with percentages used for Medicare, health plans, worker's compensation and other benefits. Once you have these percentages, if you are proficient with a spreadsheet, enter formulas into the benefit cells that are tied to the salary cells.

For budget forms used in Federal government proposals, all RFPs use the same form and format and can be easily downloaded from government Web sites (like the United States Department of Education). Foundation requests for proposals (RFPs) will give you guidelines for developing your budget. If no format is given, use the bullets that appear above.

Budget Considerations

As you prepare your proposal, your budget must:

1. make sense

2. be realistic

3. give the grant reader a better picture of what you are trying to do

4. be as specific as possible

Looking at Some Examples

Let's look at some examples. We know that programs require people and that people make programs. That is why your proposal will spell out in realistic terms the personnel needed, benefits, materials, equipment, etc. Be as specific as possible. I often complete a "budget narrative for additional information."

In our grant, English Language Learners work in groups to research, select, and organize data with the aid of graphic organizers, then plan a HyperStudio multimedia project. This proposal was written for a California State grant program, Senate Bill 1510. Under the guidelines of the bill, each eligible school could write for a dollar amount of $25 per student plus a $2,000 base. In this particular case, the potential available dollars were estimated at $83,100. Not bad! I do, however, encourage first-time grant writers to either work in pairs or look for grant offerings of smaller sums of money to help you get your feet wet.

The program budget required all grants to spend at least 30% of the funds on staff development. The request for proposal suggested that you place a "Budget Description" in your text before the budget forms appear. Sometimes the "Budget Description" is called the "Budget Narrative." In this case I said in words what I couldn't say in numbers. I used this area as a way of telling the reader what we already had, so that it would clear up any perceived gaps in the reader's mind.

Sample Budget Narrative

I start with the following kind of statement; otherwise the reader won't understand why I am not purchasing these items on my budget.

"Our present multimedia lab consists of nine multimedia stations, including an LC 520 computer with built-in CD-ROM drive, ClarisWorks and HyperStudio software, 27" TV Monitor, VCR, and Laser Disc Player. Scanners, laser printers, color LCD Projection Panel, TelevEyes/Pro, QuickTake Camera and an assortment of laser discs and CD-ROM's are available in the lab. Other equipment includes nine portable multimedia stations teachers check out and use in their classrooms."

I go on to explain why some of the software I talk about in the proposal is already in place and describe how it was funded.

"We will incorporate the hardware and software previously purchased with a variety of funding sources including Chapter I, Chapter II, ESL/LEP, District moneys, and AB 1470. This grant will provide work tables and chairs for production activities and additional multimedia stations to be used by classes using the lab to conduct research, create vivid graphics, scan and edit photos, and take video footage to be used to create QuickTime Movies. PowerBook computers will be purchased to allow students, teachers, and parents to check out computers to practice and work on projects at home."

The following sentence describes why I have personnel written into this project:

"Ongoing student, teacher, and parent training will be conducted in the multimedia center, the Chapter I Lab, and the Macintosh Lab. The Project Manager will provide training, and manage and schedule lab usage."

This grant required that: (a) 30% of the funds would be used for staff development; and (b) 20% of the funds would support non-English proficient (NEP) and limited English proficient (LEP) students, so my budget narrative addresses how the project would benefit these populations.

"The budget for this project reflects development of lesson plans specific to NEP/LEP student needs, staff development, parent education, equipment, software, and evaluation costs related to project activities. The state will contribute $83,100.00: 30% ($24,930) for staff development, 20% ($16,620) for parent education, and 50% ($41,550), specific to NEP/LEP student needs. Continuation of this project is considerably less expensive with a trained staff and equipment in place."

On the budget forms usually provided in the RFP I enhance my proposal by portraying what we will do in terms of dollars. Note how each line item is described in as much detail as possible, given the line length limitation, and whole numbers are used, rounded off as necessary.

Certificated Staff

1 period per day, technical teacher/facilitator @ $12,000

Summer training, 30 teachers, 40 hours each @ $11,520

Summer trainers, 40 hours, plus 10 hours prep time/for 3 teachers @ $3,226

Ten sub days for parent education @ $1,000

Pay for teacher for student/parent aides @ $4,500

Sub days, one per teacher for follow-up training @ $3,000

Subtotal for 1000 Series @ $35,246

Classified Staff



Benefits (all but Medical) @ $1,440

Benefits (Medical, one period per day) @$1,100

Subtotal for 3000 Series @ $2,540

Instructional Supplies

HyperStudio, 50 user license @ $1,806

SAM, 10 pack, plus 2 singles @ $396

Adobe Premiere @ $680

ClarisWorks, 2/10 packs @ $1,652

Farallon Phone Net, 10 pack @ $189

Supplies (disks, paper, etc.) @ $677

Laserdiscs selected by teachers @ $3,000

CD-ROMs selected by teachers @ $3,000

Subtotal for 4000 Series @ $11,400

Contracted Services

Evaluator, 4 half days at $250.00 per day @ $1,000

Telephone line for one year @ $700

Install phone connection to existing line @ $250

Subtotal for 5000 Series @ $1,950

Indirect Costs @ $3,068

Indirect Costs is an amount of money that your fiscal agent may withhold from your project to cover business service expenses such as accounting, purchasing, payroll, etc. In most cases you take a percentage of all funds in your grant program EXCEPT for equipment. In this grant, the school district had a negotiated rate with the State at 6% and the $3,068 dollars reflects 6% of the total expenditures listed above (not including equipment which is listed last).


(Please note that this equipment reflects what was available at the time this proposal was put together.)

5 Mac LC 575, plus one Mac LC Accessory Kit @ $9,243

1 Power Macintosh 6100/60AV, Apple AudioVision 14 Display w/AV Adapter Kit @ $2,802

4 PowerBook 145B Hard Disk 80 w/4 PowerBook Carrying Cases @ $5,614

2 PowerBook 165 Hard Disk 80 w/2 PowerBook Carrying Cases @ $3,433

1 LaserWriter Select 360 w/Toner Cartridge @ $1,455

1 Apple QuickTake Camera w/Travel Case @ $787

Lockdowns for 5 LC 575, 1 LaserWriter Select 360, and 1 PowerMac @ $856

6 Carts for Explorer Stations, Bretford EC7 @ $1,257

6 Round Tables for Group Work @ $652

36 Virco Chairs with rollers @ $1,508

Camcorder, Panasonic AG-186-U @ $949

2 Global Village Modems, 14.4 bps @ $340

Sub Total for the Equipment Accounts @ $28,896

GRAND TOTAL @ $83,100

Summing Up the Budget

Your homework is to take your grant activities and "interpret" your program into a simplified budget. To review, take another look at the following budget bullets, write what it is you want to do and how much it is going to cost.

Salaries and/or other stipends paid to project personnel

Fringe Benefits

Materials required to implement the program

Preservice and inservice activities

Outside consultants

Project evaluation


Indirect costs as determined by your local educational agency

previous next