I3:  Ask for what you need!

One of our frequently asked questions is about how much is too much (or too little!) when creating a proposal budget. You are an expert in this research area, and thus you are the most knowledgeable in determining how much the research you are proposing will cost to accomplish. Therefore, please ask for what you need!

Some other budget related advice to share:

  1. Get a sense of past award amounts: Go to the NSF webpage for the program you will be applying to. Click on the link ‘Browse projects funded by this program’ to display a list of active awards to get an idea of the range of total award amounts provided by that program.  
  2. Try and think like a reviewer, but don’t overthink it: There are no minimum or maximum budget limits for the BIO Core programs. Projects of small and large scope are all evaluated on their merits relative to NSF review criteria. Proposing a budget that is too lean to accomplish the proposed objectives does not make your project more likely to receive funding. In fact, it can cause reviewers and the program to question whether you are fully aware of the costs of your own proposed research and call into question your abilities to be successful. Similarly, a very large budget may be hard for a program to support with available funds and may signal that you are proposing to do too much.
  3. Don’t forget to include the costs of your broader impacts work: Most broader impact activities require financial support to accomplish and should be included in your budget. If you propose to do X, Y, and Z that cost money but don’t request funds for those efforts, reviewers and the program will wonder about how serious and committed you are in proposing those activities. It can even call into question whether you really intend to carry out those activities. If the activities are supported in some other way, include a statement in your proposal so that no one is left wondering.
  4. Or funding for students and trainees: If you include student participants or graduate student involvement, we would expect that they would be financially supported by the grant. Again, it would be worth including a statement in the proposal if these individuals are being supported via another mechanism.
  5. Remember, there is time to adjust if your proposal is awarded: Should a proposal be recommended, your program officer may work with you to adjust the scope of the project to keep it within the range of what the program can support.

For previous posts about budgets see: