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Proposal Budget Categories



Institutional Base Salary (IBS) is the annual compensation paid by the university to an employee for all work which benefits the university. Refer to Fiscal Policy FI0207 for details regarding the components of IBS and guidance on budgeting salaries.

Awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are subject to a salary rate cap. The salary rate cap is set by NIH and is adjusted periodically. For the current salary rate cap, contact the Division of Research Administration. Salary charges above the rate cap may not be charged to NIH awards; however, it is important that the effort expended working on NIH awards should be accurately stated. Salary above the rate cap should be moved to a discretionary fund using the cost sharing cost element.

Please see the Salary Cap Calculator for assistance in determining the appropriate salary to budget.


Fringe Benefits for faculty and staff are charged their actual fringe rates.  To calculate the fringe benefit rate, divide the total UT paid benefits by the total salary (total salary includes the institutional base pay, longevity, bonus pay and additional pay). This information can be found on your personal benefits statement that is included with your pay statement or by contacting your business manager or the Division of Research Administration. Fringe benefits includes retirement, Social Security, unemployment, workers’ compensation, group insurance, and 401K matching. It is recommended to use an individual’s actual fringe rate. However, if the situation calls for an estimated fringe rate to be used please use the Fringe Benefit Rate Calculator.

For 9-month appointments, a lower rate will be used for summer benefits than what is used during the academic year. Contact your business manager for the summer rate that needs to be used.


Every graduate student employed at least 25% time as a Graduate Assistant, Graduate Teaching Assistant/Associate and/or Graduate Research Assistant/Associate will automatically be enrolled in the Graduate Student Employee Insurance Program with premiums paid by the employing department. Graduate health insurance is a fixed amount that is set for each fiscal year. For the current rate, questions or more information, please contact the Division of Research Administration at osp@utk.edu.

When an undergraduate student is working on a proposal but is not taking classes at the time he/she is working, an 8% fringe rate (FICA) is used. This fringe covers their payroll taxes. No health insurance is paid for undergraduate students.

NOTE: When a graduate student is working but is not taking classes, FICA is also charged.


Visit the OneStop Express Student Services page for a complete listing of tuition and fees. For graduate students on a project, only the maintenance fee is charged to the sponsor. University Graduate Assistants (GAs), Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs), Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) and Graduate Teaching Associates (GTAs) who are employed at least 25% time on university payroll records receive certain tuition and/or maintenance waivers. University fees include a maintenance fee (required of all students), tuition (additional for out-of-state students), a program and services fee, and a technology fee. The waiver of fees for assistantships applies to maintenance and tuition fees only; it does not include the program and services fee, the technology fee, the facilities fee, or the transportation fee. For GRAs, the maintenance fee is paid by the granting agency and is in addition to the stipend paid.

For more information, view the Policy for the Administration of Graduate Assistantships.


Equipment is defined by an article of nonexpendable, tangible property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost which equals $5,000 or more. When purchasing equipment on a sponsored project it is often beneficial to have vendor quotes for each item. Also, F&A is not charged on equipment costs.

More information can be found in Fiscal Policy FI0605.


Consultants are individuals outside of the university who are provided expertise to a given project or providing a service to the project that is consistent with their normal course of business activities. These individuals are not considered to be providing significant intellectual contributions to the project and do not guide the project’s technical direction. When including a Consultant on a sponsored project, a letter of commitment stating the Consultant’s hourly rate should be included with the proposal.

Subawards are typically institutions (such as another university) that are performing a substantial portion of the work and have partial control of the technical direction of the project. When subawards are included in the sponsored project budget, F&A is collected on the first $25,000 of each subaward only. At the time of proposal, each subaward must complete the Subrecipient Commitment Form and provide a Statement of Work, budget, budget justification, and a letter of commitment signed by an Authorized Official of the institution. More information can be found in Fiscal Policies FI0205 and FI0230. A guide to help determine if an entity is a subrecipient, contractor/vendor, or consultant can be found here.

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