NIH budget development guidelines

NIHGPS Cost Considerations should be followed during the budget development process. The FOA will identify the budgetary limits of the selected opportunity which may dictate caps on certain direct cost line items (e.g., travel), types of expenses (e.g., renovation), and overall funding limits (e.g., $275,000 in direct costs). Refer to Developing Your Budget for further details (link located in the NIH Resources section on the right column of this page).

Types of budgets

The type of budget utilized on an NIH application is determined by direct cost total requested and activity code applied.

  • Modular Budget - Format is utilized when the selected FOA indicates this budget type is mandatory or the  budget created has total direct costs allocated to the application equal to or less than $250,000 per year (total direct cost calculation DOES NOT include consortium/subaward F&A costs).   Please note: SBIR and STTR applications DO NOT accept the modular budget format. Refer to Developing Your Budget and NIH Modular Research Grant Applications for further details (links located in the NIH Resources section on the right column of this page).
  • Detailed (Traditional) Budget - Format is utilized when the total direct costs applied exceed $250,000 in any requested year. If the direct cost calculation requested in any year is equal to or greater than $500,000, prior approval will be required from the NIH before application submission. Please refer to NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-02-004 for further information. A cover letter will become mandatory to provide in the application indicating prior approval received for the $500,000 level in order to be accepted by the Center for Scientific Review at time of submission receipt. Please note: If the selected FOA indicates a specific budgetary level which would accept this level, the FOA will override the prior approval requirement.


  • PIs and postdoc roles must have an eRA Commons PI account with Duke University as the affiliation regardless of submission method. Refer to How to create a PI Account in eRA Commons for further details.
  • PI eligibility requirements are addressed in FOAs and should be reviewed for individual compliance. For institutional compliance with PI status and/or Multiple PI applications, please refer to the PI Status page.
  • PI Effort Level: When the FOA and/or activity code requires an effort level requirement for the PI role, the required effort level must be committed for the PI in each budget year of the grant. When no effort level requirement is addressed by NIH, PIs must commit a minimum effort that is measurable/greater than zero (eg 0.01 or .1 calendar months) to demonstrate effort in accordance with Duke School of Medicine policy (Exception: PIs performing the Mentor role on a grant or when support mechanism is for a construction, conference, or instrumentation grant).
  • Effort: When personnel are identified for a role on the budget, the effort level must be represented in person months. Refer to the Effort Conversion Table in the Duke Guidance Documents section for further assistance.
  • Salary Cap: NIH will not pay for any salary requested above the annual salary cap. For those faculty members whose Institutional Base Salary (IBS) exceeds the salary cap level, the cap will need to be applied. Refer to the Salary Cap Worksheet for salary cap calculation assistance and the Sample of Salary Cap Cost Sharing in SPS for understanding how to apply the salary cap in the SPS system in the Duke Guidance Documents section of this page.           
  • Senior/Key Personnel: Individuals who contribute to the development or execution of the science in a considerable and measurable way may be designated as Key by the PI regardless of whether or not the individual receives salary support from NIH. To clarify, all individuals who are identified as Key MUST have effort associated to their role. Duke PIs may identify Key personnel within the SPS record Personnel Roster Notebook Roster tab.
  • The Other Significant Contributors (OSCs) role allows individuals to contribute to the development of the science on an as needed basis. As a result, this role has no measurable effort and no salary support as their contribution cannot be measured consistently.  A biographical sketch is required for OSCs to demonstrate their expertise relevant to the application. Duke PIs may identify OSCs within the SPS record Personnel Roster Notebook Roster tab.
  • Individuals who have a dual appointment with the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) will need to provide a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reflecting their appointment at the VA. For further information and assistance, please refer to the VA Partnerships page.