Modular Budgets

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the only funding agency that uses modular budgets. It requires them on new, competing and revised (amended) applications, as well as for competing supplements that request up to a total of $250,000 (less consortium/contractual Facilities and Administration costs) per year and are one of the following funding mechanisms:

  • Research Project Grants (R01)
  • Small Grants (R03)
  • Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) Grants (R15)
  • Exploratory/Developmental Research Grants (R21)
  • Clinical Trial Planning Grant Programs (R34)
  • Additional Research Funding Announcements (RFAs) and Program Announcements (PAs)

Information on the Modular Budget format is available on the NIH Modular Grant Application page.

The modular grant budget uses specific modules (or increments) in which direct costs are requested. Rather than submitting detailed line-item budgets, funds are required in “modules” of $25,000, up to $250,000 a year. A typical modular grant application will request the same number of modules in each hear; however exceptions are permitted for purchases (such as equipment) or activity that occurs only in certain years of the project.

Calculation of Modules

  • Prepare a detailed line-item budget, including annual escalation of costs.
  • Total all the direct costs for the life of the project, excluding subcontract F&A.
  • Divide the total direct costs by number of project years.
  • Round up to the next $25,000 module.

Note that subcontractors do not prepare modular budgets. The total consortium/contractual costs should be included in the overall requested modular direct cost amount.

When submitting a modular budget, Sponsored Projects & Contracting Services does not require a detailed budget, unless you are excluding items from the F&A cost base (i.e., equipment, tuition remission, subcontracts). Your department and/or college may require detailed budgets regardless of the modular format.

The attached NIH Modular Budget Examples provides instructions on how to create modular budgets both with and without subcontracts.

Budget Justification

A modular budget justification should include:

  • Personnel Justification: The Personnel Justification should include the name, role, and number of person-months devoted to this project for every person on the project. Do not include salary and fringe benefit rate in the justification, but keep in mind the legislatively mandated salary cap when calculating your budget.
  • Consortium Justification: If you have a consortium/subcontract, include the total costs (direct costs plus Facilities and Administration costs), rounded to the nearest $1,000, for each consortium/subcontract. Additionally, any personnel should include their roles and person months; if the consortium is foreign, that should be stated as well.
  • Additional Narrative Justification: Additional justification should include explanations for any variations in the number of modules requested annually. This section should describe any direct costs that were excluded from the total direct costs (such as equipment, tuition remission) and any work being conducted off-site, especially if it involves a foreign study site or an off-site F&A rate.