Modular Budgets

NIH modular budgets are used for R01, R03, R15, R21, and R34 applications requesting $250,000 or less in annual direct costs and are budgeted in $25,000 increments. Modular grants, while not requiring detailed budgets, are still subject to federal regulations pertaining to the allowability of costs (i.e. Uniform Guidance), NIH Grants Policy Statement and any specific terms and conditions of the solicitation/award), allocability, necessity, reasonableness, and consistent treatment of costs.

Modular budgets present all personnel involved in the project including “to be determined” consultants, collaborators, and subcontractors; their effort in person- months; their roles and responsibilities to justify their level of effort, consortium costs (rounded to the next higher thousand) and any items typically unallowable as direct costs.

In the modular budget justification, faculty should clearly present both their proposed academic year and summer effort.  Personnel with 12-month appointments should present effort as calendar year effort.  Current federal application budget forms require that effort be presented as person-months. Please do not use the NIH person-month conversion tool as it is based on 9-month appointments as opposed to SU’s 8.5 month appointments. See OSP budget template for 8.5 month conversion.

Modular grant awards are typically constant for each year of the award; if there is a variation in the number of modules requested (see below), the reason must be explained in the budget justification, e.g. increase is the consequence of one-time equipment purchase. An illustration of constant modules and variable modules is presented below.


For Example: Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Total
Constant Modules  
Estimated Direct Costs $187,650 $197,000 $235,000 $180,000 $799,650
# Modules 8 8 8 8 32
Direct Costs $200,000 $200,000 $200,000 $200,000 $200,000
Variable Modules
Estimated Direct Costs $187,650 $197,000  $260,000  $180,000 $824,650
# Modules 8 8 9 8 33
Direct Costs $200,000 $200,000 $225,000 $200,000 $825,000

To ensure that the appropriate number of modules is requested, OSP requires most applicants to develop an internal budget using the OSP budget template. The OSP template has output tabs designed specifically for NIH Modular budgets, one for even modules and another to accommodate uneven modules. This allows non-experts to easily build their budget modules and have their budgets reviewed for adequacy of: salary estimates, inclusion and accuracy of fringe benefit rates, and identification of costs which are excluded from F&A recovery such as tuition, equipment and subcontract costs in excess of $25,000.

NOTE: Any essential costs that are typically unallowable (e.g., office supplies, alcohol for research use, communication costs such as postage, etc.) should be explicitly identified in the modular budget narrative.  In the event of an award, their inclusion will constitute sponsor prior approval of the cost.