Grant Proposal Preparation FAQs

Do I need to seek approval before submitting a grant proposal?

Faculty must share their proposal information with their department chair and the dean of faculty and obtain the approval of their department chair and the dean of faculty. The email confirmation, proposal, and budget will be submitted to the business affairs office for review. Arlene Chubbuck will submit the proposal to the granting agency.

How soon should I send the grant proposal to my Department Chair, the Dean of Faculty, and the Business Affairs Office?

Faculty members are encouraged to begin the proposal review process well in advance for the proposal due date. This will allow for unanticipated delays with the granting agency, submission process, and individuals who may be out of the office on the day the proposal is due. Final drafts of proposals must be provided to the business affairs office, department chair, and dean of faculty at least two weeks prior to the sponsor’s deadline for final internal review and approval to ensure successful on-time submission.

If I am collaborating with another institution, do I need to get approval?

Yes, collaborations are treated in the same manner as a primary proposal submitted by HMC. Please follow the same proposal approval process as you would where HMC is the lead institution.

Is Harvey Mudd College eligible for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grants through the NSF?

Yes, HMC meets NSFs criteria for being an REU, and applicants are encouraged to include REU eligibility information with any NSF submission. Funding research at primarily undergraduate institutions is a priority for NSF and any additional information such as the REU Impact Statement helps the reviewers better understand the context of what applicants are proposing.

How do I calculate summer salary on my proposal?

When supplemental summer salary is allowed by the funding agency (e.g., NSF), it should be calculated at a rate of one-ninth of your annual salary per month of summer salary (and prorated for fractions of a month devoted to summer research). NSF sets a maximum of two-ninths of annual salary for summer salary.

Generally speaking, you should project an estimated 4.0% annual increase when calculating summer salary. This is not a commitment on the part of the College to increase salaries at this level, and indeed salary from grants cannot exceed the actual salary level established by the College.

Academic Year Salary: $80,000 / 9 months = $8,888.89 Maximum Monthly Summer Salary
Effort during the summer is 2 months: 2 x $8,888.89 = $17,777.78 Total Summer Salary for year one of the grant
Year two of the grant would include a 4% increase: ($17,777.78 x .04) + $17,777.78 = $18,488.89

What is the indirect cost rate (called “Facilities and Administration” by NSF)?

NSF describes indirect costs as those costs which are not readily identifiable with a particular cost objective (e.g., direct organizational activity or project), but nevertheless are necessary for the general operation of an organization. Examples of indirect costs include the salary and related expenses of individuals working in accounting, personnel, purchasing functions, rent, depreciation and utilities. Indirect costs are not normally charged directly to a Federal award, but are allocated equitably to all of the organization’s activities. Indirect costs are generally charged to Federal awards through the development and application of an indirect cost rate (ICR). Please refer to Budgeting Information for Research Grant Proposals for current rates.

I’m looking to hire summer research students to assist with the research. What rate would I use to calculate the expense?

Summer research students are considered fellows instead of employees. They are paid with a research fellowship rate/stipend that varies slightly depending on the student’s class year (senior, junior, etc.). The current maximum for 10 weeks of participation is $5,000 for a senior or new graduate. In your grant proposal, request the maximum amount for each student: $5,000. This assumes participation for the full 10 weeks. If you know in advance that a student will work less than 10 weeks, pro-rate the budget request – for example, $4,000 for 8 weeks (@ $500 a week).

In addition to student stipends, applicants are encouraged to include support for student summer housing in the budget. HMC’s standard rate is $200 per student per week for 10 weeks for each student; totaling $2,000 per student.

How do I calculate student wages, not including summer research student fellows?

All new summer research proposals should include students as fellows under Participant Support (see related FAQ on calculating summer researcher expenses). If additional assistance from an undergraduate student is needed throughout the academic year, you may use this to calculate:
Non-HMC Students: (Hourly rate determined by HR) X (number of hours) X (1.08 fringe)
Enrolled HMC Students: (Hourly rate determined by HR) x (number of hours)
Please note that the fringe rate of 8% covers employer-paid FICA (Social Security and Medicare). These rates have been approved by Human Resources.

Who should I consult with if I have questions regarding my proposal budget?

Arlene Chubbuck in the business affairs office can assist faculty with proposal budget questions. You may reach Arlene at 909.607.0352 or by email at if this is for an NSF grant, you may also refer to the NSF Budget Template.

If I need help writing my proposal, who should I contact?

Faculty write their own proposals, however, there are resources available to assist. Faculty who have previously submitted successful proposals would be a good place to start. Additionally, the dean of faculty can suggest faculty members who would be a good resource for advice.