NIH Modular Budgets and Justifications

NIH requires modular format budgets for all applications with budgets up to $250,000 direct costs per budget period, unless otherwise stipulated in a program announcement.

  • Rather than submitting detailed line-item budgets, the applicant requests funds in increments of $25,000 “modules.”
  • Up to ten modules ($250,000) can be requested for direct costs in each budget period of the project. Some program announcements limit the number of modules allowed for that program.
  • The modules requested should represent a reasonable estimate of costs allowable, allocable, and appropriate for the proposed project,
  • The same number of modules should be requested in each budget period of the project.
  • The expectation is that the funding needed for the entire project will be averaged out over all years of the project. If the project has specific costs that will require a different number of modules in one or more project budget periods, the budget justification must explain why.

Read about:

Estimating the Budget: In order to determine the number of modules required to do project work, prepare a line-item budget, then round to the nearest $25,000.

Subrecipients’ Facilities and Administration (F&A) costs: Under NIH policy, F&A included in subrecipients’ budgets should not be included in the calculations when determining if the UM budget adheres to the maximum allowable number of modules. Therefore the subrecipients’ F&A costs must be separated out from the rest of the project direct costs on the modular budget form.

Modular Budget Format

Coeus Modular Budget window

Line 1 = UM’s total direct costs minus the subrecipients’ F&A costsThis is the amount to be requested in $25,000 modules and cannot exceed the maximum number of modules allowed for the funding program.
Line 2 = the subrecipients’ F&A costsWhen there is more than one subrecipient, this is the total of all of the subrecipients’ F&A costs.
When there is no subrecipient involved, this line = $0
Line 3 = the total direct costs for UMThis is the sum of lines 1 and 2. This line can exceed the maximum number of modules allowed, but only by the amount of the subrecipients’ F&A on the second line.

Coeus Modular Budgets

There are two main methods for creating a Modular Budget in Coeus. You should always start by developing a budget based on anticipated/estimated costs. However, this detail does not need to be sent to the NIH and it is optional to include the detail in Coeus. With the PI, determine how many modules to request each year so that you can complete the information needed for Coeus to populate the NIH forms. Here are instructions for modular budgets created with and without the optional budget detail in Coeus:

Modular Budget Justifications

Just as Modular Budgets are summaries of the amount requested, Modular Budget Justifications are similarly bare-boned. The only budget categories that are allowed in modular budget justifications are personnel, consortium (subrecipients), and variation in the number of modules requested. No specific dollar amounts should be quoted in the budget justification narrative. Do not provide justification for any other type of expense (supplies, travel, etc.). Equipment should only be justified if it is the reason you are requesting a different number of modules in one or more budget periods. NIH has announced that applications that do not comply with the formatting guidelines may be rejected without review.

List all personnel, including names, number of person months devoted to the project (indicate academic, calendar, and/or summer) and roles on the project. Do not provide individual salary information. Upload the modular budget justification in the Coeus Narrative Module using Narrative Type PHS_ModBud_PersonJustif

Consortium (subrecipient) costs
State each subrecipient institution’s name, indicate whether it is a US or foreign institution, and list its total costs for each budget period, rounded to the nearest $1,000. Subcontract budgets do not need to be in $25,000 increments.

Provide effort and a role description for each of the personnel included in the subrecipient’s budget. Do not include justification for any of the sub’s other costs (supplies, travel etc). Do not include the subrecipient’s itemized budget or checklist in the application.

If there is more than one subrecipient, include this information for each subrecipient, merged into one pdf. Upload the justification for the subrecipient(s) in the Coeus Narrative Module using Narrative Type PHS_ModBud_ConsortiumJustif

Additional narrative justification
Explain variations in the number of modules requested. Indicate the budget period(s) in which you are requesting a different number of modules, describe what item(s) caused the need for extra funds that budget period and why this cost is necessary to meet the goals of the project. Do not provide specific dollar amounts.

Some common reasons for costs varying are: major equipment purchases, costs of purchasing expensive supplies in bulk, and variation in the number of personnel or amount of effort for personnel in the budget periods.

NIH anticipates that unexpended funds from the early budget periods will be carried-forward to cover costs in the later budget periods of the project. Therefore, NIH will not accept a deviation in the number of modules in order to cover adjustments to salaries due to annual merit or COLA or increases due to routine inflation rates.

You may also use this justification to provide an explanation of exclusions applied to the F&A base calculation.

Upload the additional narrative justification in the Coeus Narrative Module using the Narrative Type PHS_ModBud_NarrativeJustif

Reference resources

NIH Modular Research Grant Applications

Justifications:  excerpt from NIH SF424 (R&R) Application Guide