Budget Information

For budget preparation and post-award spending

All grant proposal budgets must be reviewed and approved by City Tech OSP prior to grant submission. Below is specific information about selected budget categories. Upon submitting a grant proposal, please be sure that you can justify the need for all budget items requested. Most applications request a detailed budget justification. The project narrative should also reflect all aspects of the budget as needed to facilitate the project. Once funding is received, be sure that you keep track of your budget. If you have not allocated adequate funds, contact the Office of Sponsored Research (OSP) about a budget reallocation. A reallocation may have to be formally requested from the sponsor and/or RFCUNY.


RFCUNY grant funds are utilized to hire different types of project employees. For example, tutors, instructors, administrative assistants, and technicians are common RF positions. RF can support full­ time and part-time employees. Please note that in addition to the salary amount a grant is charged fringe benefit rates for full-time, Part time A (20-34 hours per week) and Part Time B employees (19 hours a week or less). Rates as of September 2023 are 35% for Full time and Part time A employees and 8% for part time B employees. Annual increases of 2% should also be budgeted for staff. MTA Payroll tax of 0.60% should also be budgeted. For federal grants the amount must be budgeted as Other and not as fringe benefits, because the tax should not be included in indirect cost calculation. For other sponsors the fringe rates requested can be 35.6% and 8.6%.

After receiving grant funding contact the OSP before you hire an employee, please see Hiring RF Employees section of OSP website for detailed information.

Summer salary

Full-time instructional CUNY faculty can receive summer salary from grants for work from June 1 to August 31 for conducting grant activities. Fringe benefits at 24.9% must also be budgeted. The CUNY Payroll Office remits summer salary payment.

However, City Tech OSP must submit online for RFCUNY to charge the grant for summer salary. If your grant is budgeted for summer salary, you should receive an email from OSP in April with forms and information on the process. Details is also available Summer Salary section at OSP website. OSP will enter and authorize summer salary, do not enter in RFCUNY Summer salary system. Payment is typically issued the month following scheduled summer activities, e.g., payment for June work is issued in July. As PI you will be requested to electronically certify all summer salary on your grant via rfcuny.org in September.


Upon requesting travel funds on a grant, please be aware of the sponsor’s policies on travel. Some grants require travel to an annual project directors meeting, some may only allow domestic travel. Please be sure to check guidelines to ensure that you are requesting allowable expenses. You must book your travel on a U.S. Flag carrier. For PSC CUNY Awards all carriers used must be members of the “Open Skies” program.

After you are awarded travel monies and plan to travel you may request a partial advance of travel funds at least a month prior to your date of travel. This would be based on your estimated costs and would cover 100% of your transportation and 80% of all other costs. For PSC-CUNY awards advances are limited to 80% of your total travel budget.  You may also pay out of pocket. Upon return from trip a travel expense form must be submitted. Forms must be completed and uploaded to the Payment Request system at the RF website with receipts. Enter yourself as a new vendor if you are not already in the system and attach scanned copies of all receipts, boarding passes, hotel bills, credit card statements and meeting agendas or invitations to collaborate. Travel must take place within the grant period, and if IRB is required for your research, within the approved IRB dates as well.


When requesting supplies and/or equipment, please make sure your request is within the sponsor’s guidelines. When creating a budget please note that any single item over $5,000 should be budgeted as equipment, anything less should be budgeted as supplies. For PSC-CUNY awards any single item over $1,000 is considered equipment but you still purchase it via the supply method.

When requesting supplies, please ensure your request is within your approved budget. You can search for vendors by name in the RFCUNY Payment Request system to check if they have done business with RF CUNY before. All supplies are to be shipped to the college and invoices should be addressed to yourself here at the college.  Ordering supplies is a two-step process.

Step 1: Placing an order

Items and orders under $5,000 are placed directly by the PI with vendor. If they will not take an order via email/telephone use a Small Order form. You would assign your own number, enter your grant number, list items or attach a quote and sign the form. RF CUNY is tax exempt, and the number is on the small order form. If a vendor requests a tax-exempt form, please contact OSP for a form.

Any equipment to be paid with RF funds that is either:

  1. a single item (equipment) costing $5,000 or more
  2. an order from a single vendor that totals $5,000 or more

must be ordered by RFCUNY. The PI must obtain a quote from vendor and submit with a Purchase Requisition form to RFCUNY to place order. An Equipment Screening Certificate must also be submitted for any single item over $5,000 requested. Email form and quote to PO@rfcuny.org.

Step 2: Requesting Payment

Upon receipt of items, either equipment or supplies, the PI must create a Payment Request at RF web site and attach a scanned copy of original vendor invoice and packing slip. If the vendor is not currently in the RF database, you will also be required to upload a W-9 form completed by vendor. Payment will be issued directly to the vendor.

In rare instances a PI may purchase supplies using his/her own funds. In this case you would request reimbursement via an e-payment request with yourself as the vendor. You would need to attach the receipt and, if paid by credit card, a copy of your credit card statement.

Independent Contractors

An independent contractor is an individual or firm providing services free from direction and control of performance including the means and methods used.

Independent contractors fall into two categories:

  1. A company or firm providing service to the public or to a broad clientele.
  2. Individuals who are clearly in business for themselves such as self-employed physicians, lawyers, photographers, artists, construction contractors, electricians, and others in an independent trade, business or profession. This includes one-time professional lecturers and short-term professional consultants.

Before an independent contractor begins to work you must submit documentation to RF CUNY via . the electronic system will guide you through the steps of determining whether an individual should be considered an employee or an independent contractor.

If the payment to an Independent Contractor is less than $5,000 you will complete the MOU information. You will also need to upload the attachments.

Attachment A: scope of work (what the contractor will be responsible for providing)
Attachment B: Payment schedule (deliverables and dates & amounts of payments that will be requested)
Attachment C: Additional Terms (on form)
Attachment D: Insurance Statement (on form)

Also required are the resume of the contractor, client list, and a W-9 form. The contractor can begin work once the MOU is approved by RF and the funds encumbered on your account. To pay the contractor for deliverables, submit an E-payment request and attach a dated, numbered invoice signed by the contractor. RF CUNY would issue payment directly to the contractor. If payment to an Independent Contractor is $5,000 or more complete the ICA in Contract Manager system. You will still need to attach scope of work, client list, resume/CV, reporting/payment schedule, W-9, sole source justification and statement of need for hiring an independent contractor. Upon approval, RF Legal Affairs would draw up a Contract and forward directly to the contractor for signature. Once the signed contract is received by RF CUNY and fully executed the funds will be encumbered in your account and the contractor may begin work. For payment to the contractor, submit an E-payment request and upload a dated, numbered invoice signed by the contractor. RF CUNY will issue payment directly to the contractor.

Subject Fees

If your grant includes cash, MetroCard’s or gift card payments to subjects you must complete form RF037: Request for Petty Cash. You must explain why the funds are necessary, who will hold the funds and how they will be safeguarded. You can request up to 80% of the amount budgeted. You would create a Payment Request at RFCUNY website with yourself as the vendor and attach the signed form. Funds will be encumbered, and a check will be issued to you from RF CUNY. You will need to keep a strict accounting of how the funds are used. Recipients will be required to sign a log upon receipt that includes the dollar amount, date of service and date of receipt of funds.  The receipt and proof of purchase of any gift cards or metro cards would be attached to an E-payment request along with log sheets upon completion of the distribution of funds. Any additional monies owed would be paid to PI. Any unused funds must be returned to RF CUNY in the form of a check made payable to RF CUNY to reimburse the grant.

Student Stipends/Scholarships (Participant Support Costs)

Stipends can be budgeted for student scholarships and/or training where the project activities benefit the student. Students cannot be paid a stipend for work; hourly work must be budgeted as project staff. Some sponsors have restrictions on the types of students who can receive a stipend. Students can also be paid for travel. When awarded from a federal grant, RFCUNY often puts participant/trainee costs in a separate account from other monies. Additional information available at RFCUNY website, Participant Support Cost Overview.

An RF payment request must be submitted to pay students. A payment request can be submitted individually for each student, or a list of students can be submitted. Submission for payment must include a copy of stipend letter to student including amount and purpose, a payment schedule if there will be multiple payments and RF701 Data Collection form. If payment is submitted for multiple students a list may be submitted and a copy of letter to each student.

Note: CUNY full-time faculty and staff cannot receive a stipend. Full-time faculty can only receive summer salary and/or release time/effort for grant activities. Adjunct faculty may be placed on RFCUNY payroll for work or grant participation. Please refer to Memo on Guidance for Payment to CUNY employees for details.


Grant funds may be requested for event guest speakers. Full-time CUNY faculty cannot receive honoraria. Requests for payments are submitted via the RF payment request system and should include an invitation email/letter request with honoraria amount, W-9 form, flyer or advertisement for event, and a copy of the event sign in sheet.

Indirect Cost

Indirect Cost, also known as Facilities & Administration (F&A), are costs charged to grants that are meant to reimburse the college for the cost of hosting grant activities. Indirect costs are calculated at a pre-determined percentage to account for costs such as facilities, equipment, computers, college staff and space.

City Tech’s federally negotiated indirect cost rate is 55% of salary and fringe benefits. The fixed rate is negotiated for each CUNY campus by RFCUNY with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

If grant activities will not take place on campus, the off-campus indirect cost rate is 20.3%. RFCUNY has additional information about determining when to use off-campus F&A.

MTA payroll tax must be excluded from indirect costs on federal grants. RFCUNY was audited by NSF and determined that indirect costs cannot be charged on tax.

The general policy of CUNY and RFCUNY is to recover the full indirect cost rate. Indirect cost may be limited by the sponsor or grant program. For example, U.S. Department Education grants typically allow 8% Modified Direct Cost Rate. However, the DHSI- Title V program does not allow indirect cost. OSP must be consulted on all budgets since allowable sponsor and grant rates can vary.

If City Tech’s full indirect cost of 55% cannot be budgeted, approval from the provost is required. City Tech generally will not allow grant proposals to be submitted without indirect costs since the college is responsible for RFCUNY administrative costs.

RFCUNY charges each college an administrative fee based upon project expenditures, typically 6.75%-10%. It is thus important that City Tech recovers indirect costs since we incur RFCUNY fees.

Cost Sharing

Cost Sharing or Matching Costs are direct costs for a project that are supported by funds other than the sponsor. Some grants require mandatory cost sharing, and these costs must be documented as if they were direct costs. Cost contribution to a project that is not required is considered voluntary committed cost share. Voluntary committed cost share is prohibited by some sponsors such as NSF.

Cost sharing is highly discouraged.

The CUNY Office of Research policy allows for cost sharing only when it is required by a sponsor or when a waiver request has been made given compelling circumstances. Please refer to the CUNY Office of Research 2023 memo on Cost Sharing.

Approval from the provost is required for any proposal that requires mandatory cost sharing. A waiver is required from the CUNY Office of Research for voluntary committed cost sharing.

Budget samples

Sample NSF budget justification
Sample NSF budget worksheet
Sample federal budget justification grants.gov
Sample federal budget worksheet grants.gov

PSC CUNY Research Awards – Budget changes

PSC CUNY Research Awards run from July 1st through June 30th. A one-time extension through December 31st will be given to any PI making this request, no justification needed.

If you wish to change any of the budgeted items, you need email PSC_CUNY@rfcuny.org with the following information:

• Amount – This should be the amount you would like to reallocate.

• Original Budget Category – This is the expense the budget was originally submitted to fund.

• New Budget Category – This is the expense you would like the funds to be put towards now.

• Budget Justification- This is a written statement explaining why the original budget category is no longer necessary (What has changed?), why the new budget category is now necessary, and how it will aid in productivity to your research or work. Please provide a detailed explanation.

Additional information about available at RFCUNY webpage PSC-CUNY Awards.