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NIH Budgets

Find information on preparing budgets for National Institutes of Health (NIH) proposals.

Modular budgets

NIH requires the use of modular budgets for most research grants (excluding PPGs, training grants, or career awards) if direct costs (excluding any Consortium IDC) for each year do not exceed $250,000.

For more detailed information, see the Modular Budget section of the NIH Web site.

Follow SF424 R&R Instructions for the PHS 398 Modular Budget Pages.

Use the Modular Budget Estimator (Excel) to assist in estimating modular budgets.

This estimator workbook will not be sent to NIH, but is meant to be used internally at UCSD.

Modular budget justifications

  • Up to three modular budget justifications may be required.
  • In the personnel justification, list all UCSD personnel and any consultants. For each person, provide the name, position, months of effort (except for consultants), and a description of his or her role on the project. No other information is allowed on this page.
  • Complete the consortium justification only if there will be a consortium. List the name of the institution with whom we will have a consortium, whether they are domestic or foreign, and the average annual amount of their budget, rounded to the nearest $1000. This figure can be calculated on the second sheet of the modular estimator workbook. List all personnel: name, position, months of effort (except for consultants), and a description of their role on the project. No other information is allowed on this page.
  • Complete the additional narrative justification only if equal numbers of modules are not being requested for each year. This justification is used only to explain the variation in the number of modules. For example:
    • Two additional modules are being requested in Year 1 to purchase certain (listed) items of equipment.
    • One additional module is requested in year 1 for initial supply purchases and start-up costs (listing examples).
    • One fewer module is being requested in year 5 because no further animal purchases will be required.
    • One additional module is being requested in year 2 to hire personnel (described) for the data analysis phase of the project.

NIH salary cap

The maximum salary that can be paid to an individual (Executive Level II) from NIH funds increased to $212,100 effective January 12,2023 NIH Notice NOT-23-056.

For historical rates and more information, go to Salary Cap Summary (FY 1990 - Present)

Salary Waiver for Health Sciences Investigators

A salary waiver is an approval obtained by a Health Sciences investigator and his/her department prior to submission of a proposal for extramural support allowing a waiver of salary for effort devoted to the project.

The Health Sciences policy for sponsored projects requires that commensurate salary is requested for effort applied to all extramurally funded research projects.

In the event a Health Sciences application proposes an unfunded effort, a salary waiver request must be approved by the appropriate Dean's Office, either in the School of Medicine or Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Contact for instructions.


  • NIH will not pay for stipends on a research grant because only compensation (i.e., salary) for effort can be paid on a research grant.
  • Postgraduates who are to be paid on a research grant should be budgeted as Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs), not as postdoctoral fellows, postgraduate fellows, etc.
  • Graduate students who are to be paid, should be budgeted as Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs). Payments to these individuals should not be referred to as stipends in the Budget Justification.

Graduate Student Compensation

Maximum Compensation

The maximum amount allowed by NIH for the support of a graduate student employed on a research grant or a cooperative agreement is equal to the amount paid to a first-year postdoctoral scientist at the same institution performing comparable work.

Total Compensation for "full-time" Work

Total compensation represents compensation for "full-time" graduate student work, which is the maximum the University will allow students to work outside their studies. Total compensation includes: salaryemployee benefits, and tuition remission

Depending on the graduate program, "full-time" means:

  • 50% (4.5 person months) during the academic year
  • 50–100% (1.5–3 person months) during the summer months
For students working less than "full-time," the NRSA level zero ceiling should be prorated.

Patient Care Costs

Refer to the NIH Grants Policy Statement on Research Patient Care Costs for more detailed information.

Indirect Costs (IDC)

  • Special rates may apply to clinical space. Contact or 858-822-4109 for questions regarding locations that might be considered clinical.
  • NIH limits IDC on training grants and career awards to 8%.
  • No IDC is awarded on NIH conference grants.

Total Direct Cost of $500,000 or More

If total direct costs for any year are budgeted at $500,000 or more, excluding consortium IDC, written permission must be obtained from NIH at least 6 weeks prior to proposal submission. For further detailed information, see the following NIH Notices: NOT-OD-02-004 and NOT-OD-05-004.

For more information or questions email