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Drafting a budget

How to prepare a convincing budget

A well-constructed budget justification is an important part of a grant proposal and should be drafted with the same care and accuracy as the work programme. You should apply neither for too much nor for too little money. Instead, the funds you apply for should reflect the needs of the project.  We describe the most important rules for drafting a budget and provide examples on the following pages. 

"Grundausstattung" (core funding and basic infrastructure)

Many funding organisations do not cover expenses for what is considered "Grundausstattung" . This usually includes:

  • office and lab space
  • general infrastructure like furniture, telephone, tools etc.
  • office supplies, postage
  • maintenance costs, including electricity, water, repairs etc.
  • equipment that is considered standard for a given discipline, including computers and software.

Please contact you department early to discuss what kind of infrastructure and office space will be available to you. It might be useful to declare infrastructure that is provided by the university as a co-payment which the university contributes to the project.

Salaries

If a funding body does not provide a guideline for how salaries should be calculated, we suggest that you refer to the DFG's Personnel Rates. These are updated annually and provide good orientation for calculating salaries. Doctoral students who are employed according to the "Tarifvertrag der Länder" usually receive an appointment depending on their discipline and the DFG's suggestions, which can be found (in German) on this website.

Tool to calculate costs for student assistants from 1 October 2022 (provided by the Division of Human Resources, in German).

Student assistants at the University of Konstanz from 01.10.2022 Hourly wage
Undergraduate student assistant enrolled in a bachelor's programme (hourly limit for marginal employment: 43 monthly hours) 15,30 €
Graduate student assistant with a bachelor's degree (hourly limit for marginal employment: 41 monthly hours) 16,00 €
Graduate student assistant with a master's degree (may only be hired if they work at least 43 hours per month) 21,30 €

In the budget, you should describe who will be working on a given task. You should also explain what level of expertise and experience a task requires, i.e. why a specific task requires a postdoctoral researchers while another task can be worked on by a doctoral student. If you already know who you want to employ in your project, it is advisable to describe why he or she is best qualified to work on your project or a specific task.

Staff costs in proposals submitted to the federal government

Budgets for proposals to the federal government will need to include a tailor-made calculation for staff costs. The Research Support team is happy to make this calculation for you. Please contact us!

Equipment and consumables

You may usually apply for equipment and consumables that are needed for a project. Try to give examples for the requested items instead of applying for unspecified "consumables for experiments", and explain the requested funds in as much detail as possible.

Travel Costs

With effect of 1 January 2022 new legislation to calculate travel costs came into force in Baden-Württemberg. HR have summarised the most important changes for you in this document (available in German only).

To calculate travel costs, we suggest that you try to make a realistic estimation of how much a trip will cost. You may furthermore refer to the following sums:

  • For domestic travel: 24 Euro daily allowance + 95 Euro for accomodation per night
  • For travel abroad, lump sums published in the "Allgemeinen Verwaltungsvorschrift des Bundes über die Neufestsetzung der Auslandstage- und Übernachtungsgelder" (ARVVwV, General administrative provision on the new stipulation of foreign per diem and travel allowances) apply.
  • Travel costs within Germany may be calculated on the basis of a 2nd class train ticket. For flights, use a travel website to estimate what a flight will cost approximately.
  • Include other costs, like conference fees or public transport also as part of your travel costs.

Make sure that you justify the need for your travels. Ideally, each trip is included in the work plan.

Events

Workshops, conferences or summer schools can be part of a research project or stand on their own. It is possible to apply for funding for both cases. It is usually possible to apply for funds to cover the following:

  • travel costs and accomodation for participants
  • rent
  • staff costs, usually for student assistants, to help prepare an event
  • consumables, such as costs for printing.

Honoraria, food and social events are often excluded from funding. You will need to find other sources to coves these costs. It is sometimes possible to find a sponsor; alternatively, asking for a small fee from the participants can help to cover costs.

The Event and Conference Management team can help you organise an event; the Research Support team can help you find funding for it.

Examples

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Conducting an experiment

To conduct an experiment, you recruit 90 people and 15 people as substitutes. For 30 minutes, 5 eurosare paid; the substitutes receive a lump sum of 5 euros.

90 x 30 minutes interview

45 x 30 minutes control interview

Total: 750 euros 90 x € 5 + 45 x € 5 + 15 x € 5

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Consumables

The costs for lab equipment and consumables for tasks in the work packages 2 and 3 are the following:

ca. 50 l liquid X (price per liter: 5 euros) = 250 euros

ca. 300 test glasses Y (price per item: 0.50 euros) = 150 euros

...

annual costs: 400 euros

Total for three years:

3 x 400 euros = 1,200 euros

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Calculating depreciation costs

You need a specific kind of gadget for your research project. It costs 150,000 euros. The depreciation period is thirteen years. The project runs for five years. You may apply for the costs that occur during the project lifetime.

150,000 euros : 13 years x 5 years project duration: 57,692.31 euros

Sum that you apply for as part of your budget: 57,692 euros

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Justification for travel costs

For each trip, you should provide:

- the purpose of the trip (conference, research, etc).

- destination

- number of people traveling

- duration of stay

- (estimated) costs for train or flight

- per diem rate and accomodation costs

- other costs

- total per trip and person 

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