NIH Modular Budgets

Determining if your NIH application must be modular:

Pointer You must use modular applications and procedures for all new, revised and competing continuations for individual research project grants (R01), small grants (R03), exploratory/developmental grants (R21), and Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15) that request direct costs in the amount of $250,000 or less for each budget year.

Pointer Unsolicited applications requesting more than $250,000 direct costs in any year and grant types (excluding RFAs) not specified above will follow the traditional application instructions and policies.

Pointer RFAs soliciting applications greater than $250,000 total direct dollars may be modular at the discretion of the issuing agency, so read your RFA carefully. Any RFA or PA issued since December 1, 1998 that involves modular grant applications will state that fact. Any appropriate active PAs released before that time will also require submission in the modular format.

Pointer If, under the above listed rules, your application should be submitted under the modular guidelines, but your RFA states the application should use the traditional PHS 398 application, submit your application according to the instructions specified in the RFA.

Application Packet:

If your grant application is not subject to the modular grant process, you must use the traditional forms and instructions found in PHS Application Packet 398. 

If your application must use the modular grant process, you will use PHS Application Packet 398 with the following modifications:


Pointer The total direct costs will be requested in increments of $25,000 up to a total direct cost $250,000 per year.

Pointer For each grant year, you must request the same direct dollar amount in increments of $25,000 or supply a narrative budget justification explaining the variation in modules.

Pointer There will be no routine escalation for future years.

Pointer Do not complete or submit Page 4 nor Page 5 of the PHS 398 Application Packet.

Pointer Applicants must use the current salary cap when estimating salary.

Narrative Budget Justification Format:

Pointer A sample page may be downloaded from:

Pointer At the top of the page, enter the total direct costs requested for each year.

Pointer Under Personnel, list all project personnel, including consultants and “to be appointed” positions. You must include their names, percent of effort, and roles on the project, but do not include salary information.

Pointer For Consortium/Contractual costs:

Provide an estimate of total costs, including facilities and administrative costs (indirect), for each year.

Round each year to the nearest $1,000.

List the individuals/organizations with whom consortium or contractual arrangements have been made, the percent of effort of key personnel, and the role on the project.

Indicate whether the collaborating institution is foreign or domestic. 

Include the total costs for consortium/contractual arrangements in the overall requested direct cost amount. 

Pointer As noted above, provide an additional narrative budget justification for any variation in the amount of $25,000 direct cost increments requested for each year of the project.

Other Support:

Pointer Do not submit the Other support pages with the application. Following peer review, Other Support information will be requested by NIH for applications being considered for award.


Pointer A Checklist must be completed/submitted with the application.

Pointer You must include the F&A rate agreement type (DHHS) and date (August 4, 1999).

Pointer The Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs should be calculated using UK’s negotiated F&A rate, less exclusions for the initial budget period and all future budget periods. It is not necessary to list the exclusions on the Checklist, nor anywhere in the application.


Per NIH, non-compliant applications will be returned without review, but may be revised and resubmitted. If resubmission occurs in a timely manner, revised applications may remain in the intended review cycle. An application will be considered non-compliant if:

Pointer The requested direct cost budget is not in modules of $25,000 for requests up to $250,000/yr.

Pointer A detailed itemized categorical budget is provided.

Pointer The Budget Narrative Justification page includes an itemized justification for one or more of the following: equipment, supplies, travel, other expenses, etc., but the number of modules requested in each year is the same, or the information is not intended to explain the request for a different number of modules in one or more years.

Pointer OTHER SUPPORT pages are supplied, in addition to or in the absence of the section in the Biographical Sketch identifying “Research Projects Ongoing or Completed During the Last Three Years."

Pointer The Biographical Sketch lists “Current and Pending Support” instead of or in addition to the required information.

Effects of the Modular Process on U-K Policies and Procedures:

Pointer The grant is still subject to Cost Accounting Standards and OMB A-21. 

Pointer The PI is required to complete the Internal Approval Form and Disclosure of Financial Interest Forms prior to submission of the proposal. Remember to include any cost sharing commitment on the Internal Approval Form.

Pointer A detailed budget and budget justification is required only for those projects that are funded. The budget will be reviewed for compliance with University costing policy, and the Research Administrator responsible for the account will attach the detailed budget and justification to PADR #1.

University of Kentucky | UK Research
Updated March 9, 2012 | Questions/Corrections to Sean Scott