Developing a Budget

When thinking about finding funding for your research, a good start is knowing why you need the funding, and how you will spend it. Transparent and justified budgets are one of the most important elements of successful projects, and can make or break an application.

When planning and preparing a research budget, you need to consider and justify why you require a range of direct research costs to ensure project outcomes are successfully delivered. It is important to ensure all costs are accurately estimated and documented in a transparent manner, consistent with each stage of your project.



Your budget needs to include all cash and in-kind items that the project will require. Budget items to consider are:

  • Staff costs (don't forget to factor in salary increases, oncosts and casual loadings),
  • Student stipends,
  • Equipment,
  • Consumables,
  • Travel,
  • Infrastructure and/or work unit fees.

In-kind is any non-cash contributions that a party contributes to the research project. In-kind can be contributed by Southern Cross University or by an external party, and can be:

  • staff (eg: if someone is contributing their time to the project but their time is not funded by the project) or
  • non-staff (eg: if you are making lab space available to conduct the project but are not receiving direct payment from the project to 'buy out' lab space)

For further details, see the Strategic considerations for preparing budgetsA general guide to best practice budget preparation and Budget Justification Guide.


Including Oncosts in a Budget

Oncosts are direct costs associated with salary, including superannuation, sick leave, payroll tax etc. and must be included your budget.

For Southern Cross University Academic and General Salaries, 32.15% oncosts apply. For Southern Cross University casual rates, 19% oncosts apply. The applicable percentage should be added to the appropriate Southern Cross University EB Salary rate. Please see the HR website for for the latest salary amounts.

If you use the these oncost amounts are automatically calculated for you.

Please note: For some schemes, the funding provider may stipulate a specific maximum rate for funding of salary oncosts, e.g. the Australian Research Council (ARC) will not fund more than 30% oncosts. In cases such as this, the difference between the allowable oncost rate and Southern Cross University actual rate, i.e.

32.15% minus 30% = 2.15%

can be added as an Southern Cross University in-kind contribution.

More information will be coming soon.

Infrastructure fees

The 15% Infrastructure fee is in place to cover costs associated with the University's support and development of research.

All research agreements are subject to the 15% infrastructure fee except:

  • Nationally competitive grants, except where the funding body/scheme expressly provides for such a fee*. For example, ACIAR allow a 13% fee for the lead organisation, and 5% for partner organisations. These allowed ACIAR fees would be split between the Office of the DCVR and the primary Faculty/Centre.
  • Projects under $20,000 GST exclusive
  • CRC grants and CRC project grants
  • Stipend only projects
  • If a project includes budget items that are clearly identified as student support (eg. stipends and/or operating costs), the infrastructure fee will not be applied to those student budget items (but will be applied to the balance).
  • Donations / funding for discretionary research (where there is no material benefit to the funder).

If the Infrastructure fee is applicable, your work unit may also charge a fee (Faculty/Centre fee) - please check with your finance officer whether a Faculty/Centre fee is applicable.

If you are aware of any funding bodies/schemes that allow for such a fee, please advise the Grants and Contracts Team.

Calculating the Infrastructure Fee

The 15% Infrastructure fee is 15% of the Base amount (ie. what the researcher needs to run the project). An example is below:

Budget $Budget item
10,000 Base Amount - what researchers need to run the project
1,500 Infrastructure fee - 15% of Base Amount*
1,000 Faculty/Centre fee - if applicable, calculate school fee as a % of Base Amount*
12,500 Amount requested from funding provider - total of Base Amount, infrastructure fee and school fee

If you use the Budget Templates provided, these fees are automatically calculated for you.

* Infrastructure and Faculty/Centre fees were previously calculated from the amount requested from funding provider, rather than the amount researchers needed to run the project. This resulted in compounding issues when both infrastructure fee and Faculty/Centre fees were being calculated. The calculation method has now been revised to make budgets easier to calculate.

Internal Budgets and Client Budgets

The Infrastructure fee and Faculty/Centre fee (if applicable) are internal fees and it's not necessary to show them as separate budget items (unless the rules of the funding body state that you have to).

An example is shown below of the difference between an internal budget, and how you can present the budget to your funding body:

Internal Budget:

(GST excl)
Budget item
18,532.58 Research Assistant (HEW 5/1 1.0 FTE for 3 months casual contract, including oncosts)
700.00 Collection sample kits (200 x $3.50 each)
3,000.00 Boat hire (2 days at $1,500 per day)
22,232.58 Base amount
3,334.88 Infrastructure fee
2,223.25 Faculty/Centre fee
27,790.71 Amount requested from funding provider

Budget to present to Client/Funding Provider:

Infrastructure and Faculty/Centre fees (if applicable) are 'built in' to each budget item. If you use the these amounts are automatically calculated for you.

(GST excl)
Budget item
$23,166 Salaries - Research Assistant
$875 Consumables - 200 collection sample kits
$3,750 Equipment - 2 days boat hire
$27,791 Amount requested from funding provider

text to be updated