Develop Your Grant Proposal

All proposals to external sponsors are required to be routed through the OSPR prior to submission. The pre-award team will work with you to fully develop and submit your proposal.

For a look at the steps in the submission process, please visit Submit Your Proposal.

Before contacting the OSPR pre-award team, you may wish to develop the proposal partially on your own, to ensure proof of concept before advancing further.

What Does My Proposal Need?

A Draft Budget

To create an estimated budget for review, you will need to account for any applicable budget categories. A selection of common categories are:

  • Personnel Salaries and Wages
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Graduate Assistants and Tuition
  • Subrecipients
  • Consultants
  • Travel
  • Equipment
  • Supplies and Materials
  • F&A Costs

Information on calculating these categories can be found below in the section “How do I build the budget?”

A Clear and Successful Narrative

The OSPR's pre-award staff can assist with reviewing your proposal and performing minor copy edits, but cannot assist with writing or double-checking your science or academic rigor.

To help you with thinking critically about your narrative as you write, we have compiled the resources below from successful grant-writer Dr. Judith Killen:

To Comply with Federal, State, and Towson University Research Regulations

When serving as PI, you are responsible for adhering to research regulations.

Compliance topics you should keep in mind while developing your proposal include:

How Do I Build the Budget?

Drafting the budget can be challenging. Select a title below for instructions on how to calculate that cost element.

Calculating the Cost

Determine if you, or any other faculty involved, will need a course release for the project work

  1. A course release is calculated on the basis of an eight-course annual teaching load (PDF)
  2. One course release is 1/8, or 12.5% of annual effort
  3. Course releases required prior approval from department chair before being granted to ensure availability of replacement teaching
  4. Requesting more than one course release per year is uncommon, and should be discussed with your department chair, dean and the OSPR immediately
  5. To calculate: Multiply your annual salary (including COLA adjustment, if applicable) by the effort percentage

Determine if you, or any faculty involved, will perform effort during the summer (considered supplemental pay)

  1. Summer effort is determined as a percentage, based on time worked out of the two summer months not on-contract (for example: if you worked one and a half summer months, your effort would be 50%)
  2. Estimate your "summer salary" by dividing your normal annual salary by 3 (dividing your salary by 9 to determine the monthly salary, then multiplying by 3 for the summer months)
  3. To calculate: Multiply your summer salary by the summer effort percentage

Determine if you, or any faculty involved, will perform effort during their sabbatical

  1. Check your college's policies and procedures regarding sabbatical leave (eligibility, deadlines, etc.)
  2. A sabbatical leave application will need to be completed and submitted
  3. As Towson University will only cover one semester of sabbatical funding, the second, optional semester will typically be covered by grant funding
  4. Effort for the second sabbatical semester will be 50% of annual effort
  5. To calculate: Multiply your annual salary (including COLA adjustment, if applicable) by the effort percentage

For employees with a primary staff exempt position (regular full-time exempt staff or contingent II exempt staff)

  1. Determine effort as a percentage of annual or weekly effort based on a 40-hour workweek (e.g. 10 hours a week will be devoted to the project, or 25% effort)
  2. To calculate: Multiply annual salary by effort on project (if salary is unknown, contact the OSPR pre-award team for more information)

For employees who are or will be hired as contingent I personnel, and undergraduate student workers

  1. Determine the following:
    1. Dollars per hour the person will be paid (the Career Center website provides pay scale guidelines)
    2. How many hours per week the person will work (for student workers, cannot be more than 20 hours per week in the academic year)
    3. How many weeks the person will work on the project
  2. To calculate: Multiply the dollars per hour by hours per week by weeks worked

Determine the level of graduate assistance you require for your project

For reference, review the Graduate Assistantship Handbook.

Review the latest GA stipend and waiver rates table

The rates and dates for fall, spring, and summer semesters are updated each fiscal year. The current tables can be found on the Graduate Assistantships page of the TU website.


  • The table is broken into summer and fall/spring timeframes
  • Use the table to determine the appropriate stipend for the level of GA and how much time they will spend on the sponsored project
  • For GAs, 20 hours a week is considered "full time," 10 hours a week is "part time"
  • The appropriate tuition waiver must be included if the GA is working on the sponsored project during the academic year
  • Summer tuition waiver may be included at the discretion of the PI
  • Keep in mind the deadline date of the GA application for your appropriate semester (deadlines will be on the rates and dates sheet)
  • Suggested best practice is to build at least 30 days' lead time before the GA's application date to allow for notice of grant award processing

For further details about graduate assistantships, please view the Office of Graduate Studies' Graduate Assistantships page.

 Towson university fringe benefit table

Personnel Group Percentage
Faculty (during academic year)

Effective FY23: 39%

Effective FY25: 40%

TU staff (calendar year)

Effective FY23: 39%

Effective FY25: 40%

Contingent II employees 27%
FICA only (faculty during summer, student workers, part-time GAs, contingent I) 8%

To calculate: Multiply the appropriate fringe benefit rate by the salary or wages of the selected personnel for each budget period.

Please note: Retirement benefits are not withheld from the salaries of graduate assistants. Graduate assistants are exempt from Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes provided that they maintain enrollment and are registered with at least half-time status (6 units). Graduate assistants taking less than 6 course units during the fall and spring terms are subject to FICA.

For more information, see the Graduate Assistantship Handbook.


Please note: For more information about the currently effective rate agreement, or to download a PDF copy of the agreement, view the Institutional Data page.

Determine if the sponsor or opportunity restrict F&A costs in any way

  • In some cases, F&A costs may not be allowed at all
  • If F&A is allowed but restricted, take note of the percentage listed and any instructions given for allowable direct cost bases

Determine if the sponsored project will be on or off-campus

  • For on-campus projects, use an F&A rate of 46.5% MTDC
  • For off-campus projects, use an F&A rate of 26.5% MTDC

Determine your F&A base

For MTDC, the F&A base includes all direct costs plus salaries / wages and fringe benefits, minus the following:
  • Equipment
  • GA tuition and fees
  • Subrecipient costs over $25,000
  • If applicable: participant costs (check opportunity for more info)
For TDC, the F&A base includes all direct costs plus salaries / wages and fringe benefits

To calculate: Multiply your F&A base by your F&A rate

What if My Proposal Is Being Submitted by the Towson University Foundation?

The Towson University Foundation has prepared a selection of documents to help you get started with creating your proposal and understand what to expect during and after the application process.

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