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NCCIH Research Blog

How Do We Arrive at Your Final Grant Budget?

April 29, 2024

Debbie Chen

Debbie Chen

Chief Grants Management Officer

Office of Grants Management

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

One question we sometimes hear in the Office of Grants Management at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is, “Why is my budget from NCCIH lower than what I requested?” I’ll offer you some insights and tips. 

After you submit your application, an initial review group (IRG) reviews your proposal, an NCCIH scientific review officer prepares a summary statement, and your application undergoes secondary review by the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health. If your project is selected for funding, Grants Management will review your budget for compliance with Federal grant regulations, National Institutes of Health (NIH) policies, and funding opportunity requirements. 

Some reasons that budget cuts are made include:

  1. The summary statement. The IRG comments not only on your proposal’s scientific merits but its budget costs. If the IRG recommends a budget cut, Grants Management will take a cut in your budget. 
  1. Project aims and scope. Based on the summary statement and/or NCCIH programmatic priorities, NCCIH may request that you reduce the project’s aims or modify its scope. If these changes result in a reduced level of work, we will reduce your budget.  
  2. NCCIH funding guidelines. NCCIH publishes its funding strategy each fiscal year. In Fiscal Year 2024, for example, NCCIH investigator-initiated R01-equivalent awards typically will have a 15 percent reduction of the award, including in out-year commitments.
  3. Limits in a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO). Some NOFOs may include overall budget limits, or caps/limits in specific categories. For a conference grant (R13), for example, we do not cover equipment purchases, honoraria payments, or facilities and administrative costs.
  4. Federal regulations and NIH policies on unallowable costs. Your budget is reviewed for the allowability of each cost in accordance with Federal regulations and NIH policies, e.g.: 
    • If you include food or entertainment costs under a research award, those may be cut.
    • Per NIH fiscal policy (Notice Number NOT-OD-12-036, released in 2012), if you escalate salaries or other costs in outyears, NCCIH will reduce these costs in the final budget. 

Here are a few things you can do to help your budget submission: 

  • Thoroughly study NCCIH’s funding guidelines and any cost limits in your NOFO of interest before you begin to write your budget. 
  • Work with your institution’s administrative office before submission to identify and eliminate any unallowable costs. 
  • In your budget justification, clearly justify the need for each line item. 

If you do receive a reduced budget, know that all the reviews and calculations have carefully followed Federal, NIH, and NCCIH requirements to ensure optimal stewardship of the Federal funds. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to the NCCIH grants management contact listed on your NOFO of interest, and we’ll be glad to help. 


For More Information

Develop Your Budget (NIH Grants and Funding)

Funding Strategy (NCCIH)

Grant Application Resources (NCCIH) 


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