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Rebudgeting Research Project Funds


One of the most common adjustments to a research project involves the transferring of funds from one budget category to another to accommodate unanticipated expenditures, for example, travel. This alteration between budget categories does not change the total research dollars for the project and is referred to as a rebudget. It is normally required to be done in advance of the activity; i.e., requires prior approval.

  • Domestic travel expenditures that exceed the approved budget amount by $500 or 25%, whichever is greater, requires prior approval.
  • Foreign travel not approved in the budget requires prior approval. (Foreign travel is any travel performed outside the United States, its territories and possessions, and Canada. Travel within the U.S. or Canada enroute to or from a foreign destination is considered foreign travel.)

Prior Approval (Institutional)

Some federal agencies DHHS/PHS/NIH, NSF, USDA, DOE, NASA) permit the grantee institution local authority to rebudget between budget categories when the expenditures are necessary for the successful continuation or completion of the project under the following general conditions and procedures:

  • The rebudgeting of funds must neither impair the investigator's ability to complete the project or activity as approved nor increase the total cost to the grant.
  • The rebudgeted funds may not be used for any purpose disallowed as a condition of the grant.
  • The rebudgeting request must be reviewed for scientific or program propriety in relation to the objectives of the specific project supported by the grant to which the charges will be made.
  • The request for rebudgeting is initiated by the Principal Investigator (PI) in a letter addressed to the Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP).

For projects from these agencies, the rebudgeting process is initiated by the PI via a letter to the director of DSP requesting prior approval for the expenditures. The rebudget letter must be "before-the-fact" and must indicate the following:

  • PI name,
  • Award identifier (i.e., Purdue account number and sponsor name),
  • Exact nature of the expenditures,
  • Budget categories which would be altered,
  • Full explanation of the need for the budget change, including any significant effect on the general scientific direction of the project; and,
  • Travel dates (if appropriate).

The prior approval rebudget must include signatures of the PI, department head, (or director of Institute, Center, or Agricultural Experiment Station), and academic dean. The department head (or director) and dean signatures indicate academic approval of the proposed request.

Prior Approval (By Sponsor)

Other federal agencies (e.g., DOD, DE, EPA, DOT, DOI, AID) as well as state agencies, foundations, and foreign sponsors, have not given Purdue the authority to rebudget between categories and the rebudget request must be submitted to the agency for sponsor approval. With grants or contracts from these sponsors, letters requesting rebudgeting should be addressed to the sponsor's program or grants officer. These letters must be signed by the PI but do not require the department head or dean signatures. (Please note: A rebudget letter addressed to the sponsor requesting a change in personnel and/or salaries does require the signatures of the department head and academic dean.) However, most sponsors do require the signature of an institutional official before they will act upon such a request, so the letter should be sent to DSP before it leaves the university. The request will be reviewed fiscally by Sponsored Program Services (formerly OCGBA) and technically by DSP staff, countersigned by a DSP director recommending approval by the agency, and forwarded to the sponsor for their review/approval. The sponsor notifies DSP in writing whether the request was "approved" or "disapproved". DSP sends a copy of the sponsor's correspondence to the PI, BA, and Sponsored Program Services (formerly OCGBA) to inform them of the sponsor's decision.