Many grant and fellowship programs—at Harvard and beyond—require applicants to submit a budget with their application materials. The main purpose of a budget is to answer an important selection committee question: what will it cost for you to complete the project you outline in your grant proposal?
Your application as a whole must demonstrate the significance and feasibility of your project.
To many reviewers, the budget you submit will be as important as your essay in demonstrating your project’s feasibility. With that in mind, take time to research your funding needs appropriately.
For every budget you submit, you will be asked to address three basic questions:
Expenses include any legitimate costs required for the successful completion of your project. For most returning undergraduates, major expenses will include travel (to and from the site as well as site-specific travel associated with the project), room (housing expenses throughout the project), board (expenses for food throughout the project), and major incidentals (such as archival fees, film, a passport, or vaccinations). If you’ll be living at home, or if your organization provides housing, you won’t need to list these expenses. In any event, let your project determine what you ask for.
Some funding sources—not many—allow students on financial aid to factor summer earnings expectations into their expenses. As a general rule, however, lost income is not considered a legitimate expense.
Assets include any sources of income you know you can dedicate to the project. These might include a part-time job, family contribution, another grant, or a loan—but they should only be sources you can devote to your project. For example, if you’re willing to allocate $1,000 from your savings to the project, say so in your budget. But if that $1,000 is earmarked for books next year, or is a gift from your grandmother for educational expenses, don’t feel obligated to include it as an asset. Don’t worry if you really have no assets to contribute—committees only look for honest assessments of circumstances.
Need is essentially the result of a simple equation subtracting assets from expenses. If there are complicating factors in the equation, be sure to tell committees about them somehow. If a selection committee thinks your project has competitive merit, it will typically want to help meet your need if it can.
Every budget you submit should follow three guiding principles:
Preparing a project budget is a relatively straightforward process that will draw on your research skills, common sense, and imagination. Think of yourself in the midst of your project—what will you need to get there, and what will you need to carry out your daily routine?
Student-oriented travel agencies such as Student Universe (www.studentuniverse.com) and STA Travel (www.statravel.com) can help identify cost-saving airfare and other travel expenses. Online services such as Kayak (www.kayak.com) can help with comparison shopping for economical fares. Student travel guides such as the Let’s Go or Lonely Planet series usually provide information on daily expenses in your destination, such as food, lodging, and local travel.
Online classified ads in newspapers from your destination or on websites like Craig’s List can give you a sense of local rents and sublet or roommate options. Local universities may have information about housing options as well as general advice about local costs for visiting students. Don’t forget people on location—if you’ve been in contact with someone to explore internship or research opportunities, ask them about local costs for students or for help identifying local sources of such information.
Let your imagination—and the research skills you use in class work—guide you as you explore what it will cost to do your project. Your budget is important in showing a committee that your project is feasible—it’s also important in assuring you that you can make it work.
To help you with your research, we’ve put together a list of websites that provide information about basic living expenses in many of the domestic and international destinations undergraduates selected for their projects in the summer of 2009. If your destination isn’t on this list, look for similar resources for your city or country.
|Beijing||www.stuckinbeijing.com, www.1800what.com, www.tefl.com, beijing.craigslist.com.cn, www.tripadvisor.com, www.goinglobal.com|
|Berlin||www.tefl.com, berlin.en.craigslist.de, www.studenten-wg.de, www.expat-blog.com, www.bvg.de/index.php|
|Boston||boston.craigslist.org, www.sublet.com/city_rentals/bostonarea_rentals.asp, www.peapod.com, www.mbta.com|
|Buenos Aires||www.tefl.com, teaching-abroad.suite101.com, paddyinba.blogspot.com, www.goinglobal.com, www.subte.com.ar|
|Geneva||switzerlandisyours.com, www.asso-etud.unige.ch, geneva.en.craigslist.ch, housing.justlanded.com, www.tpg.ch|
|Johannesburg||www.goinglobal.com, www.justlanded.com, johannesburg.craigslist.co.za, www.iep.org.au, www.joburg.org.za|
|London||www.workgateways.com, www.lonelyplanet.com, www.tefl.com, www.tesco.com, london.craigslist.co.uk, www.tfl.gov.uk|
|Los Angeles||losangeles.craigslist.org, www.cho.ucla.edu, www.safeway.com/IFL/Grocery/Home, www.metro.net|
|Madrid||www.expatforum.com, www.spain-info.com, www.spainexpat.com, Madrid.en.craigslist.es, www.metromadrid.es|
|Mexico City||www.mexicocity.com.mx, www.expatforum.com, mexicocity.en.craigslist.com.mx, www.metro.df.gob.mx|
|Mumbai||www.tefl.com, www.lonelyplanet.com, india.accommodationforstudents.com, mumbai.cragslist.co.in|
|Paris||www.abroadeducation.com, www.campusfrance.org, www.tefl.com, paris.en.craigslist.org, www.ratp.info|
|Santiago||escapeartist.com, www.teachingchile.com, www.contactchile.cl, www.metrosantiago.cl|
|Sydney||www.international.mq.edu.au, www.expatforum.com, www.justlanded.com, www.tefl.com, sydney.craigslist.com.au|
|Washington D.C.||washingtondc.craigslist.org, och.georgetown.edu, www.dcinternhousing.com, www.safeway.com/IFL/Grocery/Home, www.wmata.com|