Skip to main content

Congratulations on Your Successful Proposal!

We are here to help break down the submission process, discuss common pitfalls and describe how to build a better budget. The STGMS User Guide, which provides step-by-step instructions on submitting a budget in STGMS, is another great resource.

If you have any questions along the way, reach out to STScI Grants Administration.
(410) 338-4200     |

Proposal Timeline

Let’s walk through the process of submitting a budget in the Space Telescope Grants Management System (STGMS), which begins after successful proposal selections by the Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC). If you are looking for help submitting a proposal to TAC, you may reach out to the HST Help Desk or JWST Help Desk for more information. Prior to submitting a budget for an HST or JWST grant, proposers should carefully review the budget proposal process, which follows this general timeline:

Grants pre-award outline showing timeline of the budget review process


Budget Preparation

First things first. Are you eligible?

Note that NASA has revised the definition of U.S. Investigator and the Eligibility requirements have changed. The revision applies to new HST cost proposals submitted on or after May 25, 2022 and new JWST proposals submitted on or after September 14, 2022.

Reference the STScI General Grant Provisions (GGP), for more details, including the definition of a U.S. Investigator.

Have you reached out to your Sponsored Projects Office?

At most institutions, the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) is responsible for submitting the budget in STGMS.  Your institution will have internal due dates that precede STScI’s budget deadline.  Be sure you are aware of all internal due dates so that your institution is able to submit the budget on time.

Your SPO will assist with calculating the budget and with the budget narrative, while following institutional procedures, federal policies and the GGP.

If you are a Postdoc or Grad Student listed as the scientific investigator on a program, your institution may require that a faculty sponsor be listed as the Admin PI on the budget. Reach out to your SPO if you have any questions.

Are you a Program Admin PI or a Co-Investigator?

The budget requirements are different for a Program Admin PI versus a Co-I. The Program Admin PI must provide programmatic details, narrative instruments information and are responsible for approving all Co-I budgets submitted for the program.

Program Admin PIs also have access to PI Program Management in STGMS. This page provides a comprehensive overview of the program, which allows the Program Admin PI to set a budget threshold for Co-Is, review and approve budgets, and edit the narrative instruments information.

What type of budget are you preparing?

Expand the sections below to learn more information about different program types.



Ready to get started? Keep in mind...

Complete Budget

Ensure that all the components of the budget proposal are complete and in compliance with institutional policies, STScI requirements and Federal regulations. The responsibility of a clear, complete, and accurate budget and narrative rests with each investigator and their institution. The program budget is comprised of the individual budgets submitted by each Investigator requesting funding for their work on the program.

Period of Performance vs. Budget Period

If you have questions about when the period of performance will begin, reference Grant Awards in the Proposal Timeline section.

Period of Performance (PoP) is the time during which the grant recipient may incur costs to perform the work authorized under the STScI grant award.  Regardless of the months of support requested in the budget period/proposal, grants are awarded with a 3-year PoP.

To allow adequate time to complete the project and to alleviate the administrative burden of requesting a no-cost extension, the 3-year PoP essentially incorporates a 12-month automatic no-cost extension.  The additional year’s PoP is solely for the purpose of completing grant activities, and not to expend the unused balance.  If work on the project is completed in less than 3-years, final reports are submitted and the closeout process begins.

Budget Period is the period of time necessary to complete the proposed research effort (in a budget proposal).  This will be consistent with the project timeline in the budget narrative.  For example:  Postdoc salary for 12 months each in years 1 and 2 total 24 months, so the budget period is 2 years.

Depending on the type and complexity of the project, STScI normally expects the budget period to reduce and analyze data, and publish results, to be 1 – 2 years for most programs. It is expected that budget requests will not include more than 24 months of labor effort per person. Major projects may require a longer period of effort in excess of 2 years and up to 3 years. If a program requests funding for more than a 2-year effort, the science goals and justification must strongly justify support in excess of the standard 2-year budget period.

Level of Effort

Budgets for U.S. investigators should be proportionate to their level of effort. For example, if the foreign investigators are responsible for conducting the majority of the work on the project, and the U.S. team is responsible for a small portion of the work (e.g. contributing in an advisory role, or reducing a small amount of data), We would not expect to see a proportionately large budget for the U.S. team.

For more information about each budget element, expand the boxes below.

Cartwheel Galaxy

STGMS Budget Form

The STGMS User Guide provides step-by-step instructions for submitting a budget.

Budgets are generated and submitted using the Space Telescope Grants Management System (STGMS). Costs are entered in the STGMS budget form by cost-category. If a cost is listed in the budget and not in the budget narrative, or vice versa, the FRC will make a funding recommendation based on what makes the most sense.

STGMS Itemized budget form
Space Telescope Grants Management System (STGMS) itemized budget form.
Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way Collide

Budget Narrative

The required format is the Budget Narrative Template. The narrative may be generated in any software, but must be uploaded into STGMS in PDF format. The instructions in each section should be deleted prior to submitting the narrative.

Program Admin PIs - Complete Sections I - IV

Co-Investigators - Complete Sections III-IV

Incomplete information will likely result in a reduction of funding allocated to your program.

Eta Carinae UV

Current & Pending Support

A Current & Pending Support document is required for all budgets. If a Current & Pending Support document is created for an investigator, it will automatically attach to all budgets for that specific cycle.

If the grant has a different Science PI and Admin PI, the information is required for the Science PI only. The following information is required for all planned, pending, and current support. You may use your preferred format for the document. 

  • Funding Source
  • Amount Awarded
  • Number of Months of investigator Salary
  • Project Period
  • Project Title
Planetary Nebula NGC6302

Additional Program Admin PI Responsibilities

For Program Admin PIs ONLY

In addition to the STGMS Budget Form, Budget Narrative, and Current & Pending Support, the Program Admin PI must also:

  • Provide narrative instruments information
  • Approve Co-I budgets

These requirements can be completed on the PI Program Management page in STGMS, which can also be used to view program funding and set budget thresholds. This page is only available to Program Admin PIs.


Narrative Instruments

For AR programs, add a row to enter the instrument used to obtain the original observations. If only one instrument is involved, list that instrument as the primary instrument. Enter the number of science images/spectra that will result from the AR work and the number of distinct science targets for your program. For AR Theory programs, select “Theory” from the drop-down menu. It is not necessary to enter image or target amounts for Theory Programs.

For GO Programs, add a row to select the instrument to be used for your primary or parallel observations. Enter the number of science images. Repeat for multiple instruments. Enter the number of distinct science targets for your program. Select the “Save” and “Done” buttons to save the information in STGMS.

Approving Co-I Budgets

Only budgets with a status of 'Needs PI Approval' or 'Needs Revision' can be modified. To change the status of a budget on the PI Program Management page, click directly in the field under the Budget Status column. A drop-down box will appear with status options. When the Program Admin PI approves a budget, the PI Approved Amount is set to the total of that budget. STGMS will automatically email the Co-I confirming submission of the budget to STScI.

Writing a Budget Narrative

A strong, clear budget narrative is key. The Financial Review Committee (FRC) requires this information to review budget proposals and make funding recommendations based on the tasks, level of effort, and other costs required to complete the research in the approved science proposal.

The budget narrative includes I. Summary of contribution of all investigators, II. Technical Program Summary, III. Program Management Plan, and IV. Budget Description, including all non-labor costs (e.g. travel, computer equipment and services, publication charges, etc.).

The required format is the Budget Narrative Template. Requests that do not use the required budget narrative template will be returned. The template includes detailed instructions for completing each section (I-IV) of the budget narrative. Program Admin PIs must complete all sections of the budget narrative template (section IV should only include costs for your budget). Co-Is are only required to complete sections III and IV of the budget narrative template.

Read below for a summary of the different sections of the Budget Narrative Template.

Budget Narrative template

What sort of costs can I request in my budget?

Common budget cost categories include:

  • Salaries and Fringe

  • Travel
  • Supplies and Materials
  • Computer Services
  • Publication Costs
  • Equipment
  • Other, including tuition and relocation
  • Indirect Costs

For further details about allowable, allocable and reasonable costs, see the GGP.

What costs are specifically unallowable?

STScI has the final authority to determine if costs for budgets, awards, and expenditures are allowable, reasonable, and allocable.  STScI reserves the right to recover grant expenditures that were not in compliance with applicable policies and regulations Unallowable costs will be removed from the budget request. Some examples of unallowable costs:

  • Work outside of the approved science proposal
  • Effort that is over-scoped in comparison with the approved science proposal or not justified in the budget narrative
  • Excessive costs (in any cost category)
  • Work for which results have already been published
  • Support for ineligible investigators
  • Cell phones and data plans that support personal devices
  • Internet Service Provider (ISP) costs outside of the host institution
  • Management Fee, Cost of Money, Profit, Other Fees that are not justified
  • Encumbrances
  • Visas and visa renewal costs
  • Proposal preparation activities
  • Support for ground-based observations not included in the approved science proposal

Are you submitting a Continuation budget?

For detailed information about submitting a Continuation budget, reference Continuation under "What type of budget are preparing?" above.

Can I request support for ground-based observations?

Support for ground-based observations may be requested in the budget if they were included within the scope of the research effort defined in the approved science proposal. The total cost of ground-based observations should be only a small portion (generally not more than 10%) of the overall program budget.

What if I require a preparatory grant?

Preparatory (prep) funding should be requested at the time of budget submission. The field for this request is in the STGMS budget form under the Indirect Costs accordion section and should be justified in the budget narrative.

Prep funding is available for GO programs only. Up to 25% of the total approved budgeted amount may be requested to begin essential work prior to observations. Preparatory funding is awarded subject to the submission of revised budgets and/or overdue reports.

Are pre-award costs allowable?

In accordance with the GGP, pre-award costs are an allowable expense. Please note that such costs are incurred at the grantee’s own risk and will not impose an obligation on the part of STScI or NASA if an award is not subsequently made, or if an award is made for a lesser amount than the grantee anticipated. The costs must be for project activities directly related to a specific STScI program and necessary for efficient and timely performance of the scope of work. Such costs are allowable only to the extent that they would have been allowable if incurred after the date of the grant award. STScI waives the approval requirement for pre-award costs of 90 days or less.


Submitting a Budget in STGMS

The budget requirements are different for a Program Admin PI and Co-Investigators. Please reference each checklist below for details.


✓ Complete budget form in STGMS 

✓ Upload Current and Pending Support

✓ Attach completed Budget Narrative Template (all sections)

✓ Add narrative instruments information

✓ Approve Co-I budgets

✓ Complete budget form in STGMS 

✓ Upload Current and Pending Support

✓ Attach completed Budget Narrative Template (sections III-IV)


Let's get started...

First, verify that your MyST profile is up-to-date! This includes double-checking that your institution and email address are current, which is an important step to make sure you receive our notifications.

If you do not have an STGMS account, contact STScI Grants Administration at for a list of STGMS User Account Managers at your institution who can assist you in creating an account. Levels of access to STGMS system are maintained by the grantee institution. If you require a revision of your access level, contact an account manager at your institution.

Once you are logged in to STGMS, from the Main Menu navigate to Budget > Budget search. There are a few ways to find your budget form but the easiest way is to enter the 5-digit program number (e.g. - 12345) in the Program Number field. Select your grant number as it auto-populates, click Search, then choose your grant from the list below. From the Budget List page you will be able to create new budgets or revise existing budgets. The STGMS User Guide includes step-by-step instructions for using the budget editor feature.

Don't forget to upload your Current and Pending

Every budget submitted to STScI must have Current and Pending Support (C&P) for the Grant Science PI. If the PI already has a C&P document for the cycle in STGMS, the document will automatically attach. If the PI must create a new C&P document, select the 'Create Current & Pending Document' button and attach the PDF. The following information is required:

  • Funding Source
  • Amount Awarded
  • Number of Months of PI Salary
  • Project Period
  • Project Title

Time to attach your Budget Narrative

As a reminder, the Program Admin PI should complete sections I through IV of the Budget Narrative Template. Co-Is are only required to complete sections III and IV. Be sure to delete the instructions in each section and convert to a PDF format prior to uploading the Budget Narrative to the budget form in STGMS. Incomplete information will likely result in a reduction of funding allocated to your program.


Give your budget one final review. When you're ready, scroll to the bottom of the budget editor form to either 'Save & Notify' or 'Submit' the budget. Typically, Investigators are only able to 'Save & Notify', which will forward your budget to folks at your institution who have the privilege to submit budget(s) on your behalf.

If you have the privilege to submit a budget, you will receive a pop-up dialog box to certify acceptance and compliance with certifications, assurances, and representations. The submitter must check all three boxes before the submit button is available to click, at which time a password is required.

What's the review process?

All budget proposals are reviewed by the Financial Review Committee (FRC), made up of scientists from the user community. The FRC applies specific criteria to assess whether the funding requested is justified. These include:

  • Is the scope of activities described in the budget narrative consistent with the science goals from the TAC proposal?
    • Proposers must ensure that all data reduction and analysis tasks identified for funding map directly to the science goals described in the original proposal. Additional work that broadens the scope of the program will not be funded.
  • Is the requested level of funding support consistent with the scope of work undertaken?
    • The time and effort devoted to each task should be commensurate with the experience of the funded investigator; for example, a postdoctoral fellow would be expected to complete work on a faster timescale than a graduate student. In general, funding is limited to 24 months for any individual; funding extending into a third year will receive additional scrutiny.
  • Are the institutional budgets well coordinated?
    • Each institution submits a separate budget as part of the grant proposal. It is vital that the PI ensures that those are coordinated to provide a clear description of the division of work and effort.
  • Is there a clear description of the work to be carried out by each investigator on the proposal, including non-US investigators?
    • All investigators are expected to contribute. The budget narrative should include a clear description of who is responsible for what and why the work has been distributed in this manner.
  • Does the proposal include a detailed timeline as part of the work plan?
    • The budget narrative should provide milestones for key deliverables.
  • Is there any unnecessary duplication of work?
    • The budget narrative needs to differentiate clearly the work done by each investigator. Plans to have two or more groups undertake the same analysis need an appropriately strong justification.
  • Is the requested funding for travel and publications and support for ancillary work reasonable?
    • In general, travel and publication support should together be less than 10% of the total budget or ~$15,000 (whichever is higher). Proposers requesting higher levels of support should provide a clear justification.
    • Support for ancillary work (e.g. ground-based observations, laboratory work) is limited to less than 10% of the total budget and the work must be described in the TAC proposal.

It may be necessary to apply additional cuts to programs beyond those recommended by the FRC if the total requested by all programs exceeds the funding made available by NASA.

For more details, please consult the GGP.


A notification is issued once the budget has been submitted. If the budget is for a Program Admin PI, the budget is automatically PI approved. If the budget is for a Co-I, the Program Admin PI will be notified to approve your budget. The table below describes different statuses of a budget.

Status Type Description
Approved The budget was submitted and has been reviewed and approved by STScI Grants Administration.
Denied The budget is denied.
Needs PI Approval The budget was submitted and is pending approval from the Program Admin PI.
Needs Revision Revisions are required before the budget can be approved.
Pending FRC The budget was submitted and is pending review by the Financial Review Committee (FRC).
PI Approved The Program Admin PI has provided PI approval and the budget is pending review by STScI Grants Administration. (A budget submitted by a Program Admin PI is automatically PI approved.)
Saved The budget is in process. STScI Grants Administration does not have access to saved budgets.
Superceded STGMS automatically supercedes a budget once a revision is submitted. This status is also used for transfer situations.



You may find the following resources helpful as you go through the budget submission process. Still have questions? Reach out to STScI Grants Administration at (410) 338-4200 or


For general questions and information, please contact us at or 410-338-4200.

Institutions may set up electronic payments by emailing