Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Haas Scholars Program

Budget Policies

Note: This page is currently being updated for the 2024-2025 application cycle – thank you for your patience!

Your budget is an important part of your proposal. It does not count toward your word limit, so include every item in your project proposal that will cost money. Specificity is encouraged: i.e., instead of listing “digital voice recorder, $50” say : “Sony ICD-PX333 Digital Voice Recorder, $56.88 with free shipping at Amazon.com.” Use exact costs and item descriptions whenever possible, and include tax in the prices of items. For some sample budget templates, please make an appointment with the Program Director at haas_scholars@berkeley.edu.  

Budget Policies

Your Haas Scholars research budget cannot exceed $5,000, and if your project is not inherently expensive (e.g., a local interview project without any special equipment needs), it should not go to the maximum amount. Please review the policies below regarding what may and may not be included in your budget. Aim for a budget that is realistic but not extravagant or wasteful. Money not spent by you is money that can fund future Haas Scholars! 

Unless you have received an explicit exemption, all expenditures must take place between Orientation Week of the year you are selected and the last day of finals in the following Spring semester. Do not include expenditures that will be incurred outside of that period. Once you have been selected and confirmed as a Haas Scholar, you may ask permission to spend funds before Orientation Week, especially for airfare for summer travel.

Remember that all of the money you receive from the Haas Scholars Program—both living stipends and research expenses stipend—are taxable. See IRS publication 970 for additional details.

PLEASE NOTE: If your total research expenses will exceed the amount of your research budget, your budget must reflect the entire cost of the project.  Clearly identify which items in your budget will be paid for by HSP funding, and which will be covered through other sources (if another fellowship or grant, identify the funding source by name; you will need Haas Scholars Program permission to accept additional funding).

You must categorize each item into one of the following five categories:  Travel, Equipment, Supplies, Services, or Other. An explanation of what items fall into which category is below. We also recommend that you use one of our sample Excel spreadsheets to organize your budget because, if you are selected as a Haas Scholar, you will need to track your expenses using the format provided in the sample Excel document. You can request access to the sample budget spreadsheets by making an appointment with the Program Director at haas_scholars@berkeley.edu.

The sample budget spreadsheet includes a “Notes” field where you should provide a brief explanation of why each line item is included in your budget.  If a particular item requires more detail (as in the situations below), please write a “Budget Narrative” and include it with the PDF of your Excel spreadsheet. In the narrative, you should justify any expenses that are not clearly in accordance with usual Haas Scholars practice, or where you may feel the review committee will need supplemental information to determine the validity of particular expense items.

Category Explanations and Policies


The travel category includes transportation, meals, lodging, and any other expenses directly associated with travel to another location to perform research. Note that while food and lodging in a place other than Berkeley is an allowable research expense, food and lodging in Berkeley is not. We expect you to cover food and lodging in Berkeley out of your summer living stipend.


  • Your research requires you to spend the entire summer visiting an archive in Lyon, France. You may include all expenses related to airfare, train fare, lodging, and meals while you are there.
  • Your research requires interviewing subjects in different locations around San Francisco. You may include BART/bus fare/vehicle mileage to meet your interview subjects, but you may not include your own personal lodging and meals while you are living in the SF Bay Area.
  • Your research entails conducting interviews for 8 weeks in Salvador, Brazil, and then conducting similar interviews in the SF Bay Area. You may include expenses related to airfare, train fare, lodging, and meals while you are in Salvador, but when you return to the Bay Area, you may not include these expenses in your research budget.
  • You are an out-of-state student and usually spend the summer with your family in Ohio to save money on rent. However, your research entails spending 8 weeks in the archives of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The University defines “travel” in relation to Berkeley, not in relation to one’s permanent residence. Therefore, any living expenses in the SF Bay Area would need to come out of your living stipend, not as part of your research budget.

The University also has special regulations governing allowable travel expenditures, as follows: Meal ceiling per day: $46. Note that this is a “worst case scenario”; for example, a conference at an expensive hotel in Europe where there is no possibility of walking to a cheaper restaurant. Normally, Haas Scholars are expected to spend far less on each meal.

The Haas Scholars Program will pay full expenses for you to travel to one conference; if you wish to attend a second conference, we will pay for registration fee/membership only. The applicant may propose to attend a conference as late as June of the year of graduation, but not beyond.

Hotel reimbursement maximum is $200/day. If the hotel room costs more than that, plan to have a roommate (or two), or stay at a less expensive hotel. 

Services such as airbnb.com, vrbo.com, couchsurfing.com, etc. may be a way to save money on lodging, but your personal safety comes first. Arrange your accommodations at the lowest cost possible that does not compromise your safety and health.

Private car mileage reimbursement: $ 0.655/mile for proposals after January 1, 2022, as per university policy. However, private car reimbursement is permissible only if it is the cheapest transportation option. Similarly, taxis, parking, and tolls are permissible within reason, as long as these expenses fall within the cheapest overall transportation option that is practicable.

If renting a car is the cheapest practical option, please explain why this is so in your budget narrative. Include the entire total cost including rental, gas, and insurance required by law. Note that students without credit cards or students younger than 25 will have difficulty renting cars. 

You may include the cost of a visa as part of your travel expenses, but not the cost of renewing or getting a passport, which is considered a personal expense.


The equipment category includes items (generally technical or hardware) that will remain useful to you once your project has been completed.  Examples include laptops, audio/video equipment, computer presentation adaptors (especially for a Mac), presentation slide advancers/laser pointers, and cameras.

Laptops: $2,500 limit, including all tax, peripherals, warranties, and pre-installed software; you will generally need to use this maximum amount only if you have special needs for your laptop (e.g. major quantitative data crunching, video editing, etc). Expense beyond this should be justified, as should purchasing a laptop if you already have one.

Printers: ordinarily not covered. If needed, there is a $200 limit, and show why having your own printer is more cost effective than having things printed or printing for free on campus.

Camera: $200 limit (unless it is a photography project or there is some other reason why a higher quality camera is essential to the project). If your budget includes a camera, a visual component must be central to your project. Also, if you already have a smartphone with a camera capable of taking relatively high resolution photos (file size 1+ MB), consider using it instead of spending research budget money on a camera if it is only for incidental photos.

Smartphones are an allowable expense only if they are the most cost-effective option. You will need to show in your budget narrative why buying one will cost less in the long run (i.e., you need a phone/camera/audio recording device/internet access and it is cheaper to buy a smartphone than all these items separately).

Digital voice recorders: $250 limit (a higher amount may be necessary if particularly high-quality recordings are needed). Similarly, voice recognition software is ordinarily not an allowed expense; exceptions include when it is integral to the project or part of a student’s DSP accommodations.

Occasionally the need arises for a Haas Scholar to buy equipment that will remain in the lab after they graduate. In this case, the maximum that you may contribute toward the purchase of such equipment is $1,500.


Supplies are expendable items whose primary use will occur during the project period. Examples of supplies include books, subscriptions, computer software, film/photographic supplies, office supplies, expendable laboratory supplies, copying/printing, student versions of SPSS, or other statistical software licenses. Books: $250 maximum to purchase books. If your book budget needs go beyond this, you should plan to request that the library purchase them, or get the books via inter-library loan. If a particular book will cost more than $50, you should explain why the book is central to your project and you cannot borrow it elsewhere.

Normally there will be a maximum of $150 on office supplies (binding your thesis, photocopies, pens/notebooks, toner, and the like.)

Professional Services

The services category includes payments to other people that you will need to make to carry out your project. It includes payments to individuals such as translators, research subjects, interviewees, processing labs that you’ll send specimens to, or any other person/entity who receives payment in return for specified services. In some cases, meals or other gifts may be acceptable as payment to interviewees.

The Haas Scholars Program does not usually allow payment to for others to transcribe your interviews, except under exceptional circumstances.

Payments to subjects are permissible, within reason: usually $10-20 per interview is the acceptable range; payments higher than this may be considered by the Office for the Protection of Human Subjects to be coercive. An equivalent culturally acceptable alternative is also permitted if cash payments would be culturally awkward (e.g., meals, gift cards); explain in the budget narrative. 

Charges to publish in an Open Access Journal: you may propose to pay proportionately to your extent of authorship (for example, if you are one of four authors, you would contribute 25% of the fee to publish the article.)

Childcare: up to 20% of a scholar’s research budget (maximum $1,000) can be devoted to covering childcare costs.

Other Expenses

Any expenses that do not fall into the travel, equipment, supplies, or services categories should be identified as “Other.” These may include equipment rental, internet access fees, phone calls/phone cards, professional association dues/membership, conference registration, library cards, entry fees to museums, performances, and vaccinations.

Note that your monthly personal phone and internet bill is usually considered a personal expense to be covered by your living stipends ($5,000 for summer, $1,800 for fall and spring). In some cases, if you are using your phone extensively for your Haas Scholars research during a certain month, some portion of your phone/internet bill (but not 100%) could be considered a research expense. Similarly, you should charge to your research budget only that portion of your internet usage that relates to your Haas Scholars project—generally less than half. 

Business casual clothes: Attire for the New Scholars’ Reception and the Winter Conference is “business casual”; you will also probably want to dress up a little for your fall seminar presentation. You probably have suitable business casual clothes already, but if you need to supplement your wardrobe, Haas Scholars are normally expected to purchase business casual clothes out of their living stipend funds. In very exceptional circumstances, and only with prior written permission of the Haas Scholars Program, you may be able to include some wardrobe expenses in your research budget. Contact the Program Manager if you believe you have a compelling reason to include business casual clothes in your budget before submitting it for approval.

2024 Haas Scholars Budget Template (for application)

Please download the budget spreadsheet template linked here. You will need to submit this spreadsheet for the 2024 application cycle.
Please Note: In order to access the budget spreadsheet, you must login from a bMail (berkeley.edu) account.