Timeline: The timeline for every grant is different. One thing is for certain when you applying for a grant, by the time you sit down to actually apply you have already invested numerous hours.
Each funding agency has different policies and award amounts, making it impossible to give one timeline. Instead, we hope to give you the tools to develop your own timeline to ensure timely submission of quality proposals.
Final step: The University of Alabama’s Office for Sponsored Programs will submit the completed application to the agency. All applications are submitted by OSP because the grant is awarded to UA and not the PI. Instead, the PI administers the project for UA. Therefore, each grant is thoroughly reviewed by the appropriate Grant and Contract Specialist.
Each complete proposal needs to be submitted to OSP no later than 4 business days before the due date accompanied by a completed and signed (by the PI, department heads, and Deans associated with the proposal) Internal Coordination Sheet.
It is recommended that you contact your Grant and Contract Specialist as early as possible to allow them to review the guidelines for the particular program in which you are applying, so that they can pass on any pertinent information.
To further expedite your submission, you are encouraged to submit, via e-mail, all non-narrative information as early as possible. That way, the Grant and Contract Specialist will have time to finalize the budget within university regulations and to make sure all the forms are filled out in accordance with both university regulations and grant specific regulations.
Resources for Writing
- The Office of Sponsored Programs offers a variety of workshops that can aide in preparing your grant.
- The CFDA website has a comprehensive guide to writing a proposal.
- The Foundation Center has a short tutorial.
- Dr. S. Joseph Levine of Michigan State University provides a comprehensive step-by-step guide.
- Dr. Jacob Kraicer of the University of Toronto offers his guide to grantsmanship.
- The NIAID has both a guide to developing an NIH grant and a guide to writing one.
- Your Grants and Contract Specialist can help you write your budget.
- University policies
Each grant application or contract must be routed through the university before it is sent to the funding agency. Funding agencies award the University the grant and the PI works on the grant for the university. While the PI is responsible, any positive or negative result of the project reflects on the University as a whole.
- Internal Coordination Sheet: An Internal Coordination sheet must accompany each proposal or grant. This sheet, along with the proposal, must be electronically routed to and approved by each PI from the University of Alabama, as well their department head and dean. This process will take place within the University’s electronic research administration system, GrantsERA.
- Shared Credit: Assign a percentage of credit to each PI (total 100%) for the project. The percentages should reflect how much of the project each PI is responsible for, and will be the guide to how Facilities and Administration costs are divided among the PI’s.
- F&A (Facilities and Administration Costs): F&A are those costs that allow the University to run and that cannot be charged directly to a grant. They fund lights, support staff, space, office supplies, etc. There are a variety of rates depending on the type of project, but the University will not waive F&A. The only exception is if the funding agency has a stated policy against paying F&A (indirects) or has a set rate (i.e. 8% for NRSA grants). Typically, F&A costs are based on the principles of Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC). MTDC takes the total direct costs and subtracts all tuition, equipment, and patient care cost to get the base, which is then multiplied by the appropriate F&A rate.
- Cost Sharing: The University does not cost share unless it is required by the funding agency. Click here to view the University’s cost sharing policy. If it is required, than the PI must gain the proper approvals before the grant is submitted. These approvals consist of their department head, dean, and the Vice president of research and typically involve face-to-face meetings with at least the department head and dean.
- Compliance Reviews:
- Sub-Contracts: All sub-contracts on a project must have a budget, budget justification, scope of work, and letter of commitment for routing. If the proposal is a sub-contract from another institution, it still must be routed through the university. Even if there are no required signatures, the university still has to sign off on it and requires everything they require for a normal proposal. (Even without required signatures, the university will still draft and sign a letter of commitment to the prime agency). Proposal Submission: Once all the materials have been received and approved by both the Contracts and Grant Specialist and the Director of Sponsored programs, then the PI will be notified and the proposal will be sent to the agency per the guidelines by the Contracts and Grants Specialist.
When the notice of award, contract, or denial comes in, if it did not go straight to sponsored programs, it needs to be routed to sponsored programs so the appropriate action may be taken.
Grants (Notice of Award):
Upon receiving a notice of award, the Contracts and Grants specialist will process the paperwork needed to get an account. If anything is required by the agency (Just in Time (JIT) information) than the Contracts and Grants specialist will contact the PI to gather the needed materials.
Each agency requires different information when a grant is starting, below are common requests.
- IRB: If Human Subjects are involved in the project, than a completed IRB approval will be needed by the agency (and OSP) before the project may begin.
- IACUC: If Animal Subjects are involved in the project, than a completed IACUC approval for each species and stain will be needed by the agency (and OSP) before the project may begin.
- Other Support: Other support is a listing of all current and pending support for key personnel, including the amounts of each project and the FTE devoted to each project.
- Revised Budget: If any changes are needed (i.e. The agency funded the project at a lower level than requested) than a revised budget will need to be drawn up for both the agency and OSP. If there are any internal changes (Raises) than a new budget will need to be drawn-up for OSP.
- Conflict of Interest: The NIH and NSF require a conflict of interest form to be up to date and on file with the University.
Contracts (Not Executed)
This step may come during proposal submission depending on the dynamics of the relationship between the PI and agency.
Each contract will be negotiated with the agency by an OSP representative before the University will sign off on it.
The Contract and Grant specialist will close the file and notify the PI (If necessary) of the denial.
You have an account, you have an IRB, you’re ready to start… Now what?
Work with your department administrator to spend your funds. Personnel Actions need to be processed in order for you and your staff to be paid from the grant. Your department administrator can also help you with the other financial procedures such as purchase orders, departmental transfers, miscellaneous disbursement vouchers, travel, professional service agreements, etc.
Forms: Click Here
The only thing left to do is start the science!
OSP will have sent you correspondence with your award set up. On this correspondence were reports that are due throughout the year.
It is very important to get these reports to agency on time. Failure to do so can result in a loss of funding. While OSP is ready to help with the report, and may even remind you of an upcoming one, it’s not a guarantee. Therefore, you need to mark your calendar and be prepared.
Award Management also means good stewardship of your funds. You have a budget and while budgets change, you should try to follow what you’ve written as much as possible. Changing the budget significantly is a timely process that normally includes agency approval.
Sometimes, things happen. A GRA quits, a new drug comes out for half the price, etc. You have money left over and you still have science to do. Many agencies (NIH and NSF) allow for a no-cost extension with little hoops to jump through. Simply e-mail your Grants and Contract Specialist with a brief explanation, and they’ll take care of the rest. Of course, sometimes more hoops need to be cleared; your starting place will still be your Grants and Contact Specialist who will work with you to clear them.
The awarding agency has the right to audit your project at any time. Therefore, spending your funds properly and timely is very important.
On top of agency auditing, we also have state, university and federal auditing.
Effort reporting is also very important. Click Here.
Your project is done. You finished the science and you finished the money.
A final report will be due to the agency. The financial side of this will be sent by Contract and Grant Accounting, but the science, patent certification, and other agency specific forms are your responsibilities.
OSP is here to help, but if you choose to close it out yourself, you must send a copy of the report to your Grant and Contract Specialist.
Now, apply for another one!