Q.1.  Who in the Office of College Grants should I contact to discuss available funding opportunities to support my research project?

Q.2. When should I begin my proposal planning and preparation?

Q.3. What is one of the most important points to remember when preparing a proposal?

Q.4. How do I get the internal proposal preparation, approval, and submission process started?

Q.5. Do I need to submit other documents?

Q.6.  How do I begin developing my project budget?

Q.7.  What factors do I need to consider when developing my budget?

Q.8.  What do I need to include in my budget justification?

Q.9.  What information do I need to provide in the abstract or project summary?

Q.10. What are indirect costs (a.k.a. facilities and administrative costs)? 

Q.11. What happens after I submit the External Grant Proposal form?

Q.12. Do I need institutional approval to submit a proposal?

Q.13.  How long does it take to get institutional approval?

Q.14. How and when does my proposal get submitted?

Q.15.  How should my relationship with another entity be classified (subrecipient or contractor)?

Q.16. What institutional policies do I need to be aware of when conducting my research?


Q.1.  Who in the Office of College Grants should I contact to discuss available funding opportunities to support my research project?

  A.1.  Contact Amy Cuhel-Schuckers to inquire about faculty research around specific grant funding opportunities (e.g., Research Corporation, American Chemical Society, NSF, NIH, NEH, ONR, etc.), or around humanities or humanistic social science fellowship opportunities (e.g., NEH, ACLS, National Humanities Council, CAORC, Guggenheim, Fulbright, etc.). Please be aware that F&M has a subscription to the InfoEdGlobal SPIN Plus funding database.

Q.2. When should I begin my proposal planning and preparation?

A.2. Well in advance of when you think you need funding. As soon as you start thinking about applying for external grant or fellowship funding, consult with Amy Cuhel-Schuckers, ext. 4971. She will work with you very early on to offer support and can assist you in navigating the proposal preparation process and developing your proposal. Amy can work with you on early stages such as developing a proposal outline so you can effectively contact program officers, or, for fellowships, she can position you to frame a well-developed project plan that may later be adapted for multiple funders.

For grants requiring budgets, Amy can help you develop a "feasibility" budget - which allows you to understand, at an early stage in a single-investigator project, or early on during the development of a collaborative project, what your project might cost.

LEARN ABOUT THE FUNDER you plan to approach. For example, the NIH has extensive resources you can use to introduce you to grant-seeking - one place to start is the NIH YouTube channel. Check out NEH resources for first-time grant seekers. Seek out examples of funded proposals from colleagues, mentors, or through use of funding portals, such as NEH's "Explore Our Work" site; NSF's Advanced Search Engine, or NIH's RePORTER - then REACH OUT to those funded and request a copy of their funded proposal. Nothing ventured, nothing gained...

Q.3. What is one of the most important points to remember when preparing a funding proposal?

A.3. Read and follow the sponsor's guidelines precisely.  General proposal guidelines are available for federal funding agencies such as NSF or NIH,  but you also need to closely follow any specific instructions that can be found in the solicitation or in funder program guidelines. Request copies of funded proposals from a funder or program, if available: these can help you see how others successfully framed their arguments.

Two other things to consider are the review criteria, and the mission or strategic plan of the funder or funding agency.  Your primary audience is the reviewer: you should make it easy for the readers to assess your proposal against the stated criteria. Additionally, if you understand where the cutting edge of a funder's interest is, you can position your proposal accordingly.

Q.4. How do I get the internal proposal preparation, approval, and submission process started?

A.4. Grants generally are received by an institution on behalf of a researcher. For this reason, colleges and universities are required to adhere to a set of policies and procedures. For detailed information about the grant application process, you should review F&M's External Grant Development & Application Procedures

If you are planning on submitting a full proposal, you need to complete an External Grant Proposal Form (EGPF)  at least 3 weeks in advance of the submission deadline. If you plan to collaborate, need to submit a pre-proposal or submit a letter of intent, please complete the Grant Pre-Proposal/Letter of Intent (LOI)/Intent to Collaborate Form, which covers other types of submissions or arrangements.

Both of these worksheets require the upload of related documents (see Q.5 below). Completing these worksheets early helps us to avoid possible conflicts with other F&M initiatives, allows us time to obtain advice about specific guidelines, permits early planning if there are specific needs, and allows us to notify or communicate with existing contacts we may have with an organization, as appropriate.

Q.5. What other documents do I need to complete?

A.5.  The following  documents need to be completed in advance and later be uploaded to the External Grant Proposal Form:

  • Complete one of the following funder specific or general budget templates: 1) NEH, 2) NIH (R&R Budget), 3) NSF or 4) 3-year side-by-side budget worksheet. If you need assistance completing the budget worksheet, please contact Molly Dellinger, Grants Management Coordinator, at mdelling@fandm.edu). Also see answers to Q6, Q7, Q8, and Q10 below.
  • Budget Justification (see Q.8)
  • Abstract or Project Summary (see Q.9)
  • Significant Financial Interest Disclosure Form - Each PI and co-PI named on the project must complete and sign a copy of the disclosure form.  The Associate Dean of the Faculty for Research reviews and signs the form, if there are no financial interests to disclose. If you have disclosed financial interests, the ADR may contact you for additional information or clarification if need be. 
  • NSF Drug-free Workplace Certification Form (required for NSF submissions only)

Q.6. How do I begin developing my project budget?

A.6. Before developing a project budget, review the specific program guidelines to determine any restrictions on the types of costs that may appear in the project budget, allowable grant periods, types of grant support, and cost-sharing expectations, as appropriate. Amy Cuhel-Schuckers can assist you during the budget development phase, and Molly Dellinger can help in the budget finalization stage.

Q.7.  What cost factors do I need to consider when developing and preparing my proposed grant budget? 

A.7. Refer to the Budgeting Parameters Tool. This document contains general institutional information, budgeting guidelines, and information about the rates you should use for cost categories which are subject to change, or which require institutional framing.  Please contact Amy Cuhel-Schuckers in the development stage of your budget, and Molly Dellinger in the final budget stage. For additional information about budget development and preparation check out the Grant Proposal Budget Preparation page. 

Q.8.  What do I need to include in my budget justification?

A.8.  A budget justification is a narrative explanation of costs included in your budget. Some sponsors only require you to provide a very brief, general budget justification, and others, such as NSF, require a much more detailed budget justification. Regardless of the type of justification required by the sponsor, F&M requires you to provide a detailed version for internal review purposes. Each cost item included in your budget must be described in the justification. This helps the individuals reading your budget justification to tie all costs back to the amounts requested in your budget and to ensure that all costs are reasonable, allowable, allocable to the project, and consistently applied.  Refer to the NSF budget justification template sample

NOTE: If the funder does not require as specific a budget justification as F&M does for internal review purposes, you can adapt the approved internal budget justification to one that is sponsor specific. Be sure to follow sponsor-specific guidelines. For instance, NIH has different guidelines regarding the amount of detail needed in their budget justification based on the type of budget being submitted (Modular or Detailed (R&R) budget), or the type of mechanism (e.g., R15's require AREA-specific responses).

Q.9 What information should be in the abstract or project summary?

A.9.  An abstract is a one-page summary of a research project that may have funder specific requirements. Generally, think of your abstract as a condensed version of your whole project. By reading it, the reader should understand the nature of your research question, and have an overview of the proposed project. You may upload a general or a funder-specific version (e.g.,  NSF Project Summary, or NIH Specific Aims) of your abstract to the External Grant Proposal Form even if it is not in final form.

Q.10. What are indirect costs (a.k.a. facilities and administrative costs)? 

A.10. Indirect costs are those costs which are not readily identifiable with a particular cost objective (e.g., undergraduate researchers, materials and supplies, grant-related travel), but nevertheless are incurred in the course of supporting externally funded research or programs. Examples of indirect costs include the salary and related expenses of individuals working in accounting or for personnel managing purchasing functions, utilities for research labs, insurance, or building depreciation - these are real facilities and administrative costs incurred by the institution in support of your project.

Q.11. What happens after I submit the External Grant Proposal form?

A.11. The Grants  Management Coordinator (GMC) and Associate Dean for Research (ADR) review the logistics of your proposed research project, verify the amounts budgeted, and reconcile the budget justification with the budget.  There may be some follow-up if further clarification or additional information is needed.

Q.12. Do I need  institutional approval to submit a proposal?

A.12. Yes. The Grants Management Coordinator (GMC) is required to check the proposed budget and budget justification to ensure all costs are: reasonable, allowable, allocable to the project and consistently applied. The GMC then routes the final version of the budget and budget justification to the Associate Dean for Research (ADR) and to the Senior Accounting Analyst (SAA)  to review and give institutional approval to submit. You may not submit until approval to submit has been communicated to you by the GMC.

Q.13.  How long does it take to get institutional approval?

A.13.  It depends.  The amount of time needed to review a proposed research project varies based on several factors such as 1) the type of proposal being submitted,  2) the resources needed to conduct the research,  3) the involvement other organizations,  4) special accommodations that may be necessary to do the research, and 5) commitments. That is why we suggest you submit the proposal form at least 3 weeks in advance of the deadline. You must allow sufficient time for the  Grants Management Coordinator (GMC), the Associate Dean for Research (ADR), and the Senior Accounting Analyst (SAA) to conduct the review and compliance checking.  If the OCG is not given sufficient lead time to review your proposal and secure institutional approval to submit, you run the risk of missing your deadline.

Q.14. How and when do I submit my proposal?

A.14. The Grants Management Coordinator (GMC) is the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) who is designated to submit proposals on behalf of the institution.  The GMC is responsible for getting institutional approval to submit and to perform compliance checking on your proposal before it is submitted.  The GMC will schedule a submission meeting with you at least 1 day in advance of the submission deadline.  

Q.15.  What is the difference between a subrecipient and a contractor?

A subrecipient (sub-grantee or sub-awardee) is defined as a non-Federal entity that expends Federal awards received from a pass-through entity to carry out a Federal program, but does not include an individual that is a beneficiary of such a program. A subrecipient may also be a recipient of other Federal awards directly from a Federal awarding agency.

A contractor (vendor) is defined as a dealer, distributor, merchant or other seller providing goods or services that are required for the conduct of a Federal program. These goods or services may be for an organization's own use or for the use of beneficiaries of the Federal program.

Q.16. What institutional policies do I need to be aware of when conducting my research?

A.16. Please review the academic policies found on the Office of College Grants Policies webpage.  The policies you need to be aware of when doing grant-funded research are listed below. 

·        Copyright & Fair Use Policy
·        Export Controls Policy
·        Financial Conflict of Interest Policy
·        Governing Principles of Research
·        Human Subjects Policy
·        Intellectual Property Policy
·        NSF Funded Grantees Drug-Free Workplace Policy
·        Research Integrity Policy
·        Research Use of Animals Policy