Develop and Submit a Proposal


Prepare a Proposal

Once you have identified a funding opportunity, it's time to prepare a proposal.  Some federal agencies have specific application forms and/or their own web-based submission systems.  Download the most up-to-date version of the application forms, policies, and procedures and adhere to the sponsor’s requirements. 

KEY ELEMENTS OF A PROPOSAL

Every grant proposal has its own special requirements for information that needs to be included. At a bare minimum, all proposals require the following elements:

  • eSPRoute:  This electronic routing system provides important information about the project and confirms that the proposal has been appropriately routed, reviewed, and approved.
  • Institutional Information:  Sponsors need to know basic information about the Principal Investigator’s institution, including Congressional district, EIN number, DUNS number, F&A rates, etc.
  • Statement of Work:  The Statement of Work (SOW) is a document that lists and describes all essential and technical requirements for the effort to be performed, including standards to be used to determine whether the requirements have been met. This document may include the following items, where appropriate:
    • Reporting requirement and/or other deliverables
    • Resources (if any) to be furnished 
    • Personnel requirements
    • A list of detailed work requirements
    • Period of performance
    • Objective or purpose
  • Budget and Budget Justification:  A competitive budget provides a sponsor with a complete financial picture of the proposed project. Budgets are reviewed by the sponsor to verify that the costs are reasonable and necessary to carry out the proposed project and that it conforms to the sponsor's instructions and format. The budget justification provides the sponsor with a rationale for certain items in the budget. Sponsors may want clarifying information on how budget calculations were made for faculty and staff salaries, fringe benefits, F&A rates, special equipment, travel, subawards, etc. 

PREPARING AN NIH PROPOSAL

National Institutes of Health (NIH) proposals typically require a project summary/abstract, project narrative, bibliography/references cited, facilities and other resources, equipment, biographical sketch(es), personnel justification, budget, budget justification, specific aims, research strategy, and letters of support. The proposal may also require additional components, such as human subject research protection, care and use of vertebrate animals in research, consultants, facilities, and a leadership plan if your project will involve multiple PIs.

Visit the NIH Grants & Funding page for current forms and to view guidelines on writing and submitting your NIH application.

PREPARING AN NSF PROPOSAL

National Science Foundation proposals typically require a cover sheet, project summary, table of contents, project description, references cited, biographical sketch(es), budget, budget justification, current and pending support, data management plan, facilities, and supplementary documents.

Visit the NSF Grant Proposal Guide to view guidelines on writingpreparing, and submitting your NSF application.

SPECIAL ISSUES

When preparing a proposal, it is important to be aware of issues that require special attention. These issues include the following:

  • Conflict of Interest: As public employees of an institute serving the educational and public purposes of teaching, research, and professional service, there is an obligation to conduct research and official duties on behalf of the Institute in such a manner consistent with statutes and regulations.
  • ComplianceResearchers must comply with regulatory requirements relating to research involving human subjects, vertebrate animal subjects, rDNA, synthetic nucleic acids, and export controlled research.
  • PI/PD eligibility: The PI/PD is responsible for determining the intellectual direction of the research and scholarship. It is the policy of the Institute that the principal investigator or project director must be a current member of the general faculty of the Institute.
  • Contract/Agreements:  There are many offices working together to support timely execution of research contracts and agreements including Office of Innovation Commercialization, Sponsored Program Administration, Office of Advancement, and Purchasing.  Each has their own routing process.  A clearly defined set of pathways is laid out in the Contract and Agreement Routing Checklist

For additional guidance on preparing and submitting a proposal, click here.

Prepare a Budget

Preparing a fundable and competitive budget allows the sponsor to determine the financial picture of your proposed project. Sponsors review budgets to verify that costs are reasonable, necessary, and in keeping with budget guidelines.

The PI should only request funds that are adequate and do not include unnecessary expenses. In preparing your budget, keep in mind that sponsored project costs fall into the following categories:

*DIRECT COSTS*

 The most significant direct costs for any sponsored project are typically salaries and fringe benefits, but direct costs may also include travel, printing, materials and supplies, subcontracting agreements, etc.  If your budget charges the sponsor for expenses that would normally be considered indirect costs (e.g., equipment, facilities, administrative support, etc.), these items require a budget justification.   For additional guidance on allowable direct costs and unallowable costs, click here.

*FACILITIES & ADMINISTRATIVE (F&A) COSTS*

F&A costs are also known as indirect costs or overhead.  F&A rates reimburse the university for the indirect costs associated with a research project.  It excludes equipment, capital expenditures, charges for tuition remission, rental costs, scholarships, and fellowships as well as the portion of each subgrant and subcontract in excess of $25,000.  View current rates

*UNALLOWABLE COSTS*

If a sponsored project has expenditures that are unallowable on a sponsored account (e.g. overspent budget or budget category, expensed items that are not allowable by the sponsor, or expenses that are inappropriate to the project), it is the Principal Investigator’s/department’s fiduciary responsibility to move those expenditures off the sponsored project promptly.

Unallowable Administrative, Operational, and Research Related Costs

  • Office supplies, pens, paper, basic software, etc.

  • Local telephone and fax; telephone line and equipment charges, cell phones

  • Postage, express mail (Freight to ship component parts necessary for the research is allowable)

  • Hazardous waste disposal

  • Proposal preparation costs

  • Costs of reprints of articles on the research funded by the grant are allowable; other printing costs may or may not be allowable depending on the circumstances

  • The costs of  memberships in business, technical, and professional organizations are generally not allowable.

  • Books and periodicals (these are typically considered indirect costs supported by the institutions library)

*KEY ELEMENTS OF A BUDGET*

The following items are typical components of a budget.

Salaries and Wages

  • To calculate total salaries and wages, list the amount of time that will be spent by any individual serving in any paid capacity on the project.
  • Departmental administrative and clerical staff salaries are considered Facilities and Administrative costs (indirect costs) and are not typically charged to sponsored projects. If the sponsored agreement has specific requirements that mandate the use of administrative and clerical staff, or if the project requires significantly more administrative effort or expense, this need must be documented in accordance with the OMB Uniform Requirements and specifically identified in the sponsored agreement. These atypical administrative costs must be described in the budget justification.
  • When individuals are identified by name, their actual salaries should be used in the budget estimate.
  • No employee may be scheduled for activities in excess of 100% of effort in any given month; this includes research, teaching, and service.
  • A principal investigator must devote a level of effort as required by a sponsor over the term of the award. After the award is granted and accepted, the PI and key personnel are committed to provide that proposed level of effort over the budget period unless the sponsor permits otherwise. 
  • Sponsored activities may not result in any employees receiving compensation at a rate in excess of their authorized salary or academic rate. For multiyear projects, the budget should take into consideration any possible salary increases.

Fringe Benefits

  • The fringe benefit rate covers expenses associated with salaries, such as insurance, retirement benefits, etc. These are a direct cost to a sponsored project, are clearly related to the salaries and wages to be paid, and are shown as a separate entry in the budget.
  • Full fringe benefit rates are applied to direct salary and wages of full-time employees and to part-time employees who work at least 50% time.
  • Partial fringe benefits are applied to direct salary and wages of part-time employees who work less than 50% time at the Institute. These employees do not participate in the retirement, group health, and other insurance plans.
  • Enrolled students may be employed on sponsored projects, and they are not subject to fringe benefit rate charges.
  • AU's current fringe benefit rate is 34%.

Equipment

  • Capital equipment is defined as all property of a capital nature, complete in itself (stands alone), which does not lose its identity, has an anticipated service life greater than 2 years, and has a unit cost of $5,000 or more. The budget should specify the name and manufacturer of the equipment whenever possible. Sponsors may want to see the manufacturer's specifications and price list, particularly if the equipment is very expensive. No F&A costs are applied to this budget category.

Materials and Supplies

  • Materials and supplies are defined as (1) consumable supplies, regardless of cost, or (2) equipment with a unit value of under $5,000 or a useful life of less than 2 years.
  • Costs for photocopying, publication costs, page charges, reference books and materials, equipment/computer maintenance, service center rates, and contracted services are also categorized as materials and supplies.
  • General office supplies, such as staples and pens, may not be allowable on federal grants unless they are related to specific project activities rather than general departmental activities. Budgets that include such items must include a budget justification unique to the project for such materials. A general descriptions of the type of supplies included and a best estimate of their cost can support this budget category.

Travel

  • For each trip, the budget must outline who will be traveling as well as the proposed destination, purpose, and duration of the trip. An estimated breakdown of expenses for each person traveling should include transportation costs (e.g., roundtrip coach air fare), per diem or living expenses, and any other related expenses such as ground transportation or conference registration fees.

Subawards

  • A subaward, also called a subcontract, subgrant, or subagreement, is a formal, written agreement between AU and another party to perform a portion of the sponsored project. Subrecipients, including subcontractors and consultants, must be identified in your proposed budget to ensure that costs are calculated correctly, and so that appropriate documentation can be included in the proposal. F&A costs apply to only the first $25,000 of each subcontract.
  • The proposed subcontractor must prepare a statement of work and detailed budget signed by an authorized representative of the contractor. Sponsor approval is required prior to entering into a subcontract. If it is a vendor relationship, no sponsor approval is required unless specified in the award terms and conditions.

Consultants

  • Individuals currently employed by AU should be listed under Salaries and Wages and not included under Consultants. A consultant is an individual or a firm offering professional or specialized services for a fixed rate or fee.  AU only controls the direction of the consultant's work with respect to work objectives and desired results and not the methodology for achieving the results. If you plan to use a consultant, include the following information in your budget and budget justification: consultant name and title, daily fee, number of days engaged, and any other expenses (e.g., travel).

Rebudgeting

  • There is considerable variation in sponsor policies relative to budget revisions. Award terms and/or sponsor agency guidelines must be consulted when revisions are contemplated. To the extent possible, budget revisions should reflect all necessary reallocations of resources that are foreseen through the end of the budget period. If prior sponsor approval is required for a budget revision, a request is made to the program officer as designated in the award — either via an online system, email, or a letter — sufficiently detailing the revision and justification. Once approved by the sponsor, your contracts officer will make the revision.


Grant Assistance

 Below are additional topics to assist you with your grant submission.

*GRANT WRITING ASSISTANCE*

HEALTH RESEARCH ASSOCIATES/STONE FENCE COLLABORATIVE 

Through funding provided by the Augusta University Research Institute and  Augusta University, consultants from Health Research Associates (HRA) and Stone Fence Collaborative have been engaged to assist faculty with grant proposal preparation and revisions. Assistance is provided in preparation of specific aims, significance, hypothesis development, and other sections of the grant application, as well as with responding to review critiques.

HRA consultants visits Augusta University twice yearly to meet individually with faculty and to present grantsmanship seminars, and they welcome FAX, telephone, and email communication. Dr. Batt primarily works remotely via email.  Contact DSPA, ogc@augusta.edu, to learn more about these programs.

HRA Contact:
Israel Goldberg, PhD
iag@aol.com 

Stone Fence Contact:
Carl Batt, PhD
carlbatt@gmail.com

*EXTRAMURAL GRANT REVIEWS*

All extramural research grant proposals should be reviewed internally by one or more of your colleagues. To increase the probability of receiving an award, we also encourage faculty to have one or two nationally or internationally recognized senior scientists in the appropriate field outside Augusta University's review their proposals. These individuals will have a strong track record of serving as principal investigators on NIH grants. Of course, this will require that the draft of the proposal be prepared sufficiently prior to the submission deadline to allow time for adequate revision based upon the review.

The Office of the Senior Vice President for will pay a $250 consulting fee for up to two external reviews of a major (e.g., NIH) grant proposal being submitted by any Augusta University faculty member.

PRIOR TO THE REVIEW:

The Request for External Grant Review form, Non-Disclosure Form, a copy of the consultant's four-page NIH biosketch including other support or his/her curriculum vitae, a copy of the most recent version of the grant proposal (i.e., specific aims, background and significance, research design and methods), should be submitted to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research for approval.

AFTER THE REVIEW:

The Service Agreement Request , Contractor Determination Checklist, and W-9 should be completed and signed (except where the account number and Approver signatures are required). Submit these forms along with a copy of the consultant's critique to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, Attention: Sandra Brown, Business Manager, CJ 3329, (706) 721-7075. The critique could be a standard NIH review and/or the actual handwritten or typed editing, rewrites, suggestions, etc. Following receipt of this information, review payment will be issued.

*ESPROUTE*

eSProute is AU's electronic routing system.  To submit your proposal for review, log in to eSProute and complete all required fields and upload all related materials.  The system will generate emails to the appropriate financial and administrative leaders for approval.  

 

*COST SHARING*

Cost-sharing commitments begin with the proposal. Cost-sharing commitments should be indicated when the proposal is routed and delineated in the budget submitted to the external sponsor. Cost-sharing commitments require approval by the Department Chair and Dean’s Office. Charges will be recorded against the sponsored and cost share accounts as directed by the Principal Investigator, on Personal Action Requests, check requests, et cetera. Principal Investigators and their departmental administrators are responsible for monitoring the activity in their cost-sharing accounts to ensure that charges are necessary, reasonable, allowable, and allocable.