If someone wants to give you money, e.g., a foundation, a company, a person, etc., for research, testing, etc., do not make any agreements without consulting the Pre- or Post-award Administrator to make sure proper protocols are followed. And, don't sign anything; you do not have signature authority!
How to Submit a Proposal
When you find a grant opportunity to which you would like to submit a proposal, here is the process. If you have a grant to transfer from another institution, many of these steps also will be required, but each case may be unique in process.
- Note that notice of many sponsor solicitations are included in the weekly ANS Roundup newsletter, and other sites to search for funding opportunities are listed in D2L (ANS Faculty / Proposal and Award Resources / Proposals_and_Awards; additional proposal tips are included as well).
- Depending on the sponsor, it may be prudent to check the list of MSU's Institutionally Limited Proposals. These are proposals on which the sponsor has set a restriction on the number of applications allowed by an institution, so MSU assigns an earlier pre-proposal deadline competition to select which proposals can go forward for submission from MSU. (This list is not exhaustive: "If you become aware of a proposal opportunity that imposes a restriction on MSU as a whole and you would like to apply, please communicate this to your departmental administrator or dean's office and to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at firstname.lastname@example.org as early as possible.")
- Contact the Pre-award Administrator (see below) in the department about the opportunity at least 10 business days before the submission deadline (internal or external). This time frame is the minimum time you should allow. Depending on the complexity of the proposal and whether subawards will be included, you should plan many additional weeks or even months in advance.
- The Pre-award Administrator will review the opportunity and verify with you your intent to submit. Also, your eligibility to submit a proposal will be assessed; see PI Eligibility.
- If you would like a checklist for the application requirements, ask the Pre-award Administrator.
- The Pre-award Administrator will start a Proposal Development doc (PD) in MSU’s Kuali Coeus (KC) system (a.k.a. Research Administration, RA). This system is used to track all proposal submissions and is used in the transition of awarded grants to MSU's Kuali Financial System. In some cases, like with applications that must be submitted via grants.gov, KC is used as the portal for the actual submission. The following initial information will be needed:
- Start date
- End date
- Activity type – research, extension, instruction, etc.?
- Proposal type – new or re-submission?
- If applicable, Co-PIs’ names and affiliation (note F&A breakdown [see below] for PI and MSU Co-PIs; must sum to 100%...if F&A is not required in the budget, then consider this % breakdown ~effort for each person)
- Are you expecting to have any subawards to other institutions?
- Scope of Work (see below)
- Answers to the general list of Questions (to be provided)
- The Pre-award Administrator will let MSU's Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) know that you will be submitting a proposal and send them the Request for Proposal (RFP) for their review for any problematic terms that could affect an award.
- The department Pre-award Administrator can help with budget development and any other aspect of the application. OSP provides budget worksheets (Excel); find them under Budget on their Forms and Templates page. MSU's indirect cost rate (IDC, or Facilities & Administrative cost rate, F&A) as well as guidance on budgeting personnel fringe costs and graduate assistants can be found on OSP's website; however, applying rates correctly is important; the Pre-award Administrator can help.
- Once the budget is complete, including a budget description in the form of a justification or narrative, the Pre-award Administrator will upload the budget into the PD and let OSP know that it is ready for review. Budget review should be initiated no later than 6 business days before the submission deadline. See below and OSP's Proposal Submission Deadline Policy. Note that even if the opportunity does not require a budget description, one is needed for OSP's review.
- The PI, Pre-award Administrator, and OSP contact will work together on any budget issues that must be corrected.
- Once OSP approves the budget, the Pre-award Administrator can route the completed PD for signatures (PI, Co-PIs, department, college, etc.).
- The Principal Investigator is responsible for completing all the required sections of the proposal application as outlined in the RFP. Contact the Pre-award Administrator for help or with questions. The Pre-award Administrator will make sure the entire PD is filled in correctly and all necessary documents are in the correct format before uploading. If the proposal will be submitted system-to-system (e.g., grants.gov submission), an electronic printout of the proposal will be provided to you for review. (If the sponsor requires use of their own submission site, the Pre-award Administrator can help you navigate that system as well.)
- Once the PD is fully routed/signed, OSP will provide any official signatures or documents needed for the application. OSP will not provide this official approval until the PD is fully routed, so plan ahead.
- Depending on the type of submission, the application will be submitted by OSP via the KC system at least 3 business days before the submission deadline (see below and Policy link above), or the PI will submit the application via the method described in the RFP. The Pre-award Administrator can help with this process. In the latter case of the PI submitting the application, plan to submit around that 3-day goal to help avoid possible last-minute submission problems, etc. that could jeopardize the submission.
Some guidance on specific proposal sections you may encounter:
- NSF: SciENcv https://cga.msu.edu/PL/Portal/197/NationalScienceFoundationNSF
- NIH: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms/biosketch.htm
Current & Pending / Other Support
Data Management Plan
- https://dmptool.org/ (use MSU netid to sign in)
Contact the Pre-award administrator with questions about these and other proposal sections.
Scope / Statement of Work
Required for all proposals and subawards.
"The documentation for the Scope of Work (SOW) will explain the boundaries of the project and set up procedures for how that work will be completed, verified, and approved. The SOW generally outlines the goals to be met to achieve those satisfactory results during the lifecycle of the project.
It is important that the Scope of Work be specific about the project's deliverables, so that if the parties disagree on what should have been delivered, we have documentation to fall back on. A well written Scope of Work also assists with budget review, regulatory compliance (e.g. knowing if export control review is required) and knowing which terms and conditions will apply to the project."
–from “Scope of Work Why is this important to OSP?” by Dianna Kalczynski, SPA News, Fall 2016.
Sponsored Programs Time Lines
Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP): Proposal Submission Policy
10 business days before deadline: notify OSP of intent to submit (Pre-award Administrator can do this)
(Deviation: if the proposal budget will include subawards, consultants, matching [i.e., cost share - cash or in-kind], or complex requirements, the department Pre-award Administrator should be contacted much sooner than the 10-day deadline.)
6 business days before deadline: submit budget, budget justification, and scope of work to OSP for review
(Deviation: budget costs like subawards, consultants, and matching and other complex budget requirements can require pre-review to verify compliance with MSU and other regulations, so budgets including items like these should drafted much earlier than the 6-day deadline.)
(Note: To review a proposal budget, OSP requires the complete MSU budget and justification, officially approved budget and commitment package from any subaward institutions, and any authorized match/cost share commitments.)
3 business days before deadline: complete final proposal for submission today
(Note: the 3-day deadline assumes OSP will need to submit the proposal, e.g., system-to-system submission from the KC portal, or that an authorized signature will be needed to submit the proposal. The completely routed/approved PD is also expected by this 3-day deadline. If the PI will be submitting the proposal directly to the sponsor, submission within this 3-day window is within the PI's choice and risk tolerance that the submission will be possible and complete by the deadline.)
(Note: some sponsors require paper copies of the application to be sent as the submission or in addition to electronic submission; leave time for shipping so required materials arrive by the deadline. Personnel in 1290 Anthony Hall can help with expedited shipping--bring an account number for shipping costs.)
Subawards, Matching, Consultants: Subawards require official approval and authorized signatures from the subaward institution. These take time to obtain. Allow at least two weeks for a final subaward budget to be reviewed and routed for approval by a subaward institution. Allow extra time for matching/cost share sources or consultants to prepare their commitment letters.
F&A costs = Facilities & Administrative costs (a.k.a. indirect costs)
"Except where specifically identified in a program solicitation or other published sponsor guidelines, the applicable MSU federally negotiated Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate should be used in computing F&A for a proposal." See Facilities & Administrative Cost Rates
Almost all awards are accompanied by an agreement, which needs to be reviewed and signed by an authorized official at MSU; this takes time. Compliance (IACUC, IRB, etc.) items need to be in place before an award is made (or an MSU account can be set up). Sometimes a budget needs to be edited to fit a sponsor's requirements. Sometimes more information is requested by the sponsor. Contact the Pre-award Administrator to help you through the award process.
Award Processing Steps
Get an overview on award processing steps in the Office of Sponsored Programs.
Award Processing Times
Get an estimate on how long it will take to process an award from a particular sponsor. Times may fluctuate greatly depending on situation.
Contracts and Grants Administration: Goal time frames
Once an award is final...
New accounts: 5 business days
Account modifications: 10 business days
Subawards and modifications: 15 business days
When can you start spending money? Communicate with the Post-award Administrator throughout award processing. The Post-award Administrator can help you understand the award type and how funds will be distributed, as well as any pre-award costs that may be allowable.
Once an account is named, set up a meeting with the Post-award Administrator to discuss the award and its fiscal and reporting requirements. The Post-award Administrator usually does not know the details of the project and its scientific or outreach goals, so you as PI will be expected to make spending decisions. However, the Post-award administrator can help you determine if an expense is allowable, advise on Purchase Orders (before you make any orders!), track spending, identify personnel costs/time, and advise on a host of other questions that often come up. Set up a plan with the Post-award Administrator to help manage the fiscal side of your project.
Tips on post-award management are sometimes included in the ANS Roundup newsletter. A compilation of those tips and guidance on effort reporting, purchasing, compliance, etc. can be found on D2L: ANS Faculty / Proposal and Award Resources / Managing_Projects.