Grant Proposal Process
- Proposal Development
What is a Grant Proposal?
How do Sponsors Issue Notifications About Funding Opportunities?
Who May Submit a Grant Proposal?
Grant Guidelines and Application Requirements
Putting Together Timelines
Starting a Proposal
- Proposal Content
- Regulatory Requirements
Debt, Debarment, and Suspension
Misconduct in Science
Conflict of Interest
Civil Rights, Handicapped Individuals, Sex Discrimination, Age Discrimination
Inventions and Patents
- Proposal Submission Procedure
The Office of Grants Administration and Sponsored Programs serves as the institutional resource for helping faculty members with identifying and securing external grant funding in an effort to increase research support and activity at The Citadel.
The Citadel is committed to providing an environment rich in advanced learning and development for faculty and students. The following offices assist to provide additional resources and information that will help to further faculty research activities.
The Citadel Foundation, a 501(c) 3 charitable organization, was established with the primary purpose of providing financial assistance and support exclusively for The Citadel. Founded in 1961 as The Citadel Development Foundation, the organization was initially tasked with raising money exclusively for educational purposes through the academic endowment fund.
The Citadel Foundation, as it is known today, emerged from a campus-wide consolidation of fundraising entities in 2000. They are now responsible for raising funds for all purposes except athletic scholarships, which remains primarily under the purview of The Citadel Brigadier Foundation.
The Citadel's Institutional Review Board is responsible for ensuring the protection of human research participants in accordance with the ethical principles presented in the Belmont Report and as mandated by federal law. No research project which involves human subjects may begin prior to receiving IRB approval.
The mission of the Financial Services Department is to manage the financial activities of the college relating to accounting, disbursements, construction project accounting, payroll, investments, grants, fixed assets, and cash flow management. The office seeks to improve these functions and keep the college and in compliance with new accounting principles and practices.
Faculty Research Committee (Internal Funding)
The objective of the Faculty Research Committee is to encourage and actively support research at The Citadel. This entails the specific role of reviewing all Citadel Foundation research proposals, new faculty research proposals, presentation of research proposals, and page charge proposals and making recommendations of these proposals for funding to the Provost.
- Proposal Development
A grant proposal is a written application submitted to a sponsor in request of money, property, services or other things of value to support the operations, special projects, or other activities of an organization for a specific period of time. When preparing a grant proposal, consult the published guidelines by the sponsor for instructions on how to prepare the application.
There are various types of proposal submissions:
Letter of Intent (LOI) - A letter of intent is a formal statement of the intention to apply for a grant. A letter of intent is highly encouraged but is not always required or binding. The information that it contains allows the sponsor to estimate the potential workload.
Letter of Inquiry (LOI) - A brief letter outlining an organization's activities and its request for funding that is sent to a prospective sponsor in order to determine whether it would be appropriate to submit a full grant proposal.
New Grant Proposal - An application that is submitted for funding for the first time.
Preliminary Proposal/Pre-Application - A statement of purpose that provides an overview of the scope of work. It is used to determine the applicant's eligibility and how well the project can compete with other potential submissions. Sponsors will request this to eliminate proposals for which there is little or no chance for funding.
A Continuation Proposal - A request for support for the next budget period of a funding cycle already approved by the sponsor.
A Renewal Proposal - A request for assistance to extend a project for one or more additional budget periods that is set to expire.
A Resubmission Proposal - An application that has been previously submitted, but was not funded, and is being resubmitted for new consideration.
Sponsors use various mechanisms to notify eligible entities about available funding opportunities. The following are common types of solicitations and/or grant notification methods.
Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) - A publicly available document by which a Federal Agency announces its intentions to award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements through a competition for funding. A general term used to reference any type of funding announcement.
Request For Proposal (RFP) - When the government and foundations issue a new contract or grant program, it sends out RFPs to agencies that might be qualified to participate. The RFP lists project specifications and application procedures.
Requests for Applications (RFA) - An RFA is a formal statement that solicits a grant or cooperative agreement application in a well-defined area to accomplish specific program objectives.
Program Announcement (PA) - A PA is a formal statement about a new or ongoing activity or program. It may serve as a reminder of continuing interest in a research area, describe modification in an activity or program, and/or invite applications for grant support.
Requests for Quotes (RFQs) - An RFQ is a solicitation that provides in exacting detail a list or description of all relevant parameters of the requirement. RFQs are best suited to commercial products and services.
The principal investigator (PI) is commonly defined as the individual at the institution who takes the lead on an experiment or research project and directs all activities pertaining to the project. It is the principal investigator who initiates the development of the grant proposal, but it is the authorized organizational representative (AOR) that has authority on behalf of the institution to submit the proposal to the sponsor. The AOR is an individual who represents the institution in negotiations on sponsored activities.
Principal investigators are not allowed to submit grants on behalf of the institution without going through the appropriate administrative entity. Please use the grid below as a guide for determining the best point of contact to assist with submission of a grant application.
Federal Grant Applications (National Science Foundation, Dept. of Navy, NIH, DOD)
State Grant Applications
- NSF Fastlane
- eRA Commons
- Paper submission
Only an authorized organizational representative (AOR) is allowed to submit proposals through these mechanisms
- Web-based proposal submission system
- Paper submission
Only an authorized organizational representative (AOR) is allowed to submit proposals through these mechanisms
Contact with corporate sponsors can only be initiated through The Citadel Foundation*
*If you feel that your program could benefit from corporate sponsorship, contact your Department Head/Chair to discuss your proposed plan.
Authorized Organizational Representatives:
Leigh Batten Lipscomb
Director of Grants
The Citadel Foundation
171 Moultrie Street
Charleston, SC 29409
Any faculty member who wishes to apply for funding must ensure that they have the ability to fulfill the requirements and objectives of the proposed project.
Before starting your grant application, it is recommended that you meet with your Department Head/Chair to ensure that the proposed project fits into the overall mission of the college and there are no departmental concerns that may limit the scope of the research activities.
If institutional resources (cost share, space, equipment, etc.) are needed, then it is recommended that a discussion be held with your Department Head and Academic School Dean to ensure that the resources are available for commitment to the grant.
If human subjects are involved in your grant application, you must request Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval before proceeding with your study. The IRB website contains the appropriate forms and policy statement.
No research project which involves human subjects may begin prior to receiving IRB approval.
Through the various types of grant solicitations, sponsors communicate the grant guidelines and requirements for preparing a proposal. The following should be confirmed before preparing your application:
The eligibility criteria are met for submitting an application.
The project that is being developed is compatible with the sponsor’s funding priorities.
The resources needed are available to carry out the proposed project.
The deadline for submitting an application is still open and there is ample time to prepare the application.
It is standard practice to reach out to a program official at the sponsor agency to ask questions and obtain clarification on whether your proposed research fits into the funding goals. The program official can provide guidance and help to determine if your application will be reviewed favorably.
It is important that sufficient time is allocated for developing the proposal before the deadline. A good rule of thumb is to begin working on your proposal at minimum, 2-3 months prior to the deadline. For large, multi-center grants, that may require considerable collaboration across disciplines or institutions, the process should begin at minimum, 5-6 months before the deadline. Always set up a meeting with an AOR. They will provide assistance with developing realistic timelines, putting together the budget and preparing the proposal.
If subcontract arrangements are a part of the grant application, allow additional time for the subcontract entity to adhere to their institutional requirements and supply any documentation that confirms the negotiated terms of the agreement. It would be wise to inquire with the subcontractor at the onset of negotiations about their institutional timeframes and factor them into the submission timelines that are developed.
The final and completed application must be submitted to the AOR five (5) business days prior to the deadline. The AOR will review the completed proposal to ensure the contents adhere to all requirements set forth by the sponsor.
The proposal process can begin in one of two ways:
A faculty member identifies an external funding opportunity/solicitation,
The Office of Grants Administration and Sponsored Programs sends out a Funding Alert notification.
Once a funding opportunity is identified, contact the authorized organizational representative (AOR) who will provide assistance with the preparation of the grant application. The preparation includes developing reasonable timeframes; constructing the budget; and the review of the proposal content for submission by the prescribed deadline.
There are numerous online government and foundation how-to guides and tools for writing comprehensive and successful grant proposals that can be referenced. Please see Proposal Content for an overview of common components of a grant application. In addition, the one page proposal submission guideline is a brief overview of the grant proposal process.
- Outline for Writing a Grant Application for Funding
- Developing And Writing Grant Proposals
- National Institutes of Health, Writing a Grant Application: A "Technical" Checklist
- Ten Ways to Write a Better Grant
- National Science Foundation (NSF) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) On Proposal Preparation and Award Administration
- National Science Foundation (NSF) - A Guide For Proposal Writing
- Writing Grants – Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
- The Foundation Center – Proposal Writing the Short Course
- What's the Secret to Getting Grants?
- A Guide to Proposal Planning and Writing
- The Online Evaluation Resource Library was developed for professionals seeking to design, conduct, document, or review project evaluations. The purpose of this system is to collect and make available evaluation plans, instruments, and reports for NSF projects that can be used as examples by Principal Investigators, project evaluators, and others outside the NSF community as they design proposals and projects.
- Association of American Colleges and Universities – Beyond Confusion - An Assessment Glossary
- The SALG website is a free course-evaluation tool that allows college-level instructors to gather learning-focused feedback from students.
- Creating Usable Assessment Tools: A Step-by-Step Guide to Instrument Design is a manual for the novice as well as the veteran practitioner conducting assessment.
- The Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE) is an organization of assessment practitioners committed to documenting and improving student learning in higher education.
- Assessment Notes, Outcomes Assessment Plan – Eric P. Soulsby – University of Connecticut
- Summary of Direct Assessment Techniques - Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education
- National Science Foundation - The 2002 User-Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation
National Institute of Health,: Sample Applications and Summary Statements http://www.niaid.nih.gov/researchfunding/grant/pages/appsamples.aspx
NIH National Institute on Aging: Cysteine Dioxygenase Transgenic Mouse Model."
NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, RO1 Research Grant: "Spatial Analysis in Children with Focal Brain Injury."
Foundation Center, Sample Cover Letters, Letters of Inquiry, Proposals, and Proposal Budgets to including commentary from the funder as to why the proposal was successful. http://www.grantspace.org/Tools/Sample-Documents/(sample_doc_cat_id)/0/(sample_doc_cat_name)/Proposals
- Proposal Content
The contents of each proposal will vary depending on the sponsor requirements. Each proposal must conform to the grant guidelines and be formatted as requested. Any deviation or non-compliance from the requested format may result in the application being rejected on a technical merit.
Some, not all, of the standard components of a proposal are detailed below:
Usually, no more than one page, the abstract, or executive summary is a brief overview of the project and the expected outcomes.
The Project Narrative is the section of the grant application where the applicant gives a clear and brief definition on the relevance of the proposed research project.
The research plan or program plan is where the principal investigator provides concrete and detailed information on the intended population to be served, the program design, and the plan for obtaining the proposed outcomes. The description should discuss the principal investigator’s goals, objectives, and innovative activities for developing a strong program with solid results. It should address how the activities parallel with the sponsor’s priorities. The plan should also highlight how the proposed staffing configuration and other costs will help to achieve the desired goals. The sponsor needs to see that the amount of money being requested will adequately cover the cost of the project.
Every application will require a financial plan that shows how funds will be allocated and spent during each budget period. The budget is normally separated into two categories - direct and indirect costs.
When developing the figures for your budget, it is important to be mindful of the cost principals that govern direct and indirect cost on a grant. Both categories have costs that are considered unallowable and therefore cannot be charged to the grant without violating federal guidelines. The grant guidelines may also detail additional unallowable costs that are prohibited on the grant.
Direct costs are those costs that are needed to carry out the project and achieve the projected outcomes. An itemized listing should be prepared for each of the following categories that are considered direct costs:
Salaries and wages - A listing of the personnel needed to carry out the project, the percentage effort and the estimated number of months to be devoted to the project each year.
Some budgets will require the salaries and wages in person months (Percent of Time & Effort to Person Months Calculator) format. Person months is defined as the metric for expressing the effort (amount of time) PI(s), faculty and other senior personnel devote to a specific project. The effort is based on the type of appointment of the individual with the organization; e.g., calendar year (CY), academic year (AY), and/or summer term (SM); and the organization's definition of such. For instance, some institutions define the academic year as a 9-month appointment. To calculate person months, multiply the percentage of your effort associated with the project times the number of months of your appointment.
25% of a 9 month academic year (AY) appointment equals 2.25 (AY) person months (9 x 0.25= 2.25)
Fringe benefits– The fringe benefit rate may vary depending on how personnel are classified. See the Fringe Benefit chart to determine the appropriate rate for the personnel to be charged on the grant.
Materials and Supplies - These are general purpose consumable items which commonly have a short life span in use, less than one year. General office supplies are not normally allowed in this category as most institutions factor in the costs of general office supplies into the indirect cost calculation rate.
Equipment – Large pieces of equipment or machinery that cost $5,000 or more and have a useful life of more than one year.
Travel – A breakdown of costs associated with domestic and foreign travel that directly relates to the project. Information on travel should include the destination (if known), who is traveling, and the number of trips.
For grant submissions to the federal government, federal regulations require (with some exceptions) travelers who are funded by federally sponsored projects to use U.S. flag air carrier service. This regulation is called "the Fly America Act.”
There is an exception to the rule called the “Open Skies Agreement." The Open Skies Agreement allows travelers to use European Union (plus Norway and Iceland), Australian, Japanese, or Swiss airlines under certain circumstances:
1. Airline "Open Skies" Agreements - A foreign flag air carrier may be used if the transportation is provided under an air transportation agreement between the United States and a foreign government, which the Department of Transportation has determined meets the requirements of the Fly America Act.
2. Involunatry Rerouting - Travel on a foreign-flag carrier is permitted if a U.S. flag air carrier involuntarily reroutes the traveler via a foreign flag air carrier, notwithstanding the availability of alternative U.S. flag air carrier service.
3. Travel To and From the U.S. - Use of a foreign-flag air carrier is permissible if the airport abroad is: (a) the traveler's origin or destination airport, and use of the U.S. flag air carrier service would extend the time in a travel status by at least 24 hours more than travel by a foreign flag air carrier; or (b) an interchange point, and use of the U.S. flag air carrier service would increase the number of aircraft changes that the traveler must make outside of the U.S. by two or more, would require the traveler to wait four hours or more to make connections at that point, or would extend the time in a travel status by at least six hours more than travel by a foreign flag air carrier.
4. Travel Between Points Outside the U.S. - Use of a foreign flag carrier is permissible if: (a) travel by a foreign flag air carrier would eliminate two or more aircraft changes in route; (b) travel by U.S flag air carrier would require a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point; (c) the travel is not part of the trip to or from the U.S., and use of the U.S. flag air carrier would extend the time in a travel status by at least six hours more than travel by a foreign flag air carrier.
5. Short Distance Travel - For all short distance travel, regardless of origin and destination, use of a foreign flag air carrier is permissible if the elapsed travel time on a scheduled flight from origin to destination airport by a foreign flag air carrier is three hours or less and service by a U.S. flag air carrier would double the travel time.
Please Note: The Open Skies Agreement does not apply if travel is funded by the Department of Defense (DOD) or by a department of the U.S. Military. Any travel funded by the DOD or by a U.S. military department must be on a U.S. flag air carrier.
Consultant costs – the costs for expert professional services provided by an individual who is not employed or affiliated with the institution. The compensation provided is normally an hourly or daily fee that is negotiated based on the service to be provided. A letter stating the terms of the agreement is usually required for the application (see sample Consultant Letter Template).
Sub-contract/sub-award agreements – These are negotiated agreements that allow another organization to perform some of the activities for the grant under the supervision of the principal investigator. These types of agreements enable collaborations that can be of great benefit to the project or provide the principal investigator with the ability to secure services that might not be available at his/her institution.
Publications – Books, research papers, journals, catalogs, teaching aids, authored by an expert in the field.
Alterations/Renovations – Large scale structural upgrades that are needed to maintain a buildings infrastructure and/or utility systems.
Other Costs – This category includes other direct costs that are not described above such as tuition and health insurance fees for graduate students or incentives paid for participating in a study.
Indirect costs also known as facilities and administrative (F&A) costs are expenses incurred for the common or joint objective of the institution (e.g., utilities, rent, audit and legal, administrative and clerical staff.) The funds received from the indirect recovery helps to support research and infrastructure costs across the campus, therefore, indirect costs will only be waived, if the sponsor guidelines specifically prohibit the inclusion of such costs.
A budget justification is a well-written explanation of the numerical figures provided in the requested budget. The narrative should support the proposed program and should provide enough information to justify all potential costs identified in the budget (see Sample Budget Justification).
A biosketch is a brief summary of all professional/educational accomplishments, publications, and affiliations. It is an abbreviated curriculum vitae meant to highlight important aspects of the training, experience, and areas of interest of key staff working on the project.
Current and pending support is provided by all key staff on the project. This information includes all of the financial resources such as Federal, non-Federal, commercial or institutional, of any and all research endeavors, including but not limited to grants, cooperative agreements, contracts, and/or institutional awards (see Current and Pending Support Template).
An appendix is supplementary material at the end of a grant proposal. The material is usually of an explanatory, statistical, or bibliographic nature. Some sponsors have restrictions on how appendix material may be utilized in the proposal. Always review the grant guidelines to ensure adherence to the requirements for use of appendix material.
Document(s) which endorse the work in the proposed project by the co-investigator, sub-awardee and other participants included in the grant application. A good support letter includes the nature of the relationship and the type of support that is being provided. The letters of support should reinforce the commitments made in the program description and support the project outcomes. Each letter should be customized by the individual who is writing the letter to fully convey the reason why that individual is in full support of the project. (See Letter of Support Template).
The institution must certify that it acts in accordance with the requirements of federal policy, that a research project or activity involving human subjects has been reviewed and approved by an institutional review board (IRB) in accordance with an approved assurance. The institution must have a statement of principles that govern the institution in the discharge of its responsibilities for protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects of research conducted at or sponsored by the institution, regardless of whether the research is subject to federal regulation.
This may include an appropriate existing code, declaration, or statement of ethical principles, or a statement formulated by the institution.
Institutions must certify that any faculty member or staff applying for a grant is not excluded from participating in grants and other non-procurement awards government-wide. If debarred or suspended, the person or organization may not receive financial assistance (under a grant, cooperative agreement, or subaward, or contract under a grant) for a specified period of time.
The institution is required to certify that compliance is met with the Drug-Free Workplace Act.
The institution is required to complete a certification regarding lobbying restrictions. The institution must certify that it does not use federal funds (grant, cooperative agreement and contract funds) for lobbying of any state legislation or appropriations pending before the Congress or any state legislature.
The institution is required to certify that it has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by the grant.
The institution is required to certify that it has a written policy on conflicts of interest disclosure that is being enforced.
The institution is required to complete a certification regarding compliance with nondiscrimination regulations and policies. This certification sets forth the nondiscrimination obligations with which all grantees must comply. These obligations also apply to subrecipients, subgrantees, and subcontractors under the award.
The institution must certify that it has a policy in place regarding ownership of intellectual property, including conflict of interest issues. The institution shall instruct employees through employee agreements or other suitable educational programs on the importance of reporting inventions in sufficient time to permit the filing of patent applications prior to U.S. or foreign statutory bars.
The internal policy that lists the Federal regulations that pertain to all federal funds can be found at Federal General Grant Requirements.
Proposal Submission Procedure
Adherence to the deadline is crucial when dealing with grants. Most sponsors, unless otherwise noted, will not consider or review your application for possible funding if you do not meet the deadline stated in the grant guidelines.
The internal routing process enables the appropriate administrative entities to review each proposal and attest that all work being performed through the proposed grant activities are in accordance with university and sponsor policies and follow commonly accepted scientific practices in conducting, recording, and interpreting research.
The Citadel review process requires the budget, budget narrative and project summary be reviewed and approved by the following individuals before a proposal can be submitted to a sponsor:
- Department Head/Chair
- Dean of Academic School
- Associate Provost and Dean of The Citadel Graduate College
- Vice President of Finance (with prior review from the Grant Accountant and Director of Financial Services).
- Provost and Dean of the College
Before a proposal can be submitted to the sponsor, it must be provided to the AOR in final form for review a minimum of five (5) business days prior to the deadline (See Internal Deadline Policy). A proposal in final form consists of:
- Successful review and approval of the budget, budget justification and the project summary with appropriate signatures (Department Head/Chair; Dean of Academic School; Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate College; Vice President of Finance; and Provost and Dean of the College.)
- The final version of all proposal elements per the grant guidelines.
- Other forms or documents required (i.e. letters of support, statements of institutional commitments, etc.).
The AOR will review the proposal contents and if no corrections are needed, the AOR will submit the grant application via the appropriate web-based system or by mail, based on the grant guidelines. Depending on the submission mechanism, the AOR may allow the principal investigator to submit the application directly to the sponsor.