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Strategy for NIH Funding
Navigation for the Strategy for NIH Funding. Link to Part 1. Qualify for NIH Funding. Link to Part 2. Pick and Design a Project. Link to Part 3. Write Your Application. Link to Part 4. Submit Your Application. Link to Part 5. Assignment and Review. Link to Part 6. If Not Funded. Link to Part 7. Funding.

Previous page in Strategy.Strategy for Your Grant   ·   How to Manage Your GrantNext page in Strategy.

Getting a Grant Award

To read about how to avoid a delay in getting your grant, go to How NIAID Makes Funding Decisions in Part 7.

As you are about to become a PI, you will work closely with your institution. On this page, learn what we do to make sure your application complies with all NIH policies that affect it before we issue your grant.

Know why your budget or Specific Aims may differ from those that you requested and what your options are. Learn about the significance of your Notice of Award and your Terms of Award.

Consider finding out whether you can spend your institution's money before you get the grant.

Note: foreign grantees and investigators should use our Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators for information on negotiating and managing their grants.

Table of Contents

Just the Facts

(This section has factual information only; for advice on this topic, go to Our Advice below.)

Negotiation Determines Your Terms of Award

Your grants management specialist goes through a checklist of items to make sure your application complies with NIH policies.

As you are about to become a PI of an NIH grant, you will work closely with your institution, and you will continue to do so throughout the award period.

By this point, you should have done the following:

Your grants management specialist goes through a checklist of items to make sure your application complies with all NIH policies that affect it.

In addition to your just-in-time documentation, he or she looks at such items as our preapproval of an application over $500,000, compliance with any special requirements in a request for applications, and overlap with another funded grant.

If your research is in a high-profile policy area—for example, human subjects, research animals, or select agents—talk to your program officer and grants management specialist early on to learn our expectations.

After all the required documentation is in place, your program officer and grants management specialist contact you to negotiate the level of support and other aspects of your award.

Timing. If your application is fundable, you will see the Notice of Award in the Commons within six to eight weeks of our advisory Council meeting or earlier if it underwent expedited second-level review. This could take longer if it's at the start of fiscal year and we do not have a budget, the study section had human or animal concerns, or you have a complex grant type. 

Find additional information in the Grants Negotiation SOP.

Your Award May Differ From Your Request

If your project's scope, timeline, or budget is reduced, you have three options.

In your Notice of Award, your budget or Specific Aims may differ from those that you requested due the following factors.

Initial peer review. Your study section may recommend changes to your Research Plan or budget. For example, it may deem that you can achieve your Specific Aims with less money or time than you requested. Reviewers may conclude that some of your Specific Aims are not necessary.

Overlap. A grants management specialist or program officer may modify your award based on overlap identified in your other support information. If part of your Research Plan or scientific effort has already been paid for by NIH or another organization, we reduce the funding level accordingly.

Programmatic reduction. We may have to reduce your budget if our annual appropriation is not sufficient for us to fund applications at Council-recommended levels. Check our Financial Management Plan to see if we are using a programmatic reduction.

If your project's scope, timeline, or budget is reduced, you have the following options (listed in our order of preference):

  • Revise your project to conform to the reviewers' recommendations.
  • Request that our advisory Council restore funds, years, or Specific Aims.
  • Decline funding.

After You Get Your Award

After you receive your Notice of Award, read it to find out your project's start and end dates, your terms and conditions of award, and how much money you will receive for current and future years. Though you will get a Notice of Award at the beginning of each budget period, this one sets the standard.

Contact your business office with any questions you have, and feel free to check in with your grants management specialist to follow up. Also keep tabs on NIH policy changes at Top Policy Changes.

Make Sure Your Institution Has Negotiated F&A Rates

F&A typically covers more facility costs than administrative costs. It pays for all the services it takes to keep your lab open and running.

Usually, your grant support pays for direct costs plus facilities and administrative costs (previously called indirect costs) negotiated for your institution.

In case you're curious, F&A covers more facility costs than administrative costs. It pays for all the services it takes to keep your lab open and running—electricity, heating, air conditioning, custodial services, hazardous waste disposal, and so on—so you can conduct your research.

These infrastructure costs are factored into a formula that becomes your institution's negotiated F&A rate.

For academic institutions, F&A costs often account for about one-quarter to one-third of your institution's cost, but the F&A rate is a different number—it is the ratio of F&A costs to a factor called modified total direct costs (MTDC)—see the linked glossary term for a definition.

F&A rates of about 50 percent of MTDC are typical for universities. Keep in mind that a 50 percent F&A rate does not mean that 50 percent of the total expenditures are for overhead. MTDC excludes student tuition, equipment, and other large expenditure items.

Depending on the type of organization you work in, you can read more on direct and F&A costs that may be charged to your grant in the following resources.

Organization Type Cost Principles

Universities

OMB Circular A-21

Non-Profit Organizations

OMB Circular A-122

Hospitals

45 CFR Part 74, Appendix E

State and Local Governments

OMB Circular A-87

Commercial (for-profit)
Organizations

FAR Part 31 codified as 48 CFR part 31.2

If your institution has to negotiate F&A rates, your Notice of Award will direct it to the NIH Division of Financial Advisory Services. Once NIH approves a rate, it notifies you and us.

Foreign grantees can receive up to 8 percent of direct costs excluding equipment for F&A costs. For details, go to Facilities and Administrative Costs in our Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators.

Accepting the Award

Accepting your grant isn't a formal process. By this point, we will have set up a method of payment with your institution so you can receive funds. At the start of your project period—the period of time we agree to fund you—we begin sending you money. By using the money, you accept the award.

You can read more about accepting a grant early in our Early Grant Award questions and answers. Read about spending your institution's funds before you get an award in our advice below at Negotiate Your Level of Support.

Read Your Notice of Award, Know Your Terms

You receive a Notice of Award for every budget period (usually one year) of your award. Read it carefully.

When we issue a Notice of Award, we have accepted all your application information. You can find the Notice of Award in the eRA Commons; use the Status module or Issued Notice of Award query.

Your Notice of Award

Your Notice of Award houses a lot of helpful information. It tells you the funds you will receive for current and future years, start and end dates, terms and conditions of award, and the name of your program officer and grants management specialist.

You get a Notice of Award for every budget period (usually one year) unless you have a multiyear grant.

Note that grants management staff may issue a revised Notice of Award to reflect any of the following changes:

  • Increase or decrease of funds.
  • Lifting of a restriction.
  • Change in budget period.
  • Carryover or offset.

Know Your Terms of Award

Restrictive terms set limits on how you can use funds.

When you accept a grant award from NIH, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions in the Notice of Award. Read the terms before you begin your research so you do not unknowingly violate them.

There are three types of terms of award.

  1. Informative terms clarify information.
  2. Programmatic terms are a part of cooperative agreement awards.
  3. Restrictive terms set limits on how you can use funds. These terms prevent you from doing the following:
    • Using funds until you meet certain requirements. For example, you may not spend grant funds on human subjects or animal research until your institution has an approved Federalwide Assurance or Animal Welfare Assurance, respectively.
    • Using funds for anything other than a specified purpose.

You may find that we have placed a temporary restriction on your award.

For example, if you're working with select agents, we will add a Select Agent Terms of Award for NIAID Grants that prohibits you from using grant funds for select agent research until you've registered with the National Select Agent Registry or Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. See the Select Agent Awards SOP for details.

We can put a restriction on your grant at any time, for various reasons, including if you fall behind in reporting requirements.

Until we lift the restriction, you legally cannot use grant funds to conduct your research or publish data resulting from it.

Our Advice

(This section has advice only; you should also read the factual information above at Just the Facts.)

Before You Get Your Award

Make sure your business office signs everything you send, even if it delegates some submission roles to you.

Make sure you're geared up and ready to go: gather all the documentation we wrote about above in Just the Facts, and send it in on time.

Send everything we ask for and only what we ask for. And make sure your business office signs everything you send, even if it delegates some submission roles to you.

Until you get your Notice of Award, don't take anything for granted. You may have to negotiate reductions in funding, removal of Specific Aims, bars to award, or other issues.

Since you'll rely heavily on the staff in your institution's business office, make sure you know what they need.

Negotiate Your Level of Support

For most awardees, negotiation consists of reviewing your budget, making sure everything is still appropriate, and possibly adjusting your funding level.

Before we can issue your Notice of Award, we need to set a budget level and terms of award that you agree to, a process NIH calls negotiation.

For most awardees, negotiation consists of reviewing your budget, making sure everything is still appropriate, and possibly adjusting your funding level based on our financial management plan and your other support.

Know your options. If your award will be different from what you expected, read the options listed above under Your Award May Differ From Your Request.

Then get advice from your program officer and work with your grants management specialist to choose the option that's best for you.

Look into spending funds early. You might want to talk to people in your business office about the possibility of spending money on your research up to 90 days before getting your Notice of Award.

Note that your business office must approve, since your spending funds early is at your institution's risk. Find details in our Early Grant Awards questions and answers under the header "Using Institutional Funds to Start Early."

Checklist. At this point, make sure:

  1. I send just-in-time information through the eRA Commons.
  2. I resolve any bars to award through my program officer.
  3. I have no other administrative issues that prevent me from receiving my award.
  4. I contact my grants management specialist if I have a problem or delay in completing any of the actions listed above.
  5. If my award will be different from what I expected, I understand my options and consider getting help making the right choice.
  6. If I started my research before receiving my award, I have records of my expenses, so I will be able to charge them to my grant.
  7. If I have a restricted award, I make sure that I do not conduct any research I am not permitted to do using NIH funds.
  8. I consider whether to discuss with my business office the possibility of spending funds on my research before getting my Notice of Award.

Strategy for NIH Funding
Navigation for the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Previous page in Strategy.Strategy for Your Grant   ·   How to Manage Your GrantNext page in Strategy.

See the other sections of
Part 7. Funding

Table of Contents for the Strategy

We welcome your comments, questions, or suggestions. Email deaweb@niaid.nih.gov.

Last Updated November 03, 2011

Last Reviewed September 30, 2011