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Funding Opportunity Announcements Questions and Answers

Table of Contents

What is a FOA?

All federal grantmaking agencies publish funding opportunity announcements (FOA) in to notify potential applicants of the requirements and forms to apply for grant funding. For any application you submit to NIH, you will apply through a FOA.

NIH's FOAs are either program announcements (PAs) or requests for applications (RFAs).

For electronic applications, you use the SF 424 Application Guide instructions and ASSIST forms or the application package.

Since NIH has its own requirements as well, part of the FOA is also the NIH Guide announcement that gives you additional information that's important to read.

For more information, read FOAs Explained in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Should I read the Guide announcement or the FOA?

Both. You need the instructions from both places: the NIH Guide and the funding opportunity announcement (FOA). If the Instructions in the Guide announcement and the SF 424 Application Guide differ, the instructions in the Guide announcement take precedence.

If you’re applying in response to a request for applications or an institute-specific program announcement, read the Guide announcement for special requirements and information specific to the FOA, and follow all instructions carefully.

How does NIH handle investigator-initiated applications?

NIH issues a broad announcement, called a parent program announcement, for each investigator-initiated activity code, including the R01. See the NIH Parent Announcements.

Be aware that for some activity codes, such as the R21, not all institutes accept applications in any scientific topic. See the next set of questions.

When do I use an NIH parent versus an NIAID announcement?

Every grant mechanism e.g., R01, R03, may have two types of funding opportunity announcements (FOA):

  • NIH "parent" program announcement.
    • Called a parent announcement, though there are no "children" or other relatives.
    • It allows investigator-initiated applications but may be limited to scientific areas of interest to an institute.
    • Before writing the application, call a program officer to see if the institute is interested in your planned topic.
    • Not all institutes may participate—check the FOA to see which do.
  • One or more institute-specific FOAs.
    • Analogous to the program announcements and requests for applications NIAID and other institutes have traditionally issued.
    • Specify an area of scientific interest, outline special administrative requirements, or both.

The NIAID Funding Opportunities List has a link to the NIH Guide, which in turn links to the ASSIST forms or the application package.

How do I find out if NIAID participates in a funding opportunity?

Look for NIAID in the list of “Components of Participating Organizations” at the top of the funding opportunity announcement. Alternatively, you can take a look at our Funding Opportunities List.

Note that even if we don't participate in a particular announcement, we:

  • May support a similar area of research. Contact a program officer in that research area—go to NIAID's Finding People for a list of contacts sorted by organizational hierarchy. In the case of training grants, fellowships, or career development awards, contact our Office of Research Training and Special Programs.
  • Will help you as best we can.
    • You can email about any funding opportunity NIH publishes in the Guide. If we don’t know the answer, we will refer you to the sponsoring institute.
    • That said, to save yourself time and effort, go directly to the source—look for scientific/research contacts in Section VII. Agency Contacts of the FOA.

Why should I read the statement of interest for a parent PA?

Some parent program announcements include an Institute statement of interest to let you know in which areas of science we will accept applications. As an example, see the NIAID R21 Statement of Interest in NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21) Contacts and Special Interests.

When there is a statement of interest, you can find a direct link to it under each parent PA on the NIAID Funding Opportunities List. You can also find the statement of interest in the NIH Guide announcement. However you get there, check it when ready to apply to make sure you view the current one.

What's the best way to find NIH funding opportunities?

We recommend the following options: the NIH Guide or the NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

NIH Guide

  • The NIH Guide houses the full announcements for all NIH grant opportunities.
  • The Guide announcement includes apply buttons that go to the ASSIST forms or the downloadable application package.

NIAID's Funding Opportunities List

  • The NIAID Funding Opportunities List links to the most relevant information source.
  • It includes important information, for example, identifies parent program announcements and provides a direct link to the statement of interest for parent program announcements if there is one.

How do I find the Guide announcement associated with a FOA?

You can find the associated Guide announcements using one of these methods:

How do I find out about NIAID news and funding opportunities?

Read How do I find out about NIAID news and funding opportunities? on Finding Help questions and answers.

When I click the Full Announcement button in a FOA, why does it say "no attached files"?

The middle button at the top of a funding opportunity announcement is labeled "Full Announcement," but due to default settings in, doesn't send you to the NIH Guide.

Instead, scroll down to the "Link to Full Announcement" header on the Synopsis page. The link below that header will take you to the NIH Guide announcement.

What dictates whether AIDS due dates apply to an application? For example, would a fellowship application with an AIDS-related project qualify?

Any application that seeks funding for HIV/AIDS research should follow the Standard AIDS Dates. There are no limitations or guidelines based on the specific types of proposed experiments.

So long as the funding opportunity announcement does not list the AIDS Application Due Date(s) as "Not Applicable" in Part 1. Overview Information, as seen in Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp), then you should apply following the Standard AIDS dates if your research has anything to do with HIV/AIDS.

When NIH reissues a funding opportunity announcement, is the pool of applicants limited to awardees who are currently funded?

Not necessarily. Often, NIH allows both new and renewal applications so that additional investigators may respond to the funding opportunity announcement (FOA).

Check "Application Types Allowed" in Section II of the FOA to be sure.

Where can I find more questions and answers about grant applications?

See Signing Up to Apply Electronically and General Info and Planning for Electronic Applications for the next sets of questions and answers on electronic grant applications. Also go to Applying for a Grant, Writing a Great Grant Application, and other Application questions and answers

What if my question wasn't answered here, or I'd like to suggest a question?

Email with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. We answer questions by email and post them here. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.

Last Updated June 06, 2016

Last Reviewed July 27, 2015