See the Glossary for more terms.
Table of Contents
Read the questions and answers below or see the Table of Contents above.
All application types are electronic except some complex award types such as program projects and some cooperative agreements. To be sure, check the funding opportunity announcement.
For electronic application, you both prepare and submit your application electronically. See Get Ready Now to Apply Electronically and Prepare to Submit in the Strategy for NIH Funding and our Application portal for more information.
For any application you submit to NIH, you will apply through a funding opportunity announcement (FOA). NIH lists all its opportunities in Grants.gov as funding opportunity announcements (FOA). Grants.gov posts FOAs from virtually the entire federal government.
However, Grants.gov is not the easiest way to find opportunities. We list NIAID's on our NIAID Funding Opportunities List.
NIH publishes announcements with additional information and instructions in the NIH Guide. See What's the best way to find NIH funding opportunities? in our Funding Opportunity Announcements Questions and Answers.
Your organization has a business official for Grants.gov. Grants.gov calls this person the authorized organizational representative (AOR). Your AOR submits your application to Grants.gov and receives email notifications about its status.
While you submit to Grants.gov, your application then moves to NIH for processing here. The business official for Grants.gov may or may not be the same person who serves as the NIH eRA Commons signing official, who handles all interactions with the Commons.
Outside your organization, you can get help from Grants.gov or eRA Commons. For details and additional questions, go to Signing Up to Apply Electronically Questions and Answers.
A staff member of your organization, the Grants.gov e-business point of contact, approves one or more authorized organizational representatives to submit applications on behalf of your organization.
Sign up for NIH's Electronic Application Listserv at Get Connected. Sign up for the NIAID Funding News at the Subscription Center.
See our Application portal.
Go to the Strategy for NIH Funding for information.
NIAID also posts examples of exceptional funded applications at Samples and Examples.
Find more resources on the All About Grants Tutorials main page.
Call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726, 24 hours a day, 7days a week, except for federal holidays.
Call the Commons Help Desk at 301-402-7469 or 1-866-504-9552 (toll free) or 301-451-5939 (TTY) Monday to Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. You may submit a web ticket to the Commons through the eRA Help Desk Online Service Requests form. You can also visit the eRA commons training Web page for guidance and tutorials.
Plan on allowing two months or more of dedicated time to prepare for a simple R01, e.g., one that does not include vertebrate animals or human subjects.
Make sure all registrations are in place—see Get Ready Now to Apply Electronically in the Strategy for NIH Funding and Signing Up to Apply Electronically Questions and Answers. Even before they are, you can begin preparing:
Read more in Prepare to Submit in the Strategy for NIH Funding and Preparing Your Electronic Application Questions and Answers.
Use NIH's Annotated SF 424 Grant Application Forms for field-by-field information to avoid common mistakes.
Factor in plenty of time for submitting, and possibly correcting and resubmitting, your application.
See these resources for more advice:
You can submit your application anytime between the open date and the deadline stated in the NIH Guide announcement. If a deadline lands on a weekend or federal holiday, it moves to the next business day.
The FOA lists a closing date, which is actually when the FOA expires. This can be misleading for program announcements (PA), which are often issued for three years. Apply for a PA using Standard Due Dates for Competing Applications.
To avoid a late application, your application must pass Grants.gov validation by 5:00 p.m. your institution's local time on the due date listed in the funding opportunity announcement. Later, you have a chance to reject the application image in the eRA Commons.
You should be watching the Commons so you know when your application has passed validation. Don't rely on the email notification or your busy business office staff.
See Prepare to Submit in the Strategy for NIH Funding, Late Applications SOP, and Corrected or Late Electronic Applications Questions and Answers.
All electronic application data go through Grants.gov before reaching NIH, even if your organization is using ASSIST forms or a service provider. Check locally to find out how to apply at your institution and see Prepare to Submit in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Service providers offer a range of products and services including systems using HTML-based forms and PDF attachments that populate fields from individual and institutional profiles.
They provide customer support and workflow controls and may offer tools for managing awards and reporting. Find out if your organization is using a service provider.
If your institution decides to use a service provider, the institution should allow plenty of lead time for installation and training as well as application submission. Find NIH's list of Service Providers.
If your organization decides not to use a service provider or custom system, you'll use ASSIST forms or the Grants.gov application package.
Check the instructions at Grants.gov's Recommended Software. Install the software early, so you can preview the application forms. Then you can fill out the ASSIST forms or the Grants.gov application package.
If you're having trouble opening PDF documents—for example, those posted at SF 424 Application and Electronic Submission Information—you may have an old PDF reader. Try upgrading to the latest version of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.
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Last Updated July 27, 2015
Last Reviewed July 27, 2015