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Renewal Application Questions and Answers

Table of Contents

What are renewals and where can I find basic information about them?

A renewal application is a request for funding to continue your NIH-funded research. Before your project ends, you must again apply for support and undergo initial peer review.

Alternatively, you may submit a new application. The best approach depends on your circumstances—see the next question.

For information on renewals, go to NIAID's Apply for Renewal or Start Anew in the Strategy for NIH Funding

How do I decide whether to apply as a renewal or submit a new application?

It's your choice. When deciding, consider your situation and the science; then contact your program officer for advice.

For example, it is advantageous to apply with a renewal if you have made progress and accomplished most or all of your Specific Aims, and you plan a logical continuation using the same funding mechanism.

Going in a new direction or expanding the scope of the research calls for a new application. Read more in Apply for Renewal or Start Anew in our Strategy for NIH Funding.

Should my renewal use my original Specific Aims or should I write new Specific Aims?

Your renewal should have new or mostly new Specific Aims, given the expectation that most or all of your original aims have been achieved. Peer reviewers will take into account what you have accomplished when assessing the merits of your renewal application.

Also, a renewal should clearly link back to your previous grant's Specific Aims, showing progress without duplicating the aims of the previous grant. It's important to show that you successfully conducted relevant research, got results, and then will use those results to pursue the next set of experiments.

We suggest reading Apply for Renewal or Start Anew in our Strategy for NIH Funding.

Can a PI submit two renewal applications to follow-up on a single R01?

No, but you can submit one as a renewal, and another as a new application that's significantly different.

Be aware that there are different submission dates for new and renewal applications. You may also want to read our advice on renewals—go to Apply for Renewal or Start Anew in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

How should I time my renewal application?

Good planning is critical. Some people wait until the last possible receipt date to send in their renewal applications without a break in funding, though often it's best to apply earlier.

If you have sufficient data, you may consider submitting your application one or more review cycles early. Applying early gives you time to revise and resubmit if you do not get a fundable score.

For more guidance, read the Strategy for NIH Funding. Go to NIH's Review and Award Cycles table for receipt dates and funding timeframes.

What should I consider when deciding whether to apply early with a renewal?

If you are submitting a renewal application, reviewers expect to see data showing progress no matter when your application arrives.

Your timing hinges on your comfort level with your data and progress, the length of the grant, and the complexity of the project. Read more in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Should I submit my renewal early if I do not have enough data at the earlier time?

No. Send in your application one or more review cycles early only if you have enough data to show progress.

The early approach does not apply to short awards or work progressing slowly. For more advice, read the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Can NIH fund a renewal before the existing grant ends?

No. Though you can submit your renewal application at any time, your renewal cannot be funded until shortly before the final grant year is about to end.

What happens to a fundable renewal application for a grant that ends the next fiscal year?

We will keep track of the application, and if it is within the next fiscal year’s payline, we will make the award. Of course, you may also choose to resubmit.

What is the funding cap for renewals?

For the past several years—which we expect to continue—NIAID has limited the amount of money you can request for your renewal R01 to 20 percent more than the direct costs of the last noncompeting award.

The cap is part of NIAID's financial management plan. Go to our Paylines and Funding page for the latest information, and read Planning a Budget in the Strategy for NIH Funding for how NIAID calculates that cap.

To which grants does the funding cap apply?

The renewal cap applies only to R01 grants. Although sometimes NIAID requests an exception to a cap from our advisory Council, this is highly unusual, and you shouldn't expect it.

As always, we recommend discussing your options with your program officer.

If the cap is 20 percent, how does NIAID determine the budget limit?

Go to Planning a Budget in the Strategy for NIH Funding to see how we compute the cap.

For modular grants, can I round up to the next level if the cap has not been reached?

Yes, if the cap results in a number between modular increments, you round up to the next module.

The budget for my first R01 was low, $130,000; how much can I request for my new budget?

Here's an example. If you send in your application as a renewal, you are limited to 20 percent more than $130,000. This is a reasonable approach if you are pretty much continuing the same research you started with.

However, if your research has evolved in scope, you may want to apply with a new grant. In that case, change the title and abstract to include your new Specific Aims, so the focus of the application reflects the new scale of your research.

Because new investigators typically receive less money than more experienced grantees, the cap is often a problem for them. For more advice, contact your program officer, and read Strategies for Dealing With a Budget Cap in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

If I ask for the cap amount for my first year, can I make a bigger request for subsequent years?

No. All budgets are based on the first year budget. Modular grants get the same number of modules (same funding level) each year. Nonmodular grants may get a small increase or a decrease, depending on NIAID's financial management plan for that year.

You can request funds in excess of the cap for one-time costs, such as equipment. Go to Planning a Budget in the Strategy for NIH Funding and the Renewal Funding SOP for more information.

If I request an amount within the cap level, I won't have enough funds for a new animal model—what should I do?

You have several options. Regardless of Institute policy, you should request the resources needed for your research. Learn more in Strategies for Dealing With a Budget Cap in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Are modular R01 renewals affected by the budget cap?

The cap affects all applications, modular or nonmodular, regardless of funding level.

What should I do during this era of lean budgets?

Keep in mind that it's harder to get funded in a lean budget year and that you may not get funded at the study section-approved level. Read more in When Funding Is Tight in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Must I keep the title of the grant unchanged when applying for a renewal?

No. While it is often best to keep the same title, use a different title if it's a better fit.

If you do change the title, check the box indicating that your application is a renewal on the checklist (the last page) of the grant application, and enter your grant number. That way, NIH will know you are submitting a renewal with a new title.

Does a grant renewal have to go to the same study section as its original R01?

No. You can request any study section in your cover letter if it’s relevant to the science. However, keep in mind that there’s no guarantee your application will go there.

Can my renewal application be assigned to a different NIH institute than the one that funded my prior grant? If so, how should I make that request?

Although it’s rare, grants can be funded in situations where the previous competitive segment was funded by another institute or center (IC). Check with a program officer in the other IC to see whether there is interest in your application before you submit the application.

Request that IC as the primary institute in your cover letter. If your application is able to fit a different IC’s mission, you can work with your program officer to request a dual assignment if you didn't request it when you initially submitted the renewal application.

Many ICs will accept a transfer before review but not afterwards, so it's best to inquire whether there is interest in accepting the application at another IC before review.

If the assigned IC doesn’t wish to fund the application, then a secondary IC can determine that it’s important to their mission and request that the application moves to their IC. The secondary IC will generally only fund the application if the score is within their payline.

For more information, see the Request for Primary IC Assignment SOP.

What format should I use for the Research Plan section of an R01 renewal?

A Research Plan follows the same format and page limits for a renewal as a new application, with a few differences.

Instead of preliminary studies, include a Progress Report. You also include a Progress Report Publication List, information on Inventions and Patents, and a Planned Enrollment Report and Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report if you're conducting human subjects research.

See How to Fill Out the Forms in the Strategy for NIH Funding, and check the SF 424 Application Guide of the R01 funding opportunity announcement for further details.

I am preparing to submit a renewal application for an R01 grant. Where in the application package do I include the progress report and how should I format it?

NIH doesn’t have a progress reporting form for renewal applications. You’ll report progress in your Research Strategy. See a sample application that is a renewal, if you want to see how another PI did his.

For additional information, see How to Fill Out the Forms and Preliminary Studies or Progress Report in our Strategy for NIH Funding.

Is the Progress Report Publication List part of the 12-page limit for the Research Strategy?

No, it's not. The SF 424 (R&R) Application Guides state that the Progress Report Publication List should not be included in the Approach part of the Research Strategy. Therefore, it’s not part of the 12-page limit for that section.

Instead, the Progress Report Publication List is a separate attachment for the PHS 398 Research Plan. The application guides don't specify a page limit for that attachment.

Will resetting anniversary dates affect the timing of my renewal?

Yes. NIAID does not reset grant dates every year. If we do, we let investigators know through our NIAID Funding Newsletter. Sign up to receive an email each time it is published at Subscribe to Email Alerts.

Can you tell me about renewing a training grant?

Go to Does NIAID have instructions for renewals of training grants? in the Training Grants questions and answers. Read Does my renewal application need to be as detailed as my original application? on that page.

Is there a window of time that a PI can submit an application as a renewal? Must the original grant still be active?

No. The grant need not be active and there is no time limit for a renewal application. However, reviewers will probably be concerned by major gaps.

If a significant amount of time has elapsed, indicate what you have done in the interim. Highlight any preliminary data you may have obtained, and show that your planned research is current with the latest science.

If I change some of the collaborating projects in my P01, is my submission considered to be a renewal or a new grant application?

See If I change some of the collaborating projects in my P01, is my submission a renewal or a new grant application? in the NIAID Investigator-Initiated Program Project (P01) Applications questions and answers.

Do I need to submit a final progress report for my grant if I am applying for a renewal?

See Do I need to submit a final progress report for my grant if I am applying for a renewal? in the Progress Reports questions and answers.

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

Email deaweb@niaid.nih.gov 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 October 29, 2014

Last Reviewed June 10, 2013