Understand the Fiscal Year Calendar to Sync Your Timing

Funding News Edition: September 07, 2022
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Colorized transmission electron micrograph of a single Nipah virus particle

At NIAID, there is no significant correlation between Advisory Council round and time to award. We strive to issue awards at the same pace, regardless of cycle.

Credit: NIAID

It’s nearly New Year’s Day, October 1, if you’re going by our fiscal year calendar. Although you may not observe it as a holiday, recognizing how NIH deadlines correspond to the fiscal year can help you understand when and why NIAID undertakes certain actions and processes.

Moreover, familiarity with NIH’s review and award cycles can help you determine a research project’s likely start date given the application’s submission date. For the sake of ensuring continuity of research funding, knowing how early you ought to apply is an important skill.

Three Review Cycles

NIH has three Review and Award Cycles, called simply Cycle I, Cycle II, and Cycle III. Each award cycle links a set of investigator-initiated application due dates to an Advisory Council round that follows. For most award types, the quickest possible timeline from application submission to project start date is 8 to 10 months.  

For example, if you submitted an investigator-initiated, AIDS-related R01 application in time for today’s deadline, September 7, 2022, your application would be part of Cycle II. It would undergo peer review in October or November, proceed to the January meeting of NIAID’s Advisory Council, and your earliest project start date would be April 2023.

Now, suppose you already have an R01 award with a 5-year project period, set to end in July 2024. If you want to renew the grant, what’s the latest you should submit a competing renewal application so that, if successful, you’ll receive a renewed award before the current award expires? The answer is November 25, 2023—applications sent for that Cycle III deadline for R01 renewal applications would undergo peer review in February or March 2024, then proceed to the May 2024 Advisory Council round, and have a start date in July 2024.

Alignment with Fiscal Year

Think of Cycle I as being the first review and award cycle not because the January 25 due date for new R01 applications is near the start of the calendar year, but instead because Cycle I awards are paid at the start of our fiscal year. Cycle II and Cycle III awards are paid within that same fiscal year.

The timeline is such that most applications are submitted in the fiscal year preceding the fiscal year in which they receive funding. Consider the illustration below and read Overview of R01 Process and Due Dates for a longer explanation.

Chart of Review and Award Cycles

This might complicate how you think of NIAID Paylines, which are funding cut-off points for grant applications. The payline posted when you apply for a grant may shift by the time NIAID is ready to issue an award, as the next fiscal year’s appropriation and the volume of incoming applications can change in the meantime.

Note too that NIAID awards grants even if we are operating under a continuing resolution, as explained under “When We Don’t Get a Budget” on Background on NIAID Funding Opportunity Planning and the Budget Cycle. We take a cautious approach to funding decisions absent a full year’s appropriation from Congress, then once we have an official budget we set an interim payline and adjust it further based on available funds and the volume of applications received.

Funding Opportunities List Key Dates

You don’t need to memorize the review and award cycle deadlines after reading this article. Each funding opportunity announcement lists the application due date(s), peer review date(s), Advisory Council round(s), and earliest project start date(s) in the “Key Dates” section of Part 1. Overview Information.  

Strategic Considerations

Finally, a word of warning. It is a common misconception that applications in Cycle III receive awards more quickly, given the looming end-of-fiscal-year deadline for NIAID to spend its appropriation from Congress. However, at NIAID, there is no significant correlation between Advisory Council round and time to award. We strive to issue awards at the same pace, regardless of cycle.

Another false assumption is that applications submitted for different review and award cycles within a fiscal year are held against different paylines should NIAID increase a payline during the fiscal year. Actually, when NIAID increases a payline, we circle back to pay any applications from earlier cycles that are within the newly raised fiscal year payline.

So, submit your application as soon as it’s complete. There is no advantage gained by waiting for a later review cycle; a greater advantage is to receive your summary statement as soon as possible and, if not selected for funding, begin your resubmission application sooner. Review Approaches for Staying Funded for additional advice.

Contact Us

Email us at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov for help navigating NIAID’s grant and contract policies and procedures.

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