Learn about when NIH will accept late applications or allow you to send application materials after you submit.
With a few exceptions, within a 2-week window after an application due date, NIH may consider accepting a late application. However, NIH does not expect to accept any applications received beyond the window of consideration or for requests for applications (RFAs) that specify no late applications will be accepted. It is important to note that no advance permission is given for submission of a late application.
If an application is submitted late, a Cover Letter explaining the reasons for the delay must be included with the application. The Division of Receipt and Referral evaluates late applications on a case-by-case basis considering the reasons provided. Applications submitted late without an explanatory cover letter or outside the late window of consideration will not be processed, reviewed, or considered for funding.
Any reasons for late submission must be related to the program director/principal investigator (PD/PI) role on the application. For multiple PD/PI (MPI) applications, the reasons may apply to any or all of the PD/PIs. This accommodation does not apply to co-investigators or project leaders in a multi-component application, or other key persons listed in an application (unless they also have MPI status).
Provide a valid reason in the cover letter submitted with your late application. Valid reasons include:
NIH issues special Guide notices when a natural disaster occurs. In this circumstance, your delay should not exceed the duration of time your organization is closed, and you'll have to explain the specific reasons for the delay in your cover letter.
In the event of a personal tragedy, e.g., you or an immediate family member suffer sudden severe illness, you will need to include an explanation in your cover letter.
Follow the NIH Office of Extramural Research’s guidance on Dealing With System Issues and take the following actions:
- Go to Need Help? to find the appropriate Help Desk and contact information. Get in touch with the appropriate Help Desk immediately, over the phone and in writing.
- Maintain a record of the steps you take to resolve the problem.
- Once the issue is resolved, make note of it in your application’s cover letter. Include the confirmed system issues, Help Desk ticket numbers, and the steps taken to resolve the issues.
Notifying your program officer or scientific review officer (SRO) is not a substitute for contacting the appropriate Help Desk.
A perk to serving on an NIH panel is that you may be eligible to submit your application late. Full-time, temporary, or ad hoc service during the 2 months before or 2 months after an application due date may be an acceptable reason for late submission. For details, refer to the NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications under Late Applications.
If you are eligible and choose to take advantage of this policy, you must explain the nature and period of your service in your cover letter.
You may also qualify for continuous submission, which allows you to apply at any time to R01, R21, and R34 notices of funding opportunities (NOFOs) that use Standard Due Dates (and not special receipt dates). For more information, refer to Continuous Submission and the Update of NIH Continuous Submission Policy.
We advise you to submit your application well ahead of its due date, in case you run into technical difficulties or any of the other problems noted above.
NIH will consider accepting your late application within a 2-week window of the application due date if there is a valid reason. The only time NIH will not consider accepting a late application is when an RFA states in the Application Due Date field "No late applications will be accepted for this notice of funding opportunity."
NIAID cannot guarantee that we will accept a late application. The decision to accept a late application ultimately lies with NIH Division of Receipt and Referral in the Center for Scientific Review (CSR).
No one can give you advance permission for a late submission, but if you have a valid reason, provide an explanation in the cover letter submitted with your late application.
For the record, CSR has rejected the following reasons for late submission:
- Heavy teaching burdens
- Ongoing illnesses
- Laboratory relocations
- Delays caused by an institution's business office
For more information, read NIH's Late Application Submission Policy Frequently Asked Questions.
After you apply and before peer review, NIH allows you to send certain additional materials, mostly nonscientific items and those resulting from unforeseen events. NIH prohibits sending information that could be used to circumvent page limits. Post-submission materials should not be used to correct oversights or errors you find after you submit your application.
For the full list of allowable post-submission materials, refer to NIH’s Updated Policy on Post-Submission Materials.
Guidelines for Sending Post-Submission Materials
All post-submission materials other than citations and videos must conform to NIH policies on font size, margins, and paper size. For details, check the Application Instructions for your grant type. Post-submission materials (other than citations and videos) can be submitted only as a PDF attachment. Post-submission videos do not need to be embedded in PDF files; for details, refer to Guidance for Videos Submitted as NIH Application Materials.
Your authorized organizational representative (AOR) must concur with sending post-submission materials and send either his or her concurrence to you or the materials directly to your SRO. If you receive your AOR’s concurrence, forward the materials and concurrence to your SRO. A communication from you copying your AOR is not acceptable.
NIH will accept a one-page update with preliminary data as post-submission material for new R01, R21, and R03 applications, including resubmissions, if the NOFO used for submission allows preliminary data in the application. For more details, refer to Revising the NIH Post-Submission Material Policy.
Your AOR or you (with AOR concurrence) must submit post-submission materials as a PDF attachment to your SRO at least 30 calendar days before the peer review meeting, unless otherwise stated in the NOFO through which your application was submitted or a special Guide notice. Your SRO uploads acceptable materials into the official electronic grant file maintained in the eRA Commons.
For more information, read NIH Policy on Post-Submission Materials.