Training Grants (T)

Training Grants (T)

Table of Contents

Overview

National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) and Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grant (T35) provide domestic, nonprofit, and private or public graduate-level academic institutions with funds for training predoctoral and postdoctoral candidates.

Senior investigators who head research or training programs at an institution generally apply for these grants. Trainee-level investigators should contact their institution about training opportunities.

Trainees must be U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, or permanent residents with a valid Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551). People on temporary or student visas are not eligible. 

For Some Grants, You'll Owe Work Time

Postdoctoral trainees on T32 grants must repay the government for their grant support. This isn't like paying off a loan; your debt is one of time and effort, not money. You can pay it off by continuing to work on the project for which you were funded.

During the first year of your appointment, you'll owe one month of payback for every month you're supported by NIH funds. After the first year, you can start paying back. For every month you continue to work—even with funding—you pay back one month of your debt. If your training lasts two years, your obligation will be paid in full.

If You Can't Pay Back With Work

If your project loses funding after the first year, you can complete your payback through continued research or teaching on at least a half-time basis (20 hours per week). Unless there are serious extenuating circumstances, you must complete the payback within two years after termination of support.

If you fail to repay your obligation within two years, you'll owe the government the full amount of your grant, plus interest. If you don't perform the research or teaching necessary for payback, make sure you'll have the money to reimburse the government for your grant.

How Long Does Support Last?

NIAID awards T32s for five years, with the chance to renew. We make awards annually, with further support contingent on performance and funding availability.

Trainee appointments are usually in one-year increments; new appointments must be at least nine months except when we've approved a short-term training position. A trainee can remain in a program for a maximum of five years for predoctoral trainees; three years for postdoctoral trainees.

For more details, see the trainee appointments section of T32 and T35 Training Grants—Key Administrative Information.

T35s may be awarded for periods up to five years and are renewable. Trainees must pursue research training for two to three months on a full-time basis, devoting at least 40 hours per week to the program.

What Do Training Funds Pay For?

T32 and T35 grants provide funds for

  • Stipends—See Salary Cap and Stipends for details.
  • Facilities and administrative costs based on eight percent of modified total direct costs. State and local government agencies may request full reimbursement.
  • Tuition and fees
    • Predoctoral trainees—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $16,000 per year; 60 percent up to $21,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
    • Postdoctoral trainees—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $4,500 per year; 60 percent up to $16,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
  • Trainee travel, including attendance at vital scientific meetings. We do not set a limit on how much you can request, though the norm is $1,000 for each trainee.
  • Training-related expenses—including administrative support, health insurance, and research supplies—of $4,200 a year per predoctoral trainee and $8,850 a year per postdoctoral trainee.
  • On a case-by-case basis, institutional costs for accommodating disabled trainees in addition to usual costs paid by training-related expenses.

Note on effort requirement: Trainee appointments require full-time effort, 12 person months a year. In addition to the full-time training, trainees may spend on average, an additional 25 percent of their time (e.g., 10 hours a week) in part-time research, teaching, or clinical employment, so long as those activities do not interfere with, or lengthen, the duration of their NRSA training.  

Qualifying for a Training Grant

A successful institutional candidate for a training grant must provide an outstanding research and academic environment, with suitable staff and facilities.

The institution's proposed training program director must be an established, well-recognized scientist, generally with the rank of professor or equivalent, who offers a long training track record.

Another key element is a critical mass of fairly senior scientists in the research area who can demonstrate a publications history and funding from NIH, NSF, HHMI, or similar agencies. Too many junior scientists or those without grants may negatively influence the overall impact/priority score and chances of funding.

Peer reviewers consider the records of past trainees or graduates, who should demonstrate strong academic ability. Programs that accept students with less-than-stellar GRE scores, for instance, fare worse in peer review than a program with strict admissions criteria.

Successful applicant institutions offer a track record of past trainees who publish, obtain funding, and enjoy distinguished scientific positions. Reviewers highly rate an adequate supply of high-quality potential trainees with genuine interest in research and appropriate academic prerequisites.

To learn more about training grant requirements, read the T32 and T35 funding opportunity announcements at Opportunities and Announcements.

What Are Your Chances of Succeeding?

Find success rates for T32s and T35s at Success Rates on NIH RePORT.

For more data and statistics, go to NIH's Extramural Training Mechanisms.

Writing a Training Grant Application

Before you begin writing your application, carefully read the relevant funding opportunity announcement below and follow the supplemental instructions for T applications in the SF 424 Application Guide, including guidelines for page limits and items allowed for the Appendix.

Successful training grant applications require different elements than do R01s. You must convince peer reviewers of your program's value by showing evidence of exceptional faculty commitment, resources, program design, training environment, and ability to recruit quality candidates. You should err on the side of self-promotion, rather than leaving out information that could help your case.

In assigning an application's overall impact/priority score, reviewers will address and consider the following five criteria:

  1. Training Program and Environment
  2. Training Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI)
  3. Preceptors/Mentors
  4. Trainees
  5. Training Record

For more detail on these criteria, see the Institutional Research Training Grants (T32) funding opportunity announcement.

To see the guidelines reviewers follow for each type of training grant, go to the T Awards (Training) section of NIH’s Guidelines, Critique Templates, and Review Criteria.

Demonstrate Quality Program Design

Reviewers will assess the quality of your training program. They'll expect clear objectives and a thorough program design that shows your foresight, competence, and understanding of what a research program entails. Specify the features of the program, special seminar series, and postdoc rotations.

Training grants pay mostly for trainees, so you'll need evidence of a committed faculty, courses, and high-quality, readily available facilities and resources. You'll also need a trainee pool with the academic credentials to become distinguished researchers. Describe in detail your selection criteria for trainees.

Showcase Your Successes

Discuss the accomplishments of your former trainees, such as grants or fellowships awarded, other training appointments, promotion to scientific positions, publications, or patents received.

Ideally, your program produces many solid researchers who remain in their field. If not, other program strengths can compensate for some weaknesses in past trainees, especially if your program is relatively new.

Plan for Recruiting Trainees From Underrepresented Groups

Your application must include program-specific plans for recruiting trainees from underrepresented groups; general institution plans aren't sufficient.

Document your program's previous recruitment efforts among underrepresented groups, including successful and unsuccessful strategies. The best plans include personal recruitment efforts by the program director or faculty.

Include statistics on your program's current distribution of students from underrepresented groups who applied for admission or a position in the department relevant to the training grant, were offered admission or a position, enrolled in an academic program, or were appointed to the research training grant.

For more information about recruitment plans, go to NIH Research Training and Career Development Frequently Asked Questions and click on the Diversity category. Also see Section 11.3.3.4 Recruitment Plan to Enhance Diversity in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Document Training on Responsible Conduct of Research

Your application must include a plan to offer trainees Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research. If you fail to include one, your application will be considered incomplete and won't be reviewed until you provide an acceptable plan of instruction. Read the Responsible Conduct of Research: Training SOP for more information.

NIH requires additional training documentation for human subjects research. See the Document Training in the Protection of Human Subjects section of NIAID’s Research Using Human Subjects.

Describe how your institution will ensure that trainees participate only in 1) exempt human subjects research or non-exempt human subjects research that has institutional review board (IRB) approval, and 2) vertebrate animal research that has institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) approval. Include this information in the "Human Subjects" or "Vertebrate Animals" section of the PHS 398 Research Training Program Plan form, respectively.

Comply With NIH Public Access Policy

Be sure to follow NIH public access policy, which includes citing peer-reviewed journal articles you have authored or coauthored and that resulted from an NIH-funded award. See the Public Access of Publications SOP for details. List your publications in the Biographical Sketch.

For renewal applications, you will report on publications during the just-in-time process for work conducted by trainees supported by the training grant, instead of in the "Progress Report" section of the PHS 398 Research Training Program Plan form.

Know NIH Rigor and Reproducibility Requirements

Note that beginning as early as FY 2017, applicants will need to address rigor and reproducibility. Learn more at NIH Rigor and Reproducibility page.

Applying for a Training Grant

Submit your application electronically, either using downloadable forms or the NIH Application Submission System and Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST). Check with your business office to see what approach it uses. Follow the instructions in your funding opportunity announcement and the supplemental instructions for T applications in the SF 424 Application Guide.

NIAID accepts training grant applications on January 25 and September 25 for non-AIDS and January 7 and May 7 for AIDS-related, an exception to the regular NIH schedule of three annual receipt dates. Other ICs may have different due dates.

After initial peer review in February or March, our advisory Council will review your application in May or June. If you're successful, your award will start July 1 or later.

For an overview of the peer review process and to learn about review criteria so you can create a strong application, read Review Process.

Sending Materials Post-Submission

You may send certain materials after you have submitted your application and before initial peer review. For training grants, see a list of what’s allowed at Send Post-Submission Materials.

Send three pages or fewer to your scientific review officer by 30 days before the review meeting. Include a note from your business office stating its concurrence or ask your authorized organizational representative to send the information on your behalf.

For more on the post-submission materials policy, go to Fellowship (F), Career Development (K) and Training Grant (T) Applications in NIH Frequently Asked Questions.

Submitting Your Training Grant Forms, Contacting NIAID

Use xTrain to submit all forms except payback agreements.

Online With xTrain

To create and submit appointments, re-appointments, amendments, and terminations using xTrain, you must have an eRA Commons account. For information on how to get one, see eRA’s Create and Edit an Account.

You should also review instructions and training resources on the xTrain website, and the eRA Training - xTrain website.

You may also download and print payback agreements from xTrain, but for postdoc trainees you will need to send us an original, signed agreement. See the next section for more information.

Payback Agreements for Postdoctoral Trainees

For postdoctoral trainees starting their initial appointment on a T32, you must mail an original, signed payback agreement at the time of appointment. Send to

Philip Smith
National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, NIH
5601 Fishers Lane, Room 4E48, MSC 9824
Bethesda, MD  20892-9824

Quick Facts on Research Training Awards

NRSA Institutional Research Training Grants

Award Type

NRSA Institutional Research Training Grants (Parent T32)

Award Specifics

Grant is up to five-year duration, with the chance to renew.

Funding includes

  • NRSA Stipend Levels
  • Trainee travel
  • Institutional training-related expenses
  • Facilities and administrative costs based on eight percent of modified total direct costs
  • Trainees must devote full-time effort during the trainee appointment period
  • On a case-by-case basis, institutional costs for accommodating disabled trainees in addition to usual costs paid by training-related expenses

Applicant Profile

Domestic, non-profit, private, or public educational institution with an outstanding research and academic environment, including suitable staff and facilities.

Senior investigators who head research or training programs generally apply for T32s on behalf of their institution.

Application

Requires different elements than R01s. Institution must show

  • Clear objectives and quality training program, including special features (e.g., lab rotations, seminar series, entrance requirements; advisory committee)
  • Proposed training program director who is a well-recognized scientist with a long training track record
  • Senior-level faculty with publications history, grants from NIH or similar agencies, and training experience
  • Successful past trainees
  • Adequate source of trainees
  • T32-specific diversity recruitment plan
  • Course on responsible conduct of research

In preparing applications, institutions should use the SF 424 Data Tables.

NRSA Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grants

Award Type

NRSA Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grants (Parent T35)

Award Specifics

Pre-doctoral trainees only. Grant is up to five years, with the chance to renew.

Funding includes

(Note: stipends are prorated for the number of months of support.) Trainee-related expenses (travel, tuition, and fees) prorated for the number of months of support for each trainee. Facilities and administrative costs based on eight percent of modified direct costs. Trainees must devote full-time effort during the trainee appointment period, usually two or three months in the summer.

Applicant Profile

Domestic, non-profit, private, or public institutions with a high quality research program in the proposed areas, including suitable staff and facilities.

Allow eligible institutions to develop or enhance research training opportunities for people interested in careers in biomedical and behavioral research.

Application

Institution must show

  • Proposed training in either basic or clinical aspects of the health-related sciences.
  • Training program director is responsible for the selection and appointment of trainees and the overall direction of the training program.
  • Training program director and associated faculty should have a documented record of success in conducting research and a proven track record of training scientists for careers in basic or clinical research.

T32 and T35 Training Grants—Key Administrative Information

Receipt Dates

  • Noncompeting award (progress report). Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) is due four months before the grant start date (e.g., if the start date is July 1, the progress report would be due March 1).
  • New or renewal applications. NIAID has two annual submission deadlines for T32 and T35 training grant applications: January 25 and September 25 for non-AIDS, and January 7 and May 7 for AIDS-related. Apply electronically and follow the supplemental instructions for training grants in the SF 424 Application Guide.

Carryover Authority

  • You do not need NIAID approval to rebudget funds, i.e., move funds from one budget category to another, except
    • For restricted categories: stipends, tuition, fees (includes health insurance if awarded as part of this budget category)
    • To extend the last budget period of the project period up to 12 months
  • You must have prior approval to carryover unobligated balances.
    • Submit a written request signed by your business official.
    • Include a detailed budget and a strong justification for why the carryover funds are needed.
      • Program and grants management staff will review requests.
      • If they approve, the grants management specialist will issue a revised award authorizing the carryover.

Trainee Appointments

  • New trainees must be initially appointed for at least nine months except T35 short-term training grants, which are usually two to three month appointments.
  • You may not appoint new trainees during a no-cost extension without prior written approval from the Grants Management Program. Reappointments do not require prior approval.
  • New NRSA postdocs must sign a PHS-6031 payback agreement form.
    • Submit it with the PHS-2271.
    • Payback service is required for the first 12 months of support and may be fulfilled through an additional 12 months of T32 (or F32 postdoc fellowship) support.
  • Postdocs who participate in a project for at least one person month need to have a Commons ID.
  • Predocs incur no payback obligation and do not sign a payback agreement.
  • Only U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, and permanent U.S. residents may be appointed to a T32 or T35.
    • Trainees who do not have this status must have a valid Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-551).
    • Send a notarized statement verifying permanent residency status with the PHS-2271.
    • Anyone on a temporary or student visa is not eligible.
  • Trainees may be appointed to the training grant on any day during the budget period including the last day.
  • Federal Financial Reports
    • Trainee costs are for the full 12-month appointment from the budget period in which the appointment began, even if an appointment extends beyond it.
      • Report funds for trainees with appointments extending beyond the budget period as unliquidated obligations.
      • If they are incorrectly reported as unobligated obligations, NIAID will use them to offset the future year award, and you will not have enough funds to support the trainees' costs in the grant year for which you submitted a Federal Financial Report.
  • View NRSA Stipend Levels.
    • Postdocs receive the stipend level according to their experience, usually calculated from the date of the first doctoral degree.
    • Levels may change from one fiscal year to the next.
  • You may appoint one additional trainee over the number awarded (pre- and postdoctoral if a pre- and postdoctoral training program) without NIAID approval.
    • For more, you must obtain prior written approval from the Grants Management Program.
    • NIAID does not allow more than two additional trainees over the number awarded.
  • By rebudgeting, you may substitute one predoc for one postdoc or vice versa in a combined predoc and postdoc training program without NIAID approval.
  • Short-term summer trainee slots require a Statement of Appointment (PHS-2271).

Things to Do After Award

  • Use the xTrain module in the eRA Commons to create and submit appointments, re-appointments, amendments, and terminations.
    • Send NIAID trainee appointment forms (PHS-2271) using xTrain no later than three months before the start of the next budget period, regardless of a trainee's appointment date. For example, all PHS-2271 are due April 1 for a T32 with an anniversary date of July 1.
      • You can appoint trainees up to the last day of the budget period, but we need the PHS-2271 by the due date. Call the grants management specialist listed in the eRA Commons if there are extenuating circumstances for not meeting the due date.
      • If your PHS-2271s are not received by the due date, NIAID will not be able to issue the Notice of Award for the upcoming year and may delete unfulfilled slots from all future years.
      • If you're having difficulty filling slots, contact your grants management specialist before this deadline.
    • Submit a Termination Notice (PHS-416-7) through xTrain for each trainee immediately when they terminate from either a T32 or a T35.
      • We must have the trainee's home address and phone number for tracking purposes.
      • Postdocs with a payback obligation must notify the Payback Service Center at 301-594-1835 of any change in address or phone number.
    • For training on using xTrain, visit eRA's xTrain training Web site.
  • See the Research Training Grants SOP for instructions and details on payback agreements for postdoctoral trainees, which must be mailed to:
    • Philip Smith
      National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, NIH
      5601 Fishers Lane, Room 4E48, MSC 9824
      Bethesda, MD  20892-9824
  • Report finances and expenditures.
    • Send a Federal Financial Report annually, no later than 90 days after the end of the calendar quarter in which the budget period ends. The final report is due no later than 120 days after award end.
    • Reports of expenditures are required as documentation of the financial status of grants according to the official accounting records of the grantee organization.
    • You must submit financial reports electronically through the eRA Commons.
    • Failure to submit an FFR on time will delay NIAID issuing renewal and noncompeting awards.
    • Failure to submit complete, accurate, and timely reports may indicate the need for closer monitoring and possible enforcement actions by NIH.
    • Read more information regarding FFR filing in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
  • Comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.

Trainee, scholar, and participant publications fall under the public access policy if the publication resulted from work conducted while the individual was supported by the award.

Have Questions?

If you have questions about our training grant programs, contact AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov.

For grants management questions about training grants, contact Philip Smith.

Content last reviewed on October 27, 2016