Grant Application, Electronic SOP

This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: PurposeProcedureContacts, and Links.


To enable applicants to apply for NIH grants using electronic applications.


For electronic applications, applicants must complete the grant application package for a funding opportunity announcement (FOA).

FOAs are listed in and the NIH Guide; NIAID FOAs are also on the  NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

Each grant opportunity has its own FOA that includes a grant application package with forms and instructions. For some grant types, NIH issues a parent PA that enables applicants to apply electronically for that grant mechanism. For example, the NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21) Announcement lets investigators submit an R21 application in any scientific topic they wish to participating Institutes and Centers (ICs).

Although a parent PA may exist, Institutes may issue their own FOAs for the same mechanism, e.g., the R21. Institute-specific program announcements enable Institutes to solicit applications in a defined scientific area. The best way to find out which NIAID FOA to use is to go to the NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

Before an organization can submit an electronic application, it must register with and the eRA Commons. Typically, PIs must register only in the Commons. A PI registers in only if he or she is also an authorized organizational representative (AOR).

Find additional information on electronic applications see Signing Up to Apply Electronically Questions and Answers.

Principal Investigators

  • Download the grant application package for your FOA. See the package's SF 424 Application Guide that describes how to fill in the component forms of the grant application package. Read more in the Types of Funding Opportunities.
  • Sign up to receive an email notice whenever a grant application package is updated to a new version. Always use the latest version for your application.
  • Pay attention to formatting requirements. NIH will not accept applications that are formatted incorrectly.
  • Follow the special instructions for items such as human subjects, research animals, recombinant DNA, and other sensitive areas.
  • Work with staff in your business office to sign a principal investigator signature assurance for each application.
  • Send a completed Grants Application Package to your AOR.
  • If an application does not pass and Commons validation, work with your AOR to correct and resubmit it to See Passing Validations in Submit an Application.
  • After the Commons validates an application, log in to the Commons and check your application image.
  • If you see problems, work with your signing official to reject the application before midnight EST two business days after your application passes validations. Produce a corrected version that your AOR must submit to before your FOA deadline. See the NIH Submitting Changed/Corrected Applications for more instructions.

Authorized Organizational Representatives

  • Submit a Grants Application Package to with enough time before the deadline listed in your FOA to address any issues that may delay processing. See Signing Up to Apply Electronically Questions and Answers and Passing Validations in Submit an Application.
  • If an application does not pass or Commons validation, work with your PI to correct and resubmit it to See NIH's Submitting Changed/Corrected Applications for more instructions.
  • If your PI wishes to resubmit an application that has already passed Commons validation, submit a corrected Grant Application Package to before your FOA's deadline.

eRA Commons Signing Official


NIAID Office of Extramural Research Policy and Operations

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Content last reviewed on December 20, 2016