Preparing and Submitting Your Proposal

Do you have a question that has not been answered here?

Please contact the Research Office at 5-7865 or email

The first step to developing your proposal is to read the FOA (Funding Opportunity Announcement) very carefully. This document will provide important information about the proposal including:

  • Eligibility requirements
  • Budgetary restrictions
  • Required documentation
  • Cost-sharing requirements

If you have any questions about the information in the FOA, please contact the Research Office for guidance.

In order to ensure that your proposal will be submitted on time to the sponsor, please follow the Proposal Submission Timeline:

No Later than 10 Business Days Prior to Sponsor Deadline: (If requesting Pre-award assistance in gathering required documentation, such as Current and Pending Support, notify pre-award no later than 15 business days in advance)

  • Notify Pre-award Office of planned proposal submission
  • Email Draft Budget/ Budget Justification to Pre-award Office for review.
  • Specify required institutional letters, cost share requests, and subcontract packages (please be mindful of subcontractor’s internal deadlines and provide sufficient lead time for staff to obtain required documentation).
  • Create PINS record

5 Business Days Prior to Sponsor Deadline:

  • Route completed PINS record for approvals (completed PINS record includes the following final documents)
    • Budget and budget justification
    • Cost Share documentation
    • Required Institutional Letters
    • Subcontract Packages
  • If submitting to an external electronic submission system, then allow Pre-award Staff access to system for review

3 Business Days Prior to the Sponsor Deadline:

  • PINS record is approved at all levels.
  • Final versions of all required proposal documents are ready for submission.

All proposals will be reviewed in the order they are received. The Pre-award office will make an effort to submit all proposals but cannot guarantee any review or submission after the submission timeline outlined above.

The College of Sciences Pre-award Office is open 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Proposals will NOT be submitted after 5 pm even if the sponsor deadline is after business hours. Please take into account the office business hours when planning your proposal submission

The college has a proposal developer, Alexia Kelley, who can assist you with all parts of your proposal, including interpreting FOAs, developing your budget and budget justification, non-technical document writing assistance, editing and providing feedback on the technical narrative. If you would like to schedule a meeting with Alexia, please email her at or call her at 5-3094.

If you are submitting a large-scale, multidisciplinary proposal, you may also qualify for assistance from the Proposal Development Unit (PDU). You can contact the PDU directly through their website, or Alexia can help coordinate the effort.

For sponsors that are members of the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP), the College Research Office has delegated authority to submit your proposal on behalf of the university. Proposals that do not fall within this category must be signed for and/or submitted by SPARCS.

Please note that notifying the Research Office of your proposal less than 3 days prior to the sponsor deadline will result in your proposal being considered a RUSH proposal.

Please note that if you proposal requires a signature or submission by SPARCS and is received less than 3 days prior to the sponsor deadline, there is no guarantee that your proposal will be submitted on time.

If you would like for one of your employees, such as a research scholar, to be eligible to serve as a PI or co-PI, please review NC State’s policy on PI eligibility. Requests for PI status must be made through your Department Head, who should send the request to the COS Associate Dean for Research. This request should include the person’s CV and a justification for why they should receive PI status. If approved by the Associate Dean for Research, this request will be forwarded to the central office for approval. Please sure to make this request well ahead of the deadline to ensure there are no delays to your proposal submission.

Please note that NC State has a very specific policy about postdoctoral research associates serving as PI. If you have questions about this, please contact the Research Office.

Cost-sharing should only be included in a proposal budget if it is required by the sponsor. If the FOA you are applying to does require cost-sharing, please contact your Department Head to discuss potential sources for this money.

Please note that all cost-sharing should be recorded in the Cost Sharing tab (“CS / Locations”) of the PINS prior to routing for approval. In addition, back-up documentation for the cost-sharing should be uploaded into the Supporting Documents of the PINS record. Examples of appropriate cost-sharing back-up documentation include signed letters or emails from the administrator in charge of the funding source. If you are unsure if your documentation is appropriate, please contact the COS Research Office

If the FOA limits or prohibits a certain budget category, but this expense is necessary for the completion of your project, you will need to use cost-sharing (i.e. non-federal funds) to cover the expense. Below are two examples of when this would be appropriate:

  • If the FOA limits or prohibits graduate tuition, you will need to identify an alternative source of funds to pay for any student’s tuition. The alternative source of funds for tuition will need to be listed in the Cost Sharing tab (“CS / Locations”) of the PINS record prior to routing, with back-up documentation (e.g. an email from your department head) uploaded into the Supporting Documents of the PINS record. As mentioned above, the proportion of tuition will need to be proportional to the amount of effort the student will have on the salary.
  • The NIH Salary Cap limits the amount a PI can earn based on a rate determined by the NIH. For PIs whose base salary exceed the established rate, the different between the Salary Cap and the base salary (plus associated fringe) will be considered In-Kind cost-sharing that will be paid by the PI’s department.

For additional information on NC State’s policies on cost-sharing, please visit the SPARCS budgeting guidelines on cost-sharing.

NC State requires that full F&A / Indirect Costs be requested in a proposal unless the sponsor prohibits or limits F&A / Indirect Rates.

NC State has three F&A rates for research activities:

  • On Campus – 51.5%
  • Adjacent to Campus – 27.6%
  • Off Campus – 26%

In order for your proposal to qualify for the Adjacent to Campus or Off Campus rate, more than 50% of the project work must take place off campus. Using either of these rates requires permission from the Associate Dean for Research. Please contact the Associate Dean for Research directly and include

Regardless of whether you ask for salary support in a proposal, almost all sponsored projects, key personnel are required to have measurable effort on the project. Your effort consists of both your paid effort (i.e. paid summer commitment or paid academic release) and your unpaid effort (i.e. time you spend on the project during the academic year as part of your 9 month appointment). We recommend that you be conservative in your estimate of your effort on proposals projects. Exceptions to this are projects, such as equipment grants, that are solely for the procurement of an instrument and not to conduct a research project.

Effort is reported in person months per year. The minimum effort on a project is 1% of your time (For 9 month appointments, this is the equivalent of 0.09 months). For more information on calculating person months per year, please see the NIH’s FAQ on Person Months.

If requested, the Research Office is willing to help compile your Current & Pending document based on your RADAR record. However, you will have to complete the portion of the document describing your effort on both awarded projects and pending proposals.

Subrecipients  are outside institutions that contribute to the intellectual programming of a project. As a result, they are subject to the same terms and conditions of the award. Subawards, or subcontracts, are issued to subrecipients who will be contributing to your project and will have costs associated with their participation. The subrecipient PI will likely be a co-PI or key personnel on your project and will likely be listed as a co-author on any resulting publications.

If you are trying to obtain specific services from an entity outside NC State, but they will not be contributing to the intellectual development of your project, they should be considered a Vendor instead of a Subrecipient. For additional information on the distinction between Subward and Vendor, please review the following Checklist. If you have additional questions about this distinction, please contact the Research Office.

If you will have a subaward to another institution as part of your proposal, please make sure that we have received the required documentation (outlined below) no later than one week prior to the submission deadline. If you would like your proposal processor to coordinate this, please provide her/him with the name and contact information for your collaborators and their research administration office.

Required documents for a subcontract package:

FDP Clearinghouse Participating Institutions Institutions Not Participating in the Clearinghouse
  • Signed Institutional Letter of Intent (signed by an Authorized Organizational Representative)
  • Completed Subrecipient Form
  • Copy of the institution’s F&A Rate Agreement
Documents Required by All Subrecipient Institutions
  • Statement of Work
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification
  • Any additional documents required for the proposal (e.g. biosketches, current and pending documentation, facilities statements, etc.)
  • For NIH proposals, we also require a signed Face Page 1 and the budget should be submitted in the format that is appropriate to the application (e.g. Face Page 4, 5, and checklist for modular budgets, R&R Budget form for detailed budgets). Please contact the Research Office if you have any questions about this.

  • Project Summary
  • Project Description
  • References Cited
  • Biographical Sketch(es)
  • Collaborators and Other Affiliations
  • Current & Pending Support
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification
  • Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources
  • Data Management Plan
  • Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan, if applicable
  • Other Supporting Documentation
  • Project Summary / Abstract
  • Project Narrative
  • References
  • Facilities & Other Resources
  • Equipment
  • Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources
  • Biographical Sketch(es)
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification (for Detailed Budgets)
  • Personnel Justification (for Modular Budgets)
  • Consortium Justification, if needed (for Modular Budgets)
  • Additional Narrative Justification, if needed (for Modular Budgets)
  • Intro to Application (required if resubmission or revision)
  • Specific Aims
  • Research Strategy
  • Progress Strategy (if renewal)
  • Protection of Human Subjects, if applicable
  • Inclusion of Women and Minorities, if applicable
  • Inclusion of children, if applicable
  • Vertebrate Animals, if applicable
  • Select Agent Research, if applicable
  • Multiple PD / PI Leadership Plan, if applicable
  • Consortium / Contractual Arrangements, if applicable
  • Letters of Collaboration
  • Resource Sharing Plan(s), if applicable
  • Cover Letter

If a graduate student’s salary is paid from a sponsored project / ledger 5 account, then the student’s tuition must be paid from the same source of funds. The tuition will be prorated based on the student’s effort. For example, if the student’s salary is paid for one semester, then only one semester of tuition will be charged to the same grant. The COS budget template includes the currently graduate tuition rates and increment the tuition by 10% each year, as recommended by SPARCS.

See the cost-sharing description <insert link to cost-sharing section> on this website for additional information regarding funding programs that limit the amount of money that can be spent on graduate tuition. An example of this type of program is the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF).

If you choose to include only in-state tuition in a proposal budget, you will need to complete the following tuition remission form <add link for document here> and upload this form into the PINS record for your proposal ahead of routing.

If your proposal requires signatures from any institutional official in the College (i.e. Dean or Associate Dean for Research) or University (i.e. Chancellor or Provost), please provided the completed documents to the Research Office no later than 2 weeks ahead of the proposal submission deadline.

There are two instances for Letters of Intent (LOIs) and pre-proposals that require a PINS record: (1) a budget is required, and (2) authorized university signatures / submission are required. For other LOIs / Pre-proposals, you may submit without involving the Research Office. If you are unsure if you need a PINS, please contact the Research Office and we can give you a definitive answer.

Role Responsibility
  • Write technical narrative
  • Identify subcontractors and requested required documentation
  • Develop budget
  • Complete non-technical portions of the proposal, such as biosketches, facilities statements, etc.
  • Identify cost-sharing requirements
  • Complete, route, and approve PINS record
Department Research Administrator (if applicable)
  • Assist PI with budget development
  • Provide initial review of proposal for compliance
  • Coordinate communications with the College Research Office
Department Head
  • Approve PINS record on behalf of the department
  • Assist with finding funds for cost-share commitments
  • Submit requests for PI eligibility to Associate Dean for Research
COS Proposal Developer
  • Assist with interpretation of FOA
  • Assist with budget and budget justification development
  • Assist with writing non-technical documents
  • Provide feedback on non-technical and technical portions of the proposal
College Research Office
  • Provide general guidance to proposal submission guidance to PI and Department Research Administrators
  • Point of contact for PI and Department Research Administrators for Proposal Submissions
  • Review non-standard Request for Proposals and provide review comments to SPARCS prior to submission
  • Review and approve budget and justification
  • Review of proposal documents for submission
  • Assist with current & pending support documentation
  • Coordinate and review all subcontract documentation
  • Submit proposal if the sponsor is a member of the FDP or the submission is through / Cayuse 424
  • Forward proposal to SPARCS for submission if the previous conditions are not met
  • Approve PINS on behalf of the College
COS Associate Dean for Research
  • Approve requests for PI eligibility
  • Approve Off Campus F&A rates
  • Assist with finding funds for cost-share commitments
  • Approves PINS records on behalf of departments and centers when the PI is the director/department head
SPARCS / Central Office
  • Submission of proposals to non-FDP sponsors
  • Provide signatures on subcontracts for non-FDP sponsors
  • Provide signatures on any non-standard proposals