IATH Guidelines for Federal Grant Proposals

IATH fellows often submit grant proposals to federal granting agencies. Federal grants are an excellent option for the long-term support of a project: these grants can be used to pay for staff and graduate students, travel, services, supplies, consulting, and other project costs, but these proposals are also time-consuming and labor-intensive. Our analysis of past experience with IATH fellows' proposals to federal sources have resulted in the following guidelines. These guidelines are intended to increase your chances for funding and ensure that time is not wasted: you must adhere to them if you are going to include IATH in the proposal in any way.

The importance of this last step cannot be overstated. Some agencies will not comment on drafts, but those that do offer an invaluable service. Fellows who have previously applied for federal grants agree that submitting a draft makes the entire process easier and the results more likely to be successful. The staff at the granting agency can be extremely helpful in spotting potential weaknesses in the application and suggesting changes in the budget, narrative, and supporting documentation. Program officers can warn the applicant about the pitfalls of the formal review process, too.

In general, a draft should be submitted to the program officer AT LEAST six weeks prior to the grant application deadline--more lead time is better, of course. Once comments have been received from the program officer, fellows should meet with the necessary IATH staff again to discuss revisions to the proposal and its budget.

Submission of a draft proposal provides another benefit: it helps insure that all internal deadlines are met. Just as the funding agency needs time to review the proposal and check documentation, so does the University’s Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). All documentation must be submitted to OSP at least two weeks prior to the grant application deadline--and sooner is better, since questions concerning budget items or documentation may cause delays.

Establishing a relationship with a grant officer, submitting a draft proposal to the granting agency, and allowing University departments sufficient time to review the proposal will increase the likelihood of success. If you wait until the last minute, your proposal is likely to be rejected: after waiting almost a year for the result, you are likely to have to revise and resubmit the proposal at that point.