The following information and materials are intended to help you prepare a proposal, create a budget, complete required administrative routing and submit your application to a sponsor.
I. Develop a Proposal
Contact your Grant Administrator
The first step is to contact your academic unit's assigned grant administrator. Your administrator will help you through the process and serve as your point of contact for any questions related to preparing and submitting your proposal.
- Contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORGS) early in the proposal preparation process to register the proposal and receive a link to the ORGS Box site for review of proposal materials.
- Provide budgetary information and work with your administrator to prepare comprehensive budget for inclusion with completed proposal.
- Complete the proposal routing form and include relevant budget information provided in the comprehensive budget.
- Certify and route proposal materials, including the completed proposal, proposal routing form and comprehensive budget, for approval from the unit chair and dean.
- Once approvals from the unit chair and dean have been obtained, ORGS will forward the proposal package to other administrative offices for institutional review. ORGS must receive the completed proposal materials, including a proposal routing form signed by the unit chair and dean, at least five business days in advance of the submission deadline.
Contact your ORGS coordinator early in the budget preparation process so they can help you develop a complete and comprehensive budget that meets institutional and sponsor guidelines. They can help you avoid unnecessary delays by anticipating potential issues and addressing them before the proposal is routed.
Your budget should include clearly detailed and well justified costs for personnel, equipment, supplies and travel.
The first step in preparing a budget is to identify:
- all personnel by name and title/position
- and the percentage of effort or portion of time each person will actually devote to the project
Other important factors to consider in developing your budget include:
- annual increases in the budget based upon the scope of work
- clearly detailed and well-justified costs for personnel, equipment, supplies and travel
- required resources to accomplish the technical proposal as well as who will be responsible for providing resources, i.e. the sponsor, the university and other parties.
- facilities and administrative costs (F&A or indirect costs) that represent the university's federally negotiated rate or qualifies for a lesser rate per sponsor requirement or a waiver request by the principal investigator
- and additional budget documentation required should a sub-awardee be a part of the proposal.
II. Find Funding
Internal Grant Funding
The University Research Council (URC) is responsible for recommending policies and procedures to encourage research activities and to improve the research environment of the university, developing and recommending university research policies based upon state and federal laws and regulations, recommending adjudication to variances to policies and procedures, and developing guidelines for and recommending awards from the research enhancement program.
The URC meets approximately six times a year to advise ORGS on research-related topics and to evaluate and award faculty grants from the research enhancement program.
View the Grants and Contracts Procedures Manual.
Faculty and staff are encouraged to seek external funding for research, creative and scholarly projects undertaken to further the mission of SFA in teaching, research and public service.
Sponsored projects enhance and expand the educational opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate students at the university, enhance research, scholarly inquiry, and the development of new knowledge, and contribute to the academic achievement and the stature of SFA.
III. Manage the Project
ORGS staff members work with faculty during the performance of research grants to review expenditures and ensure compliance with all federal, sponsor, and university policies and requirements.
Below is general guidance on policies and procedures related to performance of sponsored research. Use the links on the left to view specific SFA policies and requirements of federal agencies. As always, contact your ORGS administrator with any questions.
Checks should be made payable to Stephen F. Austin State University. If the principal investigator receives a check for a grant or contract, it should be delivered immediately to ORGS. Any correspondence or other papers that will help identify the study should accompany the check.
The principal investigator is responsible for the day-to-day administration and direction of the approved project. In order to carry out this responsibility, the principal investigator should be aware of all grant/contract terms and conditions and should give special attention to those terms and conditions regarding budget limitations, patents and copyrights, inventions, confidential information, safety and security, export control provisions and required reports.
Each sponsor may have specific requirements regarding changes to the scope of the project or modifications to the approved budget. Any changes should be discussed with ORGS. This is especially important regarding changes in project duration or the budget.
For grants/contracts requiring sponsor's prior approval, correspondence with the sponsor requesting such changes must be received.
The principal investigator is responsible for complying with all reporting requirements and deadlines, as specified by the sponsor. Principal investigators should read the sponsor's guidelines carefully to ascertain what reports are required, their frequency and preparation instructions. Formal financial reports will be prepared by ORGS, reviewed by grants accounting and sent to the principal investigator for review prior to being sent to the sponsor.
University Time and Effort Certification
SFA faculty and staff who have either charged effort directly to a sponsored project or who have committed cost-shared effort to a sponsored project are required by federal regulations to verify and certify such effort. Annual certifications are sent by ORGS.
Transfer to Another Institution
If a principal investigator anticipates leaving SFA for another appointment, ORGS and its dean should be notified immediately. If requesting a transfer of extramural support to another institution, specific written approval must be obtained from SFA, the anticipated recipient institution and the funding agency.
If the principal investigator becomes unable to serve as the lead investigator on a grant and wishes to relinquish the grant, another SFA faculty member can be nominated as the lead principal investigator. Written permission from both SFA and the sponsor must be obtained. In all such cases, ORGS can provide assistance.
Most research agreements specify that an initial payment will be made upon receipt of a fully executed agreement. Often, the sponsor may also require additional invoices to cover the cost of the project as defined by the contract period. ORGS will provide invoices to the sponsor based on the payment schedule defined within the research agreement.
SFA retains ownership of and title to most capital equipment purchased with sponsored research funds. Equipment should not be sold, transferred or otherwise disposed of without first notifying ORGS. The office is responsible for researching and determining agency specific regulations governing the sale, transfer or disposal of equipment purchased with sponsored research funds.
General guidelines concerning title to capital equipment permit full vesting upon closeout of the award under which the property was acquired. There may be special circumstances, such as the transfer of a principal investigator to another institution, when arrangements can be made to transfer property to another institution. In these situations, written approval is required by both the awarding agency and SFA, and reimbursement for the equipment may be required. Arrangements should be coordinated through ORGS.
IV. Route and Submit the Proposal
Prior to submitting a proposal for any sponsored activity, investigators must receive institutional approval for their work using the ORGS electronic proposal routing form. With guidance from their ORGS coordinator, investigators fill out the routing form, electronically sign it, and submit it to their dean and chair for their approval and electronic signatures.
Where do I get the proposal routing form?
A blank proposal routing form will be in the box folder set up for you by your OSP coordinator.
When should I submit my routing form?
A proposal does not have to be in its final, edited state before submitting the routing form for approval. Minor changes to correct typographical or grammatical errors are permitted after institutional approval, but it is expected that there will be no substantive changes to the statement of work or the budget once the proposal is routed and submitted to ORGS.
How long does it take to route my proposal?
All proposals received by the ORGS should be accompanied by a proposal routing form with a lead time of no fewer than five business days prior to the proposal submission deadline. This will allow sufficient time for complete budget, administrative, and compliance reviews as well as institutional review and approvals by appropriate university officials. This lead time also provides the opportunity for correction of errors or omissions in the proposal to prevent unanticipated submission delays. It also helps ensure that there is time for thorough review of all proposals when there are multiple submissions to the same program or multiple programs within the same submission window.
V. Set Up the Project
When ORGS receives the official notification that a successful proposal will be funded, and after receiving fully executed award documents, ORGS staff members will work with researchers and grants accounting to set up the restricted fund accounts to which project expenses will be charged. Awards requiring the award document to be executed by SFA officials and then returned to the sponsor for execution by their representative may delay the setting up of accounts. Only after the accounts are set up and the project account code has been determined can expenditures on the project begin.
VI. Close out the Project
Project closeout must be completed at the expiration of the period of performance of a project. Some sponsors may require different types of final reports, including technical or programmatic reports, financial reports, patent and invention reports, and property inventory reports for purchased and/or sponsor-supplied equipment and technology. Some sponsors may require the submission of a final invoice and a contractor's release.
Information regarding applicable final reports can be found in the award document or contract and/or the sponsor's award guidelines. If there is any doubt regarding materials due to the sponsor, please contact ORGS prior to the end of a project. ORGS can assist the principal investigator in determining reporting requirements, report distribution and required delivery dates. After the project is complete and closeout procedures have been performed, the entire project file, including accounting records subject to audit, is stored for the period of time required by the award.