Step 1: Application Development & Submission
The NCI grants process begins with developing and submitting your application.
There are some important application basics you must fully understand, such as what type of application is needed and which forms are necessary, as well as important deadlines and submission requirements. It is critical to start your application as early as possible.
“Investigator Initiated” or “unsolicited” applications are submitted to Parent Announcements that are mechanism (e.g., R01, R21, R44, etc.) specific. NIH publishes information about standard due dates and application cycles by activity code.
In addition, the NCI may encourage the submission of grant applications through the publication of additional FOAs using one of three solicitation types:
- Program Announcement (PA): A formal statement about a new or ongoing extramural activity or program. It may note a continuing interest in a research area, describe modification in an activity or program, and/or invite applications for grant support. Most PA applications are submitted with a standing receipt date and are reviewed with all other applications received at that time using standard peer review processes. Unless otherwise specified in the PA, the applications submitted are treated as investigator-initiated. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) applications are submitted annually as PAs with the receipt date specified in the PA. The NIH will occasionally publish a PAS, which is a program announcement with set-aside funds.
- Program Announcement Reviewed in an Institute (PAR): Program announcements with special receipt, referral, and/or review considerations.
- Requests for Applications (RFAs): Issued to invite grant applications in a well-defined scientific area to accomplish specific IC program objectives. The RFA identifies the specific receipt date(s), the estimated amount of funds earmarked for the initiative, the number of awards likely to be funded, and any specific criteria for scientific peer review. Applications received in response to a particular RFA are reviewed by an Institute’s Scientific Review Group (SRG).
Developing your grant application takes time and focus and can range from two or three weeks for a small project application to as much as a year for a complex proposal.
The process of developing a grant application usually begins with the principal investigator (PI) who works together with the institution business official to ensure that all of the application requirements are met. Utilize the links below to learn how to write a strong application, develop a budget and include required information.
NIH Application Development Resources
- How to Plan Your Application (Is your idea original? Where does your research fit? When to submit?)
- How to Write Your Application (Instructions and reviewer expectations)
- How to Develop Your Budget (Cost considerations, allowable costs and more)
- NIH Tips for Applicants (YouTube)
There are nine grant application types that may be used to identify the potential stages in the life cycle of a grant. Each grant type has specific procedures and documents required.
|Request for support of a project that has not yet been funded|
Renewal (a.k.a. Competing Continuation)
Request for an additional period of support based on a previously funded project
Competing continuation applications compete with other competing continuation, competing supplemental, and new applications for funds
Competing Revision or Administrative Supplement
|Request for additional funds, either for the current operating year or for any future year previously recommended, to cover increased costs (noncompeting Administrative Supplement) or to expand the scope of work (Competing Revision)|
Request for additional time and/or funds beyond those previously awarded
Typically limited to certain mechanisms and funding opportunities, for example, Developmental/Exploratory (R21/R33) and Fast-Track Small Business Grants SBIR/STTR (R42/R44) - these grants do not compete for available funds
Request to pay next budget increment of a current award through Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)
Does not compete for available funds
Successor-in- Interest and Name-Change Agreements
|Request for NIH’s acceptance of a change in business structure, such as successor-in-interest, name change, or merger|
Change of Institution
|Request for support of a funded project to be transferred from one recipient institution to another|
Change of Institute or Center
|Change of NIH awarding IC for the Noncompeting continuation (Type 5)|
Change of Institute or Center
|Change of NIH awarding IC for a Renewal Competing continuation (Type 2)|
NCI Application Prior Approvals
- Before submitting a Type 2 (competing renewal) application, grant recipients must get prior approval from NCI staff if the budget requested will be more than a 10% increase over the most recent budget project period.
- The NCI also requires prior approval for all unsolicited R01 grant applications requesting more than $700,000 in direct costs for a single year. Approval from NCI must be granted prior to submitting the application. Large R01s submitted in response to an NCI RFA or PAR which are not reviewed by the NIH Center for Scientific Review are not affected by this policy. See NCI Grant Policies for additional information.
- Be sure to review the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) carefully for additional prior approval requirements or eligibility constraints specific to that opportunity prior to submitting your grant application.
To submit an application to the NIH and NCI, the organization must be registered with D&B to receive a D-U-N-S Number, Grants.gov, the System for Award Management (SAM), and the eRA Commons. Additionally, the SAM registration must be renewed annually. Principal Investigators must also be personally registered with the eRA Commons and ‘affiliated’ in the system with the applicant organization.
Register early! Registration with these groups is a multi-step process that can take more than eight weeks and must be completed before the application submission deadline.
Application Submission Resources
Tracking Your Application
Once you have carefully compiled your application and it is ready for submission, the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) or Signing Official (SO) will submit the application for the institution to the agency. Here are some key points you need to know:
- There are several available options to prepare and submit your application, but not all options may be available for your organization. Check with your administrative officials and review the submission options.
- Upon successful receipt of the application, your AOR/SO will receive a Grants.gov Tracking Number that can be entered online to check the status.
- If submitted to Grants.gov, the NIH will retrieve your application from Grants.gov and process it into the eRA Commons where it will be checked for any submission “errors” or “warnings.” If using NIH’s Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST), the application will automatically be in the eRA Commons.
- Your application must be error free to move forward to the next phase and be considered for review.
- The organization is responsible for checking the eRA Commons to ensure the application was submitted successfully.
- The NIH will hold the application for two days (Monday-Friday, excluding federal holidays) to allow you to view the final assembled application exactly as a reviewer will see it.
- Both the AOR/SO and the PI should view the application and track its status in the eRA Commons.
- The eRA Commons will send notifications to the AOR/SO and the PI upon receipt and as the application status changes—the applicant is responsible for checking the eRA Commons to ensure successful submission of its application.