Step 1: Application Development & Submission

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The NCI grants process begins with developing and submitting your application.

Application Development

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.

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.

Type 1:
Request for support of a project that has not yet been funded
Type 2:
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

Type 3:
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)
Type 4:

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

Type 5:
Noncompeting Continuation

Request to pay next budget increment of a current award through Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)

Does not compete for available funds

Type 6:
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
Type 7:
Change of Institution
Request for support of a funded project to be transferred from one recipient institution to another
Type 8:
Change of Institute or Center
Change of NIH awarding IC for the Noncompeting continuation (Type 5)
Type 9:
Change of Institute or Center
Change of NIH awarding IC for a Renewal Competing continuation (Type 2)

Application Development Resources

Application Submission

Electronic grant applications must be submitted in response to a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) published on and/or in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.

“Investigator Initiated” or “unsolicited” applications are submitted to Parent Announcements that are mechanism (e.g., R01, R21, R44, etc.) specific.

In addition, the NCI may encourage the submission of grant applications through the publication of additional FOAs using one of three solicitation types:

  1. 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.
  2. Program Announcement Reviewed in an Institute (PAR): Program announcements with special receipt, referral, and/or review considerations.
  3. 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).

New To NIH Grants?

There are some important submission 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.

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,, 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 Here are some key points you need to know:

  • Upon successful receipt of the application by, your AOR/SO will receive a Tracking Number that can be entered online to check the status.
  • The NIH will retrieve your application from and process it into the eRA Commons where it will be checked for any submission “errors” or “warnings.”
  • 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.

Learn more about how to track your application

  • Posted: April 2, 2015