Apply for Funding

Faculty who wish to apply for research and training grants or provide research and training services to external organizations -  including the federal, state and local governments, private industry, public and private foundations or other entities - are to submit proposals for institutional review and approval PRIOR to submission to any agency or organization.

For VCU, the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is authorized to submit research proposals and receive awards from outside sources on behalf of Virginia Commonwealth University. OSP is also the official contact for the University on administrative award-related matters.

As part of the approval process, faculty grant applications are submitted first through the Department and Dean’s office for signatory approval before submission to OSP for institutional approval.

Below is a graphic of the application process:

While the information provided below may be a bit overwhelming, particularly to a new investigator, there are a number of VCU resources to assist you with demystifying the process.  Faculty are always welcome to request an appointment with the DOIM Research Services Office (Rashmi Pershad) to discuss their research plans in advance of a planned submission as well as obtain advice and guidance about the proposal submission process and receive assistance with administrative aspects of the submission (e.g. budget development, VCU policy, etc.).

Getting Started on Your Proposal

Once you have selected a grant program to which to apply and met all the university requirements for serving as a Principal Investigator, the next step is to assemble the materials and information you will need to begin preparing your application. 

  • Start by carefully reading the sponsor’s program announcement or guidelines.  Read carefully for fit with the sponsor’s needs, matching requirements, eligibility, amounts of funding available, how to apply, criteria for evaluation and deadlines.  It is important to follow sponsor instructions correctly and exactly.  Otherwise, your proposal may be disqualified, no matter how worthy the science.
  • Design the research project.  Write a proposal that defines a specific problem that matches the sponsor’s objectives and how your research will provide a solution. 

There are several resources available to assist you with the technical writing and editing of your proposal, such as the grant writer available through the CCTR Research Incubator and DOIM Faculty Writing Group, run by Dr. Betsy Ripley, Vice Chair for Faculty Development.

  • Consider what resources you will need to carry out the proposed research and begin to construct your budget.  VCU provides a Budget Worksheet to assist faculty with project calculations and information about VCU’s current fringe benefit and F&A/indirect cost rates.

  • If matching or cost sharing will be required, it is important for the PI to begin the process of securing those cost-sharing/matching commitments in writing well in advance of the proposal submission.

  • Determine if your proposal will require special compliance approvals and plan accordingly in relation to deadlines:
  • File your Financial Interest Report (FIR) through VCU’s Activity and Interest Reporting System (AIRS) using your eID.
  • Determine who else at VCU will be a “COI Investigator” and confirm they have filed their FIRs through AIRS, which must be completed before the proposal may be submitted for institutional review.
  • If proposal will contain sub-contracts to other institutions, please know VCU will require an application and Sub-recipient Commitment Form that has been signed by your collaborator’s institutional official. So PIs should notify their collaborators early in the grant preparation process.
  • For paper-based applications, obtain an Advance Proposal Tracking Number (PT #) from the Office of Sponsored Programs via the following web-based form.  This allows for OSP to verify the FIR status of the PI prior to submission.
  • Take note of the sponsor’s deadline and count back by 7 business days.   That is the date by which your completed proposal should be submitted to the Department’s Research Services Office for review and signature.  This allows adequate time for review and/or making any necessary corrections before submitting the proposal to OSP within their 5 business day requirement.
  • Due to specific documentation requirements, proposals that include cost sharing beyond the NIH salary cap, reduced indirect costs rates, sub-contracts to other institutions, or is a limited submission opportunity, should be discussed with the DOIM Research Services Office in advance of your submission.
  • Compile the grant package and route through for institutional review and signatures.

How to Compile Your Grant Package for Institutional Review and Sponsor Submission

  •  Complete the required institutional forms:
    • VCU Internal Approval Form (PDF Version or Word Version): Detailed instructions on how to complete the IAF may be found at the School of Medicine Research site.  For those NIH proposals created electronically within VCUeRA, the IAF will be created for you, so no paper copy will be needed.
    • VCU IAF Supplement for Clinical Research and Clinical Trial Billing (PDF Version or Word Version):  This supplemental sheet is required for any projects defined as a “clinical trial” or “clinical research”.  For projects involving VCUHS billing, additional documentation is to be included (for industry and non-industry/NIH projects alike):
        • Cost Coverage Analysis
        • Billing Grid
        • Clinical Research/Clinical Trial Billing Set Up Form
        • Note:  SOM faculty would work through SOM Clinical Trials office (SOMCT@vcu.edu) to complete these forms prior to grant submission
    • VCU Internal Budget Worksheet. Submitted by paper or uploaded under “Internal Documents” into VCUeRA for NIH proposals.
    • VCU Internal Budget Detail – required for proposals where there will be a sub-account within VCU.   Submitted by paper or uploaded under “Internal Documents” into VCUeRA for NIH proposals.
    • VCU Sub-Recipient Commitment Form - required for proposals including subcontracts to other institutions.  Submitted by paper or uploaded under “Internal Documents” into VCUeRA for NIH proposals.
    • VCU Cost Sharing Authorization Form - required for proposals where a portion of a total sponsored project’s costs are paid from sources other than the funds provided by the sponsor, including federal grants whose personnel have salaries exceeding the NIH Salary Cap (currently $181,500). This form requires the identification of all cost-shared expenses as well as the source of funds covering the proposed cost-sharing/matching.  Submitted by paper or uploaded under “Internal Documents” into VCUeRA for NIH proposals.
  • Prepare the sponsor’s required forms (paper or electronic): Different sponsors have different application requirements.  Even different programs within the same sponsor may have different application requirements. Your sponsor’s requirements will be stated in the program guidelines or program announcement.

  • Sponsor forms generally ask for institutional information, such federal tax ID number, DUNS, congressional district, etc. A table of this information is available on the OSP’s Sponsor Required Information webpage.

  • Route your proposal package to obtain institutional approval.  At present, there are three main proposal routing “paths” (based on Submission Type) to initiate Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) review and submission.  
    1. VCUeRA Electronic Proposal Submission: All documents and institutional approvals are electronically routed and delivered to OSP as a unified electronic package for submission to the sponsor.  This method covers most NIH award mechanisms.

    2. Non-VCUeRA Electronic Proposal Submission – a number of non-NIH sponsors, such as American Heart Association, use their own electronic submission process. Because these electronic systems are not compatible with VCUeRA, institutional approvals are obtained by one of the following:
        • Routing a paper copy of the institutional forms and proposal documents through for review and signature.

        • OR

        • Paper copies of the institutional forms and an electronic file of the proposal documents (as one file) are submitted to the appropriate individuals to for institutional review
        • Upon final approval, OSP will typically submit the electronic proposal or notify you (PI) the proposal may be submitted to the sponsor.
    1. Hard Copy (paper) Proposal Submission:  Paper copy of all required institutional and sponsor required documents are delivered to OSP for signatory approval.  Once signed, it is returned to the PI, who submits to the sponsor.
  • Wait. The length of time for notification of your grant’s status is dependent upon the sponsor.  For NIH proposals, you may keep track of the grant’s status through NIH Commons.

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Again, faculty are always welcome to request an appointment with the Research Services Office (Rashmi Pershad) to discuss project needs in advance of their submission.