Grants Office - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Proposal Development Questions
What types of grants will the grants office help me find and apply for?
The Grants Office will assist in finding and applying for grants through internal U of M opportunities and external sources that may include federal, state and foundation funders. Funding we will assist with may be for research, new or enhanced program development, community service/outreach, and faculty fellowships. We can
Will you write grants for me?
Yes and no. Ultimately, the decision to apply for a grant and develop the proposal is up to you. The grants and contracts coordinator is available to be part of your team to make applying as easy as possible and minimize your time commitment by assisting in gathering sponsor-required information. The Coordinator will provide assistance but many pieces need to be written by the person(s) responsible for developing and/or executing the project. You know your subject matter best. The grants and contracts coordinator can, upon your request write some portions of a narrative including boilerplate information to describe UMC. The Coordinator is available to assist in editing and reviewing your proposal at any and all stages of development and will review one last time prior to sending it to SPA for submission.
What is SPA?
The University of Minnesota’s Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) is the office authorized to submit research proposals, negotiate contracts, and receive awards on behalf of the Regents of the University of Minnesota. They are also the fiduciary for the U on grant related matters. The UMC Grants Office works closely with SPA to ensure thorough and timely pre-award processes as well as post-award grants management.
Do all requests for funding support have to be sent through SPA?
Any funds that come through UMC as a grant or contract as a sponsored project must be routed through the UMC Grants Office to SPA. Any pre-proposal requiring an official’s signature or requests detailed budget information must be routed through SPA. If you have questions about how to apply for a potential source of funds, contact the Grants Office.
Why is the applicant organization on my grant the "Regents of the University of Minnesota" rather than the University of Minnesota, Crookston?
The Regents is the governing body of UMC and has the authority to enter in to agreements. Therefore, all grants for sponsored projects are submitted from the Regents for which SPA is the authorized office.
Do I need pre-approval from anyone before I apply for a grant?
We encourage you to visit with your department head when you decide to apply so s/he is aware of your intent. Formal UMC approval is given by way of the PRF, which must be completed before an application is submitted to a sponsor. Signatures/approval will be obtained from your department head, the Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Chancellor. These approvals are necessary before SPA will approve and submit a grant.
What is a PRF and am I responsible to make sure it's completed?
It stands for Proposal Routing Form, the tracking document used throughout the U to process a grant application and receive all necessary approvals prior to a grant’s submission. This form also serves as an informational tool to UMC administrators so they remain aware of grant application activity. The UMC Grants Office can gather necessary information from your proposal and accompanying budget and complete this form on the your behalf.
What do I do if I've been asked to be a co-P.I. on a grant submitted by a U of M entity/campus other than UMC?
First, please inform the grants office and your department head. Second, visit with the grants office if you’d like assistance developing your budget and third, instruct the P.I. to include the following as required approvers on the project’s PRF: your department head, the VP of Academic Affairs, and Chancellor.
Do I have to be principal investigator to apply for a grant?
No. You can apply for and serve as the principal investigator on a grant before you have completed training requirements but must meet requirements by the time you receive an award. Or, you may coordinate with someone on campus who is already a P.I. to serve that role on your grant project.
What types of things can I include in proposal budgets?
Allowable expenses may vary by funder. Federal guidelines clearly define allowable expenses and the U carefully adheres to them. Budgets typically include direct expenses necessary to fulfill the project and indirect expenses (known as facilities & administration expenses), which are costs incurred for common objectives and can’t be readily identified with a specific activity. The budget should align closely with your project narrative. For a list of common budget line items and budget preparation templates click here (LINK TO Budget Prep)
Am I required to include F&A (indirect) costs in my project budget?
Unless the funder clearly states in its request for proposals that F&A is an unallowable expense, it must be part of your budget. The amount to include will vary depending on the type of project as outlined by U policy (link to policy) or request a waiver well in advance of the proposal deadline.
How are the U's F&A percentages determined and how do they compare to other institutions?
SPA sets F&A rates with the federal government based on formulas and negotiation processes set forth in OMB-21. The U monitors peer institutions’ F&A rates as well and our rates, in comparison to peers, are average.
What happens to indirect costs the U recovers?
ICR funds come directly to UMC where they are distributed according to our policy to support on-going research activity. When a reduced F&A rate is applied to a grant proposal, it will result in a reduced F&A revenue stream to your department, which will still be responsible for covering its full share of related F&A costs.