Proposal Preparation & Submission
For assistance with identifying funding, proposal review and editing, collaborator identification, facility and resource description, or other proposal development needs, contact the Proposal Development Office.
The OSPA Proposal Preparation Checklist are general guidelines to assist you in proposal development, in terms of required forms and processes. Individual sponsors may have additional requirements.
Many grant proposals require a letter of support from an institutional signing official, typically provided by the Vice President for Research (VPR). For letters of institutional support towards grant applications that (1) require an official signature from the VPR, or (2) commit the Office of Research financially to an award, follow the Procedure for Obtaining Institutional Support Letters. This streamlined process ensures that leadership within Colleges and Centers are aware of the request, and that these relevant university offices have been involved in decisions of financial support towards the application.
Budget Review: Prior review of the budget and justification must be conducted by your College Grants Officer or other college pre-award resource.
The information provided here should be used as a general guide in all instances. When an agency provides specific budgetary directions those directions should be followed or when UK Costing Guidelines for Sponsored Project provides more specific guidance than outlined here that guidance should be followed. For determining assignment of item as a direct cost or indirect cost pool item see the expenditure object codes in the UK Business Procedures Manual E-17-8 and the FRS Handbook.
Salaries and Wages
Types of personnel frequently involved in projects include:
- faculty members, academic year and summer appointments
- staff members
- research assistants and associates
- postdoctoral associates
- graduate associates
- undergraduate assistants
- technicians and other support personnel
- interviewers and evaluators
For each person involved in the project, list name (if known), position, person months (if federal) and percentage of time on the project. The base salary will include the salary increase which is effective each July 1. The associated fringe benefits charge along with the personnel salaries in accordance with the payroll system.
Academic Year Appointments/Summer Pay
Funds to cover the cost of faculty time spent on a project can be requested from most sponsors. Once an award is received, the appropriate salary and fringe benefit amounts are charged to the project rather than to the usual university funding source during the academic year.
Faculty with nine-month appointments may receive up to 3/9ths of their academic year salary during their off-duty periods, from university and/or external grant and contract funds. The external funds portion cannot exceed 2.5/9 of base salary. Nine-month faculty earning 3/9 during the off-duty period are expected to be on duty during these three months and must account for their time and effort in accordance with the Office of Faculty Advancement guidelines.
Research Assistants should be budgeted in the proposal based upon the normal rate paid to RAs in the individual's department or program. If a RA is budgeted in a proposal, graduate tuition may also be budgeted under "Other" expenses. See the Tuition section below.
New Positions: for guidance in determining estimates for new positions, contact UK's Human Resources Development. Salaries for new position should be consistent with the salaries for similar positions and responsibilities across campus.
Fringe Benefits should be calculated according to the table located on the Frequently Needed Information page.
Non-salary escalation factor should be projected for all subsequent years of the project based on a 5% increase in costs.
- NOTE: some sponsors may limit escalation. Review sponsor policy and the funding opportunity
Consultants bring a particular expertise to a project that is otherwise not available within the institution. Some federal agencies have specific limits and guidelines regarding the use of consultants and the reimbursement rates for consultants. Appropriate costs for consultants include travel and professional fees. Consultants cannot be UK employees. See the Subaward page for more information.
Domestic Travel allowance costs should be reasonable, necessary, and based on university rates.
- See the Frequently Needed Information page for current rates.
Foreign Travel on federally funded projects requires that budget estimates and charges be made using a U.S. airline (American flag carrier).
For an item to be considered equipment, it must meet all three of the following criteria:
- Cost $5,000 or more
- Have a useful life of at least one year
- Be stand-alone and function independently
Some replacement parts and fabricated equipment are treated as exceptions to the standard definition of equipment. Anything that does not meet the criteria for equipment should be budgeted in the supply’s category.
Equipment for on campus research and development projects is excluded from the modified total direct costs (MTDC) base and facilities and administrative (F&A) charges if a project recovers the current negotiated F&A rate. If the sponsor pays less than the appropriate negotiated rate, then the F&A rate is applied to all costs, including equipment (unless specifically prohibited by sponsor policy).
Other Direct Costs
These expenses include items such as duplicating, equipment maintenance, equipment rental, gasoline, long distance telephone calls, publication, service center costs and space rental.
Participant Support Costs
Participant support costs (PSC) are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, symposia or training projects.
Participants perform no work or services for the project or program other than for their own benefit. A participant is not involved in providing any deliverable to the university or a third party. The expenses may be paid for directly or as a reimbursement to the individual.
Patient Care Costs
This category includes costs for tests and procedures that are required only because the patient is participating in a research project – they are not a part of routine medical care. The cost of such tests are billed by the hospital and charged as patient care costs. Professional fees or costs collected by private billing agencies are not considered patient care costs.
Subrecipient (subaward/subcontract) costs represent any portion of a sponsored project that is performed by another organization such as subawards and subcontracts. All direct and indirect subrecipient costs must be identified and justified in the proposal budget.
- In most instances when a proposal includes a subrecipient, a separate budget should be submitted on sponsor forms for the subrecipient and the subrecipient total is then listed as a lump sum (including Facilities and Administrative) on the contractual line in UK’s budget.
- See the Subaward page for more information.
Distinguishing a Subaward from a Subcontract
Two types of transactions are typically received by sponsored projects: Awards and Contracts.
- “Award” means financial assistance (grants, cooperative agreements) that provides support or stimulation to accomplish a public purpose.
- “Contract” means a contractual agreement to procure goods and/or services for the direct benefit or use of the Sponsor.
Supplies are expendable items under $5,000, specifically related to the project. Chemicals, gases, glassware, radioisotopes, and survey forms are some examples.
Tuition should be budgeted any time a graduate research assistant position is requested in a proposal. If the research assistant is working less than 20/week on the project, tuition should be prorated. Tuition should not be budgeted for summer sessions. For 20 hr/week research assistants, tuition is summarized here.
Modified Total Direct (MTD): Total direct cost minus exclusions is used to determine MTD. MTD excludes equipment, capital expenditures; charges for patient care, participant support costs, tuition remission, rental costs of off-site facilities, scholarships, and fellowships, as well as subcontract costs more than $25,000. Not all sponsoring agencies may apply all of these categories to the MTDC; check the specific agency guidelines for instructions on budget calculation.
Total Direct Costs are the total costs from all items budgeted in the proposal. Direct Costs are costs that will be used to directly support the program activities.
Total Cost includes total direct costs plus F&A.
Facilities & Administrative Costs (Indirect Costs) are the costs that cannot be directly associated with the grant. Find more information about F&A Costs.
Some funding agencies require the grantee institution to demonstrate its financial commitment to the project, or the commitment of other funding sources, by sharing the project costs. Cost sharing should be included in the proposal only when the sponsor requires cost share as a condition of applying for an award.
Expenditures should be:
- Documentable (mandatory cost sharing that is not faculty effort will require the establishment of a separate cost sharing account).
- Required for the project.
- Reasonable in relation to the proposal.
Items: Cost share items must be allowable direct cost items; or items that would normally be classified as indirect costs but are being justified as direct costs.
- F&A under recovery due to written agency guidelines limiting F&A should be used as part of the cost sharing contribution, unless prohibited by agency guidelines (Example: US Department of Education prohibits the use of unrecovered indirect cost on their training programs that limit indirect to 8%). F&A costs associated with UK’s cost share commitments can also be used as part of the project’s cost sharing.
- More information about Cost Sharing is available here
To comply with 2 CFR §200 Subpart E guidelines, the University’s Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Board Disclosure Statement (DS-2) specifies that clerical and administrative salaries, memberships, postage, subscriptions, telephone line (local) charges, and office supplies are treated as F&A costs.
Expenditures for these cost categories are not regularly charged directly to sponsored projects. Circumstances occasionally arise when these costs have such a specific relationship to the research being performed that their treatment as a direct cost may be considered an allowable exception. In these exceptional circumstances, the costs in question should be explicit, described in detail, appropriately supported and justified in proposals and accompanying budgets.
Frequently Needed Information
- University of Kentucky Research Foundation
- Federal proposal Address:
500 South limestone
109 Kinkead Hall
Lexington, KY 40526-0001
- Non-federal proposals, USPS, or Courier:
109 Kinkead Hall
Lexington, KY 40506-0057
- Email, Fax and Phone:
For Grants.gov packages, use the Federal Address in the Applicant Organization and Authorized Official sections. For NSF, use the Federal Address in the Place of Performance section.
For additional information, including Official Authorized to Sign, payment/remittance address, Sponsored Projects Account/Fiscal contact, and ACH remittance information, see the full Frequently Needed Information page.
The Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (OSPA) is committed to support the success of UK’s research enterprise. The OSPA staff will work collaboratively with you, as Principal Investigator, and others across campus to provide client-centered specialized support and executive expertise in sponsor requirements, budget development and proposal submission. OSPA is committed to the timely submission of complete, accurate and fully compliant proposals.
Internal Deadlines: OSPA has a 3-day deadline requirement in order to support the timely submission of error-free, compliant proposals and facilitates discussions with your RA and others after review of the proposal so any necessary revisions or corrections can be made prior to the sponsor’s deadline. A complete and final proposal, accompanied by a fully approved Internal Approval Form (IAF), must be received by the Research Administrator (RA) in OSPA at least three (3) business days prior to the sponsor’s deadline. Please note that colleges may impose additional deadlines or other requirements for review and approval of proposals. See here for additional information.
OSPA is committed to assisting you and providing the maximum level of customer service to ensure proposal review and submission go smoothly and, at its core, this new proposal deadline policy is intended to ensure both.
Most proposals are submitted electronically via online systems. Cayuse Proposals (S2S), a system-to-system web-based tool is available for most federal/grants.gov proposal submissions. Ask your College Grant Officer (CGO) for more information about using Cayuse. In Cayuse Proposals (S2S) and other online proposal submission systems, OSPA provides the official institutional signature by submitting the proposal.
See the Cayuse Proposals (S2S) section under Electronic Resources for more information about the system.
- Electronic IAF (Internal Approval Form) must be completed and certified by all parties at least 3 business days prior to the sponsor's deadline. See instructions for completing the eIAF under Tools and Resources.
- Online Financial Disclosure statement must be up to date.
- Sponsor Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Guidelines, if F&A costs are less than the UK full rate, are attached.
Tools & Resources
- Cost Sharing/Grant Matching guidelines
- eIAF Instructions
- University Financial Services page on setting up accounts, transferring funds, cost sharing, and audits
- UK's Industry Partnering Guidelines
- The PI and all faculty, staff, and students working on a project must have completed the sponsor and/or university required research education. Approval for human and animal subjects and Responsible Conduct of Research training is available through the Office of Research Integrity.
- Example SF424
- NIH resources:
- NSF resources:
- Off Campus Effort Worksheet (excel)
NIH Diversity Supplements
In an effort to promote diverse teams of scientists and capitalize on the innovative ideas developed from researchers with varied backgrounds, the National Institutes of Health issued notice NOT-OD-20-031 to clarify the Underrepresented Populations encouraged to apply for Diversity Supplements.
NIH encourages institutions to diversify their student and faculty populations to enhance the participation of individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences, such as:
- Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (see data at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/showpub.cfm?TopID=2&SubID=27 and the report Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be demonstrated convincingly to be underrepresented by the grantee institution should be encouraged to participate in NIH programs to enhance diversity. For more information on racial and ethnic categories and definitions, see the OMB Revisions to the Standards for Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity.
- Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended. See NSF data at, https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2017/nsf17310/static/data/tab7-5.pdf.
- Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as those who meet two or more of the following criteria:
- Were or currently are homeless, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Definition: https://nche.ed.gov/mckinney-vento/);
- Were or currently are in the foster care system, as defined by the Administration for Children and Families (Definition: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/focus-areas/foster-care);
- Were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years (Definition: https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/income-eligibility-guidelines);
- Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree (see https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018009.pdf);
- Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants (Definition: https://www2.ed.gov/programs/fpg/eligibility.html);
- Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child (Definition: https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/wic-eligibility-requirements).
- Grew up in one of the following areas: a) a U.S. rural area, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer, or b) a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas (qualifying zipcodes are included in the file). Only one of the two possibilities in #7 can be used as a criterion for the disadvantaged background definition.
Students from low socioeconomic (SES) status backgrounds have been shown to obtain bachelor’s and advanced degrees at significantly lower rates than students from middle and high SES groups (see https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_tva.asp), and are subsequently less likely to be represented in biomedical research. For background see Department of Education data at, https://nces.ed.gov/; https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_tva.asp;
- Literature shows that women from the above backgrounds (categories A, B, and C) face particular challenges at the graduate level and beyond in scientific fields. (See, e.g., From the NIH: A Systems Approach to Increasing the Diversity of Biomedical Research Workforce).
Women have been shown to be underrepresented in doctorate-granting research institutions at senior faculty levels in most biomedical-relevant disciplines, and may also be underrepresented at other faculty levels in some scientific disciplines (See data from the National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, special report available at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2017/nsf17310/, especially Table 9-23, describing science, engineering, and health doctorate holders employed in universities and 4-year colleges, by broad occupation, sex, years since doctorate, and faculty rank).
Upon review of NSF data, and scientific discipline or field related data, NIH encourages institutions to consider women for faculty-level, diversity-targeted programs to address faculty recruitment, appointment, retention or advancement.
NSF Safe and Inclusive Working Environments Requirements
The National Science Foundation (NSF) requires for each proposal that proposes to conduct research off-campus or off-site * an institutional certification that the University has a Safe and Inclusive Working Environments Plan (Plan) in place for that specific proposal. The Plan must:
- Describe how the following types of behavior will be addressed:
- Abuse of any person, including, but not limited to, harassment, stalking, bullying, or hazing of any kind, whether the behavior is carried out verbally, physically, electronically, or in written form
- Conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene, or disorderly
- Identify steps the proposing organization will take to nurture an inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment. (e.g., trainings, and processes to establish shared team definitions of roles, responsibilities, and culture), and
- Include the process for making incident reports and how any such reports will be resolved. The Plan must also include procedures for communications within the team and to the organization that address limited communications pathways or other special circumstances that may complicate or impede reporting of suspected non-compliant behavior
*NSF defines off-campus or off-site research activities as “data/information/samples being collected off-campus or off-site, such as fieldwork on research vessels and aircraft.”
This requirement is included in NSF’s Proposal and Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 23-1), Part I Chapter II Section E.9 available at https://beta.nsf.gov/policies/pappg/23-1/ch-2-proposal-preparation .
NSF’s Frequently Asked Questions provide additional information at https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2023/nsf23071/nsf23071.jsp#q2
A copy of the Safe and Inclusive Working Environments Plan for NSF proposals that include off-campus or off-site research activities must be attached to the Internal Approval Form (IAF) at the time of proposal submission.
A copy of a template for the NSF Safe and Inclusive Environments Plan is available here.
The Attachments to the NSF Safe and Inclusive Environments Plan are available here and include the following documents:
UK’s policies and procedures for compliance with NSF’s Safe and Inclusive Working Environments are available on the Safe and Inclusive Working Environments page.