How Do You Submit Your Proposal?

Once you have obtained any required signatures from authorized representatives, received all required internal approvals of your proposal via the AGrants system, and received the message from that system telling you that your proposal has been approved, you may proceed with submission to the sponsor. How do you this?

Different sponsors have different submission methods, which will be outlined in the sponsor's guidelines/RFP (Request for Proposals).

Sponsors' Electronic Submission Systems

Appalachian’s Proposal Routing and Award Management System: AGrants

  • AGrants is the system by which you route proposals for all required internal approvals prior to submission to the sponsor.

  • It is also the official campus repository for all documents related to sponsored activities at Appalachian, both those that are submitted and those that are awarded. Sponsored Programs and Special Funds Accounting maintain the documents in AGrants after a proposal has been funded.
  • Please note: You, or your contact person in Sponsored Programs, must still submit the proposal itself to the sponsor using the appropriate system/method mandated by the sponsor.

Sponsors’ Submission and Award Management Systems

  • Some sponsors use electronic submission systems which require you to either create an account for uploading and submitting proposal materials yourself (see below) or for an authorized research administrator to log in and submit your proposal on your and the University’s behalf (your contact person in Sponsored Programs will do this for you).
  • Some sponsors may have you submit a grant proposal through one system, such as, and then complete further requested information via their own site. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) do this; see below.
  • Some of these systems (such as and eRA Commons) also contain post-award functions which allow you to submit interim and final reports.

Tips for submitting proposals via electronic submission systems yourself:

  • Read the program guidelines/RFP (Request for Proposals) to find the URL of the sponsor's online submission system/website, what will be required, and when.
  • Usually, you will be required to set up an account with a username and password.
  • Start early! Log in, and become familiar with the site and the electronic forms well before your deadline.
  • Create a list of questions as you preview the site, and discuss them with the program officer.
  • Fill in any required information, and attach any required items such as project narrative, budgetbudget justification, letters of support, etc.
  • Either share your account and login information with your contact person in Sponsored Programs, so they can log in to review and insure the information you provided is accurate; or send that person screen shots of what you have completed, in addition to any required attachments. 
  • After submitting online, be sure to print the screen showing your submission was successful, and upload it to AGrants as confirmation.
  • Save and upload to AGrants any response you receive confirming that your proposal was received as well.

Systems used by multiple sponsors

proposal Central application system

Systems used by specific sponsors

Submitting By Email, Postal Mail or Courier

Some sponsors, especially foundations and both non-profit and for-profit organizations, do not use electronic submission systems. Unless the sponsor requires it, you may submit your proposal yourself as outlined below—but only after receiving all required internal approvals of your proposal via the AGrants system and the message from that system telling you your proposal has been approved and that you may proceed with submission to the sponsor. Or, you may ask your contact person in Sponsored Programs to do this for you.


  • Read the program guidelines/RFP (Request for Proposals) to see to whom the email should be sent; what should be attached to it (such as project narrative, budgetbudget justification, letters of support, etc.) and in what format; and when.
  • Always save a copy of your email and upload it to AGrants as confirmation of your submission.
  • Save and upload to AGrants any response confirming that your email was received as well.

Postal Mail or Courier

  • Read the program guidelines/RFP (Request for Proposals) to see to whom the proposal package should be addressed and sent; what should be included in it (such as project narrative, budgetbudget justification, letters of support, etc.) and in what format; and when.
  • Important: Be sure to check whether the deadline is a postmark deadline or a received-by deadline. If it is a received-by deadline, please plan accordingly to allow time for shipping, in addition to review by Sponsored Programs and all required internal approvals via AGrants.
  • Please note: Sponsored Programs cannot pay for commercial shipping such as UPS and FedEx or for overnight US postal service deliveries. Sponsored Programs will only mail materials first class via the US Postal Service using certified mail.
  • Always save a copy of both the proposal package and mailing/shipping label, and upload them to AGrants as confirmation of your submission.
  • Save and upload to AGrants any response confirming that your proposal was received as well.

Preparing Proposals for National Institutes of Health (NIH)


  1. What the NIH funds
  2. How to find funding opportunities
  3. Research award types
  4. Preparing NIH proposals
  5. Tips & reference materials
  6. NIH reporting

What the NIH funds

Basic, applied and translational research about:

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Environmental health
  • Health disparities
  • Substance abuse
  • Communication disorders
  • Nursing
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Geriatrics and aging
  • Child health and human development

How to find funding opportunities

  • Search or browse all current funding opportunities.
  • New Announcements This Week and lists from past weeks.
  • Subscribe to funding announcements via e-mailRSS, or twitter.
  • About 80% of NIH grants are investigator-initiated, meaning that the PI submits a proposal after talking with a program officer, rather than submitting a proposal in response to a specific request for applications (RFA). Contact if you would like to know more about how to send an investigator-initiated application.
  • Appalachian State PIs are eligible to apply for Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA R15), special grants for smaller institutions. AREA proposals have a higher success rate than most other NIH research grants, and AREA applicants compete only against applicants from other small institutions.

Research award types

Each grant announcement includes an Activity Code; these codes stand for different types of grants. R15, R03 or R21 are the research grants most likely to be pursued by smaller institutions like Appalachian:

  • R15: The Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA R15) is designed for universities that receive little NIH funding. Each AREA-funded project is limited to $300,000 in direct costs. Almost all NIH institutes and centers support R15 awards.
  • R03: The NIH Small Grant Program funds short-term works such as pilot studies, feasibility studies, secondary analysis of existing data, development of new technology. These grants are usually limited to two years of funding and direct costs of <$50,000 per year.
  • R21: The NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Awards support early, conceptual stages of project development for exploratory, novel, or high risk/high reward studies. Projects are limited to two years and $275,000 in direct costs. No preliminary data is required in this mechanism.

Preparing NIH Proposals

Deadline Table

The table shows standard due dates for competing applications (note that all AIDS and AIDS-related applications share the same deadlines regardless of activity code).

Parent Packages

Electronic grant applications must be submitted in response to a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), and new packages are provided with each new FOA. NIH has developed standard Parent announcements, however, for use by applicants who wish to submit what were formerly termed investigator-initiated or 'unsolicited' applications. Apply using the electronic application package for your chosen mechanism listed in the table at the link above.

New feature - NIH Parent Application Packages: Find application packages pre-populated with Appalachian's institutional data for the following Parent announcements: R01R03R15, and R21 (PDF).

You may also find the following NIH Regional Seminar presentation helpful: "Interacting Electronically with NIH" (PDF, ASU login required).

Page Limits

The standard page limits for most activity codes (award mechanism, i.e., R15 or R01) are listed at the link above. Please note the instructions contained in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) always supersede these standard page limits; therefore, be sure to check the FOA for exceptions.

PHS SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for Adobe Forms Version C Series (PDF)

You may also find the following NIH Regional Seminar presentation helpful: "Budget Building Blocks for Investigators" (ASU login required).

Conflict of Interest (COI)

The National Research Council (NRC) has published a lits of agencies that have officially adopted the Public Health Service (PHS) regulations of the Final Rule on COI in their award terms. The list can be found on the NRC webpage at:

You may also find the following NIH Regional Seminar presentation helpful: "Financial Conflict of Interest" (PDF, ASU login required).

Tips & Reference Materials

NIH Reporting 

  • Reporting for Multi-Year Funded (MYF) awards
    • To prepare a report, please click
    • To submit an MYF progress report, you must:
      • Log into eRA Commons
      • Click on "Status" in the top blue navigations bar.
      • Select the link, "List of Applications/Grants."
      • Find your award number.
      • Click on the "MYPR" hyperlink.
      • Upload a PDF copy of the progress report.
      • Forward to your institution's Signing Official (SO) in Sponsored Programs.
    • The SO then logs into the eRA Commons and forwards the report to NIH.
  • Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPR):