Sponsored Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I find a funding source?
A: Contact the Whitworth Sponsored Programs Office for a customized funding search.

Q: How do I start preparing a proposal?
A: A successful proposal starts with a thorough understanding of what the potential sponsoring agency expects in the application and the understanding that a grant proposal is not an idea; it is a plan. Contact SPO for current guidelines and forms and to let them know you are intending to apply. They can help you prepare much of the application, leaving you free to concentrate on the narrative portion.

Q: What is the deadline for submitting my proposal to SPO?
A: If SPO has been working with you from the beginning, they will let you know when your proposal needs to be in to their office for final review, copying and mailing. Generally, that will be the day before it is due. However, if SPO is not aware of your submission until a few days before it is due, SPO will review and approve the proposal, but copying and mailing will be up to you. Remember: Waiting until the last minute means that if SPO identifies something as incorrect or missing, there will be little time to make changes. SPO does reserve the right to refuse to approve a proposal submission if there are missing or incorrect pieces.

Q: Who is eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator (PI) on a proposal?
A: Regularly appointed faculty members. Adjunct faculty will need to discuss their proposal with SPO, and in many cases adjunct faculty are not eligible to serve as PIs because they may not be on staff throughout the entire grant period.

Q: Can I request funds for secretarial salary on a federal grant?
A: Only if a substantial amount of the secretarial time (50 percent or more) is allocated only to the grant activity. OMB circular A-21 (Cost Principles for Educational institutions) states: "The salaries of administrative and clerical staff should normally be treated as indirect costs. Direct charging of these costs may be appropriate where a major project or activity explicitly budgets for administrative or clerical services and individuals involved can be specifically identified with the activity. Any request for clerical, secretarial or administrative salaries must be explained in the budget justification."

Q: How much should I pay a consultant?
A consultant should be paid on the basis of his or her history of consultancy fees, noting that there is a federal cap of $521 per day for most federal grants.

Q: How are limited-submission proposals selected?
A: If a faculty member learns of a limited-submission proposal (in which only one proposal from an institution is allowed, often in the form of a nomination), it is his/her responsibility to notify the SPO immediately if s/he is interested in applying. When sponsored programs learns of a funding opportunity with a submission limitation, a notification is sent via university-wide e-mail soliciting interest in applying. In the event that two or more faculty members wish to submit to a funding opportunity with a submission limitation, an internal competition will be held. In this case, the SPO will request a one-page abstract of the proposal. These proposals will be reviewed by the director of sponsored programs, the vice president for academic affairs, and the associate dean. They will select one proposal to represent the university.

Q: What are indirect costs or facilities-and-administration costs?
A: Indirect costs, now called facilities-and-administration (F&A) costs, are those costs associated with carrying out a project that cannot be attributed directly to that project, such as heat and lights.

Q: How do I determine the amount of indirect costs?
A: Whitworth's federally negotiated indirect-cost rate is 54 percent of salaries and wages (exclusive of benefits). If there are no salaries in your proposal, then you cannot take indirect costs. Most private funders will not allow indirect-cost recovery.

Q: What if the sponsor will not allow the full indirect recovery?
A: All federal grants, except training grants, will allow the full indirect rate; offering a lower rate will make no difference in funding. Training grants such as those from the education department usually allow 8 percent of total modified direct costs (modified: includes the first $25,000 of contractual costs only, and no equipment.). Private funders often will not allow indirect costs to be charged. If it is the sponsor's policy, equally applied to all grantees, then the university will reduce costs or will waive indirect-cost recovery.

Q: What should I know about cost-sharing?
A: If you have a proposal with cost-sharing, you need to get approval from SPO that the cost-share for which Whitworth will be responsible can be met before developing your proposal. Cost-sharing commitments made at proposal time will be formalized upon award. In other words, if you commit to contributing 5 percent for your salary (even if you do not assign a dollar value), you will be required to document that contribution once the award is made. Cost-sharing contributions (including in-kind, cash-matching, etc.), should be committed only to the extent that the funding agency requires, and should be made in areas that are readily documented (such as salary and benefits). It is not advisable to contribute supplies or consumable goods, as the documentation for such is quite cumbersome. The PI is responsible for tracking and documentation of all matches on his or her project.

Q: How do I prepare a subcontract for my collaborator at another institution?
A: Once funding is secured, SPO will develop a subcontract for you and secure the signatures from the other institution. SPO will also handle any amendments necessary during the course of the grant.

Q: What is the difference between a sponsored project and a gift?
A: The presence of any of the following factors distinguishes the resulting award from a gift and classifies the activity as a sponsored project:

  1. The proposed work binds the university to a specific line of scholarly or scientific inquiry which requires either a work statement or an orderly testing of specific hypotheses, methodology or validation of particular approaches.
  2. A specific commitment is made regarding the level of personnel effort or items of output, (e.g., publication of papers or reports), or achievement of specific performance targets is a conditions of obtaining sponsorship.
  3. A line-item budget detailing expenditures by activity, function, and project period is required as a condition of funding, and a detailed fiscal or activity report or external audit is required at intervals during the course of the work and/or at the end of the project period.
  4. Any unexpended funds must be returned to the sponsor at the end of the project period.
  5. The proposed agreement with the sponsor provides for the disposition of either tangible properties (e.g., equipment, records, technical reports, theses or dissertations) or intangible property (e.g., rights in date, copyrights, inventions) that may result from the activity.

Q: Can I send a grant to a local or regional private funder?
A: Grants to local or regional private funders need to be cleared by the Whitworth Institutional Advancement Office, in the event that they are also contemplating requesting funds. In some cases, IA has an ongoing relationship with a particular funder and can be quite helpful. SPO can make the contact with IA for you.

Q: What if I want a course release for my grant?
A: Course releases need to be cleared with both your department chair and the dean. SPO will not write a course release into the budget without this clearance to be shown on the Internal Approval Form, which can be obtained from SPO.

Q: I just got a letter saying my grant will be funded. What do I do to get started?
A: Notify SPO and bring the original award notice to the SPO office. SPO will schedule an appointment for grant orientation. An account number will be assigned to your grant. If a contract needs to be signed, SPO will arrange for the proper signatures and send the contract back. As a PI, you may not sign the grant contract. The grant is made to the institution. The one exception to this is a fellowship that is made directly to the faculty member.