Proposal Timelines & Deadlines

The Office of Sponsored Programs generally requests a complete submission package available for review at 5 working days before the proposal deadline. Lead times necessary to meet this milestone will vary depending on the complexity of the proposal. Please see these recommended timelines:

Single College Proposal Timeline
Mulitple College Proposal Timeline (within ECU)
Mulitple Institution Proposal Timeline (outside ECU)

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Proposal Budgets

Most sponsors have a specific format for the proposal budget, but these vary widely and often do not contain sufficient detail to fully characterize the financial structure of a project. A sponsor may be satisfied with round figures and estimates, but such approximations have been found to deviate significantly from the actual costs of projects. In addition, informal budgets often fail to accurately cost out difficult to calculate expenses such as fringe benefits and F&A

All proposals for funding, therefore, should include a detailed budget on the OSP Budget Spreadsheet. This tool is updated regularly so that it will calculate correctly all of the costs of any proposed project. This internal budget should correlate closely to the proposal budget, but it is NOT necessary that they match precisely. Slight differences of calculation and rounding errors may produce deviations between the two budgets - there is no need to chase down discrepancies under ½ percent of the overall budget.

Elsewhere on this site, please find detailed guidance on proposal budget development.

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Student Investigators

The Office of Sponsored Programs welcomes the opportunity to assist student investigators in the grant application process. For internal purposes, students must a faculty member as a mentor. The RAMSeS proposal should list that mentor as the lead principal investigator. The student may also be listed as a principal investigator in RAMSeS. Students may need to be added manually to the RAMSeS personnel table by OSP personnel - please use the form below for such a request.

Form - Request To Add Personnel to RAMSeS

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Who Submits the Proposal?, Fastlane, and other Federal Websites

Personnel within the Office of Sponsored Programs are registered with various federal websites as authorized officials for submission of proposals. PI’s who submit to federal sponsors using, NSF Fastlane, HRSA Handbooks, etc. should expect OSP to "push the button". 

Paper Submissions, E-mails, and Non-Federal Websites

Apart from submission to federal websites, proposal submission is generally completed by the principal investigator (PI). OSP will provide executed face pages or institutional letters of commitment to the PI for inclusion in the assembled proposal prior to deliver (by the PI) to the sponsor - especially in the case of paper submissions delivered via mail or courier. Some sponsors will request that e-mailed proposals be sent from an institutional e-mail address (such as and OSP will generally send the proposal in those cases.

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Reduced & Waived F&A

ECU's policy is to request F&A on proposals at our full federal negotiated rate whenever possible. F&A collections offset real costs incurred by the University in support of sponsored projects; not collecting full F&A necessarily means the University is subsidizing (paying part of the cost of) the project. If a sponsor requires a reduced F&A rate (or pays no F&A at all), see: 

Procedure: Sponsor Limits on F&A

If a sponsor is willing to pay F&A, but a reduced rate is desired anyway, see: 

Procedure: Request for Voluntary F&A Waivers.

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Tax-Exempt Status

East Carolina University is a tax exempt entity, but our tax exemption is NOT related to Section 501(c)3 of the IRS code. The relevant clause of the IRS code is 170. 

Documentation - ECU Letter Summarizing Tax Status

Documentation - IRS Status Letters

Sponsor Requirements

Funding agencies often request evidence of 501(c)3 status (which we do not have). There are a couple ways of managing this request:

  • The easiest way is usually to contact the sponsor (OSP can assist with this) and explain the situation. Most sponsors have a ready method of addressing this issue because it is common to public universities. They may suggest a specific response on their application forms or provide a backdoor into their electronic systems (which occasionally require a tax exempt number we do not possess).
  • Rarely, a funding agency will absolutely insist that the proposal and award involve an entity possessing 501(c)3 status. In these circumstances, we generally ask the ECU Foundation to submit the proposal using their tax ID number. When the award comes, to the Foundation, it can be transferred to the University for execution and management. If this solution becomes necessary, contact OSP immediately so we can put the appropriate arrangements in place.

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Official Signatures

Generally, formal proposals and awards must be executed by delegated signatories of the University - usually by the Director of Sponsored Programs and/or the Vice Chancellor for Research. Unit leaders (chairs, deans, and directors) are generally NOT delegated as official signatories. Anyone with questions about documents related to sponsored projects should contact OSP.

Procedure: Delegated Signatories of Contracts & Grants

ECU's policy on Delegation of Authority to Sign Contracts can be found on the website for the University Policy Manual as REG 01.10.01 ( ). The regulation governs the scope of authority to sign agreements of any kind involving commitment of financial, academic, physical or human resources of ECU, regardless of funding source.
Delegations of authority to sign contracts are made to positions, not to individuals, whenever possible. The chancellor has statutory authority to sign agreements on behalf of the University. Beyond that position, no employee of ECU has authority to sign an agreement of any kind on behalf of the University as of July 1, 2011 unless the position she or he holds has been expressly delegated such authority and that delegation is published on the website for the Office of the University Attorney (delegation lists are accessible at

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Preproposals & Letters of Intent

Funding opportunities sometime request the submission of a pre-proposal (also known as a pre-application, concept paper, white paper, Letter of Inquiry or Intent) prior to submitting a full proposal. The pre-proposal often includes a brief summary of the project, a list of the personnel involved, and a budget or cost range for the project. Sometimes, only one or two of these items are required in a pre-proposal.  Cost sharing may or may not be required by the sponsor.  Typically the sponsor will review all the preproposals and select a limited number of applicants to be invited to submit a fully developed proposal for review at a later date.

Preproposals must be routed in RAMSeS for full review and approval if any of the following requirements apply to the pre-application:

1.    terms and conditions obligating the University if the proposal is awarded
2.    certifications and assurances obligating the University if proposal is awarded
3.    limited submissions, in other words, the program has a limit on the number of proposals or pre-proposals it will accept
4.    the University is obligated to submit a full proposal without opportunity to revise both the budget and narrative from what was previously submitted in the pre-proposal


The following requirements DO NOT require that a preproposal be routed in RAMSeS, although they may be required by the sponsor in addition to the requirements above.

1.    the signature of the authorizing official of the University
2.    a detailed budget rather than an overall cost range
3.    institutional commitments such as:
            a.     cost sharing or matching funds,
            b.     a limit on F&A not currently on the list of sponsor-required reductions in F & A
            c.     faculty release time from normal duties,
            d.     use of space or space renovations,
            e.     upgrades of utilities,
            f.      use of campus equipment for which times must be arranged/coordinated

4.    third-party commitments such as partnerships with industry/schools or universities any conflict of interest (i.e., you have a consulting, financial, or managerial role with the sponsor; family member(s) have other potential conflicts of interest)

REMINDER:  East Carolina University is not bound to accept awards for projects submitted by an investigator directly to a sponsor without prior approval from the Office of Sponsored Programs.

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Responsibility Matrix


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Grants.Gov is a common source for finding and applying for federal grants. Many sponsors use Grants.Gov as their only submission portal. The proposal announcement will indicate whether you will need to submit via Grants.Gov. PI’s is responsible for and should follow the current proposal announcement when uploading the appropriate Grants.Gov file for submission.


ECU has already done all the required registrations at Grants.Gov – individual investigators do not need to register or provide any personal information at Grants.Gov. If you provide the site with your e-mail address, you will be sent updates to Funding Opportunity Announcements, but this is entirely optional.

Application Packages

Each individual funding opportunity has its own specific application package which must be downloaded from Grants.Gov. If you will let OSP know what opportunity you intend to pursue, we will download the correct package, enter some generic institutional information, and provide it to you. Do not attempt to recycle an old package for a new submission, even to a later deadline of the same program!

Required Software

The Grants.Gov application package is a computer file that is stored on your computer. In it are forms to be filled out and places to attached documents (preferably in PDF format). Once the application is complete, e-mail it to OSP for review and electronic submission by OSP personnel.

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NIH ERA Commons

NIH ERA Commons is the award management site for the National Institutes of Health (and certain other DHHS agencies). It also plays a role in proposal submission, so anyone who submits to NIH must have a Commons ID. The full NIH Commons guide is available online.

Who can create a Commons ID? 

OSP personnel create Commons IDs upon request. Once your ID has been created, you will receive an email to verify and complete your individual profile. A Commons ID is needed on every application submitted via Grants.Gov. Failure to include this on your application will cause the proposal action to fail, requiring revision and resubmission prior to the deadline.

Commons ID troubleshooting

Many common problems with Commons IDs can be corrected by OSP personnel - contact your OSP Point of Contact for assistance.

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NSF Fastlane

Proposals to the National Science Foundation (NSF) are generally submitted via NSF Fastlane. Investigators must have a Fastlane account, which can be set up by OSP personnel.

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Proposal & Routing

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