Proposal Development

For faculty desiring an orientation to the grants process, please consider the following presentation that reviews basic terminology, outlines proposal development and the review process, and offers guidance for successful submission:

Proposal development is the responsibility of the Principle Investigator (PI). The following sources are available to help you with the structure, format, and style in writing your proposal:

The OGCA created a Proposal Preparation Guide containing important information that may assist you in preparing your sponsored-project application.  This guide is divided into two content areas: Budget Development (including Budget Justification, Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA), Cost-Sharing, Graduate Student Fringe, and Curriculum Fee Calculators) and frequently requested items (listed alphabetically).

In developing your proposal, it is often helpful to have a document outlining task deadlines and who is responsible for them.  Please feel free to use our Pre-Proposal Checklist (doc) as a template to help you with outlining this process.

For faculty desiring additional assistance in the proposal development process, please reference the Office of Research and Development Services (ORD).  For a comprehensive list of ORD proposal support, please reference here.

Developing a Budget

The Office of Grants and Contracts Administration (OGCA) oversees pre- and post-award administration, including processing proposals; setting up awards; negotiating agreements; and closing-out projects. To familiarize yourself with the role of OGCA in your proposal preparation and budget please review the following:

Creating a budget is a crucial component of your proposal.  For an orientation to the budgeting process, please consult the following:

In developing your proposal, you will be required to create a budget spreadsheet outlining costs and provide a brief justification for these expenses. Please use the following template and reference the budget examples using this format:

For additional information and resources on reporting common costs, please consult the following:

  • Procedure for Indirect Cost Waivers
    Only on rare occasions are indirect cost rates reduced.  The process to seek such a reduction is described in the link above.
  • OGCA Graduate Assistant Cost Calculator
    When calculating GA costs, you will need to know the current student rate (contact ORE), how many hours they will work each week, and how many weeks they are intended to work (19 weeks for an academic semester; 14 weeks for the summer).
  • AY Effort Course Release Policy (PDF)
    In order to be eligible for a possible course release, a faculty member normally will have at least 15% Academic Year Effort (AYE) covered through an externally funded grant or contract.  More on our course release policy is outlined in the above file.
  • Cost-Sharing
    Cost-sharing is the portion of the total costs of a specific sponsored project borne by the Amherst campus (or in rare circumstances a third party), rather than the sponsor.  PIs are encouraged to discuss proposed cost-sharing arrangements prior to proposal submission.  The above link provides further explanation to UMass cost-sharing procedures.
  • Subcontracts
    A subcontractor is responsible for a significant role under a sponsored project and engages in a reciprocal relationship with the prime recipient. Reference the above link to determine whether a participant is a subcontractor, consultant, or vendor.  In the case of a subcontractor, the above link provides the necessary forms to complete with your proposal.
  • Subrecipient Form (PDF)
    If your proposed project involves a subrecipient, please download and complete the form in the above link.  This will be submitted alongside your proposal.

The electronic Internal Processing Form (IPF) is required to accompany every proposal submitted to OGCA for review. It is extremely important the IPF be complete and accurate, as the OGCA uses this to inform all aspects of the proposal.  This form will be created in the electronic submission system (i.e. SmartGrant).

The OGCA has compiled a comprehensive list of current forms (including Indirect Cost Waivers, Memorandum of Understanding, etc.).  Our website provides links to common forms necessary for proposal development and submission, but for an A-Z reference of all downloadable forms please visit here.

Boilerplate Language

Most grant programs will require information either in the proposal narrative or in other supplementary documents about the environment where the proposed research will be done. The following boilerplate description can be used to provide facility and resource information:

Confirming Intent

When you decide to apply for external funding, confirm your intent to apply by sending an email to your Department Chair and cc Include in your email:

ORE is also available to consult regarding the construction of your proposal and budget.  When confirmed, ORE will submit the proposal to Smart Grant.