Research Administration Policies

RA20 Proposal Submission

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

John Hanold, 814-863-0768,

Policy Steward: 

Vice President for Research and Corporate Controller


  • Purpose
  • Process
  • Further Information
  • Cross-References

    To establish policies for preparation and submission of proposals for sponsored research, instruction, and outreach projects.


    Federal Awards: Guidance for the development of Federal grants and cooperative agreements can be found in Subpart C of the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200). The Federal Government is required to provide public notice of Federal financial assistance programs (Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200.202) in a prescribed format (200.203). Budgets must be prepared in accordance with the cost principles defined in Subpart E. (See also RA21.) Cost sharing, when required, should be proposed as per the guidance in 200.306. (See also RA50.) Guidance for development of cost proposals for federal contracts is found in Section 15 of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).

    Non-Federal Awards: Proposals for non-federal awards should follow the guidelines set by the awarding organization. Federal costing policies and proposal development guidance should be used as a basis for development of these award proposals if no other guidance exists.

    Authorization to Submit: Principal Investigators do not have the authority to submit proposals on their own. Investigators should contact their college/unit Research Administrator as soon as they learn of a funding opportunity. This is to ensure sufficient time to develop an appropriate cost proposal, complete all sponsor-required forms and certifications, and secure all required approvals. Approval is evidenced by signatures on the proposal and on the University's Internal Approval Form (IAF). After the Principal Investigator (PI) and any co-investigators have signed the IAF, the proposal must be signed by all designated approvers, which may include the investigators' Department Heads, Associate Deans, Campus Chancellors, and/or Campus Directors of Academic Affairs. The Associate Vice President for Research/Director of Sponsored Programs and his or her authorized delegates serve as the final approver.

    Timeline for Submission: Faculty members ought to provide proposal preparation staff ample time to ensure sponsor guidelines are being followed, budgets adhered to RA21, required approvals have been secured, and all forms, representations, and certifications are accurate and complete.  Proposals requiring institutional cost-sharing and/or comment on contractual terms and conditions require additional time. As a general rule, faculty members are encouraged to submit all proposal materials to their designated proposal preparation staff at least five (5) days prior to the proposal due date.  College research offices reserve the right to establish their own internal submission timelines.

    Limited Submissions: Certain solicitations limit the number of proposals that Penn State can submit. Such proposals must be coordinated through the Office of the Vice President for Research in accordance with RAG20.

    Additional proposal preparation guidance can be found on the Preparing Proposals website.


    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Vice President for Research, or the Office of the Corporate Controller.


    Other Policies which may have specific application and should be referred to:

    RA21 – Proposal Budget

    RA50 – Cost Sharing

    RAG20 - Limited Submissions

    Effective Date: September 20, 2017

    Date Approved: September 18, 2017

    Published Date: September 19, 2017

    Most recent changes:

    • September 11, 2017 - policy updated to include Timeline for Submission and Limited Submissions section.  Policy Guideline RAG20 was also inserted in the Cross-References section.

    Revision History (and effective dates):

    • February 26, 2016 - This new policy has been created as part of the policy reorganization brought about by the implementation of the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200).
    • October 31, 2013 - Changes have been made throughout the policy to reflect current operations, made in conjunction with an update to the Procedures for the Administration of Subawards. The new link to that document reflects the updates to the Subaward process.
    • July 24, 2006 - Editorial changes: links were revised because of changes to the Grants & Contracts website.
    • February 28, 2003 - Editorial change: form URLs updated
    • September 27, 2002 - New Policy