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Getting Started

Proposal Processing Timeline

In order to provide the best service support possible, and to also ensure a thorough documentation review ultimately allowing for a successful on-time submission, the following general timeline is provided for Principal Investigator use. Please note that all proposals will be reviewed in the order they are received, and we will make every effort to submit all proposals but cannot guarantee timely review or submission after the submission timeline outlined below. Furthermore, the amount of value added to any proposal will depend on the amount of preparation time allotted.

Eight (8) Business Days Prior to Sponsor Deadline (PREFERRED)

Notify Meredith Jeffers ( or Jennifer Clark ( of the planned proposal submission; include a copy/link for the RFP.

Five (5) Business Days Prior to Sponsor Deadline (REQUIRED)

Route completed PINS record for approvals (completed PINS record includes the following final documents):

  • Budget and Budget Justification
  • Cost Share Documentation/Approval
  • Required Institutional Letters
  • Subcontract Packages: Scope, AOR signed Letter of Commitment, CV(s), Budget & Budget Justification

One (1) Business Day Prior to Sponsor Deadline (REQUIRED)

Note: Adherence to College timeline will ensure that the College Research Office can meet the Timely Proposal Submission Policy established by the Sponsored Programs Office (SPO).

Proposal Preparation

Cover Page

The cover page or title page allows you to present your proposal in a standardized manner. Most cover pages include: the proposal title; the name, address and telephone number of the project director; the Sponsored Programs’ address and authorizing official / contact name; the agency and program name for the submission; the project’s beginning and ending dates; and/or the budget request. Many agencies use their own specific cover or title page format, so be sure to verify with the grant guidelines


A well written abstract/summary creates the desirable first impression to the program managers and proposal reviewers. The abstract/summary may be disseminated to the public, and hence should not include confidential information. The abstract/summary should encapsulate the entire proposal, conveying who, what, where, when, why and how. Although the abstract/summary precedes the narrative section of the proposal, it is often written last to accurately reflect the entire content of the proposal. Many agencies have specific limitations on the length of the abstract/summary.

Project Description or Narrative

This section describes the need for the project, goals, objectives, and the hypothesis or research questions. The statement of goals presents the vision of the worth and overall contribution of the proposed project. The statement of objectives should be presented in measurable, quantifiable terms. Describe the methods to be used to achieve the desired outcomes. It is helpful, and often a requirement, to create a timeline for the activities which constitute the method or approach to persuade reviewers that the Principal Investigator is organized and able to manage the complex demands of a project.

Budget and Budget Justification

The budget is an estimate of the funds needed to conduct your project by cost category. The Wilson College of Textiles Research Office can provide you with the most updated budget template to reflect current fringe, health insurance, and tuition rates, and they can assist with boilerplate information for the budget justification. 

Biographical Sketch / Vitae

The biographical sketch briefly describes the key personnel involved and their contributions to the project. Some agencies have specific forms or formats and restrict the amount of information to be included. Others may request full vitae to be included in the appendix.

Current and Pending / Other Support

The current and pending is a listing of grants and contracts that the Principal Investigator and other key project personnel currently have and other proposals that are pending a funding decision. A separate form is usually used for each individual. The information should include the sponsor, title of the project, awarded amount, and total time committed to the project. You may not allocate more than 100% of your time in a given period. Time committed will not always correspond to time budgeted.

Resources / Equipment and Facilities

Describe the equipment and facilities already available to carry out the proposed project, including special equipment, services, field resources, controlled environment or special laboratory facilities, etc. Be sure to differentiate between those facilities and resources that are currently available to support the project and those resources that are needed. Some agencies require use of a specific form.

All NSF proposals requesting funds for postdoctoral researchers must include a Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan to describe the mentoring activities for such individuals. This mentoring plan must describe the mentoring activities provided to any postdoctoral researchers regardless of at which organization/institution they reside. A mentoring plan is not required, however, for postdoctoral researchers who are listed as senior personnel on the NSF budget.

The proposed mentoring activities in the Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan will be evaluated as part of the merit review process under the NSF broader impacts merit review criterion. Examples of mentoring activities listed in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide include:

  • Career counseling
  • Training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations
  • Guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills
  • Guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas
  • Training in responsible professional practices

References / Literature Cited

A reference of pertinent literature is usually required. Each citation should be complete and include the names of all authors, article title, book title, journal name, volume number, page numbers and year of publication. Be careful to follow accepted scholarly practices in listing citations for all source material given in this section. Some agencies may specify a limit of the number of references or number of pages.


Appendices are support material related to the proposal. Each sponsor will have their own preferences and limitations. Typical attachments may include letters of support, statistical tables, cost documentation for equipment, audited financial statements, the institution’s letter of incorporation, and the signed federally negotiated indirect cost rate.

Many funding agencies require letters of commitment that explicitly document collaborations of individuals or organizations not included in the budget. Such unfunded activity, resource, and expertise collaboration could include, for example, access to a particular piece of scientific equipment, recruiting avenues for diverse students, sharing of key data, or performance of a technical task.

The following are a few suggestions for the preparation of commitment letters:

  • Anyone named in your proposal but not in the budget should have a letter of commitment to document their unfunded role.
  • If you are submitting a National Science Foundation proposal, do not quantify commitments in terms of hours or dollars. Otherwise, the agency will return your proposal without review.
  • When submitting to any other agency that allows cost share, do not quantify commitments in terms of hours or dollars. Quantifying commitments creates auditable cost share, which require institutional pre-approval.
  • Check solicitation carefully for any specific instructions from the agency.
  • Letters should be less than one page and on letterhead.
  • If you are the lead institution, it is better not to draft a letter for your partners or collaborators in order to avoid nearly identical letters. Instead, provide clear bullet points of project information that partners can use to quickly compose a letter in their own words.

All NSF proposals must include a Data Management Plan that describes how results from NSF funded research will be shared with other researchers. Many other agencies also have also started requiring Date Management Plans. The NCSU Libraries provide free guidance to NC State faculty, staff, post-docs, and students on creating and implementing Data Management Plans and meeting public access compliance requirements. The NC State Libraries offer resources to help you build your Data Management Plan. You can contact them at if you have any additional questions. 

Certifications, Assurances and Other Forms

Some sponsors require certifications, assurances and other forms be completed and submitted with the proposal. Most require the signature of the Authorized Official in Sponsored Programs.

Proposal Templates

Please find updated proposal templates in our shared folder

Agreement Types

Testing Services Agreement (TSA) and Fabrication Services Agreement (FSA) 

Testing Services Agreements (TSA) and Fabrication Services Agreements (FSA) are contracts that offer external firms and agencies the opportunity to capitalize on the occasional unused capacity of specialized services and facilities of the University. These services and facilities include but are not limited to panels of trained subject-area experts, machine shops, specialized scientific and analytic instrumentation. These services are driven by protocols and specifications normally established by external firms and contain no experimental design.


There is no cap on the budget.  Examples of budget items in a services agreement would be labor and/or lab supplies.

F&A Rate

No F&A will be assessed unless the sponsor wants to negotiate Terms and Conditions. When the Terms and Conditions are negotiated, the F&A rate will be 33.6%.

Agreement Templates

The agreement terms of testing services are non-negotiable. Below are approved contract forms:

SOF Procedure

The SOF is a simplified version of TSA or FSA and the Wilson College of Textiles can execute the agreement up to a maximum of $50,000 if no changes to the terms and conditions are required. A PINS record should not be submitted for a simplified, standard SOF of $50,000 or less. If changes are required, the agreement cannot be executed by the College and will need to be submitted in PINS for review and execution by SPARCS.

  1. The PI should share the SOF template with the client and strongly encourage them to accept the terms and conditions as written. If changes are requested, the PI should remind the client that the University may assess an additional fee of 33.6% on top of the service center’s billing and if acceptable, the agreement should be marked up.
  2. If the client is in agreement with the terms, the PI should complete the template by filling in ALL information on the top of page one. This includes adding the client’s information to the form and preparing a statement of work included under Description of Requested Services. It is important to ensure that this statement does not indicate research. Terms that might be an indication of research include, but are not limited to: develop, development, research, experiment, IP, interpret, interpretation of data, follow on testing, create, or consult.
  3. Once the client signs and returns the SOF to the PI, the PI should then forward the contract to an appropriate authorized signatory as described in the SOF template for execution. The authorized signatory should verify all fields on page one of the agreement are correctly filled out and that no research is being performed. Once the review is complete and the information deemed accurate, the authorized signatory can execute the agreement on page two.
  4. A PDF copy of the executed contract should be sent to and Jennifer Clark ( The Business Office will log it in a Google Doc and upload a copy to the Google Drive. Funding for standard SOPs are administered via ledger 3-accounts. When the client is to be invoiced, the PI needs to submit a statement to to initiate the invoice. The statement should be supported by daily logs kept to record facility use. The Business Office will bill the client upon receiving the statement from the PI.

SOF Modification Procedure

Modifications to existing SOFS should be requested using the form below:

Modifications can include additional services or service changes, period of performance changes, increases/decreases in funding, and/or performing service unit changes. Please note that the total amount (inclusive of all modifications) of each SOF cannot exceed $50,000.

TSA/FSA Procedure

A TSA or FSA template must be used if the Not to Exceed Cost of the agreement is above $50,000.

The PI should share the TSA or FSA template with the client. This action would allow the PI to confirm in advance that the client is accepting of the University’s terms and conditions contained in the TSA or FSA template and thus may avoid miscommunication further in the process.

If the client is in agreement with the terms, the PI should complete the template by adding the client’s information to the form and preparing a statement of work which will be identified as Attachment A and appended to the TSA or FSA. It is important to ensure that the Statement of Work does not indicate research. Terms that might be an indication: develop, research, experiment, development, IP, interpret, interpretation of data, follow on testing, create, consult. In addition, an extensive statement of work needs to be scrutinized as TSA statements of work are typically simple.  Also at minimum, the statement of work should contain at least one sentence stating how much the work will cost.

Once the client signs and returns the TSA or FSA to the PI, the PI should then create and route a PINS. The partially-executed TSA or FSA (including the statement of work) should be attached to the PINS record. The PINS record will be routed to Sponsored Programs.  An authorized official from Sponsored Programs will review and sign the document.  Sponsored Programs will email the fully-executed TSA or FSA to the client, the PI, Jennifer Clark (, and Funding for standard TSAs and FSAs are administered via ledger 3-accounts. When the client is to be invoiced, the PI needs to submit a statement to to initiate the invoice process. A contact from the business office will bill the client upon receiving an invoice from the PI.

Testing vs. Research

Testing and fabrication work capitalizes on the occasional unused capacity of specialized services and facilities of the University. Testing services involve the following activities: panels of trained subject-area experts, machine shops, and specialized scientific and analytic instrumentation. These services are driven by protocols and specifications normally established by external firms and contain no experimental design. The University will conduct the work in the exact manner described in the protocol without alteration and/or use of the University intellectual capital. Conversely, research efforts involve “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions” utilizing the University’s intellectual capital. The statements of work for these efforts are typically written by the University and may also be co-authored by the sponsor funding the work. Scopes of work may be altered during the term of the project as needed based on the results generated.

Special Guidance on Export Controls for TSAs

Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)

MOA is a standard document format and policy for the establishment of research agreements under which the Vice Chancellor for Research, Outreach, and Extension has delegated authority to the College to sign standard MOA agreements on behalf of the University in order to expedite the processing and handling of these agreements. MOA should only be used once with an industry sponsor to attract the sponsor to do work with the university. The standard delegated MOA is to be used for one-time projects with sponsors not to exceed a direct cost cap of $50,000 (rev May 2014) and to include F&A at a rate 15% applied to total direct costs. Any modification to the language contained in an MOA will render the agreement to be treated as a sponsored activity whereby it is processed as a standard proposal and the University’s full federally negotiated rate is applied. Therefore, negotiations are not permitted with the use of MOA.

The Delegated MOA may be used only: 1) once per PI-sponsor relationship irrespective of scope of work; 2) once per university-sponsor relationship for same or substantially similar scope of work; and 3) when there are no government funds involved directly or as a flow-through component of the funding.

Budget: The total cost allowable under an MOA is capped at $50,000, including direct cost and F&A.

F&A Rate: The F&A rate is 15%.


  1. The PI will need to notify Jennifer Clark ( and request the MOA template to be shared with the sponsor. This action would allow us to confirm in advance that the sponsor is accepting of the University’s terms and conditions contained in the MOA and thus may avoid miscommunication further in the process.
  2. If the sponsor is in agreement with the terms, the PI should complete the MOA template by adding the particulars of the agreement, i.e., sponsor contact information, title of project, start/end dates, amount of agreement, technical reporting requirements, etc. The PI should also prepare a statement of work, budget, and budget justification which will be identified as Attachment A and appended to the MOA template. The MOA package should then be forwarded to Mark so that he can review the materials and obtain signature from one of the Associate Deans for Research. The partially-executed MOA should then be forwarded to the sponsor.
  3. Once the sponsor returns the fully-executed MOA to the PI, he/she will need to create and route a PINS record. When the PINS record reaches the College level for approval, we will review and approve and attach the MOA with original signature and request for SPARCS to process for award. SPARCS will review, approve and authorize Contracts and Grants to establish a ledger 5-account of which we will notify our PI of as soon as the account has been set-up.

Other Resources

Additional On-Campus Resources

NC State University’s Research Development Office (RDO) facilitates collaboration between faculty and interdisciplinary research experts, providing strategic and responsive support that enhances the university’s most valued research initiatives. RDO provides tools and training resources that support researchers as they plan, write and submit competitive proposals.

NC State University’s Proposal Development Unit (PDU) supports large-scale projects by providing strategy development, technical writing, and budget creation expertise. 

The PDU Intranet contains a large number of webinars, workshops, presentations and other resources that help researchers write winning proposals.

The Education and Training Hub through the Office of Research Innovation offers a wide-range of proposal training opportunities via workshops, online classes, webinars, live chats, sample documents, etc.

Research Development and Grant Writing News contains useful information for funding searches and preparing proposals. NC State University maintains an institutional subscription. Back issues are available as well as two e-books; all can be downloaded or printed. Please respect the publisher’s copyright and the institutional distribution limitation.

North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Grant Writing Tips. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has developed resources to assist you with preparing proposals for Center grant programs and other funding agencies.

Helpful Links