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Funding Opportunities & Pathways


Proposal Development & Submission


Award Negotiation & Acceptance


Account Setup & Modifications


Award Management


Award Closeout


Proposal Development & Submission

There is a wide range of funding opportunities for Vanderbilt's researchers within the US federal government, as well as through foundations and other foreign governments, multilateral and non-profit institutions, and corporations.

Navigating funding announcements and opportunities and identifying which represent the best match can be challenging. While SPA generally does not seek funding opportunities for individual faculty members, this section of the website provides comprehensive information on internal and external funding sources.

Navigate through the outline of the proposal development and submission.

Proposal Development Submission
Budget Preparation Submission System
Frequently Needed Information Routing and Possible Problems
Proposal Types Proposal Submission to Sponsor

Proposal Development

The SPA Proposal Preparation Checklist or How to Prepare a Grant Application are two general documents to assist you in proposal development, in terms of required forms and processes.  Individual sponsors may have additional requirements. 



Description:  An arrangement under which there is a transfer of funds, property, services or anything of value from the sponsor to the institution to assist the institution in reaching a particular goal or public purpose.

 PI defines the project – usually fairly loosely – Scope of Work or Proposal is cited in award

  • Sponsor retains the right to revoke the award and unused funds revert back to sponsor
  • Has a defined period of performance
  • Reports are normally on an annual basis
  • Supports further knowledge in a particular subject area or field of research
  • VU owns IP
  • Publications are not restricted
  • “Best efforts” are used in completing research
  • Benefit is normally to the grantee/PI by furthering their own purposes or programs
  • IRS includes scholarships, fellowships, internships, prizes and awards
  • May qualify as charitable contribution depending on source of funds



Description: A mechanism for the procurement of a specific service or product with specific obligations for both the buyer and the seller. Creates a quid pro quo relationship.

  Sponsor or Sponsor and PI jointly define Scope of Work

  • Sponsor retains the right to terminate the contract
  • Reports are often done more frequently than annually
  • Publication may require review/approval of the sponsor
  • Benefit is normally to the sponsor – anticipates an economic benefit as a result of the activity to be conducted
  • Contractor generally is required to produce a work product or deliverable (it’s possible this is only a report of findings)
  • Contractors are paid only if the deliverable is accomplished
  • Most involve some supervision or control by sponsor (on expenditures and/or deliverable)
  • Provides expertise/knowledge to solve a problem


Sponsored Billing Agreement (SBA)

Description:  A Billing Agreement is a short and efficient mechanism through which VU and VUMC can contract for limited work to be performed and to effectuate payments.  There are a few things to know:

  • Sponsored Billing agreements are only for inter-institutional relationships between VU and VUMC.
  • A Sponsored Billing Agreement cannot substitute for a subcontract.  If a faculty member is performing substantive scientific work on a project, a sub-award not a Sponsored Billing Agreement is the appropriate mechanism.
  • Funding for Sponsored Billing Agreements only comes from a grant or a contract (sponsored awards).
  • Sponsored Billing agreements provide for reimbursement of direct costs. They do not have indirect costs.



Description: A formal written agreement made between VU and another institution or organization to perform a significant portion of a project.  

  • INCOMING Subaward: Issued under a prime award (grant, contract or cooperative agreement) where a portion of the scope of work is delegated by the prime award recipient to Vanderbilt University.
    • See below for a step-by-step guide on how to submit an incoming subaward proposal.
  • OUTGOING Subaward: Issued under a prime award (grant, contract or cooperative agreement) where a portion of the scope of work is delegated by Vanderbilt University to a subrecipient.
    • Click here for details on outgoing subawards.

Budget Preparation

Budget Review

Prior review of the budget and justification must be conducted by your College Grants Manager or other colleges pre-award resource.

The information provided here should be used as a general guide in all instances.  When an agency provides specific budgetary directions those directions should be followed.


Resources for VERA Budget Preparation


Frequently Needed Information

Most information you will need can be found on the SPA Fact Sheet.  If you need something that you do not find please contact SPA.  



Proposal Review Guidelines for VERA

Completed Administrative Portion of Proposal Due 3 days ahead of due date


*Please Note: For those applications that are through NIH and include the use of Human Subjects/Clinical Trails, then the application will be submitted through a 3rd system: Assist .  Please reference the training PowerPoint presentations about each of these systems on our "Education & Training" page, on the Training tab. 


Submission System

All proposals must be created and submitted to the sponsor via VERA.  Please follow sponsor guidelines when submitting your proposal.  See "Proposal Submission to Sponsor" below for more information.

If you have any questions, please speak with your SPA Specialist.  

Below are several powerpoint presentations with further information regarding specific sponsor requirements for submission:

American Heart Sponsor Information

National Institutes of Health  

National Science Foundation

Department of Defense


Routing and Possible Problems 

During the review by other Research Units (RU) or SPA, a proposal may be returned to originating RU by other RUs or SPA based on but not limited to the following issues/concerns:


  • The proposed committed effort and salary requested on the budget do not match.
  • Fringe rates requested are not based on current Fringe Rate Agreement
  • Facilities and Administration (F&A) rate charges are not based on current F&A Agreement, and an approval for reduced rate has not been included in proposal documentation.
    • Approval for reduced F&A charges must be obtained by the PI/RU from the respective Dean of the College.
  • An item listed in the Budget Justification does not appear in the Budget.

Proposal Personnel

  • Missing eRA Commons User ID (NIH only)
    • eRA Commons User IDs must be included for PI and all Key Personnel listed in the proposal budget for all NIH proposals.

Proposal Submission to Sponsor

Proposal is submitted to Sponsor based on Sponsor guidelines.

    • Federal agency proposals that have the ability to be submitted System-2- System (S2S) via VERA to - will be submitted by your Specialist upon completion of their review once the Funding Proposal is in state: Specialist Review and the SF424 forms have been validated and the Specialist contacted that the SF424 Forms are ready.
    • Federal agency proposals that do not have the ability to be submitted S2S are submitted by SPA Specialist to once the PI/RU has verified all final documents have been uploaded and approves the proposal for submission. Application is then forwarded by to Agency.
  • Sponsor-specific online portal - Submitted by PI or SPA based on guidelines.
  • E-mail – by PI.  RU will forward an “as submitted copy of proposal” to SPA for VERA files.

Post Submission Grant Application Materials

A list of acceptable post-submission materials can be found in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, section Post-Submission Grant Application Materials

Post-submission of application materials is not required. Adding materials to reviewer workload may be counterproductive, so applicants should carefully consider the need to send post-submission materials. For materials that are submitted after the initial grant application submission but prior to initial peer review, NIH will only accept such materials resulting from unforeseen administrative issues. This policy does not modify the Just-in-Time requirements or any other requests for additional information after the initial peer review.