Grant-in-Aid

The Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship program (GIA) supports the University's strategic plan MPact 2025 and academic excellence through the promotion of research, scholarly and artistic activities of faculty throughout the University.  

Grant-in-Aid funds are used to support independent research, and in most cases, are not meant to provide sole support for research activities. Grant requests that are significantly over the average amount may be declined so that we are able to fund more small project requests. In fiscal year 2023, 57 grants were awarded with an average award of $34,608.

We are especially interested in supporting entrepreneurial or collaborative projects that could result in near term impact.
 

Funding Cycle

Grant-in-Aid has a fall and spring funding cycle during the academic year with bridge funding offered during the summer.

Fall GIA

Opens in late August. The award period begins January 1 and lasts 18 months.

The Fall funding cycle is currently closed. Here are the upcoming deadlines:

  • 08/19/24: Application opens
  • 09/16/24: Principal Investigator submits application to approvers (by 11:59 p.m.)
  • 09/19/24: Approvers submit application to RIO (by 11:59 p.m.) 
  • December 2024: Award notification
  • 01/01/2025: Award period begins

Spring GIA

Opens in early January. Award period begins July 1 and lasts 18 months.

The Spring funding cycle is currently closed. Here are the upcoming deadlines:

  • 01/02/24: Application opens
  • 02/05/24: Principal investigator submits application to approvers (by 11:59 p.m.)
  • 02/08/24: Approvers submit application to RIO (by 11:59 p.m.)
  • May 2024: Award notification
  • 07/1/24: Award period begins

Summer Bridge Funding

Opens in mid May. Award period begins September 1 and lasts 18 months. Bridge funding is the only GIA category that accepts applications in the summer.

The Summer Bridge Funding cycle is OPEN. Here are the upcoming deadlines:

  • 05/20/24: Application opens
  • 06/24/24: Principal investigator submits application to approvers
  • 06/27/24: Approvers submit application to RIO
  • August 2024: Award notification
  • 09/01/24: Award period begins 

How to Apply

Application Instructions

The application instructions provide information about system requirements, how to edit or check an existing application, required attachments, proposal requirements, budget requirements, and approval routing.

Start a New Application

Start a new application during an open funding cycle (see Availability/Deadlines). Only applications submitted through this system are accepted; fax, email, and paper copy applications will not be accepted.

If you click on the new application link when a competition is closed you will not be able to apply and will receive a message that says, "This competition type is currently closed. Please contact facgrant@umn.edu for more information."

Edit an Existing Application

To edit an existing application, choose "RIO Grant-in-Aid" from the "Process" drop down list (top left corner). Click on “My actions to do.” Click on the relevant link in the “Action” column. On the next screen, you will see your application. Note: Only applications created in the current competition will be accepted.
 

Funding Categories

Bridge Funding

Bridge Funding provides interim support necessary to maintain ongoing research efforts during a temporary lapse in external funding which is beyond the control of the faculty member or to provide sponsor requested data, e.g. pilot data that would allow the funding to continue. It is expected that faculty members who are supported will vigorously seek renewed funding in timely ways so as to avoid further lapses.

This category applies only to projects that have previously been supported by an external agency not to new, previously unsupported projects. This category is inappropriate for support to complete a project that has not been submitted to an external agency for renewal or to augment an external award—even if the external award amount was inadequate to complete the project.

Proposals in this category are accepted three times a year: fall (September deadline), spring (February deadline), and summer (June deadline).

See Bridge Funding Special Instructions.

Fields With Limited External Funding

The Fields With Limited External Funding category provides support for faculty members in fields where there is little external funding available. It is expected that possibilities of external funding will be pursued in these fields also, with the advice of department chairs and heads, college research development officers, and the University's Office of Sponsored Projects Administration. These efforts should be documented in the proposal.

This category does not include fields where there is significant external funding available, albeit this funding may be difficult to obtain because of the level of competition. This category would be inappropriate for a multidisciplinary project where any of the disciplines involved had the opportunity for significant external funding.

Multicultural Research

The Institute for Diversity, Equity, and Advocacy's (IDEA) Multicultural Research Awards (MRA) fund interdisciplinary research engaged with underrepresented communities and focuses on diversity, equity, and advocacy issues. We encourage research projects that promote an understanding of race, indigeneity, gender, sexuality, immigration, health, and mental health disparities. We also aim to fund projects that address educational and opportunity gaps in K-16 education contexts. MRA award recipients are required to present their work as part of the Diversity Through the Disciplines Symposium sponsored annually by IDEA. Awardees are also encouraged to showcase their research at the Gallery of Excellence, a showcase of equity and diversity research preceding the annual Equity and Diversity Breakfast.

New Assistant Professors

The New Assistant Professors category provides funding for new members of the faculty who need assistance in establishing research, scholarly, or artistic programs. This category is restricted to assistant professors* in the first four years of their appointment at the University. For 2020-2025, we are also allowing submissions from those in their fifth year, due to the Covid-19 tenure track extension. Junior faculty holding an appointment for longer than four (or five) years may be considered if they present convincing, well-justified reasons for consideration beyond their first four years.

Applications for this category are particularly encouraged, but should not be considered a substitute for departmental and college funding owed to such new faculty. It is expected that only one award in the New Assistant Professors category would be awarded per faculty member unless there is an exceptional need. New assistant professors are strongly encouraged to obtain feedback from a senior colleague before submitting a proposal to the Grant-in-Aid program.

*Senior faculty are not eligible to apply under this category.

New Research Direction

The New Research Direction category provides support for faculty members moving into significantly different areas of research or scholarship. Proposals in this category must include a cover letter with specific language explaining how this project is indeed a new direction and is not an extension of current research. This category does not provide support for faculty applying new techniques to ongoing research, but rather to those faculty proposing a very different set of research questions that will likely lead to new sources of external funding. See additional information on cover letters in the Application Instructions.

Shared Equipment

The Shared Equipment category provides support or partial support for major capital equipment that is not currently available, that will be shared by several faculty members, that is expected to be in a shared research facility, and that will increase the likelihood of external funding. Note that proposals funded in this category must include 30–50 percent cost sharing and must include a quote for the specific instrument.

See Shared Equipment Instructions.

Special Requests for Established Investigators’ Pilot Projects

The Special Requests for Established Investigators’ Pilot Projects category provides funding for established investigators (associate professor and professor) to obtain pilot data for projects involving a new research team, a new research direction or a unique extension of existing work and that has promise to lead to substantial future external funding.

A new research team would include faculty members who have not worked together before. Although there might be some history of collaboration between individual faculty members in the new research group, the group itself should not have worked together for more than approximately one year.

A new research direction would involve a set of research questions not previously addressed by the investigators. See additional information on cover letters in the Application Instructions.
 

Eligibility Requirements

Who Can Apply?

Grant-in-Aid (GIA) applications are accepted from UMN faculty (professor, associate professor, assistant professor) conducting independent research and who hold (or will hold during the relevant academic year) full time (100 percent) tenured or tenure-track appointments (employee class FAR). New faculty must begin their appointment by the start date of the grant.

UMN faculty (professor, associate professor, assistant professor) holding full-time (100 percent) salaried multiple year contract, annual renewable contract or fixed term contract appointments (employee class FAC, FTD, or ACP) and who are annually evaluated like tenured and tenure-track faculty (in terms of their research accomplishments, independence and ability to secure external funding), are also eligible for GIA support.

A faculty member may be principal investigator (PI) on only one application at a time or one awarded GIA during a given grant period. An exception is made for investigators applying under the shared equipment category and any other category.

Proposals That Are Not Eligible

  • Proposals from PIs who have held two GIA awards within the past five years. 
  • Proposals that have been reviewed three times previously, unless the PI was specifically encouraged to resubmit the proposal following the most recent submission.
  • Applications directed primarily toward curriculum or educational development, e.g., preparation of textbooks or course materials, or toward product development, market surveys, etc. These are more appropriately funded by the faculty member's department or college, or by industry, respectively.
  • Projects which are evaluations of educational (e.g., classroom) experiments, industrial processes, etc. are generally not eligible for funding unless it is clear that the research is part of a broader hypothesis that is the basis of the scholarly work of the faculty member and that the evaluation is not an end in itself.
  • Graduate student thesis research per se (although graduate students are often major participants in projects receiving support).
  • Applicants who have more than $50,000 of uncommitted nonsponsored/internal funding, e.g. start up, matching, Imagine Funding, funds associated with position. (Exception: Shared Equipment Category that has a 30–50 percent cost sharing requirement.)

By approving the application, the department chair guarantees a commitment for salary and space for the term of the grant.

Terms of Support

Specific projects are generally supported only once. Should faculty wish to apply for a second term of support, a new proposal must be submitted that addresses the following issues: a) there must be a strong indication that the potential for useful results and/or outside funding would be markedly improved by the additional term of support; b) the first term must show appropriate progress; and c) concrete efforts should have been made (whether successful or not) to obtain external funds.

Note: New projects will have priority for funding, other factors being equal. Support for a specific project beyond the second term is granted only in exceptional circumstances.
 

Expenditures

General areas of support include: personnel, such as graduate or undergraduate research assistants; operating supplies and services; equipment; and limited travel.

Personnel

Allowed:

  • Salary/fringe support for graduate or undergraduate research assistants; partial support for post-doc and civil service personnel and non-faculty P&A.
  • Non-UMN personnel (e.g. consultants, honoraria, artistic commissions). May not exceed $5000 or 20% of total GIA project cost, whichever is smaller.
  • Research subject payments

Not allowed:

  • Faculty or visiting faculty salary support
  • Regular, full-time post-doc and civil service personnel; full-time non-faculty P&A salary support (exception Bridge Funding)
  • Temp casual salary support
  • Support for personnel to edit or index publication material or to word process manuscripts or proposals
  • Subcontracts

Operating Supplies & Services

Allowed:

  • General operating supplies and services (including core facility use charges) for this project, including computer supplies and software, if clearly necessary for the project. 
  • Funding requests for third-party payments for scholarly or creative work such as honoraria, artistic commissions, consultants, or dissemination costs (e.g. journal publication costs, book publication) may not exceed $5000 or 20% of the total GIA project cost, whichever is smaller.*
  • Funding requests for professional and/or lab services outside the U of MN may not exceed $5,000 or 20% of total GIA project cost, whichever is smaller.*
  • Computer software if it is not already available to U of MN faculty. The justification for software requests should include an explanation of the special features of the software that are necessary and integral for the research project to be successful.

*$5,000 total allowed for third party payments, non-U of MN personnel, professional and/or lab services outside the U of M.

Not allowed:

  • Routine maintenance/repairs of equipment
  • Books, subscriptions, reprints
  • Utilities (e.g. phone lines)

Travel

Allowed:

  • Transportation and/or per-diem expenses to a) gather data or use resources otherwise not available, or b) work with other colleagues on research of mutual interest. (Note: Most scholarly meetings and conferences intended primarily to report on research are not appropriate.) See rates and other travel information. Rates should be reduced proportionately for visits longer than one month in one locale, when it should be possible to make more economical arrangements. Explanation of long-term arrangements must be included in the budget justification section.

Not allowed:

  • Travel to sabbatical and single semester leave sites from Minnesota and return. Travel and per-diem expenses for single-semester leave and sabbatical sites to another site (“side trips”) for strictly research purposes may be considered.
  • Travel expenses associated with professional meetings, conferences, and short courses
  • Fees and expenses associated with conferences

Equipment or Rents & Leases

Allowed:

  • Minor or major equipment, including computer equipment, if specifically needed for the purpose of the proposed project. Note: It is expected that departments or other University resources (e.g. Office of Information Technology and Minnesota Supercomputing Institute) will provide computer support.
  • The justification for a computer request must include the following: 1) Specify the special features of the computer that are necessary and integral for supporting the project. 2) Explain why other University computing resources (e.g. MSI, departmental computers) cannot meet the needs of the project. 3) Explain what will be done with the computer when the research is finished.
  • Shared equipment requests must include a 30–50 percent match. Non/shared equipment requests of capital equipment (equal to or greater than $5,000) should also include matching funds of 30–50 percent.

Not allowed:

  • Laptop computers, when these can be borrowed from the college or rented from University Computer Services
  • Computers to be used for general word processing purposes or when any other departmental computer could be used
  • External hard drives
  • Small, general-purpose items
  • Furniture
  • Maintenance contracts
  • Charges to connect to a network
     

Evaluation Criteria

Summary

Intrinsic scientific, scholarly, or artistic merit of the project as judged by its:

  • Importance to the field
  • Coherence and clarity of purpose
  • Apparent potential for success or impact
  • Degree of imagination and innovation in concept and approach

Need of the applicant as judged by:

  • Availability of alternative internal and external sources of funds
  • Current resources of the applicant for all funded activities
  • Evidence of ongoing attempts by the applicant to obtain other funds
  • Previous support to the faculty member from this or other internal sources, especially in areas where outside funds are potentially available

Format for Reviews: Committee Guidelines
Description: Only a few sentences, if possible, to convey the substance of the project or basis of request.
Critique: Strengths and weaknesses that relate to timeliness, feasibility of approach, best scenario outcome, creativity.
Investigator: Indicate competence and independence.
Budget: Is it justified?
Recommendation: 1-5 for scholarly merit; A-C for financial need

Need

Need refers to the total picture of support already available to the applicant (relative to the discipline), including start-up funds. The need score should also reflect the applicant’s effort to secure support elsewhere. The reviewer should analyze the Need Justification stated in the proposal, and previous support from the Grant-in-Aid program or other internal sources listed on the Past, Present, and Potential Funding document. Proposal budgets should not be included when considering need. Concerns about the adequacy of the proposal budget should be addressed in the reviews not in the need scores.

Need Score: A

  • A crucial need exists; the project would not proceed without this funding.
  • Alternative internal and external funds are not currently available, are restricted or are already committed to specific expenditures.
  • PI has not been funded by a Grant-in-Aid award in the past five years.
  • When the project is completed, potential for external funding would be high (except for category #5).
  • Applicant has a track record for publishing as well as a record of submitting proposals to external agencies (whether successful or not).

Need Score: B

  • A strong need exists: the applicant has some available funding and the project might proceed without GIA funding, albeit not as rapidly.
  • The project has received some funding already from the Research and Innovation Office or other sources.

Need Score: C

  • The need for funding at this time is marginal or below.
  • Applicant has more than $50,000 of uncommitted nonsponsored/internal funding, e.g. startup, matching, Imagine Funding, funds associated with position. (The Need Justification section should clearly state why the proposed study could not be financed by startup money or other unrestricted funds.)
  • Applicant has received more than one Grant-in-Aid in the past five years. Exception: Funding provided for Category 2, shared equipment, is not included in the two GIA maximum.
  • Applicant has a Grant-in-Aid project in process.
  • Applicants will not be penalized for having simultaneously submitted the same proposal to other sources of funding, as long as a funding decision is still pending.
  • No track record of publishing and/or submitting proposals to external agencies (whether successful or not).

Applicants will not be penalized for having simultaneously submitted the same proposal to other sources of funding, as long as a funding decision is still pending.