About Proposal Development

First, identify the type of funding you are applying for using Fund Bucket Project Definitions.

Locate Funding

The principal investigator (PI)/department are responsible for locating a potential funding source.

Once you find a potential sponsor, obtain and carefully review the sponsor’s guidelines and application materials. Next, create the project’s statement of work and determine whether the project is eligible to apply for funding from the sponsor. Also determine the type of sponsored project and the proposal’s overall purpose to establish the key deliverables and deadlines the sponsor requires. 

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation provides information about the following funding opportunities:

Support to secure philanthropic funding when using the UMN Foundation’s 501(c)(3) status or applying to a centrally managed private or corporate foundation can be found via the Charitable Grants Resource Hub (UMN login required). For cross-discipline or large-scale grant project support, contact the Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative (SPARC).

Starting a Proposal

All PRFs must be routed with the Electronic Grants Management System (EGMS).

Create a Budget

Once you obtain all key information, carefully review the sponsor’s guidelines to ensure all instructions are followed. The pre-award DRA will assist you in creating the budget by performing necessary research and calculations to arrive at the overall costs for each budget category within the proposal. In addition, a detailed budget justification must be captured for all costs listed within the proposal budget.

A proposal budget is:

  • a carefully calculated and detailed document that outlines the total funds needed to conduct a sponsored project
  • a financial expression of the project that includes a detailed breakdown of the estimated costs of expense categories such as personnel, travel, supplies, and facilities and administrative (F&A) costs
  • always accompanied by a proposal budget justification

Take a training course on creating a proposal budget.

Proposal Development Considerations

Labor Related

When a working with a University employee for non-university consultation, use Intra-University Consulting Fees

Charging Administrative and Clerical and Programmatic Salarycosts

Follow this format when requesting administrative or clerical costs in a federal budget:

“This award includes management of 15 subawards. This volume and the tight timeline of the project mandate more extensive monitoring than the services routinely provided by the department. A XX% time program assistant is needed to oversee the subrecipients’ activities, including working with SPA to perform risk assessment and subrecipient monitoring, ensuring timely delivery and review of invoices, acquiring progress reports and ensuring their review, resolving mid-project issues, monitoring compliance approvals, ensuring timely payments, and handling subaward modifications. We are therefore requesting agency approval for a [List % time appointment here] [List position title here] as an administrative cost allowed under 2 CFR 200.413.”

Office of Cost Analysis: F&A Rates, Effort Reporting 

The Office of Cost Analysis is responsible for calculation and negotiation of the federal reimbursement rate for facilities and administrative (F&A) expenses incurred in support of sponsored research and other sponsored projects. See the U-Policy: Requesting Facilities and Administrative (Indirect) Cost Reductions


International Considerations

The Research Compliance Office is responsible for export controls, including international research & travel.

Change in Equipment Capitalization Threshold

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), our cognizant federal agency, has approved the University’s request to increase our equipment capitalization threshold from $2,500 to $5,000. This change will be effective on all purchases made on or after July 1, 2013.

Beginning July 1, 2013, all equipment purchased in the $2,500 and $4,999.99 must be charged using the appropriate Non-Capital Equipment actuals-level account code. As a result, F&A recovery will be assessed on items purchased on sponsored projects. However, the Controller’s Office and Office of Sponsored Projects Administration have developed a process to keep a sponsored project whole if it was budgeted and awarded under the old capitalization threshold.

Although an F&A expense will initially hit the sponsored project, it will automatically be reversed by the Controller’s Office if the award dates prior to January 1, 2014, and the Non-Capital Equipment account code was used to expense the purchased item. This automatic reversal of F&A charges will continue through June 30, 2015. New and competing renewals made on or after January 1, 2014, will be subject to F&A under the new capitalization threshold.

Cost Share Definition

The terms cost sharing, matching, and in-kind refer to that portion of the total project costs not borne by the sponsor. These three terms are often used interchangeably. There are also different forms of cost sharing. Learn more through SPECTRUM training on cost sharing fundamentals.


If you require a formal written agreement made between the University of Minnesota and another legal entity (subrecipient) to programmatic activity under a University sponsored project, see the Subaward section.

Business & Industry (B&I) Clinical Trials

UMN defines a clinical trial as “a prospective, biomedical, or behavioral research study of human or animal subjects that is designed to answer specific questions about biomedical or behavioral interventions (drugs, biologics, treatments, devices, or new ways of using known drugs, biologics, treatments, or devices). Behavioral interventions are intended to prevent or treat an acute or chronic disease or condition.” Pre-clinical research is not considered clinical activity.