Frequently Asked Questions

Research Development Office


Who do I get help from in writing my proposal?

Research Development staff in the Vice President for Research Office are available to assist principal investigators and students with all aspects of proposal development. Depending on the sponsor (federal, state, foundation, corporate) other people may also be available to assist; however contacting the Research Development staff is a good place to start. They can provide samples of successful proposal, examples of outreach and education plans, collaboration ideas with existing campus resources for project enhancements and guidance for new investigators on navigating the internal research process at Michigan Tech. The Research Development staff are also available to help coordinate logistical aspects of large, interdisciplinary proposal development. In order to enable them to help you the best, please contact them early on in the proposal development stage at 487-3126.


How long does it take to write a proposal?

A competitive proposal, whether it is new or a resubmission, takes several months to pull together.  Start early and contact the Research Development group.  In particular, proposals with external partners (universities, corporations, schools, etc.) require additional documentation and lead time.  Keep the internal deadlines in mind when determining the timeline for finalizing your proposal documentation.


What are Michigan Tech's internal requirements for proposals?

1. Transmittal Form
2. Budget Preparation Worksheet
3. Budget Justification

These documents along with all documents required by the funding agency must be turned in, at a minimum, two working days (three days for NIH) before the proposal deadline. If possible, please work ahead of time with Innovation and Industry Engagement or the Sponsored Programs Office to have your proposed budget checked and approved. Please note that proposals will not be submitted if they are received after the internal proposal deadline.

Additional internal forms may be required depending on proposal type, please check. For example, if cost sharing or subcontracts are involved, additional forms will be needed.


Will a proposal be more competitive if I include cost sharing?

This is a common misconception among proposal writers. In some cases cost sharing can help make your proposal more attractive to a sponsor; however, in many cases this is not necessarily true. In fact, most federal agencies either 1) do not allow cost sharing to be shown unless it is specifically required, or 2) strongly discourage cost sharing. It is Michigan Tech’s policy to only allow cost sharing when required by the sponsor and, in those cases, only at the minimum level required by the sponsor.


Is the quantity or quality of proposal submission more important?

Because finding funding is a process that relies on established relationships and competitive proposals, there are many reasons not to take a shotgun approach – both for the proposer and the University. We strongly encourage proposers to work closely with Research Development staff to develop a strategic plan to meet funding goals.


Should I send a proposal to NSF or NIH?

If your research is primarily “medical” in nature, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will likely be your primary agency of support. The National Science Foundation (NSF) does not fund clinical research or research aimed at addressing specific diseases. Likewise, animal testing, or research or testing on the development of drugs is not eligible for NSF support. However, NSF does fund basic science and engineering research that may ultimately have medical applications. Biomedical engineering work is also funded by NSF. Additional guidance can be found at the NIH and NSF websites. If in doubt about the appropriateness of fit between your research and an agency's mission, always contact a program officer for guidance prior to submission.


I am only a junior undergraduate. Why should I think about a graduate fellowship?

There is only a short window during which students are eligible to apply for certain fellowships like the NSF GRFP . It usually takes 6 months to draft a competitive proposal and another six months to see if you receive funding. Waiting until you are in graduate school limits your options and reduces your options for success.


How can I find out about changes in proposal guidelines, policies and related information?

Follow the VPR Research blog or sign up for Tech Today.

Sponsored Programs Office


Who can help me with preparing the proposal budget?

The Sponsored Programs  and Innovation and Industry Engagement Office staff are trained in preparing proposal budgets and are willing to assist you. For assistance please contact the following:

  • Government sponsors, email or call 487-2226.
  • Industrial/Corporate, Associations, Foundations or any other non-Government sponsors, call 487-2228


What are the current Facilities & Administrative (F&A) indirect cost rates and fringe benefit rates?

The current rates can be found on the Research Facts and Figures Page.


I have never registered in NSF FastLane, how do I get an account set up?

To register in NSF FastLane, please contact the Sponsored Programs Office at 487-2226, or via e-mail at

Include the following information:

Full name
Department Name, phone number, fax number and email address
Highest Degree Earned
Year you earned that degree


I need to request a no-cost time extension, how do I go about this?

The Sponsored Programs Office (SPO) / Innovation and Industry Engagement (IIE) requires that you fill out a Request for Modification form. This form is used for a no-cost time extension on research projects that require additional time to complete your project. Please be sure to include a brief technical description specifying what work will be accomplished during the extension period.


Can I submit proposals myself?

In general, proposals must be submitted through the Sponsored Programs or Innovation & Industry Engagement Offices.  Under special circumstances, a principal investigator may submit a proposal directly to a sponsor.  Refer to the Proposal Submission policy for details.


Can I submit a proposal to multiple sources?

Research direction often fits the requirements of multiple solicitations.  However, each funding agency has its own proposal guidelines and funding priorities.  Therefore, a proposal prepared for NASA will look different than a  proposal prepared for NSF.  Refer to the solicitation and reframe the proposal for each submission.  While you can submit to multiple agencies, you can often only receive funding from one agency for a particular research project. 

Sponsored Programs Accounting


Once I receive notification that my proposal has been awarded how do I know what my Michigan Tech index/account number is?

The Sponsored Programs Office will send an email notification that your proposal has been funded. Within five business days, Sponsored Programs Accounting will assign an index number or numbers for the project account and email you with the index number(s) and budget.


How do I pay myself for the work I performed on this project?

A portion of your Michigan Tech salary/wages will be charged to the research account. The percentage is based on the sponsor agreement and the amount of your effort spent on the project. Please refer to the payroll section of the award management link.


How do I get reimbursed for travel related to my research project?

Travel that directly benefits your research project, and was included in the proposal budget, is reimbursed from the research account. Fill out a travel expense voucher and submit it to Accounts Payable for reimbursement.


How do I charge expenses such as supplies or services to my account?

This may vary, depending on the expense. There are several sections of the website for you to review: non-salary expenditures, allowable/unallowable expenditures, and “expenditures exceeding the award amount." You may also want to review the “what form do I use?".


What do I do if I review my monthly account statement and determine that there are expenses charged to the wrong account?

In this case you need to fill out a reallocation of expenditures form. Keep in mind that reallocations must be made within 90 days of the original charge (unless there are extenuating circumstances). Please review the guidelines for reallocation of expenditures.


How do I get the money from the sponsor once I have started performing work? How does the sponsor get invoiced?

The Sponsored Programs Accounting office prepares and submits invoices to the sponsor to collect the funds. Please do not submit anything financially to the sponsor yourself. We will contact you if your assistance is needed in preparing invoices or other financial documents.


What do I do if part of the award terms and conditions state that I must fill out a financial form either during the project or at closeout?

Sponsored Programs Accounting is responsible for preparing and submitting financial reports to sponsors.  If there is a component within a progress report that requires financial information the PI may submit this information, however it is considered an estimate amount, not actual.


What do I do if my payroll certification is inaccurate?

If there is an error on your payroll certification, complete a payroll reallocation form to correct the error. Attach a copy of the reallocation to your payroll certification with an explanation of why the reallocation is necessary.


I keep getting notices that my account is overdrawn or expired from Research Accounting what do I do with these?

These are overdrawn expired notices that are sent to principal investigators once a month to assist with the financial administration of the project. The financial reports section describes these notices in more detail.


What do I do if my project has expired or I have spent all of the funds, but there are additional funds and/or a time extension on its way to Michigan Tech, and I need to continue working on the project?

In order to continue spending when your account is overdrawn or has expired, you will need to request an advance of funds and/or time. This is done on the Request for Advance form. Submit the request to the Sponsored Programs Office.


What do I do if my project has expired or is about to expire, but I need additional time to complete the research or prepare the final report?

You must fill out a Request for Modification form requesting a time extension and submit this form to the Sponsored Programs Office. SPO will determine if the request can be internally approved or if sponsor approval is required. Once approved, your end date will be adjusted.


What do I do if I need to purchase something that was not in the budget I sent to the sponsor in my proposal (i.e. if you need to travel but travel was not in the proposed budget, or if you need to purchase equipment but equipment was not in the proposed budget)?

You must fill out a Request for Modification form stating the reason for the change in the original proposed budget. Submit the form to the Sponsored Programs Office. SPO will determine if your request can be internally approved or if sponsor approval is required. Once the request has been approved by SPO and the sponsor (if required), Sponsored Programs Accounting will modify your budget to accommodate the purchase.


What are the University’s current approved fringe and overhead rates?

The current rates can be found on the Research Facts and Figures Page.


My project is ending. What do I need to do?

If the end date of your project is approaching you need to work with Sponsored Programs Accounting to ensure all of the charges related to this project are processed in a timely matter. Typically, projects require all final documents 90 days after the end date. However, it is not uncommon for final documents to be due 30 to 60 days after the end date. It is important to anticipate that your end date is approaching. Sponsored Programs Accounting will send you notices that let you know your account is about to expire and advising on a plan for close-out. Visit the for additional information.

Another aspect of project close-out is the technical reporting and final deliverables. If you feel that the deliverables may not be completed by the end date, a time extension may be required.

Vice President for Research


What expenses can I charge to my IRAD index?


How should I manage my faculty start-up support?


What do I need to do if a sponsor restricts the number of applications or proposals from an institution?

Review the Limited Submission Program Guidelines as Michigan Tech has a standard internal competitive process to follow.


Who is on a review committee for internal awards?

Dependent upon the number of proposals received, there may be up to two review committees. Each committee will consist predominantly of faculty.


Is faculty summer salary allowed on REF Awards?

No - faculty summer salary is not allowed for REF Awards.


What are REF Infrastructure Grants intended for?

REF Infrastructure Enhancement Grants are designed to provide Departments/Schools and Research Centers/Institutes with resources to develop the infrastructure necessary to support sponsored research and graduate student education.  Funded projects will typically focus on acquisition of equipment, enhancement of laboratory facilities, or enhancement of administrative support structure to expand the research capability of the unit.


Who can submit REF Infrastructure Enhancement Grants?

Each department, school, center, and institute is allowed to designate/sponsor an academic faculty as the PI.


What are REF Research Seed Grants intended for?

REF Research Seed (REF-RS) grants are designed to provide untenured tenure-track academic faculty with resources to develop an externally supported research program. Typical REF-RS projects will develop preliminary data to be used in subsequent proposals to outside funding sources, support pilot studies developing new research methods or procedures, or support other activity leading to the development of an externally recognized and funded research program.


Who can submit REF Research Seed Grants?

Untenured tenure-track academic faculty members and research faculty in any academic unit are eligible to submit REF-RS proposals as the principal investigator. Teams of untenured faculty in one or more academic units are encouraged to submit joint proposals. Tenured faculty are not eligible to be Principal Investigators for REF-RS awards, but may be included as Co-Investigators on REF-RS proposals.


Is undergraduate support allowed on REF Research Seed Grants?

Undergraduate support is allowable and needs to be clearly justified in the proposal. Projects that address Michigan Tech's Strategic Plan Goal 1, to develop an exceptional and diverse community of students, are particularly encouraged.


What are REF Scholarship & Creativity Grants intended for?

The REF Scholarship & Creativity Grant (SCG) provides support to encourage faculty to engage in scholarly research, learning, and creative activities to enhance professional development.SCG awards primarily support scholarly projects undertaken by faculty in disciplines identified by NSF as “non-science and engineering fields.” These are primarily within the humanities, social sciences, arts, education, and business, with fewer opportunities to secure external support.


What types of projects are supported for a REF Scholarship & Creativity Grant?

REF Scholarship and Creativity Grants (SCG) are primarily to support scholarly project undertaken by faculty in disciplines identified by NSF as "non-science and engineering fields." These are primarily within the humanities, social sciences, arts, education, and business fields.  As will all REF awards, applicants are expected to explore all other opportunities for external funding prior to applying for an internal research award.

Support required to launch and complete scholarly projects in these areas is more often in the form of faculty time, travel to off-campus sites, and networking (activities typically less costly than laboratory research).


What is the duration for a REF Scholarship & Creativity Grant?

Normally, SCG awards will be for one year duration, but in exceptional circumstances, awards may be made for longer periods of time. All projects which are expected to last longer than the standard one calendar year must be clearly requested and justified within the original proposal.


What are Commercialization Milestone Grants intended for?

CMGs are designed to provide resources to support the achievement of specific milestones toward commercialization of technologies developed at the University.  In particular, CMGs are intended to fund activities that are outside the scope of existing academic research funding programs but that are too early in the development process for commercialization funding programs such as SBIR.


What types of activities are supported by REF Commercialization Milestone Grants?

Funded projects typically focus on early stage commercial development, such as for example, proof-of-concept, or otherwise developing a technology to a point where it can be the focus of a competitive SBIR Phase I proposal, funding from some other early stage fund or perhaps lead to licensing from an outside entity.  Activities related to testing and validation of the market need or interest in the technology may also be supported, as might other activities that are beyond the scope of internal support resources and are designed to lead to successful commercialization, licensing, or creation of a start up company


Can REF Commercialization Milestone Grants be extended?

CMGs will only be extended due to special circumstances approved by the VP for Research.  The researcher is expected to work with the Commercialization Project Director to insure that milestones are achieved in a timely manner.  Unexpended funds at the end of the project period will revert to the funding pool.


Are matching funds required for REF Commercialization Milestone Grants?

Matching funds are required and can take the form of startup funds, third part investment of cash or in-kind support.


When submitting a Commercialization Milestone Grant proposal, do I need to include an Invention Disclosure Form?

Yes, an Invention Disclosure Form must be submitted as per the Required Elements Checklist - CMG.  A copy must be submitted to Robin Kolehmainen (