Proposal Process and General Information

The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) provides a wide variety of tools and resources for finding funding opportunities.

This will vary depending on the OSP workload and other factors, such as application complexity, staff availability, and submission time. Inquiries, award or denial notifications, agreement requests, prior approval requests etc. can be forwarded to the OSP departmental email address at

In order to facilitate a timely review and approval of your proposal materials we request that completed and approved proposals be submitted to the OSP five (5) business days prior to the sponsor’s submission deadline for mailing or receipt in accordance with University Policy 2201.  Proposals that are more complex; include match; and/or have external collaborators take more time to review and should be routed earlier than (5) business days. The proposal materials should include the following:

  1. Internal Approval Form signed by the PI, Co-PIs, and their respective Deans and Department Heads
  2. Narrative/project description (A draft may be used to obtain university approval).
  3. Final line-item budget  - Templates are available at: Forms, Tools, and Resources          
  4. Final budget justification/narrative 
  5. If the project is federally funded research or Public Health Service (PHS) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded, please provide the OSP with a list of the project personnel and/or JMU collaborators, who are partially responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of the project so that the OSP may confirm that an active JMU Disclosure form is on file with the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) for those individuals before the submission. Disclosure forms are available on the ORI website at:
  6. Signed sub-recipient materials when a subaward is budgeted (For details, please see the Collaboration Guide)
  7. If in cash match meets or exceeds $10,000, provide a signed Cost Sharing Request Form.
  8. A link or copy of the solicitation and/or the Sponsor's guidelines should be provided to the OSP at initial contact
  9. Other required sponsor documents that require certifications or include budgetary information (For example: face page, statement of intent, sponsor budget forms, etc.)
  10. Other JMU documents required (Indirect Cost Waiver, Overload Pay Authorization, ect.)

Yes, proposals where JMU is the subrecipient should be treated the same as if we were processing as the lead/prime proposal.  The lead institution may require additional materials, such as JMU’s federally negotiated indirect cost rate agreement, statement of work, or signed university letter of commitment.  Please contact the OSP to coordinate the submission with the lead institution. 

The purpose of the Internal Approval Form is to provide a summary of the pertinent administrative and fiscal information about a proposed sponsored project and to provide a record of approval.

Please note that this form is an internal document and is not provided to the sponsors or collaborators. This form is intended to accompany all required proposal materials including the narrative portions, the budget, and budget justification and must have all required approvals prior to proposal submission. The Internal Approval Form is usually prepared with the assistance of the OSP once the budget is finalized. However, it is the responsibility of the principal investigator to provide accurate information and to provide all the required assurances.

This will depend on the sponsor. Some sponsors have electronic systems that will permit the PI to submit the final version of the proposal. However, the PI should not submit without university approval and the OSP confirmation. If unsure, please contact the OSP to determine who submits the final proposal.

No, the University is registered as an organization in This website includes federal grant opportunities and provides an outlet for institutions to apply and submit to these opportunities. PI and other project personnel do not need accounts in The OSP will submit all application packages on behalf of the university and track the status of submissions through 

PIs have the option to work concurrently with the OSP to complete applications. If interested, the PI can register as a user in Workspace.


Yes, the OSP will register you in eRA Commons, which will also act as your ASSIST log in to complete NIH applications. You will need to log into eRA Commons after receiving your username to complete registration.

Yes, you will need to create a log in to to submit NSF applications. Once you create your account, the OSP must verify and approve your request before your account is complete.

System for Award Management (SAM)

No, the University is registered as an organization in SAM and reviews and updates the record annually. 

This information is available from the Frequently Required Information link on the OSP website; however, OSP will be happy to insert those values when we review and process the application. 

  1. E-mail the OSP if the proposal is being submitted in response to a specific Broad Agency Announcement, Request for Proposals, Research Announcement, etc. so that the OSP is familiar with solicitation guidelines ahead of time.
  2. Become familiar with the solicitation. If you do not understand information in the solicitation contact the OSP or the sponsor’s program officer.
  3. Start with the budget. The primary driver for the OSP is the budget development. Once the budget is complete, the OSP can prepare you a corresponding Internal Approval Form so that you can circulate the form for signatures. To develop the budget, you can meet with us to work out your budget projections in detail; work from a budget template that the OSP can review and make adjustments or edits necessary; or send the OSP the narrative information to calculate the expense needs for the project. 
  4. Allow time for corrections. In many cases, proposals that arrive in the OSP are ready to be signed and submitted without further correction or revision. However, there are times when corrections need to be made, particularly if a budget has not been sent in advance or if a PI is applying to an agency he/she is unfamiliar with. Allowing time for corrections helps to ensure the proposal is correct when it is submitted.
  5. Provide the application sections as you complete them.  Although you may still be finalizing the budget or project narrative, the OSP can review other sections of the application for compliance, such as cover pages, biographical sketches, letters of commitment, facilities, data management plans, and current and pending support
  6. Stay in contact with the OSP to answer any questions that come up until you receive confirmation that your application has been submitted. Last minute issues often arise and need to be addressed.
  7. Plan to submit the proposal a couple of days before the deadline.

Yes, as long as OSP has an approved Internal Approval Form and budget for the project, a Department ID (Org #) can be created with simply a written request for one. It must be noted that any expenditures that are incurred against this Department ID before the award is received is a financial risk to your department. If such costs are deemed unallowable by the sponsor, for any reason, the department must provide the funds to pay those expenses. It will be your responsibility to verify that the award is ultimately received and processed in this situation since Sponsored Programs Accounting (SPA) has processed the award early.

No, since awards are made to the institution rather than the individual researcher.  Though you might be the PI or project director, you cannot contractually bind the university. According to University Policy 4100, all agreements must be reviewed and accepted by an authorized representative of the University.  You should forward the award agreement and any associated documents to the OSP, either in person, by mail, or electronically. We will coordinate legal review and negotiate the agreement’s terms and conditions as required to ensure that the agreement conforms to the policies and regulations of the State and University.


The OSP is required to follow “costing standards;” accordingly, we have to understand, document and approve the calculations used to develop the numbers in the budget.  This protects the University and the sponsor.  It protects the University by ensuring that all possible direct and indirect costs are included in the budget to complete the outlined project and it protects the sponsor by ensuring they are not being overcharged for the work provided.  The best approach for budget development is to send the OSP the narrative information to calculate the expense needs for the project and let us calculate the actual amounts.  We don’t mind making tweaks to that resulting budget to reach a predetermined budget limit.

Direct Costs are costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easy with a high degree of accuracy.

Facilities and administrative costs (F&A) costs are those that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity. F&A costs are broad categories of costs. "Facilities" is defined as depreciation and use allowances, interest on debt associated with certain buildings, equipment and capital improvements, operation and maintenance expenses, and library expenses. "Administration" is defined as general administration and general expenses like for the Payroll or Accounts Payable activities.  Accordingly, costs associated with utilities and for administration activities are charged to sponsored projects indirectly.

The off-campus rate (26% of Modified Total Direct Costs) will apply where more than 50% of the project as a whole will be conducted in facilities not owned or maintained by the University.  Please see this page for details about JMU Federally negotiated indirect costs rate agreement.

The portion of project expenses related to a sponsored agreement that is contributed by parties other than the sponsor.  Cost sharing/matching could be University or external resources provided in support of sponsored programs; includes in-kind and in-cash resources which are specifically and uniquely associated with only the proposed project and are quantifiable. Cost sharing should be included in the proposal only when required. Voluntary cost sharing/matching is discouraged by the University. In-cash match at $10,000 or greater requires prior approval by way of the Cost Share Request Form which the OSP will prepare for you.

All cost sharing offered toward support of the award must be provided and documented in the award files maintained by the PI and by Sponsored Program Accounting.

The University must adhere to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards." Therefore, the salaries of administrative and clerical staff, office supplies, postage, local telephone costs, and memberships should normally be treated as indirect costs. Direct charging of these types of costs may be appropriate in some circumstances.  For example, though postage is normally treated as an indirect cost, your proposed project may have an exceptional need for postage because you plan extensive data collection and will mail survey questionnaires to 10,000 participants. In this case, it would be appropriate to charge the project directly for the postage to mail the questionnaires, since this would constitute "unlike circumstances" compared to routine postage requirements. If you believe you have a major project or special need that should allow direct charging of these expenditures, please discuss with your OSP contact.

Salaries of administrative staff may be included as a direct cost when ALL of the following conditions are met:

  • Services are integral to the project
  • Individuals can be specifically identified to the project
  • Explicitly included in the budget or have prior written approval
  • AND, are not recovered as indirect costs

Participant support costs (PSC) means direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, participant supplies, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, workshops, seminars, or training projects. Please see our Budget Preparation page for more information.

Please see the Student Payment Types and Processes Guide.

To help make a determination of whether a subrecipient or contractor relationship exists for an organization, please complete the Subrecipient or Contractor Checklist.  For an honorarium, the fee for the service must not be traditionally required.  For example, a professional speaker cannot receive an honorarium for a speaker fee if that fee is charged as part of their normal business operations.    

Please keep in mind that it is best to develop the budget on how you actually intend to spend the funds. For a subrecipient, the OSP can set up a subaward agreement based on the statement of work, budget, and budget justification that was received at the time of proposal.  A complete list of the subaward materials that the OSP will need prior to the proposal submission are listed in the Collaboration Guide. One benefit of setting up an agreement is that it creates a “contracted deliverable” that you can monitor via a written document. The agreement would be signed by JMU’s authorized official and the subrecipient’s authorized official.  For a contractor, please the Sponsored Programs Pre-award Guide for Procurements. 

Sponsor Prior Approvals

An NCE provides for additional time to accomplish project goals without additional funding. OSP will assist you with preparing an NCE to your sponsor. NCE’s should be sought at least 30 days before the scheduled end date of the project.

Please contact your OSP administrator to discuss your situation. Depending on the terms and conditions of your award, we may need to seek prior approval from the sponsor to make expenditures outside of the originally approved budget, to move money between categories of cost, to create new categories of costs, or to exceed expenditures within categories. Do not contact the sponsor directly to make budgetary changes.

Award Process and Implementation

All sponsored program awards are made to James Madison University. They are accepted and administered by the University in compliance with federal, state, and funding agency policies and regulations. Individual faculty and staff are not authorized by the University to accept/receive/modify sponsored program awards. All funds awarded are to be expended in accordance with the award budget.

Receipt of the "Announcement of Grant Award" from the Office of Sponsored Programs initiates creation of a new department number by Sponsored Programs Accounting. An Award Binder, with signature card instructions, budget information, access request forms, and financial procedures is then mailed to the Principal Investigator via campus mail. Upon receipt of the binder, the PI is encouraged to set up an "orientation" appointment with Sponsored Programs Accounting to discuss the financial management of the award.

The average turn-around time for documents processed by Sponsored Programs Accounting is less than one business day (including internal approval of proposals, PAR forms, accounting invoices & vouchers, and eVA approvals.)

As University expenditure forms and procedures are the same for Sponsored Projects as they are for JMU Departmental funds, Administrative Assistants in the department could likely answer your questions.  However, the Sponsored Programs Accounting staff may always be contacted with your questions.  That contact information is available on the Staff page.

”Effort” is the amount of time expended on any activity paid by JMU.  Effort Reporting is required by Federal OMB Circular A-21 as a means to document that JMU employees were only paid from Sponsored Projects for the amount of Effort applied to those projects.  For example, if a PI receives pay from a grant equal to 10% of their salary, they must document that 10% of their time (effort) was dedicated to that grant work.   JMU has an Effort Reporting System (ERS) that allows electronic calculation of the effort based on salary expenditures for each semester.  Each employee that is paid from a sponsored project should expect to receive and email with instructions on how to complete effort reporting.

Anticipated changes in project scope or schedule should be shared as soon as possible with the Office of Sponsored Programs. Requests for extensions should be coordinated with the Office of Sponsored Programs no less than one month prior to the expiration date or as required per the terms of the original award agreement. The Sponsored Programs Accounting Office assigns award beginning/ending dates based on original award and addendums and will suspend expenditures from projects that have passed the ending date.

All indirect cost recovery funds belong to the university and are addressed under Section 4-2.03c of the state Appropriation Act. JMU's allocation procedure is as follows: 30% of recoveries is a state required transfer to Educational and General revenues of the university, 40% of recoveries to deans & department heads, 10% to the Provost and 20% to the operation of Sponsored Programs Accounting Office. The 40% allocated to deans and department heads is to be used to support activities which may result in additional external funding for sponsored programs. This would include computers purchased to allow faculty members to conduct research or travel to present papers to possible funding agency representatives.

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