Proposal Preparation

A proposal is an application to receive funding for a project, which contains information regarding who plans to do the work, how it will be done and what it will cost.  A carefully prepared application is essential to the success of an externally funded proposal. As you navigate your way through this section, you will find various resources needed to develop a proposal, including supporting documentation, institutional data and sponsor information.

Pay particular attention to the guidelines that accompany the application forms. Some items to pay close attention to are the sponsor’s funding interests, average funding levels, maximum size of awards and page limitations. If the guidelines are not closely followed, the proposal may not be accepted.

Internal Submission Deadlines

In order to provide the highest level of collaborative service, the proposal submission policy is as follows. All processes are intended to enhance communication and improve efficiency.

  • 10 Business Days Prior to Submission Deadline

    We request that PIs contact ORSP as soon as they identify a potential submission, but no later than 10 business days prior to the submission deadline.

    ORSP requires the following information:

    • Proposal due date
    • Sponsor/Agency name
    • Opportunity number (and web link, if applicable) or copy of announcement
    • Estimated total budget
    • F&A (Indirect Cost) Rate Waiver Request Form (if applicable)
    • Cost Share Request Form (if applicable)
  • 5 Business Days Prior to Submission Deadline
    • Proposal Review and Approval (PRA) section of the Proposal Development (PD) module of InfoEd and Scope of Work (SOW)
    • Budget Justification

    The final proposal submission package (including the specific narrative and final budget) must be received by ORSP by 8:00 am 5 business days prior to the submission deadline.

    Submission of proposals received after this time cannot be guaranteed. A completed PRA form (including all approval signatures) is required for any submission.

    In cases where the PI knows that these deadlines will be hard to meet due to extenuating circumstances, ORSP and the Senior Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education needs to be notified at least 5 business days prior to submission. Examples of such extenuating circumstances are:

    • Consortium proposals
    • Significant contracts in proposal requiring subcontractor information
    • Solicitation published within 14 days of submission deadline
  • Proposal Review & Approval (PRA)

    The PRA section within the PD module of InfoEd discloses key project and compliance information, along with appropriate signatures/project approvals. This section should be completed at least five business days prior to the submission deadline. The final proposal package must be completed at least five full business days prior to proposal submission.

    Please contact your Project Administrator for guidance on completing the PRA.

  • Pre-Award Proposal Completion Checklist

    At least 10 business days before sponsor deadline:

    • Notify ORSP of funding opportunity

    Five full days before sponsor deadline:

    • Proposal, Review and Approval (PRA)
    • Scope of Work (SOW)
    • Budget
    • Budget Justification
    • List of Subcontractors (if applicable)
    • Cost-Sharing Documentation (if applicable)
    • Indirect Cost Waiver Approval from Dr. Corinne Lengsfeld (if applicable)
    • Subcontract scope of work, budget, basis for selection, proposal/approval from each subcontract institution
    • Consultant scope of work, budget, basis for selection, proposal/approval from consultant
    • Completed application package submitted to ORSP

Elements of a Proposal

  • Cover Page

    The cover page captures general information regarding the proposal. Some of the following information may be covered on a cover page:

    • Principal Investigator’s name, address, email address, and phone number
    • Authorized Representative name, address, email address, and phone number
    • Title of proposal
    • Period of performance with start and end dates
    • Amount of the request
    • Institutional information (e.g. University of Denver’s EIN, address, UEI, etc.)
    • Signature of the institution’s authorizing official
    • Confidentiality statement (if applicable)
  • Table of Contents

    The proposal should contain a table of contents.

  • Abstract

    The abstract presents a short summary of the information detailed in later pages and is considered one of the most important pieces of a proposal.

    Include a synopsis of the project’s objectives and procedures used to meet them. This is generally limited to one page in length; pay attention to the sponsor’s length limitations on the funding announcement.

  • Project Narrative

    This section of the proposal describes the “what” and “why” of the project, providing a detailed explanation of the proposed activity, including project goals, specific aims, methodology and the responsibilities of each member on the project.

  • Budget

    The budget should provide an estimation of the financial support needed to perform the research or scholarly activity. A budget justification is necessary to further explain budget expenses.

    Common budget categories include:

    Direct Costs

    • Salaries: Salary figures should be based on a percentage of effort applied to each individual’s annual salary. Salary is applied to University faculty and staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and part-time employees.
    • Fringe Benefits: Fringe rates are determined by personnel classification and are a percentage of that individual’s salary.
    • Equipment: The University defines capital equipment as moveable items with useful lives of more than one year that cost $5,000 or more per unit. Items not meeting this definition should be listed as “supplies” in the budget. Budget for needed items only when they are unavailable at the University.
    • Materials and Supplies: Materials and supplies are considered consumable or disposable items that cost less than $5,000 per unit. A breakdown of materials and supplies into their general classifications must be provided.
    • Travel: Domestic and foreign travel must be listed separately. List the names of the individuals traveling, destination, purpose of the trip and estimated dates. Be sure to include transportation costs, registration fees and other related expenses. Be sure to review the University’s travel policy prior to departure.
    • Consultants: The consultant’s services to the proposed project must be professional, short-term or intermittent, and must be solely advisory to the project. List each consultant, their specialty or service to the project and their daily, weekly or monthly rate of reimbursement, and show the consultant’s total projected cost on the project. Include in the proposal a letter of collaboration and the consultant’s curriculum vitae or biographical sketch.
    • Subrecipient, Contractual and Consortium Costs: Any subrecipient should be identified at the proposal stage. Include in the main proposal the subrecipient’s authorized proposal, letter of intent, statement of work and budget with justification, which must include the subrecipient’s institutional indirect (F&A) costs, if applicable.

    The University will charge indirect (F&A) costs on the first $25,000 of each subcontract per project period.

    • Tuition: DU contributes 80% of the tuition costs for Graduate Research Assistants and 20% of the costs will be charged to grants and contracts.
    • Other: Other costs typically include items such as research publication costs, fees, animal care, equipment maintenance and other project-related costs. If you have any questions regarding other costs, please contact your Grant & Contract Administrator.

    Indirect Costs

    • Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A Costs): F&A costs are costs that cannot be specifically attributed to an individual project.  F&A rates are negotiated with the University of Denver’s cognizant federal agency, the Office of Naval Research.
      • Use current negotiated rates in proposals for the type of project being proposed (Research, Sponsored Instruction, or Other Sponsored Activity). If a sponsor has policies regarding F&A rates, budget rates should reflect those policies.
    • Determining On-Campus vs. Off-Campus Rates: According to University policy, a project is considered off-campus if more than 50% of the direct salaries and wages of its personnel are incurred at a site neither owned nor leased by the University.
    • Cost Sharing: Cost sharing is any cost to the project not borne by the sponsor. Cost sharing should only be proposed if mandated by the sponsor. Any cost sharing or matching must be approved by the department head, or Dean, business officer, and ORSP.  Be sure to read the University’s cost-sharing policy.

When a Proposal Becomes an Award

  • Notice of Grant Award

    Notification that a proposal has been funded is typically received by ORSP, though on occasion a PI may be notified directly. Oftentimes, the notification requires the signature of an authorized university official which needs to be completed through ORSP.

    The Project Administrator and the PI will work together to ensure the technical and administrative requirements are acceptable.

  • PI Responsibilities
    • General review of the contractual terms and conditions
    • If you are working with foreign nationals or are unsure if export control relates to your project, please navigate to the export control page [link to 3.0] for more information
    • Thorough review of all technical aspects, which includes the statement of work and technical reporting requirements
  • ORSP Responsibilities
    • Forward a copy of the grant/contract to the PI
    • Review the contractual terms and conditions to ensure compliance with University rules and regulations
    • Completion of award documents/assurances
    • Obtain signature on behalf of the University
    • Return the award document to the sponsor
    • Initiation of new grant fund

Foreign Influence

The University of Denver takes the issue of foreign influence very seriously and is taking steps to increase oversight and protect U.S. research, including new requirements for principal investigators. If you have or are applying for federal funding, this applies to you.

  • PIs are now required to disclose foreign activities in "Current and Pending Support" and "Other Support" in federal proposals, as well as in award progress reports.
  • Foreign influence training through CITI will be required for all investigators on federal proposals.
  • Check back for more information on accessing training and an FBI presentation on the topic.

More information on foreign influence and DU's approach for preventing it can be found in this video.

It's important to consider if your award requires review by export control. Look over the following questions to help you determine if you need export control review:

  • Do you work with foreign nationals or foreign entities?
  • Do you have publication restrictions or limitations?
  • Do you travel internationally?

If you answered 'yes' to any of the above questions, please review our Export Control section, and connect with Jerry Mauck, Export Control Manager, for more information on your next steps.

CTA Pattern

Find more on our Institutional Information Fact Sheet.

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