Proposal Development

The Sponsored Programs Office provides considerable support to faculty and staff seeking funding from external agencies. Once you have identified a funding opportunity to which you want to submit an application, Sponsored Programs can help you interpret the agency guidelines, prepare your budget, provide general institutional information for inclusion in your narrative and appendices, and guide you through the internal approval process, as well as the submission process to the potential sponsor.

Identifying Possible Funding Opportunities

Grants.gov lists all federal funding opportunities. Other funding opportunities may be identified by directly accessing potential sponsor websites. The offices of Faculty Development, Foundation Relations, and Sponsored Programs distribute (semiannually) a list of current funding opportunities. Once you have identified a funding opportunity, you may wish to discuss the possible funding opportunity with your supervisor and the dean’s office to gauge their level of support. Internal review and approval of your proposal is required before submitting a proposal to an external agency, so it is beneficial to initiate this conversation as soon as possible.

Pre-award Process for Principal Investigators (PIs)

Determine which office at St. Thomas can provide the necessary support.

  • Sponsored Programs Office (governmental agencies) - The Sponsored Programs Office assists faculty and staff who are interested in developing grant and contract proposals for submission to state, local and federal governmental agencies. Sponsored Programs also assists with budget development for proposals to any potential sponsor.
  • Corporate and Foundation Relations (private sources of funding) - Corporate and Foundation Relations helps faculty and staff who are seeking external support from private (non-governmental) sources. Please contact Corporate and Foundation Relations or your college’s director of development for more information. Sometimes, non-government sponsors fund projects using funds they have received from a government agency. In these cases, the government agency’s rules will apply for budget development and project expenditures.

Working with the Sponsored Programs Office

After discussing the project with your supervisor and the dean’s office, complete the necessary forms to submit the application to the external agency. Sponsored Programs can assist with interpretation and completion of the sponsor’s forms. (You will want to thoroughly review the links in the navigation bar for information that you will need as you develop your application — most of the institutional information necessary for the sponsor’s forms can be found on these links.)  

Course buyouts are a business decision between you, your supervisor, and your dean. If you wish to budget a course buyout in your proposal, Sponsored Programs can assist with incorporating the buyout in your budget.

Project budgets should show the complete cost of the proposed project even if the sponsor is not paying the full cost. The cost share (amount needed to complete the project that the sponsor is not paying) must be included in your internal budget that is routed for approval. Depending on the sponsor requirements for proposal submission, the cost share may or may not be included in the budget sent to the potential sponsor.

Regardless of funding source, contact the Sponsored Programs Office to initiate the internal review of your proposal and budget. (Reminder: Make sure you are aware of the deadline to submit your information.) Internal approvals will be completed in SharePoint.

Note: Your chair and/or dean may have a set lead time for reviewing a proposal before it is due to the potential sponsor. Sponsored Programs does not have a set lead time but will process proposals in the order in which they are received. Please keep in mind that reviews are not instantaneous, and proposals submitted very close to a deadline may not be possible to review and approve before the deadline. Many sponsors now have electronic proposal submission systems – these systems have a tendency to become very slow near major deadlines. The best advice is to get your internal approvals done and proposal ready for submission as soon as possible before the deadline.

Sponsor Notification

If you receive notification that a sponsor wants to fund your proposal, convey that information to the Sponsored Programs Office as soon as possible. The Sponsored Programs Office is the university entity authorized to accept proposal awards for the university. Once you receive notification from the external agency, please inform your supervisor, the dean’s office, the Office of Sponsored Programs, and the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations (if applicable).

Sometimes, a sponsor will want additional information and/or a revision to your proposal and budget before they make an award. You should involve the Sponsored Programs Office in this process. Depending on the magnitude of the change, the change may also require an additional internal approval process.

Normally, the Office of Sponsored Programs will sign off on the official award document. If special arrangements need to be made for someone else to sign, Sponsored Programs will make those arrangements.

  • If your project involves a subaward, Sponsored Programs will assist you with getting the subaward in place.
  • If you need to do a rebudget that requires sponsor approval during your project, Sponsored Programs will assist with this process.
  • If you need to request a time extension for your project, Sponsored Programs will assist with this process.

Post-award Process for Principal Investigators (PIs)

As soon as the award package is complete, the Office of Sponsored Programs will send the package (internal approval form, contract, budget, and proposal) to the Controller’s Office. As the PI, it is your responsibility to closely track the implementation and progress of the awarded project, as well as expenditures of funds. If you have not used Cognos before, it will be important to receive training on using the system.

Once the Controller’s Office has set up an index for the award, they will contact you as the PI to give you the index number and provide information on how to access the funds, track your budget, and manage the project finances. If you have questions about the post-award process, please contact the Controller’s Office for more information regarding how to track your budget and to make sure everyone is aware of the requirements.


The links in the navigation bar provide critical information that you will need as you develop your grant proposal.