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While some funding agencies allow an investigator to submit applications for sponsored funding, all applications submitted by faculty, students, and/or staff at Tufts must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Research Administration (ORA) prior to submission. ORA is the only entity authorized by Tufts to sign proposals for sponsored projects and accept awards on behalf of the University.

Refer to the Pre-Proposals for Sponsored Projects Policy if the submission process requires submission of a pre-proposal.


All applications for sponsored funding should be received by the Office of Research Administration (ORA) no later than FIVE business days prior to the funding agency deadline. Internal school / center approvals may proceed concurrently with ORA review.

ORA will review all proposals for administrative compliance with sponsor requirements as well as for alignment with Tufts internal policies and processes. Any revisions will be requested by ORA from the Principal Investigator (PI) and their Local Research Administrator (LRA) within two days from receipt of the proposal. This feedback must be addressed and all necessary school / center approvals must be in place no later than two business days prior to the funding agency deadline. Failure to meet these lead times means that the proposal is at risk of not being successfully submitted by the agency deadline, which is acknowledged by the Proposal Routing Addendum.

Key Steps
  1. Investigator identifies funding opportunity (see Finding Funding).
  2. Please confirm investigator eligibility to serve as Principal Investigator on the project.
  3. Investigator notifies LRA and ORA of intent to submit an application and shares the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) or request for application/proposal (RFA/RFP).
    • If registration with an agency online system is required, contact your ORA Point of Contact to initiate registration.
  4. When the proposal involves a purchase or development of equipment for which the University is required to build/renovate/relocate space and/or support costs associated with installation, operations, and maintenance, the investigator must work with their Executive Associate Dean (EAD) or equivalent to follow the required institutional reviews. Detailed information is provided in the policy on Purchase or Development of Equipment with Additional Infrastructure Needs.
  5. Investigator and LRA review FOA or RFA/RFP to understand the application requirements, including its various components, formatting instructions, and submission guidelines.
  6. Investigator or LRA download the application package or template from the funding agency’ website (visit for federal agencies). For system-to-system submissions via Tufts Research Administration System (RAS), the application package does not need to be downloaded.
  7. Investigator and LRA prepare the application, including the budget.
    • Tufts requires a detailed budget for all applications, irrespective of the level of detail required by the funding agency (for units not yet on RAS, please use Budget Calculation Worksheets)
    • See here for guidance if the application includes a subcontract with another institution.
    • If the funding agency requires a letter of institutional commitment as part of the application, please request the letter from your ORA Point of Contact. Letters of endorsement requiring the signature of Tufts’ President, Provost, or Vice Provost for Research must be requested through ORA.
  8. Investigator and LRA complete and route the Health Sciences Campus Internal Sponsored Coordination Form (ISCF) or the Medford/Somerville Campus Internal Sponsored Coordination Form (ISCF) for internal approval. For departments using RAS, routing is accomplished electronically through the system and the ISCF is not needed.
    • If the PI or any of the involved Co-Investigators indicate in Part IV of the ISCF or within RAS that they did not complete the annual conflict of interest form or that there was a change to the information previously disclosed (including new disclosures), the PI and or Co-Investigators will need to complete a Financial Interest Disclosure Form (FIDF) in accordance with Tufts Conflict of Interest Policy.
  9. Investigator and LRA submit signed ISCF and FIDFs where applicable along with the completed application (including a detailed budget) to ORA Point of Contact at least five business days in advance of the application deadline in accordance with the 5 Day Rule: Institutional Review Process for Proposal Submission Policy. For departments using RAS, routing is accomplished electronically through the system.
  10. ORA reviews the application to:
    • Ensure that the guidelines set forth in the FOA or RFA/RFP are met.
    • Ensure that the budget conforms to any applicable rules, regulations, and internal policies and calculated using the appropriate fringe benefits rate(s) and facilities and administrative cost rate(s) (F&A).
    • Identify and verify cost sharing. Any proposed cost sharing, including reduced F&A rates or an F&A waiver, must be justified in terms of value of the proposed activity to the academic mission of the institution. It must also meet the requirements of the sponsor, be complete and accurate, and be consistent with the Cost Sharing on Sponsored Awards Policy as well as agency terms and conditions. Cost sharing must be approved at the time of ISCF by the school dean or designate.
  11. ORA Point of Contact communicates any needed changes to the investigator and LRA.
  12. Investigator and LRA address any needed changes and submit the final application to ORA no later than two business days in advance of the application deadline in accordance with the 5 Day Rule: Institutional Review Process for Proposal Submission Policy.
  13. ORA submits the application to the funding agency
    • ORA works with the investigator and LRA to address any errors or warnings at the time of submission, and ensures that the application is successfully received by the funding agency.

The ORA is a resource to both the investigator and LRA throughout the proposal process and is available during the entire process of preparation of the application.

The Office of Research Development (ORD) is also a resource for both the investigator and LRA throughout the proposal process. In particular, for NIH and NSF proposals, ORD has developed tools to help you organize your writing and to make writing standard sections more efficient while tailoring them to your particular goals or aims (see here). To ensure support for your application, be sure to contact ORD well in advance of your deadline.