Preparing a Proposal

All applications for sponsored funding at Tufts must be reviewed and approved by the OVPR Pre-Award office prior to submission.

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 Pre-Award office prior to submission. The Pre-Award office is the only entity authorized by Tufts to sign proposals for sponsored projects and accept awards on behalf of the University.

In rare instances funding is awarded to the investigator directly rather than to the University. In order to ensure accurate processing of the employee benefits that are normally based on the salary paid by Tufts, these awards must be routed through the University in the same way as other sponsored awards. Upon receipt of the award, Pre-Award office will alert Human Resources regarding the salary payment arrangements to ensure that the employee’s basic life, supplemental life, Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance coverage, as well as the 401(a) contribution by the University are calculated correctly. 

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

Letters of Institutional Support

Some proposals require a letter of institutional support or commitment signed by Tufts’ President, Provost, or Vice Provost for Research as part of the application. If the OVPR Research Development/Strategic Initiatives (RD/SI) team is supporting the proposal, please request the institutional letter through RD/SI. A completed final draft of letter must be sent to your point of contact at RD/SI at least 10 business days before the agency deadline. For proposals not supported by RD/SI, please request the letter from your Pre-Award Point of Contact.

Timeline & 5-Day Rule

  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 Pre-Award of intent to submit an application and shares the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) or request for application/proposal (RFA/RFP).
  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 NeedsThese proposals go through the limited submission process ( to facilitate Tufts-wide strategic approach.
  5. Investigator and LRA review FOA or RFA/RFP to understand the application requirements, including its various components, formatting instructions, and submission guidelines.
  6. LRA prepares and routes the application via  Tufts Research Administration System (RAS). Applications must be routed to Pre-Award 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. RAS must be used for all sponsored proposals submitted to extramural agencies, including but not limited to applications, Fastlane applications, sponsored research collaborations, and preproposals that require OVPR review.
    • Tufts requires a detailed budget for all applications, irrespective of the level of detail required by the funding agency (Budget Calculation Worksheets may be useful for preparing a draft budget).
    • See here for guidance if the application includes a subcontract with another institution.
    • If the PI or any of the involved Co-Investigators indicate 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.
  7. Pre-Award reviews the application following the steps outlined in Central Pre-Award Proposal Review, found below:
    • 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 by the school dean or designate.
  8. Pre-Award Point of Contact communicates any needed changes to the investigator and LRA.
  9. Investigator and LRA address any needed changes and submit the final application to Pre-Award 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.
  10. Pre-Award submits the application to the funding agency.
    • Pre-Award 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.

All proposals that are compliant with Tufts policy on Institutional Review Process for Proposal Submission will receive full review by Central Pre-Award. The review process allows for identification of potential administrative, financial, or programmatic challenges to the success of the proposal or program, and increases administrative compliance as well as alignment with Tufts internal policies and processes. Furthermore, such review ensures successful submission, and maximizes the chances that a proposal will be accepted for consideration by the funding agency.

Pre-Award review includes the following elements:

  • Solicitation/request for proposal is fully reviewed, with special attention paid to any unusual requirements
  • Check to ensure that proposal meets sponsor requirements for submission, including but not limited to:
    • any required identifiers
    • pre-proposal number {if applicable)
    • correct page limit and allowable font
    • presence and correct labeling of agency-required sections
    • confirmation that non-standard elements required for each individual proposal, such as letters of collaboration and other elements are included. These elements are not verified by the Research Administration System (RAS) and must be checked manually
  • Budget review:
    • activities required by the sponsor are budgeted for (example: mandatory meeting in DC, etc.)
    • subrecipient budget form is calculating correctly
    • compliance with any applicable salary caps
    • sponsor imposed budgetary caps
    • correct applications of F&A
    • inclusion of inflation
    • calculations of mandatory cost share, if any
    • check for inclusion of unrequired/undocumented cost share commitments
  • Budget justification is reviewed for correctness and consistency with the proposal budget
  • Review of institutional commitments in the budget justification and institutional support letter(s)
  • Completeness and accuracy of Subaward components (ie: Statement of Intent is signed, contact information Attachment 3B completed, SOW, budget, and budget justification included)
  • Review of Proposal Narrative for non-obvious institutional commitments
  • Correctness of Biosketches (PCMIDs required by federal law are present, current and pending support is included, number of contributions to science / synergistic activities, etc.)
  • Layout of material on pages and visual presentation of graphics
  • Required RAS elements are completed (IRB, IACUC, previous IP numbers, etc.)
  • Confirm that the internal approvals are in place, including HNRCA LOI, approval of escalation factors, etc.

Proposals that are received less than five business days prior to the deadline may not receive the full review, depending on the number of proposals that is submitted by the University investigators for the same deadline and staff workload. Pre-Award staff will make the best effort to minimize errors, warnings and missing materials, but cannot guarantee the submissions received less than two business days prior to submission deadline.

All applications for sponsored funding should be received by Pre-Award no later than FIVE business days prior to the funding agency deadline. Internal school / center approvals may proceed concurrently with  Pre-Award review.

Pre-Award Research Administration 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 Pre-Award 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.

Checklists, Forms & Guidelines

Guidance on Recovery of Ancillary Costs on Non-Federal Awards
Animal Costs & Charges
Budget Form (Health Sciences)
Budget Form (Medford/Somerville)
eBRAP LOI/Pre-Application Checklist for DOD CDMRP Submissions
Export Control Red Flags Checklist
Facilities & Administration FAQs
Human Subject Regulations Decision Charts (OHRP)
Institutional Information Guide
NIH R01 Checklist for RAS
Proposal Routing Addendum
Request for Proposal Submission
Tufts University Researcher Global Privacy Questionnaire


Conflict of Interest Guide
Role & Eligibility of Principal Investigators
5 Day Rule: Institutional Review Process for Proposal Submission
Pre-Proposals for Sponsored Projects
Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costs on Sponsored Awards: Recovery and Distribution

Key Offices


Central Pre-Award

Central Pre-Award

Central Pre-Award provides mandatory review, approval and submission for sponsored funding.

Local Research Administration

Local Research Administration

Local Research Administration (LRA) provides support within the schools and centers at Tufts.