SPA review and approval process

This page focuses on the process of getting SPA review and approval for your grant proposal prior to submitting it to an external sponsor. For more complete guidance on NDSU departments and policies related to pursuing external funding for sponsored activities, consult the Research and Sponsored Activity Handbook. The handbook's material has been compiled from NDSU departmental information and university policies and provides general information of areas typically addressed at NDSU. 

All NDSU grant and contract applications for external funding must receive university review and approval before being sent to the sponsor. This requirement holds for pre-proposal documents (such as letters of intent) if the proposed project includes a budget or commitment of resources or services. If a writer is invited to submit a full proposal after sending an LOI, this process is repeated. Plan to submit your internal paperwork at least three business days before the date you intend to submit your proposal to the sponsor. For electronic submissions, especially for federal electronic submissions like or Fastlane, plan to do the electronic submission at least one day before the deadline. 

If you have questions or need assistance, you can contact Sponsored Programs Administration at 

Items to submit to Sponsored Programs for budget review prior to submission:

  • The Proposal Transmittal Form, aka PTF and “green sheet” because they prefer that it be printed on green paper, is an internal form for tracking grant applications and facilitates accounting procedures. This form requires signatures from the PI, internal Co-I’s, and their supervisory chairs, heads, or directors, and deans; the larger the grant team, the longer this can take, so plan accordingly. The PTF is available on the Sponsored Programs site.
  • Any funding agency pages or forms that require an authorized university official’s signature (e.g., cover page, certifications). If the funding agency does not have required forms, the SPA Office will prepare a signed cover page for you to send with your proposal
  • The project budget forms/detailed budget.
  • A budget justification narrative that explains your budget figures. The narrative should follow the budget form from top to bottom, explaining the items in order.
  • A project description, summary, abstract, or scope of work description (depending on the project), which can assist the office in understanding the context for your budget items.
  • A copy of any special budget policies the sponsor may have, such as a) F&A/indirect cost policy, especially if it is different from NDSU’s federally negotiated rate; and b) matching requirements, if match is required.

Conditional Items:

  • If you are collaborating with NDSU partners in a different college or unit than your own, you may need to have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which designates the administration of the F&A funds returned to the colleges/units. This can be done any time prior to award set-up, but this proposal review time is also a good time to discuss it and write a draft. See below under the F&A Distribution note for more information.
  • If collaborating with the College of Agriculture, you will also have to get approval on these items from the Ag Budget Office before you send them to SPA.
  • If you are collaborating outside of NDSU and NDSU is to be the prime recipient of the grant and distributing funds to the external entity, then you will also need to be prepared to submit paperwork regarding the subaward which may include any or all of the following:
    • The subawardee’s budget
    • The subawardee’s budget justification
    • The subawardee’s scope of work description
    • Letter of agreement, MOU, or official signed documentation from the organization
    • Contact information for the collaborator and/or the administrative contact
  • If you are collaborating outside of NDSU and you are the subawardee, you will need to go through the same procedures with PTF, budgets, etc., as you would if you were the PI before submitting these items to your collaborator. Be sure to check “yes” to the PTF question “NDSU to receive subaward.”

 F&A Distribution: Institutional Policy and Split Between Colleges

NDSU's policy manual section 813 provides for indirect cost allocation of 42% back to the primary generating college or unit. Unless there is an agreement to the contrary, that allocation is disbursed to the PI's college/unit as expenditures accumulate. When multiple colleges are involved in a project, there is often an agreement to share the allocation with the other participating colleges/units. This is done via an internal agreement between the colleges/units. Information to keep in mind:

  • An internal agreement is only needed if the allocation of the generating college/unit's 42% will be shared with other participating units and there won't be split budgets.
  • The only signatures required on the internal agreement are that of each participating unit's lead official (Dean, Director, VP). The PI and Co-PI signatures are not required.
  • There is no central requirement that the internal agreement be done at the time of the initial proposal, but it needs to be completed prior to award set-up and the start of expenditures.
  • In circumstances where split budgets will be set up and there is no internal agreement to the contrary, the F&A automatically follows the direct costs. This is perhaps the most common sharing of the generating college/unit's 42%.

Please contact Sponsored Programs Administration with questions.

For full guidance on NDSU sponsored activity policies, read the Sponsored Program Administration website and the NDSU Policy Manual website to see the policy manual in its entirety. Policies and procedures specifically related to funded research and creative activities can be found in Section 8 of the Policy Manual, under Grant and Contract Account. However, other pertinent policies can be found elsewhere in the Policy Manual, including Contract Review (Section 712), Employee Responsibility and Activities-Intellectual Property (Section 190), and External Activities and Conflict of Interest (Section 151.1).Highlights of policies and procedures most specific to sponsored funding and research and creative activities can be found at the SPA Policies website. 


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