Steps for Submitting NIH Proposals via Grants.gov and the NIH eRA Commons
Step 1 - Prepare
- Electronic submission of a NIH proposal involves two separate
systems working together - Grants.gov and eRA Commons. The
University is already registered in both systems. The
Principal Investigator need only register in eRA Commons.
- If you do not already have a NIH eRA Commons username, please
contact Ursula Prins at email@example.com in
Sponsored Programs, who will assist in registering you with a PI
Account. The registration at NIH can take up to 4 weeks
or more and must be completed before the submission
deadline, so start early.
- Download a Grants.gov compatible version of Adobe Reader
(version 8.1.3 or higher) onto your computer, if you have not
previously done so. You may
click here to verify if your Adobe software version is
compatible with Grants.gov. The compatible version of Adobe
Reader is available to download for free on the Grants.gov Download
Software page. Note: If you have Adobe Acobat
Professional software, it may be used; however, it must be
comparable to the Grants.gov compatible version of Adobe
- Learn how to create a PDF document. NIH requires that all
application attachments be submitted in PDF format. While
other formats may be allowed through Grants.gov, formats other than
PDF are not accepted by NIH. Users must have PDF creation software
installed in order to create the necessary PDFs. Grants.gov
has published a list of recommended PDF Guidelines to assist you in obtaining the
necessary software. To avoid PDF problems, keep these
guidelines in mind.
Step 2 - Download Application File
- For solicited applications, locate your Funding Opportunity
Announcement (FOA) on Grants.gov at
Once you have found the grant opportunity for which you wish to
apply by entering specific search criteria, click the
Application button in the grant opportunity
- For unsolicited applications, locate your Parent Funding
Opportunity Announcement at
- Download the complete application and application instructions,
and save to your desktop. Downloading a grant application package
allows you to complete it offline and route it through your
organization for review before the proposal is submitted by
Step 3 - Complete
- Complete the application in accordance with the FOA,
application specific instructions, and the
Grants.gov SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for NIH and Other PHS
Agencies. (Please note that instructions in the FOA supersede
those found in the application
guide.) Be sure to save any changes to your application as you
go since Grants.gov will NOT automatically save changes.
- Enter a name for the application in the Application
Filing Name field. This name is for use solely by the
applicant for tracking the application through the Grants.gov
submission process. It is not used by the NIH.
- Open and complete all of the documents listed in the Mandatory
Documents box. Complete the component titled SF424
(R&R) first. Data entered in this component
populates other mandatory and optional forms where applicable.
- As required documents are completed, move the document(s) from
the Mandatory Documents box over to the Mandatory Documents for
Submission box by clicking on the document name and then click
Move Form to Completed.
- As optional documents are completed, move the document(s) from
the Optional Documents box to the Optional Documents for Submission
box by clicking on the document name and then click Move Form
- After you have completed all of the required and optional
documents, and attached any required documents (in PDF format),
click the Check Packages for Errors button to ensure
that you have successfully completed all required data fields in
the Adobe Reader forms. If any of the required fields are not
completed, you will receive an error notice which will indicate
where revision is needed within your package.
- When no errors are present, click the Save button
at the top of the application cover page.
- Complete UCR's electronic Campus Approval Form (eCAF).
The eCAF is used for the routing, approval and submission of
proposals to Sponsored Programs when seeking extramural
funding. The eCAF contains critical information needed by
several UCR constituents, such as PIs, Co-PIs, Chairs, Deans, and
Research and Economic Development staff. It also documents certain
mandatory PI certifications and assurances.
- Note: An eCAF can be initiated by either a PI or a
Contract & Grant Analyst. Whichever the case, preparing
an eCAF is a joint endeavor by a PI and a Contract & Grant
Analyst, both of whom have an important role in the process (see eCAF Approval
Process). You may create an eCAF by selecting it from your
Authorized Applications section in R'Space. For further
assistance and information, see eCAF.
Step 4 - Submit
- Submit your eCAF, FOA, and electronic application file to
- Sponsored Programs reviews the full proposal package and may
provide comments and/or request corrections. It is
recommended that you provide Sponsored Programs with such documents
for review at least three (3) full business days prior to NIH's
deadline (or seven (7) full business days in the event this is a
non-standard proposal involving subcontracts or mandatory cost
sharing), and work with the office on clarifying issues during this
- Sponsored Programs submits final application to Grants.gov and
a confirmation screen will appear on the computer screen of the
authorized institutional official once the submission is complete.
Sponsored Programs e-mails the confirmation (including the
Grants.gov tracking number) to the Principal Investigator.
Once your application has been submitted, you can check the status
on the Track
My Application page using the tracking number.
- Grants.gov validates the application and, if approved, allows
NIH access to the application.
- NIH accesses the application and transfers it to the NIH eRA
Commons for NIH validation and error checking.
Step 5 - View
- Within 48 hours, the applicant should receive notification that
the application is available for review in the NIH eRA Commons, at
which time you should access the application by logging into eRA
- Applicants will receive multiple
emails regarding the status of their submission. Since e-mail
can be unreliable, applicants must proactively check the eRA
Commons for the status of their application if they do not receive
e-mail notifications within a day of submission.
- If application is satisfactory with no errors were detected, no
further action is required.
Step 6 - Review/Correct
- If the application contains errors, the applicant will be
notified in the eRA Commons. The applicant must make required
changes/corrections to the original Grants.gov application file.
How Do I Correct Errors During the Application Submission
Process? for further information.)
- If the application contains warnings, decide whether or not the
warnings warrant submission of a corrected application.
- Repeat Steps 4-6 for submission of corrected applications
prior to the proposal submission deadline.
Error-free applications must be submitted to Grants.gov by 5 p.m.
local time (of the applicant institution/organization) on the
submission/receipt date. If the submission/receipt date falls on a
weekend or Federal holiday, the date will automatically extend to
the next business day.