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We want to know what you want to know!

We are in the process of building out our FAQ page -- If you don't see your question listed below, please email us. We will answer you directly, and then add the question to our FAQ file. 


Submitting Your Proposal


Who can help me figure out this proposal submission? 

For Researchers: Many departments and units within CNS have a dedicated Research Administrator, and others have administrative staff that can provide guidance regarding the proposal preparation process. We can help you identify these individuals, and provide additional support for larger, multi-PI proposals – contact us at CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu for more information. 

For Admin Staff: If you are a CNS administrative staff member with questions, we are here to help you, too! We can answer specific questions via phone or email, and will come out to your office to provide guidance on more complicated issues. You can contact us at CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu or 512-475-6570. 


How do I get PI status? 

If you are a UT Austin tenure-track faculty member, you are automatically given PI status by OSP. Other employees (e.g. Research Associates) must request permission to be granted PI status from OSP before OSP will submit a proposal with the employee named as the PI. The employee's supervisor or unit director must confirm approval of the request to OSP.  

Note: Researchers in the College of Natural Sciences are not required to obtain Dean's Office approval for PI status requests and may submit these requests directly to OSP.

For more information, see https://research.utexas.edu/osp/prepare-submit-proposal/pi-eligibility/.


How long does it take for OSP to review a proposal?

A number of variables affect review time, including the volume of proposals currently under review and the size/complexity of the proposal (for example collaborative proposals and those with subawards may take longer than single-investigator proposals). As long as you have made all of your proposal documents available to your OSP specialist at least 4 business days before the proposal deadline, your proposal will receive a complete review. 


What is financial conflict-of-interest (FCOI) training, and who on this proposal needs to complete it before we can submit?

FCOI training and the associated Financial Interest Disclosure (FID form) are required of all individuals on a project who are responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research. Such people, referred to as "covered individuals," include all PIs and Co-Is, and sometimes research staff and postdocs, but rarely graduate students. If you are not sure who needs to complete the training, OSP can help you determine this. 

FCOI/FID are required not just by the university, but also by the federal government. The intent is to ensure that research is conducted ethically and without bias, by ensuring accountability and transparency regarding the use of research funds.

FCOI/FID are administered centrally by UT's Office of Research Support and Compliance.


What is Cayuse, and how do I use it? 

Cayuse is a web-based proposal submission interface that UT Austin uses to submit proposals to NIH, the Department of Energy and several other federal sponsors. Cayuse allows you to interface with NIH’s grants.gov so that you do not need to work directly in grants.gov to prepare a proposal. Each PI must set up their own Cayuse account, which must be linked to UT Austin. For more information, click here.


What is Fastlane, and how do I use it? 

Fastlane is the required online interface for submitting anything to the National Science Foundation (NSF). To get a login, speak to your departmental administrator, who will work with OSP to secure for you an NSF ID and password affiliated with UT Austin. This may take a few days to generate, and so should be done as soon as you know you’ll be submitting your first proposal. 


Budget FAQs


How do I put together a budget? 

Assembling a budget requires navigating requirements of both the sponsor and UT Austin. Detailed information about funding ceilings and restrictions can be found in the sponsor’s specific Request for Applications (RFA) or Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). UT Austin’s requirements include things like incorporation of institutional overhead, fringe rates on salary, and tuition for graduate students (see questions below for more detail). A great tool for helping navigate all of these elements while calculating your budget is the OSP-approved budget calculator (EID login required). 


What is UT Austin’s overhead rate? 

UT Austin’s overhead rate, which also known as IDC or F&A, is currently 56.5% of direct costs.

Major equipment (>$5,000), participant support costs, and tuition are exempt from overhead. This budget calculator will automatically apply overhead to only those costs that it should be applied to, saving a lot of time and math. 


What is fringe? 

Fringe, short for "fringe benefits," is a percentage figured on top of an employee’s base salary, and pays for benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans. Because these benefits are afforded to all UT Austin employees, fringe is mandatory. Fringe is billed monthly and varies depending upon provider costs and degrees of coverage/benefits, so an exact annual fringe rate cannot be calculated. OSP recommends that fringe is estimated at 30% of an employee’s salary.


Is there a mandated minimum salary for postdocs in the College?

YES. Effective September 1, 2016, a College-wide minimum annual salary for all postdocs will be enforced. For all proposals (including renewal proposals) submitted on or after April 1, 2016, postdocs must be budgeted at the minimum rate or higher. The minimum annual rate and a copy of the full policy notice may be viewed here: https://utexas.box.com/UTpostdocsalary.


Does the college have mandated stipend levels for graduate students (GRAs) paid on grants?

The College has minimum recommended stipend levels for GRAs supported on grants. These vary based on graduate program and are established by the Associate Dean for Graduate Education. In addition, University policies govern what costs must be covered when one hires a GRA (for example, their tuition). For more detailed information on GRA stipend levels, contact us at CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu. 


If I am paying a graduate student on my grant, must I also budget for their tuition in the grant?

YES. UT Austin policy mandates that graduate students supported on grants must have tuition expenses incurred during their GRA appointment period paid by the grant. See the tuition remission policy here.

If the sponsor forbids tuition expenses, then you must specify to OSP at the time of proposal submission an alternate source of funding for the student's tuition. You will use a cost-sharing form to specify the amount of tuition to be paid and the alternate source of funding.


What is the current tuition rate for a Natural Sciences graduate student?

Tuition rates for UT Austin are posted here. Tuition is listed per credit hour and varies among the Colleges. For Natural Sciences, a full-time graduate student must be enrolled for 9 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester, and 3 credit hours each summer. Note that the University has a separate tuition fee chart for Summer semesters than for Fall/Spring semesters. Be sure to consult both charts when calculating 12 months of tuition for a graduate student.

For 2015-2016, a reasonable estimate for Natural Sciences graduate student tuition and fees for a 12-month period (2 long semesters plus 1 summer) is $10,500.


What is cost-sharing, and how do I cost-share? 

Cost-sharing occurs when a sponsor requires that the PI contribute some amount of time/money/materials to the proposal, that they agree will be funded by internal sources (i.e., the contributions cannot come from another grant). This often takes the form of a percentage of the PI's salary contributed from internal funds. For proposals that include cost-sharing, OSP will require the completion of a cost-sharing form to be submitted with your proposal. For large-scale, multi-investigator proposals, the College may contribute to cost-sharing by providing contributed resources (staffing, space, cash or otherwise), but the PI is expected to leverage departmental/ORU resources first. Learn more about requesting cost-sharing support from the Dean's office here.


Does the Dean’s office provide matching funds for grants? Under what circumstances? How do I request matching funds? 

The Dean's office provides matching funds for proposals under certain circumstances, such as for proposals supporting a large number of College researchers or when required by the sponsor. Matching funds commitments must be secured before your proposal is submitted. To request matching funds, the PI should email Dan Bost, Director of Strategic Research Initiatives, at least 3 weeks before the proposal is due. The email should contain the information and attachments outlined on our cost sharing policy page


I need an institutional commitment letter from the Dean’s office or from the VPR. How do I get one?

Send a draft of the institutional committment letter, along with a copy of the proposal RFA, draft budget and list of involved faculty/key personnel, to Anise Hawkins at least 3 weeks before your proposal is due. If you need a commitment letter from the Vice President for Research (VPR), you should send this same information to Anise Hawkins, and she will route your request to the VPR. The VPR asks that any institutional commitment requests be routed through the PI's Dean's office. 


Funding Opportunities


Where can I find funding opportunities? 

We maintain a list of active funding opportunities that are of broad interest to College faculty. You can also conduct advanced searches for funding opportunities related to your work through SciVal Funding (www.funding.scival.com), a funding opportunity database that indexes more than 19,000 federal and private funding opportunities. A SciVal tutorial with screenshots is available on our Funding page.


What is a CNS Catalyst Grant, and how do I apply for one? 

CNS Catalyst Grants are a College of Natural Sciences internal funding mechanism meant to inspire new interdisciplinary research collaborations that will seed efforts for securing external funding. Two award cycles are being offered for calendar year 2015, with proposal deadlines of April 1 and October 1. Read the full guidelines and download application instructions here.


Can someone help my student/postdoc with their fellowship application? 

Yes! We can help identify staff in your department with experience to guide them through the application process. Additionally, with enough notice, we can provide training to both staff and students. Contact CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu and we will work out a plan. 


There’s a grant or award I want to apply for, but the guidelines say only one proposal can come from UT. Can I submit? 

These kinds of opportunities are referred to as "Limited Submission" opportunities. The Vice President for Research (VPR) office frequently holds internal competitions to select nominees for Limited Submissions. We maintain a calendar of upcoming internal competition deadlines and also a list of Limited Submission opportunities. Check our calendar and list first, to see whether an internal competition is being held and to make sure the deadline has not already passed. If the opportunity you're interested in is not listed there, then you will need to get permission from the Vice President for Research in order to be allowed to submit. To seek permission contact Amy Harding of Strategic Research Initiatives. Learn more about the Limited Submission process at UT.



Proposal Content Guidance


What should I write in a Postdoc Mentoring Plan?

Check out our Student/Postdoc Mentoring resource page for tips on how to construct a compelling mentoring plan. The College also offers support to help your graduate students and postdocs create and maintain individualized development plans (IDPs).


What should I write in a Data Management Plan?

In addition to reviewing the list of UT-specific data management resources you can reference, check out DMPTool (EID required), an online tool that will walk you step-by-step through creating a data management plan tailored to fit your desired funding agency.


What do the College and UT offer for me or my students/postdocs to fulfill Responsible Conduct of Research (ethics training) requirements?

To meet the need for RCR training, the College hosts a monthly seminar series specifically designed for postdocs and graduate students. At the institutional level, UT-Austin offers additional online training and an annual Ethics/RCR workshop


I need to write a Broader Impacts or outreach plan. Where can I get ideas about how to do this?

Our office maintains a list of College- and University-level educational outreach initiatives that may inspire you or perhaps be leveraged for your next grant proposal. The College also provides a list of outreach efforts geared toward engagement with the broader community beyond UT campus. Both of these lists can give you ideas about where to start, and you may wish to reach out to the program coordinators identified in the listings to discuss potential collaborative opportunities as a component of your Broader Impacts or outreach plans. 


This RFA requires “program evaluation,” with metrics. Can someone give me advice?

In today’s increasingly competitive funding environment, sponsors across the board are focusing more and more on proposals having a strong program evaluation component, and simple surveys no longer make the grade. Program evaluations must be heavily customized, but we have provided a list of guidelines and best practices for you to consider. In addition, the College's Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science (TIDES) focuses on designing assessment tools for STEM education programs. Contact TIDES to consult with their researchers about your program evaluation needs.






Try these pages:

Proposal Development Resources

Research Administrator Resources

College Research Policies