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FAQ about Getting Funded
Grant Resource Center
Agency Links

FAQs about Getting Funded

What is the difference between a grant and a contract?

A grant is awarded for research, educational services, or other public benefit. A contract is negotiated for specific work to be done for the benefit of the sponsor.

How do I get started with the proposal process?

You can begin by developing your research or project idea into a concept paper. During the development of the paper or after you complete it, contact the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) staff who will help you identify suitable external funding sources and introduce you to several tools that will support you in this process.  For more details, please refer to the next section, “How can I find potential sponsors?”  Once a sponsor is identified, you are ready to prepare a formal proposal.

How can I find potential sponsors?

The UARSC OSP staff will help you identify potential sponsors from federal, state, and private funding sources. UARSC offers multiple resources to faculty and staff for this purpose.  The following are examples of services available to you.

The Grant Resource Center (GRC) Faculty/Staff Alert System is an automated external funding opportunities notification system.  By enrolling, you will receive monthly notices via email of current funding opportunities customized to your project or research needs.

The GRC database provides information for 2,000+ potential funding sources.  You can access this tool from a campus computer through the GRC website.  Click on “Resources” then “GrantSearch” and you can do a simple keyword search, or specify based on subject and activity.

UARSC OSP staff are available to conduct a funding search on your behalf.  To request this service, complete the Funding Search Request Online Form.   

For additional information about these services and more, please contact the UARSC Office of Sponsored Projects.

What should I include in my proposal?

This varies by funder.  Specific instructions regarding how and when to apply as well as what to include in your proposal will be provided in the program guidelines. Most proposals include a statement of need or problem; a project description and timetable; a budget; organizational information and qualifications of the project personnel; an evaluation plan; and a dissemination plan to share your research or project results. Please refer to the Proposal Writing Help section of the Proposal Preparation Webpage for additional resources.

How do I create a budget?

A project budget usually is a required section in all proposals.  UARSC OSP staff will work closely with you in the development of your budget and assist with the preparation of agency budget forms required for the application.  Two tools available on the UARSC website to help you get started with this process are the sample Budget Template and the Budget Development section included on the Proposal Preparation Webpage.  Please contact a UARSC OSP staff member for further assistance.

How long does it take to develop and submit a proposal?

Depending upon the complexity of the proposal, the process could take several weeks to several months.  A Proposal Submission Timeline is available on the UARSC website in the  Proposal Preparation section. This timeline is designed to assist you with planning your proposal development.  It includes reminders about steps that are sometimes overlooked, yet important to the success of an application.  UARSC OSP staff will assist you during the early planning stage of your proposal to create a timeline specific to your needs.

How does the internal proposal approval process work?

The internal routing form or Sponsored Project Approval Form (SPAF) is the document used to secure administrative approvals.  When the project budget is finalized, the form is completed with your assistance by the UARSC OSP staff.  It is essential to allow sufficient time for administrators’ review which must be completed prior to the submission of the proposal per CSU Executive Order 890. UARSC OSP cannot guarantee acceptance of an award that has not received prior approval.

How does the proposal get submitted to the sponsor?

UARSC OSP provides proposal support throughout the entire proposal process.  Most federal funders require electronic submissions, so UARSC OSP staff are responsible for agency registration requirements, assisting with the assembly of the application and, in most cases, responsible for the submission.  OSP staff also will assist should there be any need for further follow-up with the funder following the submission.  The majority of federal agency proposals are submitted through, a central venue for receiving applications.

How are the grant funds managed?

UARSC is responsible for administering grants and contracts on behalf of the University.  Usually, the sponsor does not simply send a check when a grant is awarded.  This means that UARSC must provide or “float” the funds for your project expenses until reimbursement from the sponsor can be collected at later intervals.  UARSC provides financial management and reporting, human resources services, payroll services, accounting services, compliance audits, and risk management. In addition, the UARSC OSP staff works closely with you throughout your project to ensure compliance with policies and regulations.

AASCU Grants Resource Center (GRC Membership)

The Grants Resource Center is a division of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).  The GRC was established in 1967 and is located in Washington DC.  The goal of the organization is to enhance the research and sponsored programs capabilities of higher education institutions.  UARSC maintains a membership with AASCU that entitles CSUSM faculty and staff to a wide range of support for proposal development.  Among the many services provided through this membership are: electronic publications that provide current news about funding opportunities and funding agencies; an assigned GRC staff liaison who is expert in connecting faculty and staff with information and agency contacts to support our pre-award efforts; a library of funded proposals; and two annual meetings in Washington where attendees hear directly from and meet individually with the federal agency and foundation program officers who administer grant programs and influence funding decisions.

Agency Links

Nonprofit Gateway

Nonprofit Gateway is a network of links to Federal government information and services

State and Federal Resources

California State Contracts Register
County of San Diego Contracting
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
Federal Business Opportunities
Federal Register
Grants Resource Center Federal Agency Pages (available from any campus computer)


National Science Foundation
National Institutes of Health
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Energy
Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency's National Center for Environmental Research
National Institute of Justice
California Department of Conservation
California Department of Corrections  


Department of Education
California Department of Education
Educational Resources for California

Arts & Humanities

National Endowment for the Humanities
National Endowment for the Arts
California Council for the Humanities
American Library Association
Institute of Museum and Library Services


The Foundation Center
San Diego Foundation

Agency Listservs

Department of Education. EDInfo is an information service that delivers two or three email messages a week featuring information on the U.S. Department of Education including budget and grant information, and legislative updates. To subscribe, send a message to In the body of the message, type: subscribe EDINFO<your full name>. (If you have a signature block, please turn it off.)

Department of Energy. DOE Pulse, a bimonthly newsletter, highlights work being done at the Department of Energy's national laboratories. Each issue will include research highlights, updates on collaborations among laboratories, and profiles of individual researchers. Subscribe to DOE Pulse. 

Department of Justice. JUST INFO, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice National Criminal Justice Reference Service (JCJRS), is a biweekly email newsletter that reports on a wide variety of criminal justice topics. To subscribe, send a message to In the body of the message, type: subscribe JUSTINFO<your name>.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. National Aeronautics and Space Administration maintains a press release mailing list to distribute its press releases and other selected documents via email. To subscribe, send an email to In the body of the message, type: subscribe press-release <your name>.

National Endowment for the Humanities. NEH OUTLOOK is an NEH email newsletter which includes information on funding opportunities and grants awarded. To subscribe, send an email to: In the body of the message, put the keyword "subscribe" on a line by itself.

National Institutes of Health.  Each week the NIH transmits via email the Table of Contents information for each week's issue of the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. Associated with each entry is the URL address for each Guide article. To subscribe to the Guide TOC Notification service, please send an email to and in the first line of the email message itself (not the subject line) provide the following information: subscribe NIHTOC-L your name.

National Science Foundation. The NSF Custom News Service is a free web-based/email-based alert service designed to provide information about new NSF publications and information. This service allows you to select the types of information you are interested in and alerts you to new publications and provides links to electronic copies that can be downloaded or printed.  Subscribe to the Custom New Service.  You will be prompted to provide your email address and will be able to select from the following options: whether to receive announcements by email or just by visiting your custom news page; whether to receive a weekly email summary of all new NSF documents; and to select documents types you're interested in, such as program announcements, news releases, policies and procedures, reports and awards for particular divisions or all. You can change your profile at any time.

U.S. Agency for International Development. You can receive email notification when a solicitation is posted to the USAID Solicitations page. This includes RFPs, RFAs, and new amendments. Subscribe to the USAID solicitations email notification service.