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A page within Research & Sponsored Programs


The Office of Research & Sponsored Programs (ORSP) supports UWL faculty and staff members in developing, preparing, writing, and submitting proposals of institutional interest. Assistance is available to help identify funding sources, develop budgets, conceptualize and frame projects for grant proposals, offer feedback and editing for application components, interpret and ensure compliance with internal and external guidelines, communicate and negotiate with funding sources, review and approve final proposals, access to electronic submission systems, and navigate submission processes. ORSP oversees a number of research compliance areas and provides guidance to the campus community in fulfilling those requirements. ORSP also supports faculty/staff professional development in grant seeking and writing through campus-wide workshops, and publishes a monthly e-newsletter, Grant News, to keep the campus updated on upcoming funding opportunities, funding agency news, grant writing best practices, and related information.

Funding Sources

A number of funding resources are outlined on our website's External Funding and UWL & UW System Funding pages. The External Funding page also lists several funding search databases the campus community can access directly.

The monthly UWL Grant News is emailed to all faculty/staff members and contains a list of upcoming funding opportunities for all array of disciplines.

You can also complete a Funding Finder Survey for more targeted help to identify potential funding.

The list of UWL-sponsored grant programs on the Internal Grants webpage provides an overview of which faculty and staff are eligible for each program. If you have further questions about your eligibility for a particular UWL grant, reach out to the designated program contact in the list.

For professional development, a number of grants are available available to faculty/staff through UWL and the UW System. In particular, see the UWL & UW System Grants by Project Type table. Fellowships are also available through a number of external funding agencies.

See UWL and UW System Grants by Project Type for a list of potential funding sources.

Additionally, you can consult with UWL Extended Learning. The office provides a range of support and expertise, such as:

  • Program development and management for presentations, meetings, workshops, or conferences (including marketing, logistics, registration, etc.)
  • Providing participants with course credits
  • Offering licensing credentials
  • Estimating costs of Extended Learning services to simplify budgeting

Extended Learning also sponsors the Conference/Program Support Grant program for UWL faculty and staff to support conference/program development.

Proposal Preparation and Submission

As soon as you have an idea, we encourage you to contact ORSP.  We are available to help with the entire process--from identifying potential funding sources to submitting proposals and administering awards. See the How to Apply for Grants webpage for a broad range of proposal development resources. Also refer to the UWL Grant Submission Timeline for an overview of when various proposal components are due on campus leading up to the submission deadline.

ORSP provides one-on-one support for grant proposal writing. Contact our office to discuss your specific proposal or project idea. There are also a number of educational workshops and webinars offered throughout the year, with more information on the Workshops & Events webpage. Additionally, see the proposal writing resources and templates on the How to Apply for Grants webpage.

ORSP has developed multiple templates for commonly required application documents, forms, and institutional information. See the How to Apply for Grants webpage for resources arranged by funding agency type.

Multiple templates are available on the How to Apply for Grants webpage that address institutional information commonly requested by funding agencies. Additional data, such as UWL's DUNS number, can be found on the Frequently Requested Information webpage.

Extramural, UW System, and WiSys proposals: Before submission to the funding agency, all application components must be reviewed and approved by the applicant(s)' respective Department Chair(s)/Unit Director(s), College Dean(s)/Division Director(s), and the Director of Research & Sponsored Programs. Approval is documented by each individual's signature on the UWL Grant Transmittal Form. Be mindful of when various proposal components are due to on campus as outlined in the UWL Grant Submission Timeline.

Proposals that involve more than one department, school, or college must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate officials of each. Projects that involve partnerships with other institutions must be reviewed by the authorized officials of each and have written confirmation of the collaboration submitted to ORSP before proposal submission.

Proposals that involve the use of animal or human subjects, or that require other research compliance protocols, must be approved by the appropriate university committees before project work begins. Such approval can generally be obtained after a proposal has been submitted so long as the process is completed before research commences.

Internal (UWL) proposals: Follow the review and approval process outlined in the specific program guidelines.

The UWL Grant Submission Timeline outlines when all application components and internally required forms are due to the applicant's Department Chair/Unit Director, Dean/Division Director, and ORSP leading up to submission. If multiple UWL faculty/staff are involved in a project, each individual's respective Department Chair/Unit Director and Dean/Division must review and approve the application before the proposal is submitted.

The applicant's department chair/unit director reviews the proposal to:

  1. assure faculty and staff time commitments are reasonable and compatible with department workloads, present and planned;
  2. determine that the percentages of time and the salaries are accurate; and
  3. verify that the space, facility, and service requirements are within the department's present capability if not specifically provided for in the proposal.

The applicant's dean/division director reviews the proposal for completeness and to confirm that:

  1. space, services, and support requirements have been adequately provided for;
  2. responsibility will be accepted for assuring the availability of cost sharing resources promised in the proposal; and
  3. the project budget, salary rates, job titles, classifications, and committed effort are reasonable and appropriate.

As the chancellor's designated representative, the director reviews the proposal for compatibility and compliance with all applicable university, UW System, state, federal, and sponsor policies, regulations, requirements, and terms.

The UWL Grant Submission Timeline outlines when various application components are due to an applicant's Department Chair/Unit Director, Dean/Division Director, and ORSP for review and approval leading up to the submission deadline.

Most federal funding agencies require the use of an online system for the submission of grant applications. ORSP can help set up user accounts for UWL faculty/staff in most federal submission systems. Non-federal agencies may also use an online system for application submission, but system standards are more varied. Contact ORSP for help identifying the system requirements for a particular funding agency.

Budget Development

Start by contacting ORSP as soon as you identify a funding source you plan to pursue. We can help brainstorm your project needs, calculate associated costs, advise on related policies, and assist with developing a budget draft. To begin assessing your project needs, it can be helpful to develop a concept paper. You can also begin to build a budget using the UWL Budget Helper Spreadsheet, which automatically calculates some items and provides a cumulative budget.

Standard budget line items include project personnel salaries, undergraduate/graduate student wages, fringe benefits, equipment, supplies, publication & dissemination costs, participant support, travel, consultants, subawards, space rental, tuition remission, and indirect (overhead) costs. Also take into account any cost sharing requirements a targeted program may have. The UWL Budget Helper Spreadsheet is a helpful starting point.

Faculty and staff compensation is calculated in terms of the percentage of an individual's time that will be devoted to the project and the person's full-time base salary or hourly wage rate. See the UWL Budget Guidance for Effort & Course Release for Extramural Projects for specific information on how to calculate effort and salary. Additionally, the Time & Salary Calculator can help estimate faculty/staff salaries. For multiple year projects, it is recommended that budgets take into account annual cost of living increases of 3% per year, as well as any anticipated promotional pay increases.

Graduate assistant (GA) compensation is calculated based on UWL's current GA pay rates.

Undergraduate wages are calculated in terms of an hourly pay rate, which must be current Wisconsin minimum wage or higher. See HR's guidance on student appointments and wages for typical pay ranges in relation to a student's work level.

Fringe benefits must be included for all project staff on extramural awards, including student employees, using the rates established by UW System. See UWL's fringe benefits rates for the current and upcoming fiscal years.

Project staff from other UW campuses must also have fringe benefits included in the budget at the rates established for their campus. Rates are updated each fiscal year. 

For information on how fringe benefits are calculated for UW System, WiSys, or internal (UWL) awards, see the UWL Fringe Benefits Overview.

Consultants and administrative support personnel generally should not be included as project staff.  Consultants are listed as a separate budget line item.  However, only external experts may serve as consultants, and thus employees within the UW System who participate in a project must be included as staff with fringe benefits. Administrative support personnel are part of indirect (overhead) costs unless the staff member is specifically assigned to the project to provide significant technical assistance, in which case they should be included as staff with fringe benefits.

A subrecipient makes significant contributions to a project's objectives and have some responsibility for programmatic decision-making. Their expenses are accounted for in a separate, itemized subaward budget and budget justification.

A consultant provides goods and/or services that are ancillary to a project's objectives. Their related expenses are accounted for in a budget's consultant services line item.

Generally, consultants are external professionals that provide goods and/or services that are ancillary to a project's objectives and accounted for in a budget's consultant services line item. Note that federal regulations restrict the compensation of personnel from the same organization who may act as project consultants (2 CFR § 200.430). Additionally, if a UW System employee will be serving as a consultant, policy requires that they be included as project personnel, with associated fringe benefits included in the budget. Consult with ORSP for assistance budgeting for this expense.

Federal regulations (2 CFR 200.33) define equipment as tangible property (including information technology systems) that has a useful life of more than one year and a per-unit acquisition cost of $5,000 or more. The acquisition cost of equipment includes modifications, attachments, and accessories necessary to make the equipment usable for the purpose for which it will be purchased. The budget should also take into account the related costs of shipping, installation, fabrication, and maintenance. Be as specific as possible in describing the equipment name, model number, and manufacturer. It is generally required or advisable to submit a copy of a bid for total equipment costs with a proposal.

Allowable equipment purchases vary by funding agency and program. Generally, funding agencies will allow requests for special purpose equipment, which is used for research, scientific, or other technical activities. General purpose equipment, such as office equipment and information technology equipment/systems, is generally not supported by funding agencies.

Indirect costs (also referred to as overhead, facilities & administrative, or F&A costs) are real costs for actual institutional expenses that support extramural activities but cannot be directly charged to a grant or contract. Examples include utility costs, administrative support, facility maintenance, buildings, and equipment. The UW System Board of Regents mandates that all extramural proposals request indirect costs at the established institutional rates to cover these expenses.

Indirect cost rates for federal awards are negotiated on behalf of the campus by UW System with the US Department of Health & Human Services. Costs are are calculated as a percentage of a project's modified total direct costs (MTDC), which are further defined in the university's fringe benefit & indirect cost rate information. Indirect costs must be requested from federal awards at the university's federal negotiated rate, including funds awarded to the university as a subaward.

Non-federal awards must also request indirect cost reimbursement at UWL's prescribed rates for non-federal awards. Non-federal indirect costs are calculated as a percentage of a project's total direct costs.

If a funding agency has a documented, uniformly applied restriction on indirect costs, the PI should forward documentation of the policy to ORSP. ORSP can advise on next steps.

Cost sharing allowability and requirements vary widely by funding agency, and ORSP can help you to navigate those guidelines. Cost sharing can generally include cash and/or in-kind contributions, depending on funding agency guidelines. In all cases, cost sharing must be auditable if an award is made.

All cost sharing commitments must be documented in writing and confirmed by an authorized official, and the documentation must be submitted to ORSP before a proposal can be submitted. University cost sharing commitments from a PI/PD's department chair/unit director and/or dean/division director are confirmed by the individual's signature on the UWL Grant/Contract Transmittal Form. Commitments made by other campus partners or external collaborators must be documented in a separate letter or email provided by an authorized representative of the collaborator and submitted to ORSP before proposal submission.

Compliance, Policies, and Procedures

As a general guideline, tenured UWL faculty, faculty on tenure track, and staff with at least a 50% continuing appointment may serve as a PI/PD on an external award application. This helps ensure staffing continuity for the duration of a project.

Undergraduate and graduate students may not serve as PIs/PDs for external award applications, but they may serve as co-PIs/co-PDs or senior/key personnel on applications with an eligible UWL faculty/staff member serving as the PI/PD.

During proposal development, it is the PI's/PD's responsibility to:

  • Prepare all proposal components and route all materials for review and approval according to the on-campus deadlines outlined in the UWL Grant Submission Timeline
  • Route all application materials for review and approval by the prescribed campus deadlines to the appropriate department chair(s)/unit director(s), dean(s)/division director (s), and ORSP
  • Complete all required compliance training and forms, and facilitate the completion of forms by other project personnel as appropriate
  • Obtain any required letters of support or commitment from internal and external collaborators and forward copies to ORSP
  • Facilitate communication between any external partners and ORSP
  • Submit a full, final application and supporting documents to ORSP for review and approval before submission to the funding agency
  • Submit a completed UWL Grant Transmittal Form to ORSP before submission
  • Upload and complete all application materials in the funding agency's submission system and, if applicable, share access to the materials with ORSP for review and submission
  • Submit proposals to the appropriate research compliance entities for review and approval (e.g., Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Bio-safety Committee (IBC))

The submission method for proposals varies widely by funding agency. The PI/PD is responsible for leading the submission process, which may mean sharing access to the application with ORSP in an electronic system so that ORSP can submit it, submitting the application via an online portal after institutional approval is confirmed, emailing the application to a designated contact, and/or mailing hardcopies before the submission deadline. For funding agencies that require hardcopies to be mailed, it is the PI's/PD's responsibility to mail the proposal by the due date.

If a project is funded, the PI is responsible for seeing that it is carried out in compliance with all of the applicable regulations, terms, conditions, and policies, including the submission of all required reports. PIs should contact ORSP or the Grant Accountant with questions about managing their project.

If a project involves human subjects, specimens, or data, it will need approval from the UWL Institutional Review Board (IRB).

If a project involves toxic, infectious, or carcinogenic/mutagenic materials, or uses recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology, it will need approval from the Institutional Bio-Safety Committee (IBC). Researchers must also work with the IBC to ensure compliance with Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) requirements; DURC requirements apply to life sciences research involving the use of one or more of the 15 agents/toxins identified by the US Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern.

If a project involves the use of vertebrate animals, it will need approval from the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC).

If a project involves the use of chemicals, physical hazards, hazardous waste, radioactive materials, or components that may affect the quality of the environment, the PI/PD will need to seek review and approval from UWL's Chemical & Physical Safety contacts.

For additional research compliance considerations, please refer to the Compliance & Policies webpage and consult with ORSP. In particular, if a project is supported by extramural funding, there are multiple additional compliance requirements that may apply. ORSP can assist with navigating those relevant to your project.

If your project requires IRB, IBC, or IACUC approval, it does not need to be approved before you submit a proposal for extramural funding. However, because committee approval is required before your research begins, you should initiate the review process as you draft your proposal or soon afterwards so that you are prepared to move forward if your project is funded.

The following federal agencies have established RCR requirements for all institutions that receive agency funding:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) (only required for some funding mechanisms, such as R25 and R36)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Each agency defines training expectations for undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in projects supported by the above agencies, whether the individuals are paid or unpaid. See UWL's RCR policy for federal awards for information on how these training requirements are fulfilled on our campus.

UWL has also established RCR training requirements for undergraduate students who have received a UWL Undergraduate Research & Creativity (URC) Grant and graduate students who are applying for a UWL Graduate Research, Services, & Educational Leadership (RSEL) Grant. See UWL's RCR policy for student grants for more information.

Which projects are subject to FCOI requirements? All federal sponsored projects, including subawards and projects supported by federal flow-through funding, are subject to federal Financial Conflicts of Interest (FCOI) regulations and UWL's FCOI policy. UWL's policy also applies to non-federal sponsors with FCOI requirements (e.g., American Cancer Society, American Heart Association). The policy applies to all types of funding, including but not limited to grants, cooperative agreements, and sponsored research contracts.

Who is subject to FCOI requirements? Anyone who is an investigator on a project subject to FCOI regulations must follow the requirements in UWL's policy. An investigator is any individual responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research. This always includes all PIs/PDs, co-investigators, and senior/key personnel from all participating institutions. It may also include students and other collaborators. See UWL's Identifying Investigators document for help determining who may be an investigator.

What are the FCOI requirements? The UWL FCOI policy overview summarizes investigators' primary obligations, which broadly include the following:

  1. For all proposals subject to FCOI requirements: All investigators must complete an individual significant financial interest (SFI) disclosure form before a proposal is submitted.
  2. Additional requirements for proposals to Public Health Service (PHS) agencies and other agencies following PHS FCOI regulations: All investigators must complete FCOI training and assessment in Canvas before a proposal is submitted.

Post Award

Once a PI/PD receives notification a proposal has been funded, they should forward the notification and all the accompanying documentation to ORSP. ORSP, in consultation with the principal investigator (PI), will verify the itemized budget. If needed, ORSP will assist the PI in making budgetary revisions. ORSP will then forward the information needed by the Grant Accountant to request account set-up.

A uniquely numbered project ID and title for the project will be established by the Business Services Office. The PI will receive an email notification from the Grant Accountant once the account set-up process is complete with additional information.The PI, along with the department chair/unit director, dean/division director, and central administration, is responsible for directing the funded project and bears fiscal responsibility. You may contact ORSP or the Grant Accountant for assistance at any point during the post award process.

You should contact the Grant Accountant whenever providing financial information to a funding agency. WISDM is not always up to date, as there can be pending transfers that you cannot see when logging in on your own. The Grant Accountant will be able to provide the most current information on your award account's status.

In addition to submitting the required reports for your sponsored project to the funding agency, we strongly encourage you to submit a copy of all such reports to ORSP.  This will assist us in maintaining accurate, current, and complete records.

See the UWL Budget Modifications process for guidance on how to make changes to your award budget. The Grant Accountant should be your first stop in considering budget modifications, as they can verify the actual availability of award funds, advise on allowable changes, and help with the planning process.

If you are anticipating significant changes to your project--such as changes to personnel, time commitments, objectives, or scope--contact ORSP for guidance. For most significant project changes, funding agencies require their prior approval before a change can be made. See UWL's Post Award Modification process for guidance on how proposed changes are reviewed and approved by the university before submission to the funding agency.

No-cost extensions (NCEs) are available from some funding agencies. NCEs allow for an extension of the project period without the award of any additional funds. NCEs are allowable only for programmatic purposes and not for the purpose of spending remaining funds. Generally, extensions can be requested for 6 to 12 months and must be requested several weeks or months prior to the award expiration date. Refer to the funding agency's specific guidelines for required time frames, which vary.

Requests for NCEs must first be reviewed and approved by the university. This process is outlined in UWL's No-Cost Extension guidelines. After UWL approval, the request can be submitted to the funding agency.

The Grant Accountant handles all invoicing of funding agencies. Additionally, they process all deposits.