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Faculty and staff are encouraged to seek funding for projects from agencies of the private sector or from the state or federal government.

The following academic policies guide decision making for the Office of Graduate Studies and Research. These policies establish minimum standards and qualifications. Policy 1.0 is an Overview and policies 2.0 through 5.0 reflect the cycle of a grant or sponsored program.

1.0 Overview
2.0 Grant Preparation
3.0 Preparation for Submission
4.0 On Campus Review, Approval, and Submission
5.0 Award Review, Acceptance, and Initiation

1.0 Overview

In general sponsored programs are activities conducted with funds awarded to non-profit organizations by units of government, foundations, companies, or firms. These fundings (grants) from outside of the organization are intended to address specific initiatives linked to the non-profit organization’s basic mission but not to support routine operation. It is important to note that in general:
  • only non-profit organizations are eligible to receive direct, non-taxable assistance from institutional sponsors;
  • most sponsors, whether government agencies or programs, private foundations, corporations or other funding agencies, normally make awards only directly to non-profit organizations, and not to individuals; and
  • persons interested in securing funds from external sponsors must work within the established operating setting of their home institution to ensure that they are proceeding effectively, and with full institutional support and approval.
1.1 The University

Valley City State University is a non-profit organization by virtue of its status as a member of the North Dakota University System. As such, it is legally authorized to apply for, accept, and administer funds from public and private sponsors as the fiscal agent for its constituents.

1.2 The Office of Graduate Studies and Research

This Office: (1) assists eligible VCSU personnel in developing and securing funding for externally sponsored programs, and (2) assists the University-at-large in all undertakings involving externally-sponsored program funds. The Office:
  • reviews proposals for institutional approval prior to submission,
  • routs proposals through University channels for approval,
  • assists faculty and staff in preparing and submitting such proposals, and
  • helps the University address other sponsored program-related functions and obligations
1.3 VCSU Grants and Sponsored Programs Authority
  • Faculty, Professional, or Staff Member becomes Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD). "Principal Investigator" and "Project Director" are titles that signify persons authorized to conduct research or other sponsored projects under institutional auspices. In general, "principal investigator" refers to a person initiating research; "project director" denotes a person with organizational and leadership responsibility for other types of program.
  • Division/Department Chair/Dean or Unit Directors - Affirms project activities
  • Vice President for Academic Affairs - Affirms academic resource availability and commitment
  • Office of Graduate Studies and Research - Reviews and assists with proposal development and grant submission
  • Payroll and Grants Fiscal Manager - Approves proposal submissions and award acceptance
  • Vice President for Business Affairs - Oversight of cash match and threshold
  • Director of Graduate Studies and Research - University approval for Grant submission
  • President - Executive Authority
2.0 Grant Preparation

2.1 Pre-Proposal

The PI/PD should determine if a pre-proposal is a requirement or option for the project. Submission of a pre-proposal should include Request for Proposal (RFP) from the external sponsor, if provided, the pre-proposal form from the granting agency, and VCSU's pre-proposal cover sheet.

2.2 Proposal Preparation

2.2.1 Grants that meet the following guidelines require ONLY completion of the Transmittal form and approval by Division Chair/Dean, Payroll & Grants Fiscal Manager, and Director of Graduate Studies and Research.
  • No Cost Share needed
  • No Matching funds requested
  • Total grant request is less than $10,000
2.2.2 To maximize the prospects of grant success and to address potential conflicts early, the principal investigators (PIs) and/or project directors (PDs) should use the program planning and proposal preparation as an interactive process involving
  • Colleagues and Division Chairs/Deans
  • Vice President for Academic and Business Affairs
  • All appropriate officials at VCSU
  • Off campus partners or cooperating institutions
2.2.3 If academic release time or positions are requested, the VPAA Pre-Proposal form must be completed and submitted to with the VPAA prior to proposal preparation. Draft budget concepts should be discussed with the Payroll & Grants Fiscal Manager, and VPBA.

2.3 Assistance from Office of Graduate Studies and Research

The Office of Graduate Studies and Research assists grant seekers in gaining familiarity with various types of grants and supports the grant writing process by:
  • Assisting PI/PDs to formulate ideas on assessment, budget, and project administration
  • Helping draft letters of intent, partnership, and memorandums of agreement
  • Supporting PI/PD in writing and preparing the grant for submission
  • Assisting with grant submission through or Fastlane.
  • Office personnel will also provide support for grants submitted through the mail.
University approval of grant submission through, or Fastlane is available only through the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.

2.4 Form Preparation (Forms are available from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research or online at
  • Notification of Business Interest form -if needed and not already on file with Employee Services, this form is filed by employees to avoid conflict of interest and liabilities.
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) compliance -To limit individual and institutional liability concerns, VCSU requires institutional review and prior approval of research involving Human Subjects.
  • Cost Share Requests -Government agencies and private sponsors frequently expect organizations to contribute resources to projects seeking external support. On most Federal applications, except where specific cost sharing requirements are stated in the program announcement, the amount and source(s) of such contributions are left to the submitting institution. Although cost sharing must be demonstrated when applying to programs that specifically require it and although in some instances it may make a proposal more competitive to indicate the constituent costs and funding sources of a project, as a general strategy, the delineation of institutional costs should be kept to a minimum. This is because (a) costs listed in support of a project, whether charged to a sponsor or cost shared, may be subject to external audit, requiring that records be kept for each cost listed, and (b) the appearance of significant cost sharing availability may discourage sponsors from making funding awards at the level requested.
  • Matching Funds are one kind of cost sharing that represents commitments made by the University to spend its resources in a certain predetermined ratio to funds provided by the sponsor. This commitment often is required under equipment acquisition or facility renovation grant programs. Funds so committed are considered "hard" dollars (that is, they must come from the University operating budget or other third party contributions, and must be earmarked for this purpose). Other types of cost sharing, for example, the costs of faculty or staff time and effort, or unrecovered indirect costs, are preferable to "hard dollar" contributions because they (a) are recognized as "cash" contributions, but (b) do not affect the general revenue flow. The Cost Sharing and Matching Funds Request form must be completed and signed prior to campus review of the proposal.
3.0 Preparation for Submission

Completed proposal and forms must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies and Research a minimum of five working days in advance of the grant due date. Up to three days may be needed for internal grant approval process. Office personnel will provide writing and budget assistance, but the grant must arrive in the Office at least 10 working days in advance of the submission date.

3.1 Materials prepared for submission include:
  • The completed Grant Transmittal form and any other forms specified for grant submission.
  • The Request for Proposal (RFP) from the grant agency
  • The Proposal
    • A narrative Scope of work
    • Assessment plan for meeting grant objectives/goals
    • Budget
    • Budget Narrative/Justification
    • Other items as required by the granting agency
3.2 Based on the completion of the Transmittal form, some submissions may require the following:
A Human Subjects Approval RequestAR) form(s) - To ensure adequate safeguards and to discharge the responsibility of the institution, no research (including grant applications), development, or related activity involving human subjects may be undertaken unless the University IRB Committee appointed for the purpose has reviewed and approved such proposed activity. HSAR forms are found on the IRB website.
Matching Funds/Cost Share Request form - See 2.4 related to Matching and Cost Share.
Notification of Business Interest form - if needed and not already on file in Employee Services
4.0 Internal Review, Approval, and Submission

Campus review and approval requires a minimum of five days. The process begins from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research and once submission materials are complete it is routed for approval to:
  • Appropriate Dean or Chair
  • The Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Payroll & Grants Fiscal Manager
  • The Vice President for Business Affairs
  • Office of Graduate Studies and Research for institutional approval
4.1 Grant Proposal Submission

Once approved, the proposal may be submitted by PI or through Office of Graduate Studies and Research. If entered through or Fastlane, submission is made through Office of Graduate Studies and Research.

Authorized submission approval from the President, the VPAA or the Director of Graduate Studies and Research is required.

5.0 Award Review, Acceptance, and Initiation

Upon receipt of a grant agreement or contract, the Payroll & Grants Fiscal Manager will:
  • review the document and consult with the PI/PD, the Director of Graduate Studies and Research, General Counsel, and/or other University officials regarding the acceptability of the proposed award terms,
  • conduct further negotiations with the sponsor, if necessary,
  • recommend approval or modification of those terms, and
  • generally assist in closing the award transaction.
Once acceptable award terms have been settled on, the Payroll & Grants Fiscal Manager will obtain the appropriate institutional approvals and arrange the timely return of the VCSU-approved award document to the sponsor.

5.1 Award Acceptance
  • Upon final execution of a grant agreement or contract, the Office of Graduate Studies and Research will report the formal receipt of the award to the PI/PD who will officially inform the respective deans and chairs of those divisions and departments involved in the project.
  • The award then may be acknowledged publicly, allowing the PI/PD, chair, dean or other appropriate officials to arrange any publicity related to the project/award.
  • Publicity should be arranged through the University Relations Office.
5.2 Project Initiation

Once an award has been received, reviewed, and approved, the Payroll & Grants Fiscal Manager will contact the PI/PD concerning the initiation of the post-award administration including the establishment of a project account and financial accounting practices of the VCSU Business Office.

5.3 Proposal Disposition (Records Retention)

In keeping with University and government policies regarding the retention of archival materials, the Office of Graduate Studies and Research will maintain records of unfunded proposals for three years after their submission and records of funded proposals for up to seven years following project close-out.
Sponsored by: Vice President for Academic Affairs
Reviewed: Spring 1996
Revised: December 2012