Frequently Asked Questions

Seed Grants


How many grants of each type are funded per cycle?

On average, approximately 70% of GEM applications, 50% of RC applications, and 50% of SPARC applications are funded. Individual cycle percentages vary with the number and quality of applications received and internal budget considerations.

Is it possible to apply for multiple seed grants in one cycle?

No. Applicants are encouraged to pick their best idea and focus on it. An applicant will never be awarded more than one seed grant per cycle.

If a project will take longer than 1 year to complete, can it still be proposed in a seed grant?

No. The seed grant program is designed for projects of 1-year duration. Projects that obviously are more ambitious and will take longer to successfully complete will be questioned by the review panel and potentially not funded. Applicants are advised to carefully consider the work proposed to make sure it is feasible for a 1-year grant.

If a seed grant project experiences delays in work, is it possible to get an extension on the grant end date?

Contact Jeri Hansen for more information on this.

Is it possible to have two seed grants at one time?

Yes, but only if the researcher is not the lead PI on both projects (can be lead PI on one seed grant and co-PI on a second). It is important to remember the researcher cannot be lead PI on a second seed grant until he/she has met the external proposal submission requirement on the first seed grant.

How is eligibility for subsequent seed grant applications determined?

A PI who has received seed grant funding of any type is not eligible to receive additional seed grant funding of any type for a 3-year period (counted from the previous project end date to a new project start date).

Does having a seed grant once increase the chance of being awarded a second seed grant?

No. The review panel considers each seed grant application individually. A previous record of successful seed grant applications does not increase or decrease the likelihood of being awarded another seed grant. The only stipulation is that each seed grant application must be for a project that is substantively different from a previously seeded project.

Review and Scoring

What is the seed grant scoring/ranking process like?

Seed grant applications are reviewed by an internal review panel comprised of the Associate Research Dean from each college (or a designee), the Director of Research Development, and the Associate Vice President for Research. Each application receives three reviews (primary, secondary, and tertiary) according to published evaluation criteria. See the individual seed grant types for its specific review criteria. At the end of the review panel meeting, a list of applications recommended for funding is forwarded to the Office of Research which makes the final decision on which projects to fund. All seed grant applicants receive reviewer comments and scores to assist with revision and improvement.


Is student tuition allowed in a seed grant budget?


Can external collaborators receive funds from a seed grant?

The only time an external collaborator can receive seed grants funds is if that person is the mentor on a GEM project (in which case, he/she can receive up to $1,000). External collaborator(s) can be involved in seed grant projects but they cannot receive any seed grant funds. For additional questions regarding the involvement of external collaborator(s) in seed grant projects, contact Jeri Hansen.

Which fringe benefit rates should be used for the seed grant budget?

The benefits memo from the Controller’s Office includes actual rates and the rates used for grant proposal preparation. For seed grant budgets, the grant proposal benefit rates should be used.

Do approved seed grant budgets have to be followed exactly or can expenditures be adjusted?

Any deviations from an approved seed grant budget must be authorized in advance by the Office of Research. Contact Jeri Hansen for assistance.


Can faculty from other institutions serve as co-Is on RC and SPARC grants?

Yes, but seed grant funding cannot be provided to non-USU individuals to conduct research, and the external proposal resulting from the seed grant must be submitted with USU as the lead institution.

For a SPARC grant, what defines a "multidisciplinary research team"?

SPARC projects are collaborative in nature and require the involvement of a scholarly research team of faculty in more than one USU department, college, or research center. For example, if there are 3 investigators on a project, at least one needs to be from a different USU department, college, or research center.

External Proposal Submission

Does the targeted external funding opportunity need to be from a Federal agency?

No. Targeted external funding opportunities can be from a variety of funding agencies (Federal, state, private, foundation). The funding opportunity does need to be up-to-date and documentation needs to be provided of an upcoming competition round either by supplying the link to the current solicitation or correspondence with the program officer about an upcoming deadline that fits within the seed grant timeline.

What if the deadline for the targeted external funding opportunity is outside the seed grant's 3-month external submission expectation?

A. It is recognized that external submissions do not always perfectly align with the 3-month external submission expectation. External submissions can occur outside the 3-month window so long as they occur within a reasonable amount of time after the seed grant project ends.

Is it possible to be PI on the seed grant but co-PI on the external proposal submission?

Either the seed grant PI or a project co-PI must be the PI on the external proposal submission. USU must be the lead institution on any external proposal submitted as a result of a seed grant project.

For the external proposal submission requirement, do limited submission programs and programs that require a pre-proposal/white paper/letter of intent count?

If the targeted external funding opportunity is a limited submission program or a program that requires approval of a pre-proposal, white paper, or letter of intent before a full submission invitation, the seed grant applicant must include a second targeted external funding opportunity since there is no guarantee the seed grant applicant's external pre-proposal, white paper, or letter of intent will be approved for full submission.

For a SPARC project, is the $1 million threshold for the external submission only for direct costs?
What if the external proposal includes a subcontract to another institution?
Can the $1 million be achieved through multiple submissions?

The $1 million minimum budget amount for the external proposal resulting from a SPARC project includes direct and indirect costs (e.g., total project costs). If the external proposal submission includes a subcontract to a collaborating institution, USU’s portion of the budget can be less than $1 million as long as the total project budget is at least $1 million. To satisfy the requirements of a SPARC grant, one proposal must be submitted with a project budget of at least $1 million. This requirement cannot be satisfied via several separate proposals.

Capital Equipment Grants

What is “capital equipment?”

Capital equipment is defined as a stand-alone piece of equipment with a cost greater than $5,000 and a useful life of more than one year.

Is there a minimum/maximum dollar amount for a capital equipment grant request?

No, but faculty are encouraged to seek external funding opportunities for equipment requests first before turning to the internal capital equipment grant program.

What external funding opportunities are available to fund equipment purchases?

Equipment funding requests can sometimes be written into standard research grants (always check allowability first) and there are several equipment-only funding opportunities available such as the NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program, NIH Instrumentation Programs, and USDA Equipment Grant Program.

What kinds of equipment are not eligible for a capital equipment grant?

Vehicles, high performance computing nodes or servers (on or off campus), and equipment solely for educational purposes are not eligible for capital equipment grant funding.

Can other USU funding be leveraged to meet the required 1:1 match?

The capital equipment grant program requires a 1:1 match and this can be met with any USU funds that do not come from the Office of Research (e.g., start-up funds, seed grants).