Frequently Asked Questions


Budget

Q: Is student tuition allowed in a seed grant budget?

A: No.

Q: Can external collaborators receive funds from a seed grant?

A: 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).
For RC and SPARC projects, if the external collaborator(s) will be written into the final external grant proposal, they will be expected to donate their time on the seed grant. If the external collaborator(s) will not be written into the external proposal, a strong justification for any funding provided is required.
Providing funding to another institution to conduct research as part of a seed grant is not allowed.

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

A: 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.

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

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


External Proposal Submission

Q: Does the targeted RFP need to be from a Federal agency?

A: No. Target RFPs can be from a variety of funding agencies (federal, state, private, foundation). The target RFP 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.

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

A: No. Target RFPs can be from a variety of funding agencies (Federal, state, private, foundation). The target RFP 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.

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

A: If the RFP selected as the external proposal target is a limited submission program or a program that requires pre-proposal, white paper, or letter of intent approval before a full submission invitation, the seed grant applicant must include a second RFP target.

Q: 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?

A: 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.


Review and Scoring

Q: What is the seed grant scoring/ranking process like?

A: Seed grant applications are reviewed by an internal committee made up of primarily the Associate Deans for Research. Each committee member is assigned a certain number of applications to read as primary, secondary, and tertiary reviewer.
Applications are discussed and scored on key evaluation criterion (e.g., scholarly merit and relevance to targeted external program announcement; strength of project investigator with relation to targeted external grant program; effectiveness of research and management plans; likelihood project will attract external funding; overall strength of project).
After the review committee meeting, scores for each application are tallied and averaged. At this point, the funding cutoff line is applied. All seed grant applicants receive reviewer comments to assist with revision and improvement.


General

Q: How many grants of each type are funded per cycle?

A: On average, approximately 76% of GEM applications, 57% of RC applications, and 56% of SPARC applications are funded. Individual cycle percentages vary with the number and quality of applications received and internal budget considerations.

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

A: This is discouraged. 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.

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

A: 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 committee and potentially not funded. Applicants are advised to carefully consider the work proposed to make sure it is feasible for a 1-year grant.

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

A: End date extensions are possible and requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Contact Jerilyn Hansen for assistance.

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

A: 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.

Q: How is eligibility for subsequent seed grant applications determined?

A: For RC and SPARC projects, an applicant is not eligible to compete for another RC or SPARC grant for 3 years from the awarded project’s start date. For example, an RC grant is awarded with a start date of January 1, 2014. A subsequent RC grant award could not begin before January 1, 2017 (i.e., application in the October 2016 cycle).
This requirement only applies if an applicant is proposing the same type of seed grant that was previously awarded (e.g., a second RC after receiving a first).

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

A: No. The review committee 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 (this is verified by the review committee).


Collaborators

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

A: Yes. SPARC projects require collaboration from multiple areas (departments, colleges) and this extends to other institutions as well. RC projects can also include collaborators from outside USU. However, it should be noted that 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.

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

A: SPARC projects are collaborative in nature and require the involvement of a scholarly research team of faculty in more than one department, college, or institution. For example, if there are 3 investigators on a project, at least one needs to be from a different department, college, or institution. There are no restrictions on department/college affiliation for individuals from other institutions.