Limited Submission Process

Limited submissions are funding opportunities where the funder has restricted the number of applications an organization can submit. Funders place the responsibility of review and selection on the organization. Research Development manages limited submissions for federal, state, and foundation opportunities for USU.


The USU limited submission process is comprised of two steps:

  1. Notice of Intent (NOI) submission, where applicants indicate their interest in a program (no documents are required in this step)
  2. Concept paper and internal review, in cases where Research Development deems this step to be necessary, including when the number of NOIs exceeds the number of submissions allowed by the sponsor or to enhance proposal competitiveness for strategic funding opportunities

Open limited submission opportunities can be viewed in GrantForward via a saved curated search. You can apply to more than one limited submission opportunity at a time as each is reviewed independently.

For limited submission opportunities that are announced broadly to campus, and/or when time allows, the following preferred timeline will apply:

  1. Limited submission funding opportunity announcement—12 working days before Notice of Intent deadline
  2. Notice of Intent (NOI) deadline—15 working days before concept paper deadline
  3. Concept paper guidelines distributed—One (1) day after NOI deadline
  4. Concept paper deadline—65 working days before external agency deadline*
  5. Internal review—Completed within two (2) weeks of concept paper deadline
  6. Anticipated date for PIs to be notified of internal review outcome—14 working days after concept paper deadline

*Minimum number of days between concept paper deadline and sponsor deadline. Additional time may be added to the internal competition to allow time for the development of complex proposals.

Why are some limited submissions not broadly announced or held as internal competitions?

While every effort is made to adhere to our preferred limited submission timeline (detailed above), there are instances when the interval between becoming aware of a limited submission/receiving the first Notice of Intent for an opportunity and the funder’s deadline makes it impractical to follow our process. In those cases, broad announcements may not be made, expedited reviews with limited or no feedback comments may be performed, and/or submission slots may be awarded on a first-identified basis.

If an announced internal deadline for a limited submission opportunity has passed and no one has expressed interest, the first Notice of Intent received by Research Development will be accepted as the institutional submission. Notices of Intent must be submitted via the online form and the date/time stamp of the form submission will determine the order that Notices of Intent are accepted.

Why are some limited submission competitions held so far in advance of the funder’s deadline for proposals?

Many large and/or complex proposals require significant preparation time for coordination and development. To provide the submitting PI/team the maximum amount of time to focus on the preparation of the external application, internal limited submission competitions are run well in advance of the external deadline.

Notice of Intent

If you have found a funding opportunity that says it is limited to only a specific number of applications per institution/organization, you first need to submit an internal Notice of Intent to express your interest in the opportunity. Upon receipt of your Notice of Intent, Research Development will inform you of next steps which are dependent upon if an internal competition for the opportunity is already planned or underway and/or the amount of time before the funder’s submission deadline.

Opportunities that restrict the number of applications an individual investigator can submit do not fall under this category. Opportunities that restrict the number of awards an organization can receive also do not fall under this category. If there is any question about limits in the solicitation language, please contact Research Development so a determination can be made about if an internal review process is necessary.

Always consult the funding announcement to confirm program applicability and individual/organizational eligibility. Please note that proposals to private foundations may require coordination and submission through the University Advancement office.

Does USU ever impose limits beyond those required by the funder?

Occasionally some funding opportunities will be managed as "institutionally coordinated" submissions. These opportunities are usually for large and/or complex funding opportunities that require institutional support, core facilities, or approval of upper administration. To guarantee the submission of the strongest proposal(s) to the funder, Research Development coordinates the institutional response in these instances.

Concept Paper

Research Development will email submission information for concept papers, if necessary, to PIs/teams who have submitted a Notice of Intent. We make every effort to have concept papers reviewed in a timely manner, usually within two weeks of the internal deadline. Our goal is to maximize the external proposal preparation time for selected applicants to submit to the funder.

Concept paper requirements are often different than the sponsor requirements. The internal requirements are designed to give a sufficient representation of a prospective project or proposal without over-burdening the PI/team. Think of the concept paper as an “elevator pitch.” In most cases, no budget is required for the concept paper. If a budget is required, instructions will be provided as part of the concept paper process.

Research Development does not provide support for concept paper development because it is the administrative office that coordinates and manages the review of limited submissions. However, Research Development does provide support through the college-based proposal development specialists, when available. If you are interested in serving as a limited submission internal reviewer, email your details to Research Development.

The information contained in a limited submission concept paper and any associated documents is considered highly confidential and all efforts will be made to ensure the fair, objective, and confidential review of each concept paper. Research Development does not publicly identify the members of the limited submission internal review panels, but comments are provided to all applicants once the reviews are completed and submission “tickets” are awarded unless an expedited review is conducted.

If your concept paper is not selected for external submission, you are welcome to reapply in a future cycle.

Submission "Ticket"

A “ticket” is the terminology Research Development uses to designate an approved institutional submission for a limited submission opportunity. The “ticket” will be sent to the approved PI/team via email and copied to Sponsored Programs.

Determining the process to award “submission tickets” for a limited submission opportunity will depend on the number of days before the external deadline:

  • If there are ≥ 90 working days before the external deadline, a full two-step internal competition will take place as described above
  • If there are less than 90 days before the external deadline, “submission tickets” will be awarded on either a first-identified basis of NOI submission OR following an accelerated review of concept papers

If you are selected to move forward with a submission and receive a “ticket,” you should work with your Sponsored Programs administrator and, if available, the proposal development specialist in your college to support the development of the application. While Notices of Intent and concept papers submitted for internal consideration for a limited submission program do not need to route through Sponsored Programs, all submissions to an external funding agency must be routed through Sponsored Programs and follow USU Sponsored Programs proposal submission policies.

If you have received a “ticket” to submit and decide not to apply after all, you need to contact Research Development as soon as possible so other potential applicants can move forward with a submission to the funder. Certain limited submissions are very competitive at USU, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program.

If you receive the “ticket” to be the institutional submission for a competitive limited submission opportunity (i.e., an opportunity where there was a competition for the permission to submit) and you choose not to submit and you do not notify Research Development within four weeks of the sponsor deadline of your decision, you will be ineligible to reapply in the following cycle.

I am submitting a competitive renewal to an existing grant program that is or has become a limited submission. Do I automatically receive the “ticket” to submit?

Existing programs with no break in funding (i.e., successful prior renewals or first competitive renewal) will have the opportunity to submit to the sponsor without internal competition for two submission cycles. If, however, the existing program is unsuccessful in obtaining its renewal after two consecutive submission attempts, an internal limited submission competition will occur. If other interest is received for the limited submission opportunity, it is not guaranteed that the PI/team of the existing program will be granted the “ticket.”

Is there a possibility of collaboration between PIs who were selected to receive the “ticket” and those who were not selected?

Research Development seeks to coordinate limited submissions for the university to facilitate the best proposal submission from an institutional perspective and encourages communication between all interested applicants to a limited submission opportunity. That said, the choice to collaborate is at the discretion of the PI/team that receives the “ticket” to proceed. Contact Research Development if you are interested in collaborating on a limited submission opportunity.