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PLANT BIOLOGY FAQ for Grant Proposals

As of September 29, 2014

Q. What are the current fringe rates?
Q. What will the graduate stipend levels be for FY16?
Q. How is indirect cost computed?
Q. What is the proposal submission process or protocol?
Q. What is Plant Biology’s routing chain?
Q. How do I get access to NSF Fastlane?
Q. How do I give Lori access to my NSF Fastlane Proposal?
Q. How do I get NIH e-Commons Access?
Q. How do I apply through Grant.gov?
Q. Who is our Grant Administrator at SPA and how can I contact her/him?
Q. Where can I find the official, signed indirect cost agreement document for my primary contractor?
Q. Where can I find a letter of commitment or letter of intent?
Q What do I need if I have a sub-award with my grant proposal?
Q. What do I need on the PRF?
Q. What is the new capitalization threshold?


 

What are the current fringe rates?

Fringe rates change every year. Fringe rates are based on annual base salary. Summer RA students do not take classes. As of the above date, current fringe rates are as follows:

  • Academic appointments (including faculty and Research Associates):  33.8%
  • Post-docs: 21.4%
  • CS/BU (e.g. Junior Scientists): 26.3%
  • Graduate Students: 16.6% Health + $17.85/credit hour (780 hrs. for 2 semesters, another 260 hrs. if you include summer) (see spreadsheet) tuition for one-credit status students is $2.83/credit hour
  • Undergraduates: There is no fringe for undergrads

A matrix for FY15 fringe rates can be found here.

 

What will the graduate stipend levels be for FY15?

For FY15, a 12 month stipend for a regular student will be $23,920 and a 12-month stipend for a student in the one-credit status is $25,115. Please see the spreadsheet for total costs for graduate students as well as projected costs for FY2016 here.

 

How is indirect cost computed?

A pdf document summarizing the University’s Indirect Cost Agreement can be found at this link. In general, indirect costs are computed at 52% of modified total direct costs. The new indirect rates can be found here. To obtain the base of modified total direct costs, subtract graduate student fringe costs and capital equipment costs from the total direct costs. Some agencies have a cap on indirect costs. This should be noted in the PRF. Policy and procedures for negotiating non-standard agreements can be found here. Please contact your grant administrator with specific questions.

For sub-contracts when the U of MN is the primary contractor, the University will charge F&A (indirect) costs on the first $25,000 of each subcontract per project period.

 

What is the proposal submission process or protocol?

When writing a grant proposal, please:

  1. Plan to route your Proposal Routing Form (PRF) with ample time to spare so that your proposal can be submitted to your funding source on time. See the information at the end of this section for the minimum length of time that SPA needs after your PRF has been completely routed. If possible, send Lori Nicol the PRF number before it is completely submitted so she can review it.
  2. Prepare the PRF and provide the approvers with a copy of the budget, budget justification (2-3 days before routing) and project summary before (preferable) or at the same time that you put your PRF in routing. If there are other documents that the sponsor needs, i.e. a work scope or letter of intent, please provide those as well. Cost sharing and matching funds must be outlined in writing and signed by the appropriate administer of the funding source, i.e. Head or Dean. Any unpaid effort cost sharing over 5% must be approved by the Dean. Lori can provide you with the chart string to which unpaid effort will be cost shared if the grant is awarded. It is useful to put this information on the PRF so that the award can be set up quicker. This should be put in question 20b (yes) on the PRF.
  3. If it is an NIH proposal, please send the packet for Lori to review (if you do a modular budget for NIH, SPA still needs the detail budget for internal use). Remember that NIH only allows 3% for inflation on multi-year proposals. Make sure you check the eRA Commons for proper transfer of your application to NIH after you receive a tracking email from the NIH Commons.  SPA only concerns are "ERRORS" not warnings because your package will go to Review with warnings but not with errors.
  4. If it is an NSF proposal, please give SPA RSO access and Lori general access to your proposal in NSF Fastlane so they can review the budget in a timely manner. For other proposals, please send Lori the budget and whatever other information she and SPA need for review.
  5. Once the PRF is approved and ALL parts of the proposal are complete, send an email to Lori with the PRF#, the agency’s name and the PI’s name in the subject line, letting her know it is ready to submit. If there are any additional documents that the sponsor needs (usually only for sponsors other than NSF), please attach those to this email as well. 
  6. This must be completed 5 days before the agency due date except for NSF Fastlane for which this only needs to be completed 24 hours before the due date.

 

What is Plant Biology’s routing chain for a PRF?

Lori Nicol, Gary Muehlbauer, Andrea Backes, Clarence Lehman

If you are a co-PI with another department, you need to get the routing chain from that department and include it to the routing chain. For very large collaborations between multiple departments, please contact Lori to see if there is a work-around.

 

How do I get access to NSF Fastlane?

To use NSF FastLane, faculty and staff need an active account with a user name and password. To activate your account, send an e-mail to eprops@umn.edu with the following information:

  • Your role (i.e., PI, co-PI, support staff);
  • First name, middle initial, and last name
  • e-mail address;
  • Phone number;
  • Fax number.

If you are a PI or co-PI, please also include the following information:

  • Department;
  • Highest degree earned;
  • Year degree received.

Please allow three days for NSF to validate and activate your account.

SPA will e-mail you when you have been added as a FastLane user. Please call the SPA helpline at 624.5599 for questions about this process.

To access the NSF FastLane, click here.

 

How do I give Lori access to my NSF Fastlane proposal?

In order for Lori to see your Fastlane proposal, go to "proposals in progress", highlight the proposal you're working on, press the button "assign proposal pin", enter a 4 digit pin number. You need to let me know what the pin number and temporary ID# assigned by Fastlane for that proposal are. Then Lori can go in to access the budget (and edit other parts of your proposal, if you need her to).

 

How do I get NIH e-Commons Access?

To use the NIH eRA Commons, all PIs submitting to NIH will need an active account with a user name and password. To activate your account, send an e-mail to eprops@umn.edu with the following information:

  • First name, middle initial, and last name;
  • x500;
  • Date of birth;
  • Whether it is a PI account

Once your eRA Commons account has been setup, NIH will send you an e-mail within three days with your user name and a temporary password.

NIH has notified us that this registration process needs to be completed at least 2-4 weeks prior to the submittal date of any Grants.gov submission. If you have not registered, we suggest you do so immediately.

To access the NIH era Commons, click here.

 

How do I apply through Grant.gov?

SPA has detailed information on their website.

 

Who is our Grant Administrator at SPA and how can I contact her/him?

For most of our grant proposals, our grant administrator is: Kim Makowske, phone: 4-2038 (makowske@umn.edu); Andrea Marshal (back-up) phone: 6-7634 (pete1518@umn.edu).

For proposals to business and industry: Laura Williams, phone: 5-9601 (willi478@umn.edu).

 

What do I need on the PRF?

You need to answer all the questions listed and include the budget. On question 11, the first budget line is for the first year budget of the grant. The second budget line is for the cumulative budget of the grant.

On line 8, if you chose “Department will provide chart string in Section 20”, you need to fill in the following:

On line 20 of the PRF, please choose "yes" to the question "Is cost sharing, matching, or in-kind proposed but not required by the sponsor?" if you have unpaid effort. In the box that appears, please put the following chart string: 1000 10876 20000 and indicate that this is for effort cost sharing. This is where SPA looks in order to set up the effort cost sharing codes at the time of award. Please contact me if you have any other questions about the PRF.

On line 12, choose “SPA should request a PeopleSoft friendly budget from the department at time of award (note that award set up may take additional time since set up cannot be finalized until this budget is furnished to SPA.)” unless you want Lori to send this at the time of the proposal.

 

Where can I find the official, signed indirect cost agreement document for my primary contractor?

A pdf document can be found at this link.

 

Where can I find a letter of commitment or letter of intent?

A pdf document can be found at this link.

If you are the subcontractor to another institution, put their name in the Primary Institution location instead of Reagents of U of MN.

 

What do I need if I have a sub-award with my grant proposal?

 

What is the new equipment capitalization threshold?

The new equipment capitalization threshold is $5,000. This change will be effective on all purchases made on or after July 1, 2013.

For more information, please visit this website.