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Office of Sponsored Programs
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

Proposal Preparation

Grant Proposal Routing and Proposal Preparation Basics

General Tips about Internal Review and Proposal Routing

  • To allow time for assistance with budget preparation and other necessary support, all faculty and staff members should contact the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) about proposals well before the sponsor's published deadline. If you need help with the budget or other aspects of your proposal, we request a two week lead time before the sponsor due date. When you contact your SPA about a proposal, it's helpful to provide a URL to the sponsor or the program, so she can review submission requirements and help you with any sponsor-specific requirements with which you might not be familiar. This is especially true of proposals to private funding sources.
  • Applicants to NIH or NSF should review the NIH Grant Proposal Checklist or the NSF Grant Proposal Checklist as well as the specific RFP to familiarize themselves with the full set of submission requirements.
  • Always check the "Institutional Information" page to the right for current fringe benefit and indirect cost rates (if you use the budget template, rates are current) along with some boilerplate text for proposals. Chances are there is other information you'll need for your application on that page as well.
  • Under most circumstances, OSP can route a proposal in three working days, provided the budget doesn't require major revisions. Keep in mind that proposals to create new programs, programs that involve collaboration between institutions, and/or projects that make significant space, cost-sharing or other demands of the College will take longer to process.
  • Proposals will not be routed without Space, Cost-Sharing and Time & Effort information.
  • If the proposal submission is incomplete, or contains inaccuracies, it may delay your submission to the sponsor.
  • In order to insure that electronic submissions through Fastlane,, etc., meet all technical requirements for submission and to give us time to troubleshoot any technical submission errors, your entire proposal submission package must be complete, checked for compliance with all program/RFP requirements and approved for submission no later than 12 noon one day prior to the sponsor deadline. OSP will submit approved applications received after the internal deadline with the understanding that the PI/PD takes responsibility for the accuracy, completeness and compliance of their proposals contents if the internal deadline is missed.

Basic Instructions

  1. Complete all necessary sections of the routing sheet
  2. No more than three days prior to the sponsor deadline, submit to OSP the following documents:
      • Proposal draft narrative and abstract
      • Completed Routing Sheet. The routing sheet must be signed by the PI/PD and the Department Chair or Institute Director. Proposals will not be reviewed without these authorizing signatures.
      • If the program you're applying to does not allow indirect cost charges at our normal rates, or places other budgetary restrictions, include the relevant sections of the program guidelines
      • Budget and budget narrative (double check all salaries for current employees prior to budget submission)..
      • Click here for the OSP Budget Template.
      • Letters from collaborators or consultants, if applicable. If a subcontract to another organization is part of your proposal, full authorization must be received from the collaborating institution prior to proposal approval.
  1. Once you have completed steps 1 & 2, OSP will route the proposal for additional authorizations from the Office of Grants and Contracts Accounting, and the Institutional Authorizing Official (President, Provost, Vice-President) and others, as applicable. Additional amendments and clarifications may be requested.
  2. Once the submission has been reviewed and appropriate authorization has been obtained, the PI/PD will be notified via phone or e-mail.  OSP will submit electronic proposals on your behalf.  The PI/Project assumes responsibility for mailing/copying the proposal to the sponsor.

Proposal Preparation Basics

Help on finding funding for your projects and developing a proposal budget is available by clicking on the appropriate links to the right. The scientific/programmatic part of your proposal, however, is the part that is likely to cause you the most difficulty and the part that will occupy most of your time. Unfortunately, it's this part of the proposal that OSP can offer you the least help. Your best resource during the proposal development stage is your colleagues in your area. This holds true whether you're a beginning researcher or well advanced into your career.

The following tips about proposal development have been compiled from the insights of many successful researchers who have served on review panels for various governmental and non-governmental sponsors. They will be most useful for graduate students and junior faculty.

Applications, Submissions, and Reporting

Finding Funding Resources