The federal grants process can be confusing. The following resources will provide constituents seeking grants with the information necessary to navigate the grants management process and every phase within.
The grant management process follows a linear lifecycle that includes three phases:
- Pre-Award including Applicant Registration, Agency Funding Opportunities and Application Review by Agencies
- Award Phase including award decisions and notifications to recipients
- Post Award including implementing the grant award, recipient reporting and Closeout of the grant award
Register to do Business with Federal Government
Applying for a federal financial assistance, more commonly known as a grant or loan, begins with registering with the federal government as an individual or an organization.
As an individual you apply on your own behalf, not representing an organization, institution, or government. Registration is a three step process detailed at Individual Registration on Grants.gov. It is essential for individual applicants to ensure individuals are eligible to apply to specific the grant program. Applicants should review Section III of the specific grant funding opportunity as it will clearly state if individuals are or are not eligible. More information on Eligibility is in the Eligibility section below.
As an organization you apply on behalf of the group, such as a state government, nonprofit organization, or a private business. Registration is a five step process detailed at Organization Applicant Registration on Grants.gov.
- Step 1: Obtain a DUNS Number
- Step 2: Register with SAM
- Step 3: Create a Username and Password
- Step 4: EBiz POC Authorizes Roles
- Step 5: Track Role Status
Grants.gov also provides a Grants.gov Online User Guide which provides very detailed instructions to navigate the Grants.gov website to complete registration, login into the system, and search for grant funding opportunities.
Before applying to a grant funding opportunity, make sure you are eligible. Every grant funding opportunity is required (see 2 CFR 200.203(c)(3)) to have specific eligibility information. Federal grant making agencies will have an Eligibility Information section in every grant funding opportunity.
Searching for a Federal Grant Funding Opportunity
The Search Grants section of Grants.gov allows the user to search for grant funding opportunities by many characteristics. Users can narrow search by funding instrument type, eligibility or agency. Users can also search by keyword, opportunity number or CFDA (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance) number.
The CFDA is a government-wide collection of Federal programs, projects, services, and activities that provide assistance or benefits to the American public. The CFDA is issued annually and updated continuously online at www.CFDA.gov. Each CFDA program listing includes typical funding amounts, types of projects funded, eligible entities, and more.
Visiting the federal agency program page may provide some additional information on the specific grant program and should also provide you with the program contact if you have specific questions. Most agencies implementing grant programs have webpages with grant program information. Some examples include:
Users can subscribe to receive email notifications from Grants.gov about available grant programs and manage subscriptions as they wish. Users can subscribe to daily email of all grant opportunities or receive information based on specific criteria of save searches.
Applying for Grants
Make sure that you are registered to do business with the Federal Government so you can apply for grants. Even if there isn’t a grant program currently available that you are interested in, it is prudent to get registered in advance so you are ready to apply when a suitable opportunity arises. There are two ways to apply 1) Workspace 2) legacy PDF Application Packages.
Beginning December 2017 Workspace will be the only method for submitting an application. The advantage of this method of applying allows the applicant to reuse forms and auto-populate data, detect errors earlier and for those users with connectivity issues this is the best process as it saves data.
Applying for grants through Grants.gov is a four step process after searching for grants through the Search Grants section. Knowing the CFDA Number or Funding Opportunity Number will make obtaining the application much easier.
The Congressional Research Service has a guide on how to develop and write a grant proposal. Make sure you pay very close attention to the requirements listed in the funding opportunity you are applying to – requirements vary widely and your proposal should address the applicable requirements in order to be competitive.
When submitting an Application Package or Workspace Package through Grants.gov, applicants should:
- Give yourself enough time before the deadline date to submit the application
- Carefully read the requirements for the opportunity you are applying for
- Ensure you have all the required information and forms
- Ensure when you apply for an opportunity that the DUNS you use is assigned to your organization –if it is not you may be deemed ineligible
Recipients of Federal Grants
If your application is selected to be funded, applicants are required to affirm the agreement with the Federal grant making agency. Please note that a grant is a legally binding agreement detailing the administrative and programmatic requirements necessary while using grant funds. Recipients of federal grants should:
- Read the assistance agreement carefully, and pay particular attention to the Grants Terms and Conditions which outline specific requirements including reporting
- Review Grant Federal Regulations at 2 CFR 200 and the corresponding agency regulations for grants in Chapter 2 of the Code of Federal Regulation.
If you would like to learn more about grants visit the Grants Learning Center on grants.gov.
This information has been prepared by staff and is offered only as an educational resource. The office is not responsible for the content of grant submissions and cannot provide assistance in securing federal grant funding.