Faculty Proposal Development Frequently Asked Questions

If I am planning to prepare a grant or contract proposal, who should I inform?

To ensure that the grant preparation process is as efficient as possible, it helps to inform the following parties early in the process (preferably at least 8 weeks before the deadline): department chair, dean, and Dr. René Muñoz.

What is Millersville University’s Federally-negotiated Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Cost Rate (indirect cost rate)?

Millersville is authorized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to apply against federal grants an F&A Cost Rate of 48% of all direct salaries and wages (including all fringe benefits).

Where the above is not applicable (including on many contracts and foundation grant applications), it is typical to request a minimum of 8% of the total direct cost against any grants or contracts. The 8% is based upon the approved rate chargeable to other federally funded programs currently in operation at the University (such as the Upward Bound and the Migrant Education programs).

How much time should I allow to obtain the signatures required before a faculty or staff member can submit a grant application or contract proposal at Millersville University?

Please allow at least one week.

Early collaboration with the Office of FGS and the Budget and Accounting offices can avoid common pitfalls encountered during the approval process. In fact, OSPRA and the Budget and Accounting offices welcome the opportunity to review proposal drafts and help to prepare budgets. Typically the faculty or staff member who has played the lead role in preparing the proposal is responsible for submitting the proposal approval documents via OnBase. OSPRA will work with the PI and University administrators to ensure that the process moves forward in a timely manner.

Paper Proposal Approval Forms are no longer being used. As of May 1, 2014 all approvals will be made using an online system. Links for help using this new system can be found at the bottom of this page.

All proposals to external agencies, whether federal, state or private, must pass through the University’s internal review process before submission. This process is in place to insure that all budget, legal, and infrastructural requirements outlined in the grant can be met by the University. These requirements range from proper budgeting for released time, use of University facilities, space, or IT infrastructure, and human or animal subjects review. If the University cannot meet your grant requirements, the approval process will be delayed until those requirements can be met. If a deadline is looming, this could prevent your submission.

The review process utilizes the OnBase document management system and is completely online. To initiate the proposal approval process you must complete the on-line form and upload supporting documentation. This includes a copy of the proposal narrative and the budget narrative. Importantly, a separate budget narrative is required. Do not simply upload a second copy of the proposal. Once the form is submitted, OSPRA will determine the appropriate routing (usually chair, dean, controller, IT, Provost and President) and initiate the approval process. The process can take up to a week so budget your time accordingly.

The on-line system will send emails to your millersville.edu address after each approval is completed so that you can monitor the approval process.

Because failure to complete the approval process can result in a failed proposal, it is critical that you communicate with all interested parties before you submit the proposal for approval. When in doubt, contact the OSPRA for assistance or clarification.


Online documentation for using the OnBase proposal
approval process can be found HERE.


What variables go into calculating the true cost of release time requested by a faculty member as part of a sponsored project?

Release time calculations should take into account staff or faculty members’ actual prorated salary as well as fringe benefits (e.g., health insurance), FICA (social security; 7.65%) and workers compensation withholding (2.0%), and retirement plan contributions (percentages vary by plan). Such calculations also are complicated by the need to project the numbers for future years in a multi-year budget. The Director of Sponsored Programs and Research Support is available and very willing to work with staff and faculty grant seekers to ensure the accuracy of release time calculations. He will gladly contact the appropriate person in the Budget Office and request that she generate a personalized release time quote.

How do I calculate Reassigned Time?

In general, the default rate for reassigned time is equal to the faculty member's salary by rank and step as published in the most recent faculty CBA, though the University maintains a flexible policy to ensure that faculty can remain within their proposal budget. Please contact the Dr. René Muñoz or further advice and assistance.

What is dual employment and how do I calculate it correctly?

Payment for grant- or contract-related work performed during the academic year by faculty members who also carry a normal teaching load (i.e., did not request release time as part of the sponsored research award) is known as dual employment. Typically such payment is in the form of a flat amount or stipend (which may or may not be based on an hourly wage). Please remember that dual employment payments issued by the University are subject to FICA (7.65%), workers’ compensation (2.0%), and retirement plan withholding (percentages vary by plan); therefore, when included in a budget, dual employment requests should reflect this fact lest the net dual employment payment turn out to be less than intended. If you have additional questions regarding this issue or would appreciate assistance in preparing a grant or contract budget, please do not hesitate to contact the Dr. René Muñoz for further advice and assistance.

How do I calculate student wages?

Millersville University has established hourly rates for specific job duties and grants should adhere to these rates. However, special rates can be established for work that does not have a specified rate after discussion with the Associate Vice President for Human Resources. When budgeting for student wages, be sure to allow for workers’ compensation withholding. Because the ability to waive FICA withholding for students is dependent on several criteria influenced by each individual student’s enrollment data, it is wise to also budget for FICA withholding. If subsequent postaward analysis reveals no need to withhold FICA, the Director of Sponsored Programs & Research Administration will work with the Budget Office and the grantee to ensure that the budgeted money is returned to the grantor or rebudgeted with the grantor’s permission.

How much does it cost to fund a graduate student assistant?

The current cost for a 2018-19 full-time graduate assistant in his or her first year of graduate study is $16,280: this includes a $5000 stipend (20 hours of work per week of the academic year), workers' compensation, and a full (24-credit-hour) tuition waiver. Graduate assistants asked to work for a second year receive an increased stipend ($5300 rather than $5000) which, with the proportional slight increase in workers' compensation, results in a total cost of $16,580. Graduate assistants typically fulfill only 2-year commitments; therefore, if the budget for a 3-year grant incorporates funding for a graduate assistant for all 3 years, one graduate assistant could work on the grant for 2 years but would be replaced by a different graduate assistant in year 3 (at the first-year stipend rate). Also please note that these numbers do not include wages for work during the summer months. If you have additional questions regarding this issue or would appreciate assistance in preparing a grant or contract budget, please do not hesitate to contact the Director of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration for further advice and assistance.

How do I calculate a summer salary request?

Faculty members who teach summer courses are compensated at established summer school rates based on rank and step. If these rates or any other rates are used as the basis for grant- or contract-funded compensation, please remember to add the appropriate amount of money required for workers’ compensation, FICA, and retirement. Certain agencies have specific guidelines regarding the maximum amount of summer salary. For example, National Science Foundation stipulations require that grant-funded faculty members receive a summer salary equivalent to no more than 2/9 of their academic year salaries. If you have additional questions regarding this issue or would appreciate assistance in preparing a grant or contract budget, please do not hesitate to contact the Dr. René Muñoz for further advice and assistance.

How can I obtain a FastLane account to use while preparing a National Science Foundation grant application?

Please contact the Dr. Rene Munoz who, as one of the FastLane Authorized Organizational Representatives for Millersville, will gladly set up individual principal investigator accounts.

How are federal grant applications submitted on Grants.gov?

The first step in preparing grant applications for submission via Grants.gov is to fill out the grant application packet by using the PureEdge Viewer or Adobe Acrobat. Instructions are available here. Staff or faculty can fill out the entire grant application package on their own computers. However, only Authorized Organization Representatives (AORs) are able to submit applications to Grants.gov. The Director of Sponsored Programs & Research Administration is Millersville University’s AOR. Please inform him early in the grant application preparation process of your intent to submit via Grants.gov so that he can aid in troubleshooting any unexpected issues that might arise. Please note that National Institutions of Health (NIH) applications accepted by Grants.gov are subsequently subjected to agency-specific review by the eRA Commons system of the NIH. Because acceptance by both portals is required for successful submission, principal investigators (PIs) are encouraged to allow at least 1 week for the submission process (not including the time allotted for collecting signatures). Further information about the relationship between Grants.gov and eRA Commons is available here. Electronic grant submission can be a tedious process at times; please do not hesitate to contact the Dr. Rene Munoz for advice or assistance with this process.

What is eRA Commons?

eRA Commons is the internet-based system by which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) communicates with prospective and established grantees. The submission of grant applications for NIH funding opportunities involves 2 related processes: successful submission to Grants.gov and validation of the application by eRA Commons. Principal investigators (PIs) applying for NIH programs must have a valid PI account with eRA Commons before submitting the application through Grants.gov. To request creation of a PI account, please contact Millersville University’s Signing Official (SO)—Dr. René Muñoz—at least 2 weeks before the submission deadline. Within 48 hours of submitting an application to Grants.gov, the submitting Authorized Organization Representative (AOR; again, the Director of SPRA) should receive a receipt of confirmation and either a validation confirmation or a rejection email message from Grants.gov. If accepted by Grants.gov, the AOR also will receive a notice that the application has been retrieved by the grantor agency (e.g., NIH). At that point, the application is picked up by eRA Commons for further processing. A second level of error checking is done on the application to confirm that all agency-specific guidelines have been followed. The results of that check are found in the eRA Commons. The AOR and PI will receive a series of notifications from eRA Commons indicating the status of the application. For additional information about the relationship between Grants.gov and eRA Commons, please click here.

What is an IRB?

IRB is an abbreviation for Institutional Review Board. The Millersville University Institutional Review Board (MUIRB) for the Protection of Human Subjects reviews all research involving human subjects and works with grant seekers to ensure compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations on the Protection of Human Subjects. If a grant application involves research with human subjects (including survey collection), the project director must obtain an IRB  protocol number before submitting the application. The form for requesting an IRB protocol number for pending research is available at millersville.edu/irb. Upon receipt of a grant award, the project director then must file a completed human subjects review protocol. For further information, please see the MUIRB web site.

What is an IACUC?

IACUC is an abbreviation for Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. The Millersville University IACUC should review any research proposals that involve the use of laboratory animals and will work with grant seekers to ensure that the proposed research incorporates adequate safeguards for and appropriate treatment of laboratory animals.

As a member of an academic department at Millersville, how do I obtain a cost match for a grant application?

To obtain cost matches for grant applications prepared by persons in academic departments, the appropriate dean makes a request during a Deans’ Council meeting. Deans’ Council meets weekly during the academic year and through much of the summer.