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Frequently Asked Questions

What's my deadline to submit my proposal to the Office of Sponsored Programs?

OSP must receive your proposal at least four working days before the sponsor's deadline; however, CEHD’s policy is that the Senior Grants Administrator in the Office of Research Development must receive your final materials FIVE working days prior to the sponsor’s deadline.

Who's the legal applicant when I submit a proposal?

The University is the legal applicant.

Who actually submits the proposal?

Only the Office of Sponsored Programs is authorized to submit proposals on behalf of the university. Faculty, deans, etc. cannot submit proposals or letters of intent. Exceptions include prizes, awards, and some fellowships, which can be submitted by individuals. Submission of the proposal (hitting the “button”) will be done by the Senior Grants Administrator in the Office of Research Development.

What are Indirect Costs (Facilities and Administrative Costs or overhead?)

Indirect costs are expenses that can't easily be tied to a single project, such as utilities, depreciation, and general administration. Universities negotiate several rates (on campus vs. off campus) to recover these costs with the appropriate federal agency. Mason's rates are available here.

Who can help with my budget?

The Senior Grants Administrator in the Office of Research Development will help you develop the budget from the beginning stages to the final submitted version.

If my project involves research on students and teachers do I need to contact the Human Subjects Review Board?

Yes, but you may not have to submit a protocol. Contact the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance for more information.

I'm a grad student. Can I submit a grant?

No. Only faculty members can be principal investigators.

How do I include someone from another school/college at Mason in my proposal?

Regardless of school/college/department affiliation, personnel costs are separate line items on your budget. You can provide more detail in your budget narrative.

If I'm collaborating with another professor on a proposal how do we decide who the Principal Investigator will be?


  • Who is contributing more effort to this project? (Usually the PI devotes more time than Co-PIs.)
  • Who is more senior in terms of
    • Experience with this sponsor?
    • Publications related to the proposal?

The PI's school or college becomes the lead and coordinates hiring, summer salary, purchasing, travel, etc.

How do I collaborate with someone at another university?

Determine who the Principal Investigator will be, considering:

  • Relative contribution in terms of effort
  • Who is more senior in terms of:
    • Experience with this sponsor
    • Publications related to the proposal
  • Where most of the work be done

The PI's university submits the proposal; other investigators are included via subcontracts to their institutions. The proposed subcontract includes a budget, budget justification, and scope of work, as well as a letter of commitment, and OSP prepares the subcontracts for Mason, with investigator input.

What is cost sharing?

Cost sharing refers to project expenses on a grant that are contributed by the University. Cost sharing:

  • May be required by the sponsor
  • Is usually budgeted as a percentage of the investigator's time
  • Must be approved by the CEHD Office of Research Development and OSP before a proposal is submitted
  • Is tracked and reported by OSP

Don't do it you don't have to! Here's the University's cost sharing policy.