Step 3: Read the guidelines, gather forms and letters, check the deadline

Make sure you have the most up-to-date guidelines and read them carefully. Eligibility requirements and submission limits vary by sponsor, and often by each specific opportunity. Check the funding source’s guidelines to find out whether you are eligible for an award and how many proposals you may submit within a particular timeframe.

Gather the templates and application forms you need. If you need referee letters, letters of support, or letters of recommendation, contact the letter writers as early as possible.

Verify the submission deadline and method. If your proposal is going out in hard copy form, you are responsible for copying, packaging, and shipping it. For a mailing deadline, be sure you know whether it is "postmarked by" or "received by" and plan accordingly.

For electronic deadlines, find out whether you must submit it by midnight or by “close of business” in a particular time zone and plan to submit early to avoid potential technical problems. A deadline that falls on a federal holiday may be moved; be sure you know what the sponsor has planned.

For all deadlines, you must allow enough time for the endorsement process. You cannot submit your proposal until this process is complete. Try the basic timeline developed by Sponsored Research staff to help you plan.