Proposal Preparation Checklist

Initializing the Proposal

  • Have a discussion with the PI (Principal Investigator) to get as much information as possible at this stage; deadline, start/end date, solicitation number, basic budgeting information, and any other proposal specifics.
  • Notify RAS contract administrator of the new proposal, and provide as much information as possible.
  • Read the sponsor guidelines, RFA (Request For Application), RFP (Request For Proposal) carefully—they outline the proposal for you and will help you tailor this checklist to a specific submission. Be sure you are using current guidelines and forms.
  • Does the sponsor require an electronic submission? If there are optional submission types, let RAS administrator know how you will be submitting the proposal.
  •  Identify any proposal specific forms, formatting regulations, page limits, etc. Check that the PI and all other contributors are aware of the proposal specifications.
  • Check PI status if necessary
  • If the sponsor is a foundation, notify RAS administrator who will then follow-up with Foundation Relations.
  • Establish with PI that there is a 5 business day lead time to RAS.

Determining Proposal Components

  • Research Plan/ Statement of Work – Check guidelines to make sure all specifications have been completed. Also scan the document to see if there is any mention of humans, animals, and other special review items. Make sure if there is mention, these components have been indicated in the Kuali Coeus proposal under the Special Review tab.
  • Will there be any subawards? If so, you will need scope of work, budget,and approvals from the subaward organization. Depending on the Sponsor’s requirements, you may also need a copy of the collaborating institution's F&A rate agreement, CV and/or bio sketch for key personnel; facilities/equipment/other resources, letter of commitment. Be sure to list sponsor and prime sponsor in the proposal. Also list the subaward entity under the organization tab as a performance site.
  • Consultant(s) – Usually a letter from the consultant indicating the consultant’s role on the proposal, the consultant’s experience with the type of research and an established consultant rate is required. Check proposal guidelines to make sure any other specifications are met.
  • Special Review Components – Make sure that any special review components are indicated under the Special Review tab, and that you have provided as much information as possible concerning the items. Many sponsors will require additional forms if there are special review items such as humans or animals. Below is a list of MIT’s special review categories that you should indicate on your proposal
  • Human Subjects
  • Animal Usage
  • Recombinant DNA
  • Foundation Relations
  • International Activity
  • Biohazard Materials
  • Radioactive Isotopes
  • Space Change
  • TLO Review
  • Other MIT sign-offs - If the proposal includes faculty, staff, or students from another DLC, make sure to route the proposal through that department.
  • If required in the proposal, modify the CVs or Biosketches so that they match the sponsor guidelines. Make sure to include this document for all personnel specified in the sponsor guidelines.
  • Include the references or letters of support (if needed)—have them emailed to you for the submission if they are arriving late, and keep originals on hand once you receive them.
  • Standard statement of facilities and equipment if needed; may also be required of subawardees.
  • Include Current & Pending Support, if it is required by the sponsor requirement. Make sure that the current and pending support listed matches what is in Kuali Coeus. If there are any differences, contact your RAS Contract Administrator so the most accurate information is in Kuali Coeus.
  • Make sure all certifications have been completed. If the proposal required institute representatives/certifications, these will be provided by your RAS Contract Administrator.


  • The proposal will not route unless certification requirements have been met.
  • If it's an NIH proposal, and the Key Personnel have answered Yes to any of the three questions pertaining to Significant Financial Interest, then a full Conflict of Interest Disclosure will need to be completed.
  • For those sponsors that require Paper Submission make however many copies are needed for final submission.
  • Will there be an appendix that includes other publications (be sure you have enough copies for the submission—pay attention to agency restrictions on number allowed); are boxes necessary for shipping?

Creating the Proposal Budget

  • Check sponsor guidelines - Use sponsor budget template if required.
  • What is the project period? Confirm with sponsor guidelines for earliest starting date for new awards. Use an escalation factor for future years. Generally 3% is used for all expenses except tuition, which is inflated at 5% annually.
  • Verify salary/stipend amounts of proposal personnel, and students that will be included on the proposal.
  • Use the most current Fringe Benefit Rate (Employee Benefits & Vacation Accrual)
  • Include cost share or matching only when required by the program guidelines. Generally MIT prefers to list subsidized tuition (66% of the subsidized tuition) or an appropriate level of academic year salary for the professor to meet mandatory cost sharing requirements.
  • Subcontract budget material - Detailed budget with budget justification from the Subcontractor. When calculating subcontractor costs into the MIT budget remember that the first $25,000 has MIT F&A applied to it. If this is a NIH proposal you may also need to separate out the subcontract direct costs from indirect costs.

 Travel costs

  • Equipment - Items with a cost of $5,000 or greater (effective July 1, 2013)  are not subject to F&A. Fabricated Equipment with a cost of $5,000 or greater (effective July 1, 2013) is also not subject to F&A. Note: Fabricated Equipment costs must be approved by the MIT Property Office.
  • If requested - Materials and Supplies, Publications, Consultant, and any other proposal specific items. Make sure that if it has been separated out in the sponsor’s budget forms that it’s separated out in the MIT budget.
  • Facilities and administration (F&A) calculation (also known as indirect costs or overhead) Always use MIT’s negotiated rate. If the PI would like to apply for a grant or contract that has a rate lower than MIT’s established rate, the difference (under recovery) should be discussed with the department head. The DLC must identify the source of funds to cover any proposed underrecovery.
  • Budget Justification – Explain the roles (and effort commitment, if required) of personnel on the budget, mention the institute Employee Benefit and Vacation Accrual rate as well and yearly inflation amount. List out budget categories and provide detailed information for what has been applied to each category.