The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The Office of the Associate Dean of Research UTRGV School of Medicine

Pre-Award Guidelines

The following information is made available to all faculty and staff in the process of proposal development. Throughout the pre-award process all entities involved will be reading and re-reading the guidelines, funding announcement (FOA) or request for proposal (RFP).  UTRGV has many resources available to you to make the process manageable.


The Office of Sponsored Programs (956) 665-5004 or (956) 882-7676,, assists faculty and staff in seeking both internal and external funding opportunities.  For submissions to Foundations, the Development Office will need to be included in the submission process. The point of contact for the Development Office is Ms. Yvette Padilla, Corporate & Foundation Relations, 956-665-5301 – yvette.padilla@utrgv.eduUTRGV requires that all materials be routed through the Office of Sponsored Programs via the electronic Cayuse portal in advance of any grant submissions.


An important resource to have at your disposal is the Pivot funding opportunities database.  By using your UTRGV e-mail address a UTRGV employee can access the pivot portal.  Faculty and staff can access the portal by going to  and selecting the “Sign Up” to register your account. You will be asked to provide your university e-mail address and Institution’s name.   Once registered, you will be sent a confirmation e-mail, which once confirmed will enable you to have full access to the portal.

Pivot’s Features and Benefits

  • Provides access to the most comprehensive global source funding opportunities –totaling over $33 Billion and growing.
  • Identifies research expertise from within or outside your organization from millions of profiles from leading research organizations worldwide.
  • Fosters collaboration by cultivating essential partnerships and alliance.
  • Enhances communication, monitoring, and tracking amongst individual faculty, teams or researchers

For a how to on the Pivot features (complimentary training webinars), click on the link below:

Quick Start Guide (6 pages - PDF) - COS Pivot

Limted Submissions

When a sponsor restricts the number of proposals that an institution (i.e. across all schools) may submit for consideration for an award, the University must follow a protocol for selecting and submitting only the restricted number of proposals to the agency.  The language on the request for proposals typically will include such statements as, “Limit number of proposals per Organization”.  UTRGV has developed a system to internally review all possible interested nominees and then evaluates who would best represent the University in the competition.  The process is simple and includes a pre-proposal submission with only the necessary information for a finalist to be selected.  Internal pre-proposal preparation guidelines for Limited Submissions are available by contacting the Office of Sponsored Programs at the Edinburg campus: 956-665-5004 or the Brownsville campus: 882-7676.  For Limited submissions to Foundations the UTRGV President is engaged in the decision making, the point of contact is Yvette Padilla, Corporate & Foundation Relations, 956-665-5301,


FOIA Freedom of Information Act and Grants

One very useful tool that is available to all U. S. citizens is the access to public grant information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  By exercising your federal rights, any individual can request a copy of any grant application that was submitted to a federal agency.  From a PI/PD standpoint, the grant applications of interest will be the ones that were successful and resulted in an award. Many times reviewing an application will serve to better understand the process that led to the proposal being selected for funding. Before releasing the grant application the agency must notify the grantee named on the application about the request.  The grantee will then have the opportunity to redact any information that he/she may not want to have released to the public.  Some of the information that is always removed from the copy version of the application is the following:

  • Social security numbers
  • Birthdates
  • Information that reflects an individual’s personal income (percentage of effort, institutional base salary)
  • Information regarding pending or non-final support
  • The source of any support received from non-public sources
  • References to unpublished material
  • Patentable or other commercially valuable information

Another document that is of value to an individual preparing an application is the summary statement for an awarded grant.  The summary statement is a valuable source of information because it contains evaluations and opinions of experts who reviewed the grant application.

Look up NIH Awards

Look up NSF Awards

Developing a Proposal

A critical step when developing a proposal is reading and re-reading the guidelines, funding opportunity announcements (FOA) or Request for Proposals (RFP).  It is the School of Medicine’s recommendation that faculty consult with a staff member from the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), and if ready, complete and submit an “Intent to Submit” form.  The OSP department functions as a “clearing-house” or conduit between the agency awarding the funds and the university recipient.  The OSP office has final (non-financial) responsibility and administrative accountability for review of all sponsored project documents, from the proposal phase to the closeout of the award.  Submitting an Intent to Submit form to OSP will ensure that a staff member skilled in pre-award transactions is assigned to the PI/PD during the proposal preparation phase. 

Building grant management into the Proposal

At the time of proposal submission there are costs that often get overlooked and may result in an inadequate budget for the project.  All possible allowable costs should be included in the budget so that there are no unexpected expenditures when the project is occurring. The following are costs that are typically overlooked:

  1. Time- if allowable, a major variable in completing programmatic and fiscal reports is staff.  Be sure not to overlook salaries; if allowable, include percentage of an employee’s salary who will be tasked with this assignment. If this is not budgeted with the sponsor’s funds, but instead written in as “in-kind”, these costs will be considered “cost share” and additional paperwork will be necessary to submit proposal.
  2. Evaluation Report costs: Any costs associated with the production and/or dissemination of evaluation reports.
  3. Other Costs if they are allowable budget items, expenses associated with an external reviewer in addition to salary, such as travel, must be included.  All costs associated with the creation or utilization of evaluation tools should be in the budget.

Intent to Apply

At UTRGV the Office of Sponsored Programs is the first department that must be notified when a faculty or staff decides to apply for a grant.  The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is a great resource to utilize when preparing proposals.  OSP staff are trained on how to prepare budgets, and what to look out for in grant solicitation requirements.  Faculty and staff are encouraged to notify OSP about a faculty’s intent to apply.  The internal Notice of Intent (NOI) is found in the hyperlink below:

Once OSP is notified via the intent to submit, an OSP staff member will be tasked to assist with any documentation necessary to submit the proposal. 

Please note that notifying the OSP department of your intent to apply is not binding.  If the PI/PD decides not to follow through with the proposal, he/she is entitled to do so without any repercussions.


The UTRGV Office of Sponsored Programs is a great resource when developing your proposal budget.  On the OSP web-page you will find a budget development worksheet that was designed to facilitate the budget process. This budget worksheet will need to be completed along with any external budget required by the grantor. OSP staff will review the information for accuracy, and if needed, will revise the budget. When awarded this internal worksheet will be used as reference guide for other departments such as the Grants and Contracts Office, the Procurement Office, and the Human Resources Department. 

The budget development worksheet can be found on the following link:

Please consult with a staff member in the OSP office to calculate fringe benefits for personnel listed on the budget development worksheet.  Depending on the individual’s institutional base salary, the fringe rate will range from 28% to 51% during the academic/calendar year, and 18% for faculty summer salary.   

Facilities and Administration Indirect Costs

Indirect costs in simple terms is simply the overhead costs of conducting research at a university.  Because actual indirect costs corresponding to a sponsored project are difficult to determine, universities began to negotiate a rate based on indirect cost pools.  The Department of Health and Human Services is the agency tasked with negotiating the rates that an institution can charge to a sponsored project account for indirect costs/overhead.  The calculation is based on indirect costs pools/components such as depreciation on building, use charge or depreciation of equipment, operation and maintenance of physical plant, general administration, student services, sponsored projects administration, departmental administration and library.  The reimbursed indirect costs is a continuous revenue stream for universities.  After the revenue is collected, a portion of the funds are distributed back to the department, College, Provost, and President.  For UTRGV the distribution of reimbursed indirect costs has yet to be announced.  The current negotiated rate approved by the Department of Health and Human Services for UTRGV indirect costs is 45.3% for on campus and 22.30% off campus.  This percentage is calculated using the sum of all total direct costs: salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel and up to the first $25,000 of each sub-award

Cost Share Guidelines

UTRGV Policy and UT System policies INT 158 Cost Sharing Policy provide guidance on how to account for mandatory cost share contributions on a sponsored project, as well as voluntary committed, voluntary uncommitted.  Third -party in-kind contributions do not require accounting entries.

Cost share is the portion of a sponsored project that is not funded by the sponsor.  This occurs when the sponsor requests that institution commit funds beyond those that may be possibly awarded.  It is the policy of the UT System that all cost sharing that is proposed be approved, administered, be made available, and accounted for in a consistent and reasonable manner throughout the project/program.

In order to comply with all applicable federal laws and regulations and sponsoring agency guidelines, UTRGV/UT System must be accountable for all documenting and verifying of cost share commitments.

If you checked off the cost sharing box on the intent to submit form and if the cost share is voluntary committed or mandatory cost share then the cost share must be accounted in the University accounting records. If the cost share was mandatory, the notice of grant award will reflect the institutional commitment.

Documenting Cost Sharing

You can access the UTRGV cost share form on the link below:

The sole purpose for completing a cost share form at the time of proposal preparation is to ensure that the funds being committed are accounted for and encumbered to the appropriate sponsored project at the time of award.   If committing direct costs in time and effort, you will need to identify if this is for a fiscal year, Fall, Spring, Fall and Spring, or Summer.  For cost share commitments that bind institutional funds, typically department accounts, the source project account must be identified, as well the project account manager and project account manager’s supervisor (Dean, or Provost if that is the account manager’s supervisor).  For third party in-kind external commitments, a letter or document must be attached and signed by an authorized representative with the dollar amount to be contributed. A valuation method will also be required for those costs that are not directly captured in the accounting records (example: use of facilities and equipment). 


Preparing to route and finalize the proposal

All UTRGV proposals are to be submitted through the Office of Sponsored Programs and all documents must be uploaded for review and approval on the Cayuse portal.  All UTRGV employees have access to the Cayuse portal, which is a dedicated portal with an electronic approval workflow feature for grants and contracts.  

The portal can be accessed by clicking on the link below:

Instructions on how to access and navigate through the portal can be found by clicking on this link:

All documentation pertaining to the proposal will be permanently archived on Cayuse and any approvals will be sent out and captured electronically.

Documents typically uploaded to Cayuse for review and approval are the following:

  • Request for Proposal /Funding announcement
  • Budget Template
  • Abstract
  • Cost Share information

Due to the typical time constraints and the many administrative institutional approvals required for grants submissions, it is critical that the budget be one of the first tasks to be completed when developing the proposal.  In worst case scenarios, the budget template and abstract can be routed for approval while other documents remain pending to upload

Internal Review at the School of Medicine

The Office of the Associate Dean of Research will be responsible for reviewing the complete proposal with all the appropriate forms (abstract, budget, narrative etc.) uploaded onto Cayuse, the UTRGV proposal submission portal.  The Dean may at this time requests further information from the PI and Dept. Chair, prior to approving the proposal to next review group.  The approval workflow will be the PI/PD, Supervisor/Dept. Chair, Associate Dean, and finally OSP.  For proposals to foundations, the Office of Sponsored Programs will work in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Advancement to ensure all information is complete at the time of submission.  

The following is a list employees in the Office of Sponsored Programs Staff:  

Yvette Perez Espindola, Senior Research Services Coordinator


Assists faculty and staff with identifying funding opportunities, as well as budget preparation and proposal submissions.  Assists with award processing. 

Armando Salinas, Senior Research Services Coordinator


Assists faculty and staff with identifying funding opportunities, as well as budget preparation and proposal submissions.

Suelema Gonzalez, Senior Research Services Coordinator


Assists faculty and staff with the preparation of proposal submissions to sponsoring agencies.

Mari Perez, Senior Research Services Coordinator


Grant submissions and award processing. Reviews grant guidelines, reviews eligibility, deadlines, and assists with preparing budgets and other necessary documentation for submission. 

Roxanna Garcia, Administrative Analyst


Assists faculty and staff in searching for funding opportunities using the Pivot/COS grant funding database. Also, assists PI’s and PD’s in submitting technical reports to funding agencies.

Andrew Lawler, Research Services Coordinator

(956) – 882-7525

Assists faculty and staff with identifying funding opportunities, as well as budget preparation and proposal submissions. Assists with award processing.