This policy sets guidelines for faculty and staff who are seeking grants and external funding from private, local, state, and/or federal agencies. The following guidelines include:


A. Overview

B. Grants and External Funding Preparation

C. Preparation for Submission

D. On Campus Review, Approval, and Submission

E. Award Review, Acceptance, and Initiation


A. Overview


Grants and External Funding are intended to address specific initiatives linked to Valley City State University mission but not to support routine operation. 


1. The University

Valley City State University is a non-profit organization by virtue of its status as a member of the North Dakota University System. As such, it is legally authorized to apply for, accept, and administer funds from public and private sponsors as the fiscal agent for its constituents.


2. The Grants Office


The Grants Office: (1) assists eligible VCSU personnel in developing and securing funding for externally sponsored programs, and (2) assists the University-at-large in all undertakings involving grant and external funding opportunities. The Office:

  • reviews proposals for institutional approval prior to submission,
  • routes proposals to University officials for approval,
  • assists faculty and staff in preparing and submitting such proposals, and
  • helps the University address other external funding-related functions and obligations

3. VCSU Roles and Responsibilities

  • Principal Investigator Faculty and/or Staff Member becomes the Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD). The "Principal Investigator" refers to a person imitating research. The "Project Director" denotes a person with organizational and leadership responsibilities for other types of the program.
  • It is the responsibility of the PI/PD to ensure the Proposal is complete, accurate, and meets all programmatic, administrative, and compliance requirements.
  • The PI/PD retains responsibility and accountability for the content of all portions of the Proposal, including any post submission revisions.

Department Chair

  • The Department Chair is responsible for reviewing the Proposal to ensure it is consistent with the department’s mission and goals.

Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • The VPAA is responsible for reviewing the Proposal to ensure it is consistent with the University’s policies and procedures
  • Affirms academic resource availability and commitment.

Vice President for Business Affairs

  • The VPBA is responsible for reviewing the Proposal to ensure it is consistent with the University’s policies and procedures
  • Affirms any in-kind contributions, cost share, match funds, and/or facilities and administration commitments.

Grants Manager

  • It is the Grants Manager’s responsibility to review and assist with the proposal development, submission, revisions, and award acceptance.

B. Grants and External Funding Preparation

Valley City State University has the institutional responsibility to verify the eligibility of all grants and external funding proposals before submission to the Sponsor.


1. Pre-Proposal

The PI/PD should determine if a pre-proposal is a requirement or option for the project. Submission of a pre-proposal should include Request for Proposal (RFP) from the sponsor, if provided, the pre-proposal form from the granting agency, and VCSU's pre-proposal cover sheet. 

If academic release time or positions are requested, the Pre-Proposal form must be completed and submitted to the Grants Office prior to proposal preparation. Draft budget concepts should be discussed with the Grants Manager and/or the Vice President for Business Affairs.


2. Proposal Preparation

Grants and external funding that meet the following guidelines require ONLY completion of the Proposal Transmittal form and approval by the Department Chair, Vice President for Business Affairs, and Grants Manager.

  • No Cost Share needed
  • No Matching funds requested
  • No academic release time or commitment required
  • Total grant request is less than $10,000

To maximize the prospects of grant and external funding success and to address potential conflicts early, the PI/PD should use the program planning and proposal preparation as an interactive process involving:

  • Department Chair
  • Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Vice President for Business Affairs
  • Any other appropriate VCSU Officials
  • Off campus partners or cooperating institutions

3. Assistance from the Grants Office

The Grants Office assists grant seekers in gaining familiarity with various types of grants and external funding. The Grants Office supports the grant writing process by:

  • Assisting PI/PDs to formulate ideas on assessment, budget, and project administration
  • Helping draft letters of intent, partnership, and memorandums of agreement
  • Supporting PI/PD in writing and preparing the grant for submission
  • Assisting with grant submission through or Fastlane.
  • Providing support for grants submitted through the mail.

University approval of grant submission through, or Fastlane is available only through the Grants Office.

4. Form Preparation (Forms are available from the Grants Office or online at

C. Preparation for Submission

  • Completed proposal and forms must be submitted to the Grants Office a minimum of five working days before the grant due date. Grant Office personnel will provide writing and budget assistance, but the grant must arrive in the office at least 10 working days before the submission due date. 
  • The completed Proposal Transmittal form and any other forms specified for grant or external funding submission.
  • The Request for Proposal (RFP) from the grant agency
  • The Proposal
  • A narrative Scope of Work
  • Assessment plan for meeting objectives/goals
  • Budget
  • Budget Narrative/Justification
  • Other items as required by the Sponsor

D. Internal Review, Approval, Submission

1. Internal Review and Approval

Campus review and approval requires a minimum of five days. The process begins from the Grants Office and once submission materials are complete it is routed for approval to:

  • Department Chair
  • Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Vice President for Business Affairs
  • Grants Manager

2. Submission

The proposal may be submitted by the PI or through the Grants Office. Arrangements need to be made with the Grants Office if entered through or Fastlane. 

Authorized submission approval from the President, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, or the Vice President for Business Affairs is required.

E. Award Review, Acceptance, and Initiation

1. Award Review


Upon receipt of a grant or external funding agreement, the Grants Manager will: 

  • review the document and consult with the PI/PD, and/or other University officials regarding the acceptability of the proposed award terms,
  • conduct further negotiations with the sponsor, if necessary,
  • recommend approval or modification of those terms, and
  • generally assist in closing the award transaction.

Once acceptable award terms have been determined, the Grants Manager will obtain the appropriate institutional approvals and arrange the timely return of the VCSU-approved award document to the sponsor.


2. Award Acceptance

  • Upon final execution of a grant or external funding agreement, the Grants Office will report the formal receipt of the award to the PI/PD who will officially inform the respective officials involved in the project.
  • The award then may be acknowledged publicly, allowing the PI/PD, Department Chair, or other appropriate officials to arrange any publicity related to the project/award.
  • Publicity should be arranged through the Marketing and Communications Director.

3. Project Initiation

Once an award has been received, reviewed, and approved, the Grants Manager will contact the PI/PD concerning the initiation of the post-award administration including the establishment of a project and financial accounting practices of the VCSU Business Office. 


4. Proposal Disposition (Records Retention)

The Grants Office will maintain records of unfunded proposals after their submission and records of funded proposals according to the University and government policies regarding retention of archival materials.

Sponsored by: Vice President for Academic Affairs 

Reviewed: Spring 1996

Revised: December 2012

Revised: October 2015