Step 3 - Proposal Approval and Submission

Step 3A. Proposal Approvals
B. Proposal Submissions
C. Submission Timeline

A. Proposal Approvals

Internal Approvals Checklist

Before a proposal is submitted to an external funding agency, the application must be approved through the University’s established procedure. SmartGrant Online Routing is used to gather the approvals. By electronically approving the proposal in SmartGrant, each signatory accepts accountability for the roles and actions assigned to them by the University, as described below. 

SmartGrant gathers information required for processing a grant or contract and electronic signatures showing the University’s support. Routing is required for every grant proposal or contract submitted to the Office of Research. If circumstances prevent online routing, ask the Office of Research for a paper form to circulate for signatures.

The routing process must be completed before the proposal can be submitted.

  • The Intro Proposal Data section includes information on the Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-Principal Investigator(s), the project type, proposal due date, name of sponsoring agency, and proposal title. Questions regarding conflict of interest, involvement of human subjects, and cost sharing are addressed. You may need to check with the Office of Research for specific information.
  • The Budget Preliminary Info section records project start and end dates, specifies Indirect Costs Rates, and sets up your budget for development.
  • The Budget Detail section will need to be generated and Personnel effort entered.
  • The Print Forms section allows you to create an abstract or upload documents your Chair/Dean may need to see for approval.

Once the above steps are completed, routing can be initiated. Electronic approval is required from the PI, other committed personnel such as co-PIs or Faculty Associates, and the department chair(s) and college dean(s) of the PI and any other committed personnel. Depending on the scope of the project other approvals (see below) may be necessary. All of the required approval signatures must be obtained before the proposal will be submitted to the funding agency.

Call the Office of Research if you need help entering your proposal in SmartGrant and initiating Online Routing.

The usual practice is to upload the abstract, budget, and budget justification for Chair/Dean review. They may ask for the complete proposal if they would like to review it in more detail.

Principal Investigator, Project Director, and Co-Principal Investigators

The e-signatures of the principal investigator, all co-principal investigators, and other committed personnel are required. "Other committed personnel" means KSU faculty or staff who are either paid from the grant or committing time to the projects as specified in the proposal. By signing electronically approving the proposal, the PI, co-PIs, and other committed personnel agree to:

  • Accept responsibility for the intellectual content of the research or scholarly activity that is proposed
  • Accept responsibility for the quality and completeness of both the fiscal and technical portions of the proposal
  • Ensure that all necessary institutional approvals (see “Other Approvals” below) are received prior to submission of the proposal to an outside funding source
  • Avoid conflict of interest
  • Adhere to the principles of responsible conduct in research or other creative work described in the KSU Faculty Handbook
  • Assure that the sponsored project is conducted safely and in accordance with university, federal, state, and local regulations
  • Meet deadlines for the completion of reports to the sponsoring agency
  • Accept responsibility for administration of the awarded activity
  • Use funds for the awarded project appropriately and ensure that all expenditures are consistent with the terms and conditions of the award
  • Report potentially patentable or other commercial results
  • Complete the work on schedule and within the project’s agreed upon budget
  • Assure compatibility with the total academic assignment determined in consultation with the department chair or director and dean

Department Chair and/or Center/Institute Director

The department chair or center/institute director of the Principal Investigator and all Co-Principal Investigators must approve all sponsored activities prior to proposal submission to the dean(s). In certain cases, center/institute directors are delegated oversight responsibilities. The signature of the department chair or center/institute director or designee on the Proposal Routing Form indicates acknowledgment of the:

  • Research or creative activities that are being conducted in the department
  • Research or creative activity conforming to the short or long-range objectives of the department
  • Needs of the proposal in terms of space requirements, materials, staffing, or health and safety hazards associated with the conduct of the activities
  • Commitment to provide any necessary requirements if the proposal is funded
  • Approval of release time (if any) for designated faculty
  • Coverage of any over expenditure or disallowed expenditures from departmental funds
  • Adherence to all applicable department, college, and university procedures
  • Competency of the PI to conduct and manage the proposed project


The dean or designee assures that he/she:

  • Acknowledges the proposed project
  • Recognizes the project as compatible with the institutional goals and objectives of the college
  • Makes available staff and space necessary for conducting the project
  • Recognizes personnel descriptions as appropriate and consistent in the college
  • Is aware of the budgetary impact of the project on the college

Other Approvals

Depending on the nature of the project additional approvals may be needed before the proposal is submitted to the Office of Research. Projects requiring special assistance from the offices of must be signed off by the applicable responsible official.

  • Information Technology Services,
  • Environmental Health & Safety, or
  • Plant Operations (if alterations are required to the physical plant)

Back to top

B. Proposal Submissions

It is the responsibility of the PI to route their proposal for timely submission to the sponsor. For proposals where the internal approval process is started less than three (3) business days prior to the sponsor's deadline, the PI accepts the risks of the proposal missing the deadline or being rejected for errors.

Refer to the Internal Approvals Checklist for a comprehensive guide on what you need to complete before proposal submission.

Standard Process

If the application is to be submitted electronically, the Office of Research will provide technical support (including uploading documents, if necessary) and take care of the electronic signature. For many electronic submissions, there are parts that must be completed by the PI and parts that must be completed by the Office of Research. Plan to be available on submission day to answer last minute questions, especially for electronic submissions. Occasionally, questions arise that are not covered in the application guidelines. If a paper application is required, the Office of Research will manage copying and shipping.

Deadlines vary widely among sponsors and sponsor programs. Proposal deadlines can be based upon a postmark by the U.S. Postal Service or receipt in the sponsor's mailroom. With electronic systems, an accepted proposal may mean the electronic proposal file has been transferred and processed by one or two systems. In most cases, sponsors will not consider proposals that miss a deadline.

Multiple Proposal Submissions

In some cases, identical proposals may be submitted simultaneously to more than one sponsor provided each sponsor is advised that this has occurred. Careful attention must be given to agency restrictions on the submission of identical proposals to multiple sponsors. Please consult the Office of Research well in advance of any deadlines.

Tips for Successful Submission

Fill out the SmartGrant Intro Proposal Data and email a copy of the abstract, budget, and budget justification to the Office of Research for pre-approval. The budget is usually the most time consuming portion of a proposal to check, and advance copies allow us to help correct possible errors while the text is still in its draft stage.

Email or call OR if the proposal is being submitted in response to a specific Broad Agency Announcement, Request for Proposals, Research Announcement, etc. so that we can review the proposal along with the solicitation guidelines.

Allow time for corrections and make sure a contact is available. In many cases, proposals are ready to be signed and submitted without further correction or revision. However, there are times when corrections need to be made, particularly if a budget has not been sent in advance or if a PI is applying to a sponsor with which s/he or the OR is unfamiliar. Allowing time for corrections helps to ensure the proposal is at its best when it is sent out. The PI and/or a departmental/divisional contact must be available to make corrections until the proposal is ready to submit to the sponsor.

Back to top

C. Submission Timeline

This timeline is not intended to represent the most OR can do, but the minimum OR will do. If possible, OR will provide a more thorough review of the proposal and will let PIs know when a proposal will receive less than a complete review due to time constraints.

Acquisition of Signatures and Approvals

At least Two (2) Weeks Prior to the Deadline:

  • Start circulating Cover Pages, Letters of Support/Commitment or other program-specific documents that require signatures from you Chair, Dean, President, etc.
  • Start the proposal in SmartGrant. If you have not already contacted OR, this will alert the Proposal Submission Coordinator that you are going to apply.
  • Initiate Electronic Routing through SmartGrant. Even if your proposal is not final, starting routing early will allow plenty of time for circulation. You will still be able to edit your proposal while it is going through the approval process. If your Chair/Dean requires a final draft for approval, make sure you finish your proposal early so the approval process can be completed in a timely manner.

Review Process Based on Time Allotted

At least 3 days prior to submission, OR will perform a complete review, including:

  • Comparison of proposal to sponsors' guidelines (e.g. forms and formatting)
  • Review of budget (calculation, rates, relevance to project description, cost-sharing)
  • SmartGrant information entered by PI
  • Compliance issues (e.g., human/animal subjects, health and safety, conflict of interest)

1 to 2 days prior to submission, OR will review at least the following:

  • Review of budget for correct rates and cost sharing
  • SmartGrant information entered by PI
  • Compliance issues (e.g., human/animal subjects, health and safety, conflict of interest)

With less than 1 days' time prior to submission, OR may only be able to verify that routing approval has been completed (the minimum requirement for any proposal to be submitted) and that FCOI disclosures have been submitted, if applicable.


Proposal documents and routing approval should be complete 2 days prior to the application deadline. The Office of Research cannot guarantee successful submission if final documents and routing are not complete before this time. However, OR will still do its best to submit proposals that are completed less than 2 days before the deadline.

Back to top