Prepare a Grant Proposal

From research, to establishing relationships, to writing, a lot goes into preparing a grant proposal. Here are some resources on how to create a successful grant proposal at WSU.  

A grant proposal outlines a proposed research or scholarly project and its budgetary requirements, and it ultimately requests funding in the form of a grant.

There’s more than one kind of grant proposal—it’s important to know which one fits your purpose best.

Proposal Types
Request for Proposals (RFP) Response

One-time solicitations addressing a specific need or area of interest, usually with a specific deadline.

Solicitation Response

A sponsor request for research, training, or scholarly activity in a specific area of interest, usually with a recurring annual or periodic deadline.

Unsolicited Responses

An investigator proposes a request for support to a sponsor.

Some unsolicited proposals must meet specific guidelines, depending on the organization.

Letters of Intent (LOI)

A letter or pre-proposal to gauge the project’s connection to the sponsor’s interests prior to an invitation to develop a full proposal.

This typically includes a project description, budget overview, and the project’s outcomes or broader impacts.

Continuation or Renewal Request

A proposal for continued funding at the end of the cycle.

A progress report (non-competing continuation request) or full proposal may be required.


A revised request in response to a previously submitted proposal.

How to Make a Successful Proposal

Once you’ve determined which type of proposal you are trying to create, here are 3 key tips on making your proposal successful:  

  1. Submit a Transmittal Process Form, an WSU form which requests proposal and funding agency information and requires institutional authorizations
  2. Complete funding agency form(s)—these vary by agency but typically require an abstract or summary, project narrative, project timeline, and detailed budget
  3. Provide text-specific forms to the agency such as: 
    • goals of the project
    • data management plans
    • investigator vitae
    • citations
    • disclosures and certifications
    • institutional information
    • memoranda of understanding with cooperating organizations 
Proposal Approval Process

Step 1

The Principal Investigator must complete, include supporting materials, and sign the Transmittal Process Form prior to external submission.

The Principal Investigator is responsible for obtaining all required signatures.

Step 2

Chairs, deans, directors, or other supervisors are also required to sign the Transmittal Process Form.

For proposals involving more than one unit, all affected supervisors must review and sign the form. Approvals indicate the proposal has been reviewed for consistency with institutional and unit priorities and appropriate commitment of resources.

Step 3

Following supervisor approval, the Transmittal Process Form, proposal, and supporting materials are forwarded at least 7 business days prior to submission to Grants and Sponsored Projects for remaining signatures.

At a minimum, these include the Grants and Sponsored Projects Director and the Vice President who has oversight for the submitting unit (typically, the Vice President for Academic Affairs)

Step 4

Proposals that require matching or in-kind funds, reallocation of existing resources, or other major commitments must be discussed and approved by the appropriate Vice President(s) before the proposal can be fully approved.

In this case, Principal Investigators should meet with the Grants and Sponsored Projects Director at least 10 business days prior to deadlines.

Resources & Workshops

Access handouts, Grant Writing workshop series materials, and other grant writing resources.

Check out additional grant writing workshops and pop-up series through Minnesota State below. 

Grant Writing Workshops

In collaboration with Minnesota State Mankato, St. Cloud State University, and Bemidji State University, Grants & Sponsored Projects developed an instructional series of workshops that provides faculty and staff with tools and strategies to lead and manage grants at each stage. 

Watch recordings of past workshops and sessions and dive into other related resources.


As you start developing your grant proposal, review these frequently asked questions for help.

WSU Information & Institutional Numbers

Official Address

Winona State University
175 W. Mark Street (P.O. Box is 5838)
Winona, MN 55987-3384

Degree Authorization & Accreditation

WSU was first authorized to award degrees in 1858.

WSU was first accredited in 1913 by NCACSS. The current accreditation authoritative body is the Higher Learning Commission.

National & State Legislative Districts

First U.S. Congressional District

Minnesota State Senate District 31

Minnesota State Senate District 31A

Some additional institutional data and documents that may be useful include: 


The Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) is the official identifier used to do business with the federal government, such as submitting grant proposals and drawing grant funds.


This same number can be referred to as an EIN, federal entity number, or TIN. It’s issued by the IRS and is like a Social Security Number for businesses.


The Institutional Profile File number is assigned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to track institutional grants activity.

The Public Health Service also uses the IPF number to track whether an institution has established an administrative procedure for responding to allegations of research misconduct.


FWA (Federalwide Assurance) numbers identify the branch campuses that have filed assurances that they will comply with the federal regulations covering the protection of human subjects.

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Human Research Protections assigns an FWA approval number to each branch campus of a university.

WSU has one FWA number. WSU-Rochester is not technically a branch campus.


Every IRB on a campus is registered upon filing for a Federal Wide assurance number and each IRB is assigned an IRB (HRRC) number.

The IRB HRRC number is the registration number identifying each IRB on campus. Institutions may have multiple IRBs.


The IRB Organization (IORG) number identifies the organization when it files or updates its Federalwide Assurances (FWA).

The IORG number identifies the institution. WSU has only one IORG number.

D19-01055, effective on Apr. 12, 2019.

The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) reviews and approves Winona State’s assurance of compliance with the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

00239400 or 002394-00

The number is assigned by the U.S. Department of Education to identify schools eligible to participate in federal student financial assistance programs under Title IV.

Electronic Applications 

Yes! You still need to complete Transmittal Process Form before you submit a grant application online. Grants and Sponsored Projects uses the form to secure the signatures of those committing release time or funds to the project, if needed, as well as signatures of supervisors.

Next, Grants and Sponsored Projects will sign off and secure the signatures of the budget director, president, or vice president.

The website is the centralized electronic system for finding and applying for federal grants. All program announcements are posted there.

WSU is registered as a user. Individual grant writers do not have to register separately.

However, not all agencies use for electronic applications.

Check your application information carefully and let Grants and Sponsored Projects know if you will be using a different application system.

ERA Commons is the National Institutes of Health electronic grants processing system. When you apply to NIH through, the application is transferred to ERA Commons for additional verifications.

If there are application errors, you will need to login to ERA Commons to find out what they are. Contact Grants and Sponsored Projects to create an account.

The HRSA Electronic Handbook is the Health Resources and Services Administration electronic grants processing system. Self-register to access the system to validate applications submitted through

It varies from agency to agency. The best rule of thumb is to check what electronic application system is involved as soon as you find an opportunity and contact Grants and Sponsored Projects well in advance of applying.

Plan on submitting proposals early because these systems may process excess last-minute submissions slowly.

Grant & Sponsored Projects Submission Procedures

Absolutely! We’ll help you find funding sources, provide institutional information, assist in budget preparation, and provide editorial advice.

No. Applications must be signed by someone who has the legal authority to sign contracts on behalf of the university. That authority is vested in the president and the president’s designees.

The Grants and Sponsored Projects director reviews applications on their behalf and secures their signatures.

There are some funding sources that award fellowships directly to individuals, rather than the university.

Check with the Grants and Sponsored Projects Office or funding source directly if you have questions.

Complete the Transmittal Process Form. Grant writers need to secure the signatures of those committing release time or funds to the project, if needed.

Grants and Sponsored Projects will sign and secure the signatures of the president or vice president.

In a nutshell, grants are written contracts with terms and conditions of awards. Gifts are generally irrevocable transfers of assets.

Review WSU’s definitions of Grants vs. Gifts (PDF) for more details.

Salary & Fringe Benefits

For current employees, contact Human Resources for base salary figures and (assuming the grant funding period will be for the next fiscal year) add 2%.

For new positions, Human Resources can supply a figure based on the type of position involved.

In multi-year proposals, increase the annual salary by 2% each year.

The funding sources establish what they will allow. If they will pay your salary and you have an academic year teaching load of 24 credits, each credit hour release is equal to 1/24 of your annual base salary.

Adjunct pay rates are established in the faculty contract.

Divide the base salary by 168 days.

In addition to payroll deductions, WSU contributes to employees’ FICA (social security and Medicare), retirement accounts and health insurance benefits. Rates vary according to individual employees’ health insurance needs.

For current employees, we can contact Fiscal Affairs for individual fringe benefit rates.

For new employees or for a single rate to cover more than one employee, use 40% of salaries and wages. Different rates apply for faculty pay in the summer and for adjunct salaries.

In multi-year proposals, increase the fringe benefit rate by 20% each year.

Yes. Because most faculty choose to be paid on a twelve-month basis, extra health insurance benefits are not deducted during the summer. Use a rate of 20%.

Since this is above the base, use 16.5%.

If they will be teaching less than six hours, use 7.65% to cover FICA.

Work study students are paid $10.33 an hour. Student help may be paid more depending upon the qualifications required. If the student works less than 60 hours per pay period and is enrolled for at least six credits (undergraduates) or three credits (graduate), no fringe benefits are paid.

In the summer, if the student is not enrolled in classes or is working more than 60 hours per pay period, use 7.65% to cover FICA (although this may change as the Affordable Care Act is implemented). If the student is taking at least three credits and working less than 60 hours per pay period, no fringe benefits are needed.

Grants & Sponsored Projects
Email Grants & Sponsored Projects
Tyler Treptow-Bowman
Human Protections Administrator
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Dr. Amy Runck
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Dr. Amanda Brouwer
IRB Co-Chair
Email Amanda Brouwer
Dr. Justin Geijer
IRB Co-Chair
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Dr. Alexandru Stana
IRB Co-Chair
Email Alexandru Stana