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NIA interim payline update

NIA interim payline update

Posted on December 11, 2013 by Robin Barr, Director of the Division of Extramural Activities. See Robin Barr's full profile.

We have been here before. The continuing resolution provides some research funds—not a lot though. Like a ticking clock it winds down on January 15. And our backdrop is a familiar debate on Capitol Hill about appropriations. Maybe it will end with better NIA and NIH numbers than last year. Or maybe not.

The interim payline is very conservative.

What is a continuing resolution?

A continuing resolution is a temporary budget used by Congress to fund NIH and other government operations. It’s used when the annual budget has not been passed by Congress and signed into law by the President before the new fiscal year starts.

What is NIA's fiscal year?

The NIA fiscal year, like that of the rest of the federal government, runs October 1 through September 30.

We posted our interim funding policy. Really there is only one option in setting paylines, or funding lines, for grants at this time. We must be conservative. Imagine the outcry if our budget tightens later in the year and suddenly we have to shrink our funding line, or even pull back from awards, applications that we had committed to pay! We need to avoid that nightmare. That’s why we are conservative.

What conservative means for now…

So, for the moment, NIA is paying research grant applications reviewed at the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) to the 7th percentile. (Keep in mind that lower scores are better, so this means we are paying applications at the 7th percentile and below.) We paid some of these applications prior to the end of the fiscal year. This action completes the set. This is a TEMPORARY payline. Hopefully we will be able to pay more applications once Congress enacts a budget or continuing resolution that covers the entire fiscal year.

The interim payline for applications reviewed at the NIA is a score of 11.

Why the difference between CSR-reviewed and NIA-reviewed applications?

Please read my previous blog post on this topic.

For program projects and other applications reviewed at NIA the interim payline is a score of 11. Here again, lower scores are better, so applications with a score of 11 or below will soon be paid. And again, this is a TEMPORARY payline.

I hope that we will be able to raise these lines once NIA knows its full year appropriation. We were able to do that last year even with a sequestered final budget.

What is the sequester?

Sequestration is automatic budget cuts implemented across the federal government. It removes a substantial amount of money from the NIA and NIH budgets each year.

An exception for career development awards. The interim payline is a score of 20.

About the only payline that is more favorable for applicants is that for NIA career development awards. These represent a small part of our overall budget and the volume of applications that we are seeing, as well as the quality, signal the tough circumstances that junior faculty and postdoctoral trainees face at this time. The force of the argument to provide a little more immediate relief to this group is overwhelming. We have paid the October round of career development awards to a score of 20—the same payline that we achieved in fiscal year 2013.

What if you’re close to the payline, but just on the wrong side of the cutoff?

I know personally several investigators with CSR-reviewed applications at the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th percentiles and early stage investigators with applications up to another five points beyond that range. I have heard firsthand how frustrated you are about not knowing whether the application will be paid, whether you should resubmit, whether you should reshape the application into an R21, or an R03, et cetera. We feel frustrated about this situation, too! Being in limbo is terrible. I know that you will be discussing these concerns with program officers, as you should.

All I can say to you and to our program officers is that your applications deserve to be paid! We know it; reviewers have already indicated that the quality of the work you propose is exceptional. But, for now, none of us at the NIA can give you a firm determination of whether you will be funded. You can ask, but we can’t tell, because we don’t know. I wish it were otherwise.

More questions or comments?

I’d like to hear from you. There’s a comment form below. However, if you have questions specific to your application, your program officer may be the best point of contact.


Read Next:

NIA Funding Policy for Fiscal Year 2014, posted December 2013

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Posted by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2013 - 12:48 pm

Does this 7th percentile apply to all grants (no matter the size) or investigator status (new or early)? For example, I am a new investigator who's grant was at the 11th percentile. Does this temporary payline mean that mine will not be funded at this time?

Posted by Robin Barr on Dec 11, 2013 - 3:07 pm

Along with applications from other new and early stage investigators, your application will be in limbo for a while longer. The reason is that we cannot make a new investigator policy until we know our budget for FY2014. At NIA we are still very committed to advancing new and early stage investigators and we have every intention of giving an edge to their R01 applications again this year. That translates into reasonable optimism about funding new investigators like you.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2013 - 11:42 pm

Is the 7th percentile funding line across the board for R01, R21, and R03 applications OR do R21s or R03s in the 8th through 11th percentile stand a chance?

Posted by Robin Barr on Dec 12, 2013 - 12:42 pm

We have not been giving R03s and R21s a more generous payline than R01s and that remains true, though R03s and R21s are advantaged in other ways (see So like R01 applicants those with R03 and R21 applications at the limbo percentiles will have to wait. With the recent news hopefully it won’t be too long.

Posted by Mike Bowers on Dec 11, 2013 - 1:34 pm

The latest blog on Paylines at the NIA is depressing but understandable. What is hopeful is that the leadership of the NIA both communicates to those of us seeking/holding support and they want to expand their resource base as much as we want them too. This is in stark contrast to the policy of some DoD agencies. Here there is tension at the top as the Generals want to protect funding for their priorities and the research agencies are a source of funds they feel they might be able to use in times of financial stress. Last year I had a DoD grant canceled a month from payment of a promised 3rd year segment (along with many others) and only a massive response including members of congress forced a change ultimately leading to funding of the segment 3 months late. You can imagine the chaos as we all scrambled to cover our commitments when the DoD decided not to cover theirs. I'll take the NIA any day!

Posted by Alex Smith on Dec 11, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Thanks Dr. Barr for this explanation - a bitter pill for sure but I wonder, is there better news on the horizon? Some of the headlines from yesterday and today describe a budget deal in congress: Hopefully this budget will pass and things can return to "normal."

Posted by Robin Barr on Dec 11, 2013 - 3:05 pm

I saw that news too and have my fingers crossed—though not while I type! Hopefully you will see a blog in the new year with news where we can pay more of the truly deserving awards that can advance our science and, most importantly, benefit the health of older Americans.

Posted by Anonymous 2 on Dec 11, 2013 - 6:18 pm

Thank you, Dr. Barr for presenting this information. I see that an exception has been made for career development awards. What about diversity/administrative supplements? Are these being treated like career development awards? What is their fate?

Posted by Robin Barr on Dec 12, 2013 - 12:44 pm

Unfortunately, diversity and similar supplement programs must wait until we have a full budget. Diversity supplements are important, but at this moment do not have the urgency of the career development program. We will begin paying them in the new year when we have a full budget.

Posted by AK on Dec 12, 2013 - 8:22 pm

Does it make sense to fund career development awards at the 20th percentile and fund R01s, R21s, and R03s at the 7th percentile? I understand the importance of encouraging and supporting new talent, but aren't we setting up a majority of them to fail in the future? One if 5 CDA applicants will move forward in an academic research career, but once they come off their CDAs, only one in 14 will get funding to keep doing research.

Posted by Robin Barr on Dec 13, 2013 - 12:00 pm

I might write a lot of answers to that good question and some will probably appear in a future blog but the simple one is this: I expect that we will go further down the line for R01s, R03s, and R21s later in the year. So the difference was about urgency rather than about ultimate success.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec 17, 2013 - 6:14 am

I am eligible as a new investigator, and I just receive a score of 25 and 9 percentile for my first R01 application. What is the likelihood of this application to be funded

Posted by Dominic Walsh on Dec 19, 2013 - 6:05 pm

You said: "NIA is paying research grant applications reviewed at the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) to the 7th percentile", what does that mean in terms of a new investigator (not a young) scores in the 10th percentile?

Posted by NIA Blog Team on Dec 20, 2013 - 1:45 pm

Information about how the NIA is handling CSR-reviewed applications in the 9th and 10th percentile can be found in the blog post. Please take a second look at the section, "What if you’re close to the payline, but just on the wrong side of the cutoff?"

Posted by Anonymous on Feb 21, 2014 - 2:13 pm

When will the payline for FY2014 be developed?

Posted by Robin Barr on Feb 21, 2014 - 3:08 pm

The payline for FY2014 is coming soon. Dr. Hodes, the NIA Director, will announce it in his opening remarks at our Council meeting on Wednesday, February 26. That meeting is videocast at A day or two after that details will be posted on this site:

Posted by Anonymous on Mar 05, 2014 - 4:14 pm

Is it possible that you can tell us the paylines for R01, NI R01 and ESI R01 in FY2014? It will be very helpful if they are conveniently available to public.

Posted by NIA Blog Team on Mar 05, 2014 - 5:12 pm

We are working to get this information up as soon as possible. When available, it will be posted at: Dr. Hodes also gave some information about this in his Council presentation:

Posted by EA on Mar 12, 2014 - 1:22 am

Hi Dr. Barr. Could you please let us know what the updated pay line is for career development awards (F31, F32)? Thanks very much.

Posted by Robin Barr on Mar 12, 2014 - 12:50 pm

You may have noticed that we published guidance for FY 2014 on funding lines, or paylines, for research grants. We can't reliably do the same for fellowships or career awards or even small business awards. The problem is that we need a large number of applications to generate a reliable prediction of our funding line in a future round. When the base is small even small variations in the numbers of applications getting good scores can move our line up or down. So my best advice if you have a pending application in one of these categories is to contact your program officer (named in your Commons account).