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NIA Grant Policy for Applications with Large Budgets*

*Grants with budgets of $500,000 or more in any single grant year submitted to a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) with “Requests of $500,000 or more in Direct Costs in any single year” language.

Unsolicited Large Budget Applications require an Awaiting Receipt of Application (ARA) before submitting the application to NIH. Below is general guidance on obtaining an ARA from NIA for Large Budget Applications. According to NIH and NIA policy, Principal Investigators (PI) of all unsolicited applications that request $500,000 or more in Direct Costs for any single year (regardless of average per year costs) must seek approval from appropriate extramural program staff at least six weeks prior to the anticipated submission date. See NOT-OD-02-004 and NOT-AG-11-001. Failure to seek and gain ARA approval for Large Budget Application with Direct Costs budget of $500,000 or more in any single year will result in the application being withdrawn and not reviewed.

This policy applies to:

  • New (type 1)
  • Competing renewal (Type 2)
  • Competing revision (Type 3)
  • Amended or resubmitted applications (A1)

A request for an ARA is needed if the NOFO contains the following language:

Requests of $500,000 or more for direct costs in any year
Applicants requesting $500,000 or more in Direct Costs in any year (excluding consortium F&A) must contact a Scientific/Research Contact at least 6 weeks before submitting the application and follow the Policy on the Acceptance for Review of Unsolicited Applications that Request $500,000 or More in Direct Costs as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

The policy does not apply to applications submitted in response to SBIR (R43/R44), STTR (R41/R42), Requests for Applications (RFAs), or other funding opportunities that do not include “Requests of $500,000 or more in Direct Costs in any year” language.


While PIs must seek approval at least six weeks prior to the anticipated submission date, NIA encourages PIs to contact a NIA Program Officer (PO) as early as possible to obtain assistance in submitting an ARA. A PO can be identified by reaching out to the NIA Scientific/Research Contact listed at the end of Section VII of the NOFO. The PO will discuss the project, provide access to the ARA Over the Cap Request Form, and offer further guidance. Failure to seek approval for a large budget application will result in the application not being accepted for review and a delay in consideration until the next receipt date.

Procedure Overview

After contacting and discussing the project with the appropriate NIA PO, the PI will provide pertinent information about the project using NIA’s ARA Over the Cap Request Form (details can be found below). The information provided will be reviewed by leadership and the final decision will be emailed to the PI. If approved, NIA will submit an approved ARA that will alert the Division of Receipt and Referral that NIA will accept assignment of the application if submitted in the proposed Council. If the PI is unable to submit their application in the Council that they indicated, please contact the PO. Once assigned to NIA, the NIA PO will double check that budgets and other key information matches the approved request. Failure to comply with the approved parameters may result in withdrawal of the application without scientific review.

Following initial peer review for technical and scientific merit and secondary review by the National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA), funding decisions will be made by the Institute’s leadership. Please note that the pay lines for large budget applications may differ compared to non-large budget applications as outlined in NOT-AG-11-001 and published on NIA’s funding line policy page.

Preparing for the ARA Over the Cap Request Form

The form requests general information about the application and submission information. If the grant application will have multiple PIs, it is important that the application’s contact PI information is entered into the form and not that of a co-PI.

Budget information (Direct and Total Costs) for all years will be requested. The application’s budget should match the budget submitted in the ARA request. Program staff will check to ensure budget numbers of application match the approved request.

The form will also request additional details about the proposed research. This will include a project description, Specific Aims, data sharing plans, inclusion of diverse population, recruitment, and retention plans. If human subjects or human subject data will be used, the PI will need to provide details on diverse populations, the plan to recruit diverse populations, a planned enrollment Table similar to the Inclusion Enrollment Report, and a description of cohort or study population. If the proposal includes animals, details about the proposed animals will need to be provided (e.g., species, strain) along with the proposed number of animals for each specific aim of the study, the projected number of male and female mice, and any relevant justifications.

Lastly, there will be several questions about how this proposed research relates to the PI’s previous research, the role of mentees, and if the research will lead to resources that would be of significant value to the larger scientific research community.

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