How to Apply for a Grant

If you are applying for a grant from a government agency or another sponsored research funder, the Office of Research will process your submission. For corporate and foundation grants, please contact Corporate and Foundation Relations, which is part of Advancement. Feel free to contact us if you need advice.

Table of contents:
How to Apply for Funding - The Big Picture
How to Apply for Funding - The Details
Intent to Apply Process
Proposal Development Roles and Responsibilities 
Pre-award Services
Proposal Development Process
Application Routing Form, Deadline, and Timeline 

How to Apply for Funding - The Big Picture

1. Alert your dean or director that you are interested in applying for funding.
2. Define your project and identify funding sources and opportunities.
3. After identifying a funding source, prepare and route the Intent to Apply Form. Aim to route the form by a minimum of six weeks before the proposal is due. 
4. Contact and set a meeting with Office of Research Staff to discuss planning your proposal. 
5. Prepare your proposal and budget.
6. If you are requesting released time from courses, secure the approval of your department.   


How to Apply for Funding - The Details

Intent to Apply Form: Two Offices, One Form

Saint Mary’s has two offices that support applications for external funding – the Office of Research and Advancement.

  • The Intent to Apply form is a single portal for faculty and staff who are interested in applying for external funding of all types.  It notifies administrators and staff of your plans.  
  • The form includes funder information; application deadlines; a brief project overview; and a checklist of project details. This information helps deans and the staff who would support an application to determine the level of complexity of a proposed project and advise you on proposal development strategies, timelines, and processes.

Intent to Apply Process

  • As primary investigator (PI) or project director, you will send your form to the directors of the Office of Research and Corporate and Foundation Relations, which is part of Advancement, with a cc to your dean or supervisor and vice president/vice provost.
  • The directors of the Office of Research and Corporate and Foundation Relations review your form to determine which office will follow up.  They will also assess the project, which may include:
    -   consultation with the relevant Dean/supervisor to secure input or approval;
    -   preliminary consultation with the Business Office regarding budget, contractual, or other project implications; and/or
    -   review by other offices that may be involved in the proposed project.
  • The director of the Office of Research or the director of Corporate and Foundation Relations will contact you within 5 business days to advise you on next steps for your project.

Proposal Development Roles and Responsibilities

The PI/project director is responsible to:

  • Identify prospective funding opportunities;
  • Prepare and route the Intent to Apply Form; 
  • Design the project;
  • Write the proposal content except for college boilerplate;
  • Develop the budget in consultation with the Office of Research;
  • Gather supporting documents required for the application;
  • Secure the approval of your department. 
  • Prepare the Application Routing Form; and
  • Submit all application documents for review 5 business days (7 calendar days) ahead of the submission* deadline.

*Saint Mary's College's submission deadline is two business days ahead of the funder's absolute deadline.

The Office of Research provides pre-award services. The office is responsible to: 

  • Guide faculty and staff in preparing their Intent to Apply Form
  • Advise on timeline and strategy for proposal development.
  • Provide advice on funders' guidelines and how to make the proposal competitive.
  • Provide Saint Mary's boilerplate.
  • Prepare business pages and coordinate with the Business Office for its approval.
  • Submit the proposal on behalf of the PI/project director and the college.
  • Collaborate to negotiate the terms of the award. 
  • Once the award is finalized, coordinate hand-off to the Business Office for post-award services.

Proposal Development Process

The PI/project director collaborates with the dean, Office of Research, Business Office, and other offices to develop a proposal.  A typical proposal takes three or more months to develop.  

SAMPLE Proposal Development Timeline and Process

Fall Term

- Identify an area of your research that would be fruitful for external funding.  Share your thinking with your dean and colleagues.  Hone your concept.
- Look for funding opportunities that match your project idea.  By end of the term, you identify a good match.  The application deadline is May 1.


- Prepare and circulate the Intent to Apply Form.
- Meet with the Office of Research to plan strategy and timeline.  
- Depending on funder’s communication preferences, set a conference call or e-mail the program officer to clarify alignment with funder’s aims.
- Discuss your project with your dean, including proposed time and effort.
- Based on feedback from program officer and dean, you decide to apply.
- Establish deadlines for submission of the final proposal to Saint Mary’s Office of Research, and for final submission of the approved proposal to the funder.


- Create a proposal outline based on funder guidelines.
- Develop preliminary budget assumptions and share with the Office of Research
- Involve your dean and administrators who will need to approve aspects of your project (e.g. released time; equipment installation; curriculum revisions, etc.)
- Secure commitments from collaborators and from proposal reviewers.
- Identify supporting documents such as support letters, vendor quotes.
- Secure the approval of your department.

February - April

- Write your proposal.
- Secure reviewers’ comments and incorporate their suggestions.
- Collaborate with the Office of Research to finalize your budget.
- Gather supporting documents and format according to agency instructions.

April 21 - 27

- Prepare the Application Routing Form as the cover sheet for routing your proposal.
- Send the Application Routing Form, final proposal, and budget to the Office of Research and your project approvers by April 21.
- Make any adjustments to proposal/budget as a result of the review.
- Receive approval to submit.

April 28

- Office of Research submits proposal ahead of May 1 absolute deadline.

September 1

- Funding decision.  You got the grant!
- On or after September 1, the grant-funded activity may begin.


Application Routing Form, Deadlines, and Timelines

Prior to final proposal submission, the PI/project director circulates the Application Routing Form to the Office of Research:

  • The Application Approval form is used to review and approve all sponsored and public funding requests.
  • Applications must be approved by the PI/project director’s dean or supervisor and all senior administrators (provost, vice presidents, and vice provosts) whose staff are involved in proposal preparation or project implementation.
  • Complete the Application Approval Form at least 5 business days* (7 calendar days) prior to the Saint Mary’s submission deadline for the application.  The Saint Mary’s submission deadline is 2 days prior to the funding agency’s absolute deadline.

*For a complex project or an institution-wide project that requires extensive review, the Application Routing Form and final project documents should be submitted up to 10 business days ahead of submission.  The Office of Research will inform you if your project falls into this category.

Questions? Contact Elizabeth J. Gallagher, Director, Office of Research at 925-631-4223 or

For more information see Grant Tips and Advice and Frequently Asked Questions