College of Liberal Arts

Grants FAQ

Foundation Funding:
Graduate Students:


What does Liberal Arts Grants Services do?

We are an intermediary between Principal Investigators (PIs) in the College of Liberal Arts, the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP), and the University Development Office (UDO). We help PIs navigate UT Austin's internal grant and fundraising regulations by identifying what application procedures apply to different projects and helping PIs meet those requirements. We are also a resource for general information on seeking external funding and can help Liberal Arts faculty, graduate students, departments, centers, and institutes search for funding opportunities and create compelling grant applications.

As a PI, what are my responsibilities on the grant proposal?

The PI is ultimately responsible for all proposal content, including the budget and budget justification, for adhering to Liberal Arts Grants Services and OSP submission timelines, and should be available to discuss modifications throughout the submission process. Grants Services staff will meet with PIs to discuss the project budget, and will provide feedback on appropriate budget formats and UT Austin and sponsor regulations. For a breakdown PI and Grants Services responsibilities, please see our Proposal Preparation and Submission Responsibilities checklist. 

How can I find out about grant opportunities?

There is no one-stop-shop for grant opportunities; the best strategy is to consult multiple resources on an ongoing basis. To start, we suggest subscribing to Liberal Arts Grants Services weekly grants digest, and consulting our website.

What is a limited submission?

Occasionally, sponsors limit the number of submissions they will accept from a single institution. Applications for these programs are announced in the College of Liberal Arts by Liberal Arts Grants Services, and will be vetted by both the Dean of Liberal Arts and the UT Austin VP of Research, through a competitive process, before they are submitted to the sponsor. Liberal Arts will consider proposals submitted by faculty members whose primary position rests 100% with the college. Affiliates from other colleges should submit proposals through the colleges in which they have their primary appointment. More information on limited submission procedures in the College of Liberal Arts can be found here. For list of current limited submissions, visit

How can I complete required Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) training?

The University of Texas System approved a revised Objectivity in Research policy effective August 23, 2012. All faculty, graduate students, and other "covered individuals" named in grant proposals are required to complete Conflict of Interest Training and Financial Disclosure. The Office of Reserach Support administers training through an online system. Information on how to complete training is available here. Questions about FCOI training and disclosure should be directed to the Office of Research Support. 


What does the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) do?

When a PI is awarded a grant for research or some other activity on the UT Austin campus, a binding agreement is created not between the PI and the sponsor, but between UT Austin and the sponsor. OSP reviews grant applications in order to legally protect the University. They pay close attention to grant budgets, in particular, to ensure that enough funding is requested to complete the proposed scope of work, and to ensure that all UT Austin and sponsor budget regulations are followed. 

Does my grant need to be reviewed by OSP?

The vast majority of grants received by UT faculty and academic units will go through OSP. Please ask yourself the following questions about your project:

  1. Will any funds awarded be administered by UT Austin? 
  2. Will funds be designated for specific purposes (travel, equipment, salaries, etc.)?
  3. Will the funding agency expect reports or other deliverables?
  4. Does the application require and "institutional" or "authorized" signature?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it is likely your project will need to be pre-approved by OSP.

What kinds of grants don't go through OSP?

Grants that are paid directly to the PI, such as fellowships and prizes, and unrestricted gifts do not need to go through OSP. Gifts may need to be processed by the University Development Office (UDO); please see FAQ on UDO below for more info.

What are the penalties for late submission?

Proposals submitted outside the Grants Services timeline are subject to limited review. If such a proposal is awarded, the OSP reserves the right to revise the budget before the funds are accepted and may refuse those funds if the budget does not conform to UT Austin regulations. 


Will Liberal Arts Grants Services prepare my budget and budget justification for me?

We work in collaboration with you to prepare these materials to assure that budget categories and rules are applied correctly. A one-on-one meeting with one of our staff members is the most efficient way to accomplish this.

What is a budget justification?

A budget justification typically describes, in a narrative format, the manner in which one's budget is calculated. This includes effort for the key personnel (in months or % time), their qualifications, what responsibilities they will have for the project, as well as any supplies, materials, equipment, consultant fees, and travel proposed in the grant. Typically, the more detailed the budget justification (e.g., line-by-line expense breakdowns), the stronger the proposal's budget.

What are indirect costs (IDC)?

Indirect cost, also called overhead, administrative cost, or F&A, is an estimate of the expenses associated with conducting research or other activities on the UT Austin campus. Indirect costs pay for buildings and maintenance, administrative support staff, electricity, water and other utilities, libraries, IT support and a slew of other services from which all members of the UT Austin community benefit.

How should I calculate IDC for my project?

OSP periodically negotiates an indirect cost rate with the federal government that will be used for most grant applications. Currently, the IDC rate is 55%. Depending on your grant sponsor's indirect cost policy and the nature of your work, some proposals may be eligible for a different rate. The most common alternate categories are training or conference grants, and off-campus research.  IDC waivers or reductions are extremely rare, and will generally only be awarded if the sponsor provides written documentation of an IDC cap or exclusion. For more information, please contact Liberal Arts Grants Services.

What is Cost-Sharing?

When a portion of your project's budget will be paid by someone other than the sponsor to which you are applying, this is called cost-sharing. Cost-sharing can involve in-kind or cash contributions, and may include your contributed effort. Written approval is required for all cost-sharing at the time you plan to submit your proposal to OSP.

What are fringe rates?

"Fringe" refers to the benefits (health and life insurance, retirement, etc.) paid to all UT Austin employees, including faculty, staff and student workers. Although fringe rates may vary slightly from person to person, we typically estimate fringe at 30% for faculty, staff, and graduate TAs and GRAs, and 10% for part-time workers and undergraduates.

Do I need to budget for tuition?

Yes. It is UT Austin policy that if you have graduate research assistants in your grant's budget, then you must provide for their tuition. UT Austin's tuition rates are updated annually. Current rates can be found here.

Foundation Funding:

What is a foundation, and how do I get funding from one?

A foundation is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established for the principal purpose of making grants. Foundations can range in size from large organizations with highly structured giving programs like the Ford Foundation to small family foundations that serve as vehicles for individually-motivated giving. Your approach to any foundation will vary greatly based on their size, interests, and application procedures. Please contact Liberal Arts Grants Services to discuss any foundation solicitations you are considering.

What is the University Development Office (UDO)?

The UDO is the fundraising arm of the university, and is made up of individuals specializing in major gifts from individuals, annual giving, planned giving (estate planning), as well as corporate and foundation relations. The UDO carefully coordinates fundraising efforts across the university to ensure donors are not overwhelmed by too many funding requests at the same time. If you are interested in approaching a foundation or a corporation for funding, please contact Liberal Arts Grants Services to secure permission from UDO. If you are interested in approaching an individual, please contact the Liberal Arts Development Office.

What kinds of solicitations do not need to be reviewed by the University Development Office (UDO)?

All contact with foundations, corporations, and individuals should first be cleared with the UDO unless you are responding to an open Request for Proposals (RFP).

Can I apply to a sponsor that only gives to non-profit or 501(c)(3) organizations?

Yes. UT is a tax-exempt organization, but does not hold 501(c)(3) IRS non-profit status. The Office of Research can provide documentation of UT's tax exempt status should you need it; most funders will accept this in lieu of 501(c)(3) documentation. In rare cases when funders can only make grants to 501(c)(3) organizations for legal reasons, we can arrange for your funds to be routed through the UT Foundation, an arm of the University that does hold this status.

Graduate Students:

Do graduate student grant proposals need to be approved by the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP)?

Most graduate student grants are awarded directly to the student and will not need to be routed through OSP. Grants that do need to be approved by OSP include: federal grants like NSF dissertation grants (DDRIGs), anything that requires "institutional signature" on any proposal documents, or anything that indicates the university will be administering grant funds. If you have any questions, please contact Liberal Arts Grants Services.

As a graduate student, do I need to include indirect cost (IDC) on my proposal budget?

If your proposal is routed through OSP, you will need to include indirect costs unless your sponsor explicitly forbids it. Please check with grants office staff if you have any questions.

What kinds of funding are available for international students?

While many funding agencies restrict their giving to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, a number also fund international students. Generally, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grants (DDRIGs) accept international applicants, unless the NSF directorate to which you are applying specifies otherwise. Our Grants for Graduate Students Special Edition COLA Grants Digest provides information on citizenship requirements for many graduate student opportunities.