Proposal Preparation


The university requires that all grant or contract proposals be submitted to the OSPRS for review and processing prior to being submitted to any external sponsor. The complete proposal, along with the required supporting documents, must be received by the OSPRS no later than 5:00 pm five business days prior to the sponsor’s deadline. The sponsor’s deadline and the OSPRS deadline will be highlighted at the top of every proposal preparation checklist prepared by the OSPRS.

Coastal Carolina University is a public university subject to many requirements when considering proposals in response to funding opportunities. These requirements include, but are not limited to, guidelines set forth in sponsor solicitations; federal regulations, including 2 CFR 200 Uniform Guidance; South Carolina laws; as well as university policies and procedures. Sufficient time is necessary for the OSPRS to verify a proposal’s compliance with all requirements and applicable laws, regulations and guidelines as well as to ensure an overall level of quality prior to the final submission.

The OSPRS supports faculty, staff and students with proposal development by working collaboratively with Principal Investigators (PI) to prepare funding applications and serving as the trusted resource in all matters related to university and sponsor policies and procedures for proposal preparation, budget development and final submission. In addition to assisting with funding opportunities searches, the following proposal preparation services are offered in support of PIs:

  • Review sponsor guidelines to identify key requirements;
  • Assist with budget preparation, related documentation and proposal submission forms;
  • Prepare required sponsor administrative forms;
  • Ensure that all university information included within the proposal is accurate and complete;
  • Contact and collaborate with partner institutions to secure all necessary subaward/subcontracting documentation;
  • Assure all regulatory requirements and export control issues are identified;
  • Review the final proposal package to ensure all administrative requirements have been met;
  • Obtain internal reviews and approvals for submission; and
  • Complete the final submission package, upload final documents and forms and submit to the sponsor.




Proposal Timeline

Submit a Notice of Intent to Submit a Funding Proposal to the OSPRS to begin the proposal process.

To take full advantage of pre-award supports and services offered by the OSPRS, PIs are asked to observe the processing timeline shown below.

If a PI is unable to meet the processing timeline, every effort will be made by the Grants Pre-Award Coordinator to submit a PI’s proposal to the sponsor by the stated deadline. Proposals processed within the expected timeline will take precedence over those that are outside of the expected timeline and will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. 


Nearly all funding proposals are submitted on behalf of the university and not individual faculty, staff or students. There are some exceptions, so always check with the OSPRS even if you think you are working on something that would be an exception, such as an individual fellowship. Once you’ve found a funding source, please check with the OSPRS before starting your application. We will review the sponsor guidelines to determine our eligibility, in addition to assisting with the development of the proposal, preparation of the budget and organizing other frequently required documents related to a grant proposal. You can reach us by phone at: (843) 349-5030; email at: or make an appointment to meet with a team member in person and you will find us in the Coastal Science Center at 301 Allied Drive, Suite 160 K – Q. 

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Applicant Types

Lead Institution

The university will be responsible for the preparation, submission and management of any award from the sponsor. Being the lead means the university is either applying as an individual institution or there will be other collaborating institutions or organizations included on the proposal.

Collaborating Institution

The university joins with one or more institutions or organizations to submit a proposal to fund a connected project, but with separate deliverables and budgets.

Subawarding/Subcontracting Institution

The university will provide limited information and documentation to the lead organization in order to prepare to receive a subaward/subcontract should the funding be awarded.


Whether Coastal is the lead of a sub organization on a funding proposal, the OSPRS is responsible for the final submission of technical proposal and budget documents, so always remember to reach out to our office as early in the proposal development process as possible.

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Application Types

Letters of Intent/Inquiry (LOIs) or Pre-Proposals

This is sometimes the first step in applying for funding. A sponsor may request LOIs in order to gauge the level of effort needed to review the number of proposals they will receive or to determine whether they will ask the university to submit a full proposal. It is generally seen as a quick way for a PI/PD to introduce themselves, other collaborators and the project’s importance or potential impact.

Full Proposals

This may be the last phase of a multi-phase submission process or a sponsor may only request full proposals be submitted without prior phases. A full proposal will be submitted when Coastal is the only institution on a proposal or the lead institution on a proposal with collaborators or subawards/subcontracts.

Collaborative Proposal

This is a type of full proposal where two or more institutions create a unified project. A collaborative proposal differs from a subaward/subcontract proposal in that each institution will have its own individual proposal for work and budget, but it will be as part of a shared final outcome.

Subaward/Subcontract Proposal

This will be a package of documents specific to Coastal’s participation in the project and include details about the PI/PD, other personnel, scope of work, facilities and equipment, budgets and justifications, CVs or resumes and a commitment document prepared by the lead organization requiring an AOR signature.


LOIs or Pre-Proposals should be processed through the OSPRS if the sponsor requires institutional approval; there are terms and conditions associated with the submission; or there is a budget required as part of the LOI or Pre-Proposal submission. If any of these conditions apply, the Notice of Intent form is required to allow for the OSPRS to manage the internal review and approval process. No proposal on behalf of the university, whether a full, collaborative or subaward/subcontract proposal, should be submitted by anyone other than the Authorized Organizational Representative, which is the Director of the OSPRS.

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Common Proposal Elements

Project Title: A title should be thorough enough that it lets the reader know what the project is, but brief enough that it is not overwhelming or too complex to understand.

Abstract/Summary: Summarizes the goals and objectives of the project and usually one page.

Project Description/Narrative: Describes the need for the project, goals, objectives and research questions. Solicitation guidelines will be specific about what to include.

References/Bibliography: A detailed list of references that are cited in your project description/narrative sections.

Budget: The project's financial needs for success. Sponsors may have specific guidelines, limitations and formats.

Budget Justification: Details of what, when and why for each requested item. Sponsors may have a specific format.

Supporting Materials: These can include, but are not limited to, Biographical Sketch/CV/Resume; Letters of Support; Current & Pending Support; Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources; Subaward details; etc.

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Roles and Responsibilities

Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI/PD) 

Responsible for the budget, technical content, quality and preparation of the proposal and for determining when supplemental conditions such as additional resources, IRB, Animal Subjects, Conflict of Interest, Export Control or Proprietary Information are applicable. 

Department Chair/Director 

Responsible for certifying the academic soundness of the project, the compatibility of the project with the PI's other commitments, approval of release time, the availability of space and facilities, cost-sharing commitments, assuring that the project is in keeping with department objectives and concurring that the proposal should be submitted.


Responsible for determining the appropriateness of the project within the college/division programming, and ensuring that resources will be available.

Pre-Award Coordinator 

Responsible for ensuring completeness, accuracy and compliance with sponsor guidelines and adherence to applicable laws, regulations and university policies and procedures. In addition, the OSPRS is responsible for ensuring that the content meets with acceptable rules and standards of the university, and for reviewing matters involving human subject participants, experimental use of animals and financial conflicts of interest.

Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR)

Responsible for the final approval and submission of all proposals, amendments after submission and any award negotiations on behalf of the university.


While it is important that both the PI and the Pre-Award Coordinator read and familiarize themselves with the requirements of each solicitation, the following table outlines the general responsibilities for each during the proposal development and submission processes.


  • Do not assume cost-share money, services or facilities are available. Speak with each responsible official (Dean, Department Chair, facility or service Director or external partner) to be sure they understand your needs and what you expect from them should an award be made to the university.
  • Never make any commitments of money, facilities, equipment, personnel, etc. without written approval from the university representative or external partner with authority to commit the resources outlined in the proposal/budget.
  • Do not conduct proposal budget or award negotiations with any sponsor representative. If you are contacted by a granting agency, refer them to the OSPRS and then notify the Pre-Award Coordinator or AOR.
  • To copy the OSPRS on any direct correspondence with granting agency representatives throughout the proposal preparation process.
  • You are not authorized to sign on behalf of the university. Sponsors Grantors may want you to sigh as the PI and that may be done in addition to the authorized official signature, but not in place of that signature. The OSPRS will ensure the correct signatures are included on all proposals and awards.
  • We are the ONLY office authorized to submit external funding proposals on behalf of the university. All official documents MUST go through the OSPRS. Submitting documents to a sponsor without OSPRS review and approval can result in a delay in accessing funds following an award or the declination of an award entirely.

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For forms and templates associated with the proposal preparation process, please see the university forms page under "Sponsored Programs and Research Services".

For policies associated with the proposal preparation process, please see the university's policy page under policy management area "RSCH (Research)".

For a glossary of research administration terms, training materials and other resources, please see the OSPRS Resources and Trainings page.