Funding GRANTS
What Should I Know About ED Grants? -- Getting Funded!
September 1998
Archived Information


  Select a link below to jump to the relevant page section.
  1. Introduction
  2. What happens to my application after the application review process?
  3. How does the Department decide who gets funded?
  4. How do I learn that my that my application has been funded?
  5. Is an application always funded for the entire amount requested?
  6. What does it mean if my project has cost-sharing or matching requirements?
  7. What information does my Grant Award Notification contain?
  8. What happens after I get my grant award?
  9. How do I actually get my grant funds?
  10. How long does it take to get my grant funds?
  11. How do I get funds after the first year if my organization receives a multi-year award?

1. Introduction

The big day has finally arrived. The Department notifies you by letter, phone, or e-mail that your application has been funded. You breathe a sigh of relief and then the question "What next?" undoubtedly crosses your mind. One could say that the real work begins at this point. There will be post-award communications and discussions with Department officials. And then, of course, you will start the substantive activities of your project, which go on for a year or more. This section looks at the way a funding recommendation turns into a grant award, what takes place during the funding process, and how to turn that prized grant award into the dollars that are essential for you to carry out your project successfully. TOP


2. What happens to my application after the application review process?

After the application review process is completed, all applications, supporting materials, and the reviewer rating forms are returned to the program office. The grant team then creates a grant file for each application and makes a careful review of the materials to ensure that all required forms (including certifications and assurances) are included and filled out correctly.  TOP


3. How does the Department decide who gets funded?

After the grant files are reviewed for completeness, the grant team takes the following actions:

  • It develops a rank order list from the panel scores of each application. (The panel score is derived from averaging or normalizing the scores from each reviewer on the panel that reviewed a particular application).
  • It establishes a cut-off point on the rank order list based on the congressional appropriations for the program.
  • It performs a cost analysis on those applications that scored high enough on the list to be considered for funding. The cost analysis is performed to determine whether the proposed costs of an applicant???s budget are allowable, allocable, and reasonable. The grant team reviews the narratives and budgets to ensure the costs relate to the activities and objectives of the project. All unallowable and unallocable costs are deleted from the budget.
  • It notes any questions about specific cost items the application does not address, including those related to insufficient justifications for claimed indirect costs;
  • If it has any concerns about the application being considered for funding, it contacts the applicant to get more detailed information before a funding decision is made. The clarification contact generally takes the form of a phone call. If the grant team requires a written response from an applicant, the response should usually only address the specific item(s) needing clarification. A clarification contact does not mean that an applicant will be funded.
  • Once it completes the cost analysis of those applications that ranked above the cut-off point on the list, it creates a formal list of the applicants that it recommends for funding and includes the recommended funding levels.
  • It forwards the list of applicants and funding amounts to the Principal Officer of the program office or his/her designee, such as another program official, for approval. In some cases the grant team may even be authorized to approve the list.
  • Once the list is approved, the grant team makes awards.
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4. How do I learn that my that my application has been funded?

You may receive funding notification in several ways. For some programs, a grant team might simply send the official Grant Award Notification (GAN) to a grantee without any prior contact. For other programs, if there is a significant change to a proposal, a grant team member may contact the prospective grantee to make a funding offer before issuing the grant award. (The applicant can either accept or reject the changes and funding offer.) The grant team might also send letters to some applicants advising them that they are in a 'hold' funding status. While this group might not get funded, having ranked slightly lower than the funded group, they still have a chance of being funded if additional funds become available or if one or more of the funded applicants declines an offer of award.

The Department also sends notification letters to members of Congress from states where applicants being considered for funding are located. As a result, applicants sometimes receive news of the status of their application from their congressional delegations as well. The Department will also inform you if your application is not evaluated or selected for funding. You may request a written explanation of the Department's decision.

Keep in mind that your application is not funded until you have received the signed GAN. Your acceptance of the document obligates you and the Department to the requirements that apply to the grant.

The Department realizes that the earlier the GAN is received by a grantee, the sooner staff can be hired, students recruited, materials purchased, and general project operations can occur. The Department's goal is to make the award and to provide the notification in a timely manner.  TOP


5. Is an application always funded for the entire amount requested?

No. In some cases the reviewers or grant team might determine that certain proposed activities in the application are unnecessary and delete them and their associated costs from the award. In others, the grant team that performs the cost analysis might determine that the amounts requested for particular items are excessive and will reduce them. Funding levels might also be restricted based on the amount of funds appropriated for a particular Fiscal Year for a program and the number of applications to be funded. TOP


6. What does it mean if my project has cost-sharing or matching requirements?

Some program legislation or regulations require that the grantee contribute some percentage of the total project costs during the budget period being funded. Be sure to read application materials carefully to learn if you are required to include cost-sharing contributions in your application budget. If there are any issues or discrepancies in your application regarding cost-sharing, the grant team reviewing your application will contact you to work them out, usually during the cost analysis phase of the award process. TOP


7. What information does my Grant Award Notification contain?

The Department sends you in the mail your Grant Award Notification (GAN), signed by the authorized official. The GAN is the official document that states the terms, conditions, and amount of an award. The document is formatted into numbered blocks that provide information about the award, including administrative information, legislative and fiscal data, and names and phone numbers of project staff. For multi-year awards, the GAN also includes information on anticipated subsequent funding periods and their tentative levels of funding. The GAN will also contain attachments which spell out additional terms and conditions of the award and enclosures that give further guidance on administrative procedures (e.g., where to mail required reports). The attachments and enclosures contain important information about your award and you are urged to pay particular attention to them as you read the GAN.

Two copies of the GAN are mailed to each grantee. One copy is sent to the certifying official, the authorized representative who signed the Application for Federal Education Assistance Form (ED 424) and other required forms. The second copy is sent to the project director.  TOP


8. What happens after I get my grant award?

Receiving your Grant Award Notification symbolizes the beginning of a partnership between your organization and the Department of Education. The partnership process focuses on establishing and cultivating relationships with all grantees to promote and ensure successful project outcomes. This partnership is characterized by frequent and on-going communications between a grantee and the grant team throughout the life of the project. Grantees are encouraged to use their program office as a resource in attaining their project's goals and to obtain and use the e-mail addresses of their grant team for maximum communication.

The Post-Award Performance Conference is generally the first step in developing this relationship. This initial one-time discussion takes place shortly after a new grant is awarded, but usually not later than 90 days after the award date. The main focus of the meeting is to establish a mutual understanding of the specific outcomes that are expected and to establish measures for assessing the project???s progress and results. Information on project outcomes is needed to ensure that the project achieves the objectives as stated in the application. The post-award performance conference also clarifies and lays the groundwork for monitoring practices and on-going communication between grantees and the Department to ensure that a project???s desired goals are achieved.

A conference can take many forms. It can be a face-to-face meeting, telephone discussion, workshop, electronic mail exchange, or notes sent via fax or mail. Furthermore, for some programs, the performance conference might involve entering into a performance agreement that specifies activities and milestones that is signed by both parties. It should be noted that grant teams do not conduct post-award performance conferences with all new grantees. Grant teams will generally schedule post-award performance conferences with those grantees with larger or more complex projects, such as grants in excess of $250,000 or research and development projects. Other grantees will be contacted in a reasonable amount of time after an award has been issued to discuss their project activities, expected outcomes, and project progress.  TOP


9. How do I actually get my grant funds?

Some grantees who have never received a grant from the Department or another federal agency might expect to receive a check for the grant amount with the Grant Award Notification. However, the Department has established a different procedure for paying out funds to grantees.

If you have not previously received a grant award from the Department, you will receive the Department of Education's Payee's Guide from the Financial Payments Group at about the same time that you receive the Grant Award Notification. This package contains information and instructions to follow after you receive the signed Grant Award Notification so that your organization can request funds through the Department???s Grant Administration and Payment System (GAPS).

If you have received a grant from the Department and already established the necessary grant accounts, you will not receive the financial information package. Instead, you will receive the Grant Award Notification only, which will include an attachment that gives the latest payment request information.

Grantees get their grant funds by making a request through GAPS, which is accessed via the Internet. Organizations that do not have Internet access can request funds by telephone to the Department of Education???s service bureau. The service bureau enters the request into GAPS for the grantee. Grantees withdraw funds for each separate grant award by PR/Award number. Once a request for payment has been made and is validated, funds are transmitted for deposit into the designated account at the grantee's financial institution. The frequency and amount of withdrawals is based on the grantee's needs. However, requests for payments must be limited to the amounts actually needed and be timed in accordance with the immediate cash requirements of the grantee in carrying out the project.

Once a request for grant funds has been made through GAPS, the Department pays a grantee using one of two methods:

1) Automated Clearing House/Electronic Funds Transfer (ACH/EFT); or,

2) FEDWIRE-Electronic Funds Transfer.  TOP


10. How long does it take to get my grant funds?

With the ACH/EFT method, funds are deposited in your bank account approximately three days after you have sent a payment request. With the FEDWIRE method, approved payments are transferred electronically the next day. TOP


11. How do I get funds after the first year if my organization receives a multi-year award?

To receive funds after the initial year of a multi-year award, grantees must submit a performance report which gives their grant team up-to-date information on their project's progress (a special performance report form is provided by the grant team). Grant teams use the information in the performance report in conjunction with the project's objectives to evaluate a grantee's progress. The annual performance report should also specify any changes that need to be made to the project for the upcoming funding period. Before a continuation grant award is issued, the grant team reviews the performance report to determine whether a grantee has made substantial progress in reaching the objectives of the project. Once substantial progress has been determined, the grant team issues a continuation grant award. Grantees generally receive their Grant Award Notifications within four to six weeks after submitting their performance reports to the Department

Grantees are urged to contact their grant team as often as necessary to ensure that substantial progress is made during the funding period. Grant teams stand ready to answer questions, provide technical assistance, and help you better understand federal requirements and procedures to ensure that you achieve the goals of your project.
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Last Modified: 10/26/2004