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Educational Facilities Clearinghouse

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Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. What steps can I take to maximize my chances of receiving a grant?
  2. How much money is available for this program?
  3. How many new awards will be made?
  4. For my GEPA 427 statement (see page 51), is it adequate to state that our organization does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, etc.?
  5. What should I use as the project start date?
  6. What is the project and budget period for these grants?
  7. What is the deadline date for transmittal of applications under this grant competition?
  8. May I get an extension of the deadline date?
  9. Do applicants need to include the address for responses in the letter to the State Single Point of Contact?
  10. What is required from an applicant whose State Single Point of Contact indicates that they are not reviewing applications for this grant competition?
  11. By what date do applicants have to submit their application to their State Single Point of Contact, if participating?
  12. What are the formatting recommendations for grant applications?
  13. Can charts and tables be single-spaced?
  14. What type of grant will be awarded under this program?
  15. What are the roles of Department of Education staff and the grantee under the grant?
  16. Do I need to provide the Funding Opportunity Number (Item #12) and the Competition Identification Number (Item #13) on the SF-424?
  17. What forms need to be submitted with an application?
  18. Project Design: Who is eligible to apply?
  19. Can applicants propose additional services beyond the services outlined in the program requirements?
  20. Will applicants be penalized if they choose not to include the Invitational Priority in the project design.
  21. Are non-public schools eligible for services under the grant?
  22. Are there any electronic and information technology requirements for the Clearinghouse’s Web site?
  23. Generally, how long are on-site technical assistance visits?
  24. How should applicants plan for developing and providing training for Clearinghouse customers?
  25. The grant will provide funds for up to three years. Do I need to submit a budget for each project year?
  26. How much information should be included in the detailed budgets?
  27. How does the Department differentiate between supplies and equipment?
  28. If a proposed budget is too high, will the Department of Education work with me to reduce the budget, or will my application be dismissed?
  29. Is there a recommended salary for the Clearinghouse Project Director?
  30. Is there a matching requirement for this competition?
  31. What is an indirect cost rate?
  32. How do I obtain a negotiated, unrestricted indirect cost rate?
  33. Who in my organization may be able to provide information about our negotiated, unrestricted indirect cost rate?
  34. Do we have to use our restricted indirect cost rates for this program?
  35. How can I provide evidence of my indirect cost rate?
  36. What guidance is available on developing a budget narrative?
  37. May grant funds be used to construct a facility for the Clearinghouse?
  38. Are there certain items that cannot be purchased with these funds?
  39. Can the Project Director be a contractor?
  40. How can I determine the appropriate per diem amount for employees on travel?

1. What steps can I take to maximize my chances of receiving a grant?
  • Before preparing your application, read the application package carefully and completely.
  • Follow all of the instructions exactly.
  • If you’re uncertain about any aspects of this application package, please first review the Frequently Asked Questions section. Most commonly asked questions are answered in this section. If your questions are not addressed, please contact the competition manager for clarification.
  • Absolute priorities establish the parameters for applications under a grant competition. If your application does not meet the absolute priority or the additional requirements for this grant competition, it will not be considered for funding.
  • Transmit your application on or before the deadline date of July 30, 2010.
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2. How much money is available for this program?

The FY 2010 appropriation for the Clearinghouse is $1,000,000. Depending on availability of funds, ED expects to award $1,000,000 per year for each year of the three-year project period.

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3. How many new awards will be made?

We expect to make one award under this program in FY 2010.

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4. For my GEPA 427 statement (see page 51), is it adequate to state that our organization does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, etc.?

No. An organization’s non-discrimination statement is not sufficient to meet the GEPA requirements. A GEPA statement should outline an entity’s potential barriers and solutions to equal access, specific to the proposed project.

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5. What should I use as the project start date?

Should you receive the grant, the start date for the project may have to be flexible, depending on when funds can be awarded. We expect that the cooperative agreement will be awarded on September 30, 2010. For planning purposes, the Department recommends using the following project period: September 30, 2010 – September 30, 2013.

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6. What is the project and budget period for these grants?

The grant will be awarded for up to three years.

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7. What is the deadline date for transmittal of applications under this grant competition?

July 30, 2010

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8. May I get an extension of the deadline date?

Waivers for individual applications failing to meet the deadline will not be granted, except in the circumstances described under the section on e-Application submissions. Under very extraordinary circumstances the Department may change the closing date for a grant competition. When this occurs, the Secretary announces such a change in a notice published in the Federal Register.

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9. Do applicants need to include the address for responses in the letter to the State Single Point of Contact?

Yes, applicants should direct them to send comments to the following address: The Secretary, EO 12372-CFDA #84.215T, U.S. Department of Education, room 7W301, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202.

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10. What is required from an applicant whose State Single Point of Contact indicates that they are not reviewing applications for this grant competition?

Applicants should include a copy of such a response from the State Single Point of Contact in their application package submitted to the U.S. Department of Education and check the appropriate line on the SF 424 form.

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11. By what date do applicants have to submit their application to their State Single Point of Contact, if participating?

Applicants must submit their application to the State Single Point of Contact on or before the deadline date for transmitting their application to the Department.

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12. What are the formatting recommendations for grant applications?

Please submit your application on 8 ½ x 11 paper with a 1-inch margin on all sides. Limit your narrative to 25 typed double-spaced pages that are numbered and printed only on one side. Please use font no smaller than 12-point type in black text.

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13. Can charts and tables be single-spaced?

Yes, you may use single-spacing for charts and tables

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14. What type of grant will be awarded under this program?

The Educational Facilities Clearinghouse grant will be awarded as a cooperative agreement. A cooperative agreement is a type of discretionary grant awarded by the Department when it anticipates having substantial involvement with the grantee during the performance of the project.

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15. What are the roles of Department of Education staff and the grantee under the grant?

This award is being made as a cooperative agreement because it requires substantial post-award Federal programmatic participation in the conduct of the project. Under this cooperative agreement, the roles and responsibilities of the Department of Education staff and the grantee are:

Role of Department of Education Staff:

  • Consult with the Clearinghouse leadership on all phases of the project development and implementation to ensure accomplishment of the goals;
  • Review critical project activities for conformity to the mission of the Clearinghouse;
  • Provide guidance on project design and components, as needed;
  • Review and approve Clearinghouse recommendations of topics for training materials or other resources;
  • Review and approve on-site technical assistance requests;
  • Facilitate collaboration, as needed; and
  • Assume overall responsibility for monitoring the conduct and progress of the Clearinghouse, review performance reports, conduct site visits and make recommendations regarding continuation funding.

Role of the Grantee:

  • Comply with all terms and conditions of the award and satisfactorily perform activities to achieve the program goals;
  • Satisfactorily complete all required grant activities;
  • Consult with and accept guidance and respond to requests for information from the Federal Project Officer and other relevant Department of Education staff; Agree to provide the Department with all required data;
  • Support and participate in relevant meetings;
  • Produce required reports;
  • Keep Federal program staff informed of emerging issues, developments and problems; and
  • Respond to requests for information from the Federal Project Officer and other relevant Department of Education staff.
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16. Do I need to provide the Funding Opportunity Number (Item #12) and the Competition Identification Number (Item #13) on the SF-424?

Items 12 and 13 on the SF 424 form only pertain to submissions using the Grants.gov system. The FY 2010 Educational Facilities Clearinghouse grant program is not using the Grants.gov system and therefore these items may be left blank or filled in with a placeholder, such as “9999” or “NA.”

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17. What forms need to be submitted with an application?

All applicants should submit the following forms:

  • SF-424, Application for Federal Assistance
  • Supplemental Information Required for Department of Education
  • ED 524, Budget Information, Non-Construction Programs
  • Certification Regarding Lobbying
  • SF-LLL, Disclosure of Lobbying Activities
  • SF-424B, Assurance-Non-Construction Programs

All forms may be accessed at http://www2.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/appforms/appforms.html

NOTE:  Applications that fail to include a signed SF 424 form will not be eligible to be reviewed.  Please ensure that this form is signed and either uploaded into e-Application or faxed within three business days of your application submission.

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18. Project Design: Who is eligible to apply?

Eligible applicants include State or local educational agencies, institutions of higher education (IHEs), or other public or private agencies, organizations, or institutions.

For the purposes of this competition, the term “institution of higher education” is defined in Section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, Public Law 110-315 as: an educational institution of higher education in any State that--

  1. Admits as regular students only persons having a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the recognized equivalent of such a certificate or persons who meet the requirements of section 484(d)(3) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended
  2. Is legally authorized within such State to provide a program of education beyond secondary education;
  3. Provides an educational program for which the institution awards a bachelor's degree or provides not less than a two-year program that is acceptable for full credit toward such a degree or awards a degree that is acceptable for admission to a graduate or professional degree program, subject to review and approval by the Secretary
  4. Is a public or other nonprofit institution; and
  5. Is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association or, if not so accredited, is an institution that has been granted preaccreditation status by such an agency or association that has been recognized by the Secretary for the granting of preaccreditation status, and the Secretary has determined that there is satisfactory assurance that the institution will meet the accreditation standards of such an agency or association within a reasonable time.
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19. Can applicants propose additional services beyond the services outlined in the program requirements?

Yes, applicants may propose additional activities to be carried out by the Clearinghouse provided that all of the minimum grant requirements are met and these newly proposed activities support the requirements of this program.

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20. Will applicants be penalized if they choose not to include the Invitational Priority in the project design.

Applicants that choose not to include the Invitational Priority will not penalized in the peer review process.

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21. Are non-public schools eligible for services under the grant?

The Clearinghouse is being established to provide services to public preschools, K-12 schools, and higher education facilities. Therefore, non-public schools are not eligible for direct services such as on-site technical assistance. However, there are no restrictions on access to the Clearinghouse’s Web site. All members of the education community, including non-public schools, may access the Web site and benefit from the resources and publications posted on the site.

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22. Are there any electronic and information technology requirements for the Clearinghouse’s Web site?

No, however applicants are encouraged to ensure that all aspects of the Web site are accessible by individuals with disabilities.  Applicants are encouraged to review ED’s Departmental Directive on Procuring Electronic and Information Technology (E&IT) in Conformance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as Amended for additional guidance.  The Directive may be accessed at http://www2.ed.gov/fund/contract/about/acs/acsocio3105.doc.

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23. Generally, how long are on-site technical assistance visits?

The length of the site visits will vary based upon the level of technical assistance needed and the scope of the visit. Generally, for planning purposes, ED recommends planning 1-2 days for each on-site technical assistance visit.

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24. How should applicants plan for developing and providing training for Clearinghouse customers?

Applicants may propose a specific plan for developing and providing training for Clearinghouse customers. Applicants should consider how training topics will be selected, who will develop the training programs, and how the training programs will be reviewed and piloted (if needed).

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25. The grant will provide funds for up to three years. Do I need to submit a budget for each project year?

Yes. For each 12-month project period, a detailed budget is required. You need to submit with the application an ED Form 524 ”Budget Information Non-Construction Programs” which summarizes the total budget for each of the three 12-month budget periods.

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26. How much information should be included in the detailed budgets?

For each budget category (for example, personnel, travel, supplies, contractual) you should provide a per unit cost breakdown for all proposed costs. There should be enough information to demonstrate how costs were calculated and that the costs are reasonable. For example, instead of requesting a total of $12,000 for supplies, you should provide a unit cost breakdown. The breakdown might be by month (@$1,000 per month) or per staff (@$800/staff/year for 4 staff members). Regardless, there should be enough detail to support the amount of funding that is being requested.

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27. How does the Department differentiate between supplies and equipment?

If an item falls under $5,000 per unit cost, it is designated as a supply item according to the Federal guidelines. If an item costs $5,000 or more per unit, it is designated as equipment. Applicants may also use their organization’s definition of these terms, provided that the unit cost of equipment is defined as $5,000 or less.

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28. If a proposed budget is too high, will the Department of Education work with me to reduce the budget, or will my application be dismissed?

ED staff will review proposed budgets to ensure that the amount requested is necessary, reasonable, and consistent with the scope of work for the proposed project. If a budget item is determined to be unreasonable, unnecessary, or outside the scope of the grant or if the item is unallowable according to the Office of Management and Budget’s cost principles, the budget will be reduced accordingly. Peer reviewers do not assess scores based on application budgets.

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29. Is there a recommended salary for the Clearinghouse Project Director?

No, the proposed salaries should be commensurate with the scope of the position, cost of living for the local area, and the experience required. You may include funds for the Project Director in your budget and justification request.

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30. Is there a matching requirement for this competition?

No, there is not a matching requirement.

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31. What is an indirect cost rate?

An indirect cost is an expense that you incur that is necessary to implement the grant, but may be difficult to identify with your grant. For example, indirect costs may include money spent for heat, light, rent, telephone, security, accounting, and Internet use.

If your organization prefers to use all of its grant funds for direct project costs, you are not required to charge the grant for indirect costs.  If you wish to charge indirect costs, however, you must use a negotiated unrestricted indirect cost rate for this competition and provide proof of the approved rate with your grant application. 

For more information, please see: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocfo/fipao/icgindex.html.

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32. How do I obtain a negotiated, unrestricted indirect cost rate?

Generally, negotiated indirect cost rates are calculated by State Education Agencies.  However, in some cases, they may be negotiated with a Federal government agency.  If your organization has not negotiated this rate in the past, please contact Katrina McDonald with the Department of Education’s Indirect Cost Group at 202-377-3838 or Katrina.Mcdonald@ed.gov.

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33. Who in my organization may be able to provide information about our negotiated, unrestricted indirect cost rate?

If you do not know your negotiated, unrestricted indirect cost rate, please contact your business office. Please note, you will need to submit proof of this cost rate with your application, such as a signed letter or a page from a state web site.

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34. Do we have to use our restricted indirect cost rates for this program?

No, for this grant competition, you may charge indirect costs using the unrestricted rate negotiated with your cognizant federal agency (e.g., Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior).

You are encouraged to give priority to actual grant implementation activities by limiting the indirect costs charged to the project.  However, you will not be penalized for failure to reduce indirect costs nor will you gain a competitive advantage if you do.

If you claim indirect costs in the budget for your proposed project and do not have a negotiated rate with the federal government, you have 90 days from the time you transmit your application to submit the necessary paperwork to ED to receive a negotiated indirect cost rate.  For more information about indirect cost rates, please visit www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocfo/intro.html

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35. How can I provide evidence of my indirect cost rate?

Generally, the Federal Government permits grant recipients to recover indirect costs for costs associated with their federally funded grant projects. This recovery is based on a rate determined by a cognizant agency that takes into account the indirect costs involved in implementing grant activities. The indirect cost rate is determined through a process of negotiation with an organization’s cognizant agency and is designed to be an accurate reflection of the actual indirect costs associated with conducting programming at that organization.

In order to recover indirect costs under the Educational Facilities Clearinghouse program, the grantee must have (or agree to obtain within 90 days) a federally negotiated indirect cost rate. To provide evidence of this approved rate, we request that you attach a copy of your active indirect cost rate agreement as an appendix to the application package.

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36. What guidance is available on developing a budget narrative?

For additional guidance on preparing a budget narrative, please see http://www.ed.gov/admins/grants/apply/techassist/resource_pg8.html.

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37. May grant funds be used to construct a facility for the Clearinghouse?

No. Funds for constructing a facility to house the Clearinghouse are unallowable.

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38. Are there certain items that cannot be purchased with these funds?

Yes. Grant funds cannot be used to purchase refreshments, incentives or prizes, or other items prohibited by the Office of Management and Budget’s Cost Principles.

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39. Can the Project Director be a contractor?

No, the Project Director for the grant must be a direct employee of the organization applying for the grant. The Clearinghouse may contract with external consultants to complete some of the activities to be carried out under the grant, however the official Project Director must be an employee of the organization applying for the grant.

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40. How can I determine the appropriate per diem amount for employees on travel?

Per diem is the allowance for lodging (excluding taxes), meals and incidental expenses. One source that is available for determining possible per diem amounts is the Government Services Administration (GSA). The GSA establishes per diem rates for the Federal Government for all localities in the country.  This information may be accessed at: http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/contentView.do?contentType=GSA_BASIC&contentId=17943

Alternatively, your organization may have another available source or process that it uses for outlining and approving allowable travel expenditures.  Providing you are following your appropriate policies and procedures for your organization, you may use those procedures and amounts instead of the GSA per diem amounts available in the link provided above.

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Last Modified: 01/10/2012