Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education - Comprehensive Program

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  1. Who is eligible to apply for a Comprehensive Program Grant?
  2. The FIPSE Comprehensive Program emphasizes innovative projects. What does this mean? Does my application have to include innovative ideas?
  3. What is the role of a certifying official?
  4. What is the role of a project director?
  5. What are FIPSE’s evaluation requirements for competitive grants? What is the role of the outside evaluator for FIPSE competitive grants?
  6. What is FIPSE’s policy regarding no-cost extensions for competitive grants?

1. Who is eligible to apply for a Comprehensive Program Grant?

Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), or a combination of IHEs are eligible to apply. Other public and private nonprofit institutions and agencies are also eligible to apply.

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2. The FIPSE Comprehensive Program emphasizes innovative projects. What does this mean? Does my application have to include innovative ideas?

FIPSE is seeking innovative solutions to problems of national significance. As a Federal agency we seek solutions that may benefit many postsecondary institutions and programs nation-wide and are not limited in their applicability to only a few other organizations. Your application must propose a model for improving postsecondary education that you will develop, demonstrate, and evaluate. The model should be based on research and best practice and should include one or more innovative features or components. It need not be unique, but it must be rarely practiced in your area or discipline. You should provide a rationale to convince readers of your application that your model and processes for developing and implementing it are likely to be effective and to produce the results you are seeking.

Many innovations are based on ideas or processes borrowed from other areas of national life where they have been proven to be effective. Because readers of your application will be looking for the innovative aspects of your project, you can help them by including a sentence explicitly noting the innovations and why you consider them to be innovations. Not addressing innovation may render your application less competitive than other applications with innovative solutions.

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3. What is the role of a certifying official?

The Authorized Representative/Certifying Official has the legal authority to sign for and obligate the applicant institution. His/her signature binds the applicant organization/institution to all elements in the application and certifies that the information provided in the application, in the accompanying forms, and in the assurances is true and correct.

This person is also known as the Authorized Organizational Representative or the Signing Official. The Authorized Representative must sign the application in pen or electronically. On the SF 424 Form, he/she must enter his/her prefix, first, middle, and last name, Institutional/Organization Position Title. He/she must enter the organization and department in which he/she is located and the street address, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address to which the Department may send communications.

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4. What is the role of a project director?

The Project Director (PD) is the individual responsible for the overall programmatic, content, and technical direction of the project. He/she has been given authority to manage the proposed project and he/she has committed to complying with all federal rules and regulations and with his/her institution’s internal controls.

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5. What are FIPSE’s evaluation requirements for competitive grants? What is the role of the outside evaluator for FIPSE competitive grants?

FIPSE's evaluation requirements are spelled out on the Evaluation Resources page.

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6. What is FIPSE’s policy regarding no-cost extensions for competitive grants?

Occasionally grantees nearing the end of their performance period recognize that project objectives and/or activities cannot be completed on the timeline intended. There are legitimate reasons for project setbacks, such as unavoidable delays in hiring key project personnel, unanticipated changes in project personnel, organizational changes within the grantee institution, changes in the roles of major project partners, etc. If, despite such problems, the grant has been managed well overall and sufficient grant funds remain to carry out activities the grantee proposes to complete, a no-cost extension may be granted.

A no-cost extension of the grant performance period does not increase the funds available to complete grant activities, and the completion of delayed grant activities is the only reason for which a no-cost extension may be approved. An extension cannot be granted to allow expenditure of unexpended or undrawn funds. Nor can an extension be granted for completion of new activities not supported by the scope of work in the grantee’s approved grant application.

A grantee must submit its request for a no-cost extension in writing at least ten days before the project end date, preferably as soon as the need and timeframe for the extension are known. The written request must provide the reason for the no-cost extension and the proposed new project end date. An extension may be granted for up to 12 months. An extension should never be longer than absolutely necessary. If a no-cost extension is granted, then a new Grant Award Notification (GAN) is generated and mailed to the project director and the certifying official.

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Last Modified: 10/14/2011