Getting Started with Discretionary Grant Applications

Topics: How to Apply | Search for Grant Opportunities | Applicant Resources | Program Office Websites | Peer Review and Award Notification

The Department of Education administers grant funding programs that fulfill the Department's mission to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness, to foster educational excellence, and to ensure equal access.

Discretionary grant funds are awarded through a competitive process based on program eligibility to:

  • State Educational Agencies,
  • Local Educational Agencies (e.g., school districts, including public charter schools that operate as a local educational agency),
  • Tribes and Tribal organizations,
  • Institutions of Higher Education (including Tribal colleges and universities),
  • Non-profit organizations,
  • Other entities (e.g., community-based organizations, public agencies, etc.).

Content last reviewed: July 22, 2022

How to Apply
  1. Watch the Department's training webinar for an introduction to the discretionary grant application process.

  2. Register your organization with the System for Award Management ( and obtain a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI). The SAM registration process usually takes approximately 7 to 10 business days, but can take longer, depending on the completeness and accuracy of the data provided. will issue a UEI when you complete the registration process. You must continue to maintain an active SAM registration while the Department reviews your application and if you receive a grant award.

  3. Register for an account on, a clearinghouse for grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. To complete your registration, you must have a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) from, a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from the Internal Revenue Service and designate an E-Business Point of Contact (E-Biz POC) and Authorized Organization Representative (AOR).

  4. Search for Grant Opportunities, including signing up for alerts announcing new competitions.

  5. Read the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA), which provides information about a grant competition's program purpose, application requirements and deadlines, competition priorities, and selection criteria. Review the Applicants Resources section provided on this webpage and on the competition's Program Office website.

  6. Submit your application package electronically using Applicants generally have between 30 to 60 days to apply. A competition's closing date can be found on the NIA.


Search for Grant Opportunities

The Department's grant competitions open roughly between November and April. The number of discretionary grant opportunities depends on available funding from Congress, program competition cycles, and other program-specific factors. Grant competitions are not guaranteed to run annually.


Applicant Resources
  • Understanding NIAs: Review a glossary of key terms found in a Notice Inviting Applications (NIA), including information on competition priorities, evidence, performance measures, and selection criteria.

  • Grantmaking at ED: Read a non-technical summary of ED's discretionary grant lifecycle with detailed answers to frequently asked questions.

  • Check Program Office Websites: Some program offices host pre-application webinars and post competition resources on their program webpages. Please note: Program offices do not provide substantive guidance on an individual application that would give an unfair advantage over other applicants in the competition.

  • Previous Successful Proposals: Examples of successful abstracts, applications, and technical review forms can be found on some program webpages, such as the Education Innovation Research program page and the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network program page. Note: application requirements and competition priorities may change annually. Refer to the most recent Notice Inviting Application (NIA) for current competition information.

  • Support: Refer to the How to Apply for Grants webpage for technical support with submitting an application.

  • General Questions: Direct inquiries to the Program Contact Person listed under the "For Further Information Contact" section of the grant competition's Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) or the program contact listed on the program webpage.


Program Office Websites

Peer Review and Award Notification

Peer Review Process

After a competition closes, the Department convenes a panel of education professionals, called peer reviewers, to evaluate, provide written feedback, and score applications against program-specific criteria. Peer reviewer scores and evaluative feedback are used to inform the Secretary's funding decisions.

If interested in becoming a peer reviewer, please click here.

Award Notification

The Department will send a Grant Award Notification (GAN) to applicants selected for funding. The grant competition's program team will also schedule post-award conferences with grantees. Program teams will offer grantees post-award support to achieve project outcomes and to adhere to compliance requirements.

The Department will also notify unsuccessful applicants that their applications were not selected for funding.

All applicants will receive a copy of the Technical Review Form completed by their peer reviewer panel. The form contains scoring information and identified strengths and weaknesses to improve future applications.


Last Modified: 05/11/2023