Frequently Asked Questions

NU-RES Administration/Pre-Award

You can see a sample of a few different applications on the NIH website.

You can find the NU Facts sheet here.

We are so excited that you are interested in applying for and managing research grants here at Northeastern University! Below is some basic information you will need to get you started on this exciting endeavor.

  1. First, are you eligible to be a Principal Investigator?
    • The privilege to act as a Principal Investigator (PI) or a Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) on an externally-funded project is automatically conferred upon all Northeastern faculty members. Those without a faculty appointment must work with their college administration to determine if the college’s policies and procedures allow the college to confer temporary PI status. By approving the ePAWs record, the college will convey to NU-RES that they approve of the named PI. Please see attached guidance.
  2. Choose a funding opportunity
    • Where do you want to apply? Do you have an agency in mind or do you need to find an opportunity?
    • Funding Opportunities lists various search engines that can assist you
  3. Once you have your opportunity in hand, get familiar with the proposal requirements.
    • Read the directions, most proposals are rejected simply because the directions were not followed correctly!
  4. Use either ePAWs and the sponsors submission portal, or our proposal submission application COEUS
  5. Proposals must be submitted to the Office of Research Administration and Finance no later than 5 business days before the sponsor’s deadline
    • This allows us to review your proposal and make sure you haven’t missed anything and that your submission will receive the complete sponsor review that it deserves
  6. We understand that there are a lot of elements that go into creating a great proposal, so please contact your school’s Grant Officer with your questions – we are here to help you!

There are several websites that offer basic proposal writing assistance, please visit here for a list of helpful sites

If you are a member of the Northeastern’s faculty or staff, or a Northeastern University student, and you are the person responsible for the conduct of the study (PI), you must get Northeastern’s IRB approval to conduct your research regardless of where the research takes place. Investigators should contact the IRB office whenever collaborative research is occurring. Separate applications for each institution may be necessary; however, in order to avoid duplicate review, an IRB Authorization Agreement may be arranged with the other institution to establish one IRB as the designated IRB to review and approve the research.

Yes. Early in the planning stage of your project, we recommend you contact a program officer. You can find them by talking to colleagues or by checking out our websites. They are listed in section seven of our funding opportunity announcements (FOA). You can also search individual institute’s or center’s websites, or search for your area of science in RePORTER and see which program officers might be the right fit.

Program staff are your primary source of information for scientific, funding and programmatic matters, and they can advise you regarding:

  • An institute/center’s potential enthusiasm about your research area
  • Potential application topics
  • The appropriate FOA through which to apply
  • Investigator-initiated research: topics of interest and new scientific directions
  • Additional information about an initiative such as a request for applications or program announcement
  • Requirements for special areas such as human subjects and vertebrate animal research
  • The appropriate study section to request in your cover letter

Yes, they are busy people. So we recommend you e-mail them first rather than play phone tag.

If you are, be aware that Title 45 Code of Federal Regulations Part 46; defines a “human subject” as a living individual about whom an investigator obtains:

  1. data through intervention or interaction with the individual, (such as, interviews, surveys, clinical testing, or any other physical intervention or personal interaction), or,
  2. identifiable private information.

Legal requirements to protect human subjects apply to a broader range of research than many investigators realize. Protections are required for research that uses:

  • Bodily materials, such as cells, blood or urine, tissues, organs, hair or nail clippings, even if you did not collect these materials.
  • Residual diagnostic specimens, including specimens obtained for routine patient care that would have been discarded if not used for research.
  • Private information, such as medical information that can be readily identified with individuals, even if the information was not specifically
    collected for the study in question. Research on cell lines or DNA samples that can be associated with individuals falls into this category.

Please visit the Office of Human Subject Research Protection for more information.

Visit our Policies & Guidelines webpage.

The IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN) is used to identify a business entity. It is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number. Please see the video here to learn more about EIN.

This is an internal control for NU-RES in verifying external parties, so we need it regardless of whether there is a dollar amount associated with the contract/agreement.

If you don’t know the EIN, the NU-RES Help Center will work with you/the other party to identify it. Your proposal or contract will not be delayed due to a missing EIN.

You can search multiple search engines such as EDGAR, Massachusetts Corporate Search, Melissa, or Google.

Companies can apply for an EIN on the IRS webpage.

The IRS recommends for foreign entities complete the Form SS-4.

NU-RES Finance/Post-Award/Compliance

Allowable and Unallowable Expenses

No. There are no instances when alcoholic beverages would be either appropriate or allowable unless the awarding agency specifically provides approval in the award notice.

Yes, please use the attached D-PAY form, which includes a checklist to assist you in providing the necessary documentation.

Participant Costs Appendix

  • 78010 Study Subject Payments/Incentives
  • 74600 Participant Support Costs – Stipends
  • 74601 Participant Support Costs – Other

Costs associated with individuals who participate in research and sponsored programs are known as participant support costs – these include incentive payments participants in human subjects research studies as well as participants in training programs and conference grants; costs include stipends, allowances and other related expenses. See the guidance documents for more information.

The NU-RES website has a guide for Costs for Sponsored Agreementsthat gives an overview and lists a matrix of commonly found allowable and unallowable costs.

For Banner, in some cases, you may already have access based on your position and role within your department. Access to Cognos must be requested. In the event you that you do not have access to Banner Finance, you can request access through the Budget Office. The instructions and forms to request Banner Finance access can be found on the Budget Office website under Links, Forms and Lists. General information, including the Banner Access form and the Cognos Access form, can be found on the following links:

Financial Planning, Strategy, and Analytics Office
Requesting Banner Finance Access
Cognos Access Request Form

For Cognos training, visit the Cognos Training Calendar and sign up for a session.

The Budget Statement-Inception to Date E-print report (FZRB090) is an ad hoc report that is run monthly and can be accessed through Banner e-print reports. This report contains information such as total budget, expenses, and available balance from the start of your award through the month selected. The following link displays a Budget Statement and provides information on how to interpret the report.

Self Service Banner (SSB), Banner e-print reports, and Cognos are the tools in place to help you manage your research budget. Information on interpreting both SSB and e-prints can be found on the Banner Finance Help page via your MyNEU Services and Links tab. In addition, there is a Banner Finance Research Tip Sheet and E-print Tip Sheet available to assist you.


Please contact Dolliff & Co., Inc. for assistance with import/export issues. They hold a Customs Power of Attorney for Northeastern and can help with any of your shipments. Call Stuart Eldridge at 617-561-0900. To save time, when you are ordering internationally, instruct the shipper to do these three things: (1) consign the shipment to Northeastern University; (2) notify Doliff & Co.; and (3) fax copies of shipping documents to Doliff $ co. You will be subject to fees associate with Customs Entry processing, generally a $125 entry fee, local delivery charges, and airline terminal charges. In some cases, there will need to be a bond (if the item is valued >$2000). Stuart Eldridge can help with all of that. Note that you will need to use a Northeastern Purchase Order for your transaction. This process is only available for university-approved business.

Closeout Process

Closing out your award is a multi-step process involving NU-RES, the PI, and the Department Administrator. The formal process is initiated by NU-RES once your award is within approximately 60 days of ending. A checklist of action items and an email notification is sent to the PI and Department Administrator. All final expenditures must be posted as an activity within the project period/ end date. Future commitments must be removed and/or adjusted to other Funds as appropriate. Sub-recipients will need to Final Invoice NU typically 60 days prior to the end date. Procurement cards must be canceled and cost-sharing must be expended within the project period.

Cost Sharing

Research sponsors may require NEU to share the cost of research projects. Therefore, cost-sharing is that portion of a project or program cost that is not reimbursed by the sponsor. In some instances, in-kind contributions can qualify as cost-sharing. To ensure that NEU has fulfilled its cost-sharing commitment made as a condition of an award. Cost-sharing expenditures are recorded in a separate Index /Fund. Some sponsors also require that NEU’s cost-sharing expenses be included on all invoices for reimbursement. All federal cost-sharing agreements are legally binding and subject to audits and failure to provide the level of the commitment could lead to the return of award funds and /or termination of the project. NEU funds the overhead cost associated with cost-sharing commitments.

Cost Transfers

Federal sponsors closely scrutinize cost transfers. Frequent or untimely transfers leave the principal investigator open to questions regarding lax oversight or inappropriate spending of award funds. Therefore, the principal investigator should frequently review the account activity and identify in a timely fashion any inappropriate charges to an award. However, mistakes happen. If you do identify errors on your account, you’ll need to complete a Journal Voucher. Use the form to describe and justify the need for any transfer of expenses – please refer to the Cost Transfer Policy for a detailed overview. It is not acceptable to request a transfer simply to use funds remaining on an award about to expire. Generic descriptions, such as “Due to administrative oversight,” are not acceptable. All cost transfers must be completed within 90 days of the original transaction. Exceptions must be discussed with Research Administration and Finance. Consideration of the issue will be given, but approval is not guaranteed. Repeated requests for transfers could require a written action plan detailing procedures to be implemented to ensure more accurate record-keeping.

Facilities and Administration Costs

See the Northeastern University current FY Rate agreement on the Policies and Guidelines page for details.

F&A stands for Facilities & Administrative costs (sometimes called IDC, Indirect Costs). These are actual costs incurred by the university in support of sponsored activities that cannot be identified readily and specifically to a project. The rate used by Northeastern is negotiated with the federal government. Among other expenses, it includes the cost of departmental and central administrative support, building and equipment use, and library services.


Most awards, in fact, are simply authorization for the faculty to begin incurring expenditures in furtherance of project goals. NU-RES is responsible for requesting funds in accordance with sponsor guidelines in order to receive reimbursement for expenses incurred by the project.


Federal regulations discourage the charging of salaries for administrative and clerical staff as a direct cost to a project. OMB Uniform Guidance states that administrative and clerical staff should normally be treated as Facilities and Administrative costs and not as a direct cost.

For grant and contract funded research, the Summer Salary is limited to 3.2 months or 40% of the faculty member’s academic year salary (Northeastern University’s academic year is generally 8 months). To calculate summer salary simply divide your academic year salary by 8 and then multiple it by 3.2 (or the portion of the summer available to you after teaching, other duties, and/or vacation time have been accounted for). Please note that certain external sponsors may have their own policies regarding summer salary payments to faculty and/or principal investigators.

A faculty buyout occurs when an effort is conducted during the academic term (generally September 1st through April 30th) and charged to a research grant or contract. Consequently, academic term salaries shall not be augmented either in rate or in the total amount for research performed during the academic term. When part of a faculty member’s services are to be charged as project costs, it is expected that the faculty member will be relieved of an equal part or all of his or her regular teaching or other obligations.

Summer salary is compensation paid to faculty that perform research on a grant or contract during the summer months of May, June, July, and August.

Time and Effort Reporting

Federal regulations require that Institutions maintain an effort activity reporting system. OMB Uniform Guidance requires faculty and staff involved in federally sponsored research to report activities (e.g. sponsored projects, instruction, administration) for which they are compensated. Under this system, the distribution of salary and wages by the Institution will be supported by certification reports which are required to be signed by the Principal Investigator (PI) or responsible official.

The Principal Investigator (PI) is ultimately responsible to ensure that all salary charged to the externally funded project is commensurate with the employee’s effort on the project. The PI is required to sign the report and return it to NU-RES in a timely manner where it is kept on file for audit purposes.


Travel is restricted to the personnel working on the Research Project, whether it is employees or non-employees. In general, travel should be done within the sponsor approved budget and guidelines. Federal guidelines prohibit certain expenditures such as alcohol and entertainment.

The federal government has increased oversight with regard to travel to foreign countries in connections with sponsored research. All foreign travel using federal funds must follow certain criteria such as the Fly America Act and other A-21 requirements. The following link will give you information pertaining to Northeastern University’s policy on Foreign Travel: Policy & Procedure on Foreign Travel in Connection with Sponsored Research.

Last Updated on December 21, 2020