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Helpful Hints for New Investigators

Nifa Author
Rachel Dotson, Public Affairs Specialist (Social Media)

Do you have questions about how to apply for a grant as a New Investigator? This handy guide provides answers.

New Investigator grant opportunities are offered in the AFRI Foundational and Applied Science RFA. This RFA covers two grant review cycles, one with 2021 deadlines and one with 2022 deadlines. Applications received under the 2021 deadlines receive funding from FY 2021 and FY 2022 budgets will be used. For the 2022 review cycle, funding from FY 2022 and FY 2023 budgets will be used.

New Investigator Grants
An individual, who is beginning their career, does not have an extensive scientific publication record, and has less than five years postgraduate career-track experience, is encouraged to submit as a New Investigator for research, education, and/or extension activities. New Investigator grant opportunities are described below.
The new investigator may not have received competitively awarded Federal research funds as Project Director (PD), except for pre- or postdoctoral grants and AFRI Seed Grants. However, Federal funding an applicant received as Co-PD of previously awarded competitive grants does not count against New Investigator eligibility.
Starting in FY 2021, there are two types of New Investigator Grants available:

  • The first is a Standard Grant (i.e., New Investigator Standard Grant), which is a Standard Grant application in all respects except that the Project Director meets the eligibility criteria described previously for New Investigators. These are reviewed with all other Standard Grant applications submitted to the respective program area priority, with special consideration given by NIFA program staff to funding of New Investigator Standard Grant applications that fall below the funding line. In these cases, the New Investigator box must be checked under FASE on the AFRI Project Type form.  
  • Individuals qualifying as New Investigators are also eligible to apply for a Seed Grant (i.e., New Investigator Seed Grants described subsequently) regardless of institutional affiliation and eligibility for Strengthening Grants.
  • An individual applicant may submit only one Seed Grant as PD during the current fiscal year.
  • New Investigators also may only receive one New Investigator Seed Grant as PD during their career.
  • New Investigator Seed Grant applications will be reviewed with other Seed Grant applications submitted to the respective program area priority with special consideration given to funding of New Investigator Seed Grant applications.
  • In these cases, both the New Investigator and Seed Grant boxes should be checked under FASE on the AFRI Project Type form.
  • More information about seed grants is located on the AFRI RFA Resources page  under AFRI Grant Types in the attachments list.  

For either type of New Investigator Grant, eligibility requirements for a New Investigator apply only to the PD and not to Co-PDs or collaborators.

The application must contain all prior and current federal support within your Biosketch and Current & Pending form. The work proposed for New Investigator Grants must address a specific Program Area Priority from the description in Part I, C of the RFA, which begins on Page 9. Please note that the Critical Agricultural Research and Extension (A1701) Program Area Priority does not accept Seed Grant applications but does accept Standard Grant applications; the other Program Area Priorities accept both types.
New Investigator Grant applications do not need to adhere to the eligibility requirements described for Strengthening Grants unless they are applying under both grant types.
If you still have questions, please consult the AFRI Frequently Asked Questions page for New Investigators or email

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