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The Pre-Award Phase

During the Pre-Award phase, NIFA announces funding opportunities, and accepts and reviews applications.

NIFA announces funding opportunities through Through funding opportunity announcements on, applicants can find Requests for Applications (RFAs), which are documents that provide comprehensive information for interested applicants regarding:

  • eligibility requirements
  • program specifics
  • how to submit a complete application to an open funding opportunity. 

Applications to open funding opportunities are accepted via More information on how to apply for opportunities through can be found at How to Apply and in our NIFA Grants Application Guide

After applications have been submitted through, NIFA performs an administrative review of the submitted applications. This administrative review ensures that the included documents comply with the criteria outlined in the RFA. NIFA then communicates to applicants regarding whether an application has been accepted for consideration and further review. 

If an application is accepted for review, the application is given a proposal number. Applicants are sent an acknowledgement letter with this proposal number, which must be used for any application-related communication with NIFA.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) publishes funding opportunities and accepts grant application submissions through the federal site. The NIFA Grants Application Guide provides guidance for the preparation and submission of NIFA grant applications via the ...

The Competitive Application Review Process

After applications have been accepted through and have undergone administrative review, these submissions enter the competitive review process. The competitive review process involves reviewing the applications to select those applications that merit a funding recommendation.

In this stage, applications are reviewed for scientific merit by external reviewers through a peer review panel in accordance with applicable legislation, regulations, and NIFA procedures.

In this video, NIFA staff conduct a mock panel session to provide prospective applicants with insight into the peer review process that NIFA uses to assess project proposals.

All applicants receive email notification about the outcome of the review process, and the review package — with reviewer comments — is shared with applicants. This notification email is sent to both the applicant and the authorized organizational representative (AOR) identified on the application. 

This email will also inform the applicant whether they have been recommended for funding.

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Data Management Plans

Beginning in Fiscal Year 2019, NIFA is requesting that applicants include data management plans for all competitive grants programs.

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