Grants Office

Proposal Content

A proposal requesting support from any sponsor will most often consist of the following elements.

Title Page

For those sponsors who do not provide application forms or have other specific requirements, the first page of the document will be a title page. Generally, the title page will contain the title of the proposed project, the College and department or institute, name and title of the Principal Investigator(s), dates of the proposed project, total support requested, and name and address of the sponsoring agency. It should also contain a signature block for both the PI and for the Grants Office.

Table of Contents

The table of contents helps to direct reviewers to key sections. It will show page numbers of each major and minor section.


The abstract is a brief description covering the purpose, specific aims, and significance of the project. In general, little or no experimental detail should be in the abstract. Some sponsors require that PIs write the abstract in lay terminology.

Description of the Project

This section is generally the largest part of the application and contains a detailed description that may contain many or all of the following:

  • Project rationale
  • Introduction
  • A statement of the needs and problems
  • Goals and objectives of the project
  • Relation of the project to the state of knowledge in the field
  • Significance of the project
  • Procedures
  • Statement of approach
  • The means by which objectives will be met
  • Problems that are anticipated
  • Evaluation
  • Management
  • Organization of the project
  • Project staff and their roles
  • Project schedule


The PI and/or the Grants Office will describe the available facilities and equipment that will be used in the project.


The personnel section includes biographical sketches with pertinent publications of the Principal Investigator(s) and senior faculty and professional collaborators. Only those individual people who are identified as essential to the project (i.e., PI, co-PI) are considered as "key" personnel.

Budget and Budget Justification

The budget should be reasonable and identify the cost of the project to the sponsor. The budget also serves as a further measure of the PI’s capabilities, because there must be a reasonable correlation between the project as described and the PI's assessment of the various cost elements.

Budget preparation constitutes a large segment of the proposal and often takes a different structure depending on the sponsor. For instance, on federal grants, the budget will always contain both direct costs and indirect or Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs, whereas a budget developed for a corporate grant or contract may benefit from adding indirect costs to each line item and showing only the total.

TMCC requires a detailed budget and budget justification to accompany the proposal, even if the sponsor does not require it.