Opportunity Identification and Approvals
The Foundation and Grants (F&G) Office is ready to assist TMCC faculty, administrators, and staff, to determine if a grant opportunity is appropriate for submission. The grant opportunity can be brought to our attention a couple of ways:
There are several considerations that must be made before pursuing the writing and submission of the grant:
- Connection to the TMCC strategic plan and/or ongoing initiatives
- Project objectives
- Principal Investigator (PI) qualifications
- Timeframe for project
- Type of institutional resources that will need to be devoted to the project including but not limited to: staffing, sustained funding sources, and non-supplanting of state or federally funded positions.
Once reviewed by the F&G staff and if the opportunity is determined to be appropriate for submission, F&G staff will hold a meeting with the grant proposal stakeholders to determine responsibilities and designate due dates for gathering information, contacting potential project partners, developing the budget, etc.
F&G staff will determine if the writing of the grant proposal will be done solely by F&G staff, or in collaboration with stakeholders. F&G staff will determine timelines for completion of the proposal.
Please note: If F&G staff find little effort has been made toward completion of stakeholder responsibilities and/or if key sections of the grant cannot be completed by designated due dates, F&G staff can make the determination to cease the submission of the proposal.
The proposal submission process includes:
- Identification of the Principle Investigator(s)(PI) or person(s) responsible for the oversight of the proposed project if funded;
- Approval of assurances, agreements, and/or memorandum of understandings (MOU’s) by the TMCC Legal Department;
- Completion of the proposal to be attached to any requests for signatures by the TMCC President;
- Review of the proposal budget and budget justification by the Controllers office; and,
- Final review and submission by F&G staff. F&G staff are responsible for the submission of all proposals made by the College.
Each Request for Proposal (RFP) will convey what information the funder is requesting as part of the proposal application. Typically, the information needed for the project narrative include:
- Project Summary—to include the purpose and amount of the request;
- Organization History—a brief history of the organization/departments purpose and accomplishments, capacity for what is being proposed, staffing, budget, etc.
- Project Narrative—This is based on the information being requested by the funder to explain:
- what is being requested
- statement of need for the project
- who will the project serve
- how many will be served
- what are the proposed outcomes
- what will the project cost
- key staff on the project and the time they will spend on working under the grant
- how will the project be evaluated (in-house/contract)
- how will it be sustained after the grant ends
- any other details to support the proposal
- Additional items: Project Abstract, Assurances, Required Federal/State forms, Required Attachments.
Budget and Budget Justification
The budget should be reasonable and take into consideration sustainability of the project once the grant period ends.
All budgets and budget justifications will be reviewed by the TMCC Controller’s office prior to submission. Budgets will be checked against unallowable costs stated in the RFP as well as those stated in the OMB Uniform Guidance.
Tips for Creating a Budget
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.
TMCC requires a detailed budget and budget justification to accompany the proposal, even if the sponsor does not require it.
The budget and budget justification are key factors that sponsors use to determine whether or not a project should be funded. If the budget is inconsistent with the work proposed, sponsors will be concerned that the PI doesn’t understand what it will take to complete the scope of work.
Another concern is that in the event the requested funding falls short of what is needed for the project, the College must pick up the difference.
During the project stakeholder meeting, F&G staff along with the TMCC Controllers Office, will assist PIs in developing the budget.
Budget categories include:
Salaries and Fringe: F&G staff will gather salary and fringe information for all proposals requesting personnel costs.
- The salary and fringe for all employees working on a project must be identified in the budget. Each position will be named in the budget (if noted as key personnel the employee name and title may be included).
- The percentage of time (i.e. 1FTE, .5FTE) to be spent on the grant must be determined and calculated appropriately.
- If the compensation is not charged to the grant account, the institution will pay the compensation, which can be considered in-kind, match, or cost share (see Match section below).
- Employees cannot exceed 100% of institutional activities; therefore, the commitment of effort on a grant must result in the reduction of another institutional activity.
- The College must honor the commitment of effort the PI makes in the proposal. Federal regulations require that the College obtain prior approval from the sponsor for the reduction of PI effort by more than 25%.
Regular Faculty Salaries: Most academic faculty at TMCC have nine-month appointments paid over 12 months. Other faculty may be on a 12-month appointment. It is important to calculate the effort and salary based on the correct appointment term for the employee.
Summer Salary/Overload: A faculty member on a nine-month appointment may elect to devote time during the summer to a sponsored project beyond the academic year and may request and receive additional compensation beyond the base academic year salary. For faculty with nine-month appointments, a maximum of three months of summer effort and salary (calculated based on the employee’s daily rate) is possible in those cases in which this is acceptable to the sponsor.
Note that for National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored grants, summer salary is limited to no more than two months of the academic year salary.
Funding amounts to be applied toward travel required by the funder, are usually provided by the funder.
Budgets for travel should include the cost for airfare, vehicle mileage (if traveling by car), daily per diem (as determined by GSA per diem rates), and if applicable, registration fees.
PIs should identify the costs to travel to various locations to perform the work. An itinerary may be required if travel is a significant portion of the total cost. Some examples would be travel to various localities to conduct training or collect samples.
Operating costs can include items such as supplies, equipment (cost ceiling to be determined by funder), instructional materials, software, swag and food (if considered an allowable cost by the funder).
Grant contracts may include consultant fees for experts outside of TMCC who provide a unique contribution to the project. A consultant is defined as an individual or organization hired to provide advice and/or service to the project within normal business operations. Guidance on contracting with consultants can be provided by the TMCC Human Resources Department.
Consultant costs may include travel, per diem, and other predetermined costs necessary to the consultant’s completion of the contract scope of work.
The College must solicit bids for vendor/consultant services that exceed $25,000. Approval of the consultant by the sponsoring agency is not an acceptable justification.
The Federal government allows consultants under the following circumstances:
- The services provided are essential and cannot be provided by persons receiving salary support under the grant;
- A selection process has been employed to secure the most qualified person available; and
- The charge is appropriate considering the qualifications of the consultant, his/her normal charges, and the nature of the services rendered.
The PI should request a letter outlining the project scope of work, hourly or flat rate applied to the project, and list of deliverables resulting from completion of the project. The letter should also provide consultant name/business name, mailing address, phone number, and email address.
TMCC will issue a sub-agreement to a collaborator institution for specific contributions and/or work outlined in an MOU (intellectual leadership personnel, facilities and resources, etc.). Sub-Award/Agreement are subject to the compliance requirements of the award including costing, reporting, deliverables, etc.
Participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with meetings, conferences, symposia, or training projects.
Scholarships are defined as a sum of money or other aid granted to a student because of merit or need to pursue his or her studies. Consultation with F&G’s Scholarship Office must be made to determine how best to structure student scholarship opportunities.
Permanent equipment is an item of tangible property with a minimum cost of $5,000, and shelf life of greater than one year. In the budget, permanent equipment requests must be itemized and justified. In addition, the PI must determine that the equipment requested is not already available within the College.
The total requested cost of equipment should include needed accessories, installation, and delivery costs. In some cases, the sponsor may provide the equipment directly rather than provide acquisition funds, or short-term rental may be preferred.
Construction is not a normal cost for most proposals. The F&G Office would work with the TMCC Facilities Operations and Capital Planning Department to determine project costs and construction expenses related to a project.
Indirect (Facilities and Administration or F&A) Costs
TMCC has a Federally Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate that is applied to all federally funded grant requests.
Some sponsors, particularly foundations, may have specific written policies that preclude the use of TMCC's full F&A rates. In those cases, the College will apply the sponsors F&A rate to the Total Direct Cost Base (TDC) unless specifically prohibited by the sponsor. TDC includes ALL direct costs, including tuition, fellowships, equipment, etc.
Cost Sharing or Match
Cost share or match is the portion of the total project costs paid by TMCC or by a third party. Cost share should be included in the project only when the sponsor requires it.
All matching and cost-sharing resources must meet the following general criteria:
- Cost-sharing or match must be approved by the TMCC Controllers office;
- Costs must be verifiable from the College’s accounting records.
- Costs may not be included as contributions for any other federally-assisted project or program in either the current or any prior period;
- Costs must be necessary and reasonable for proper and efficient accomplishment of project or program objectives.
- Costs must be allowable under the applicable cost principles. If a third party contributes the asset, the cost principles still apply; therefore, a matching contribution must be for something for which the organization or institution could have spent federal funds.
- Costs may not be paid by the federal government under another award except when authorized by federal statutes.
- Costs must be in the approved project budget.
The amount of the required contribution will be determined by the funder (i.e. 1:1 match, 25% match, etc.). Cost share may include PI effort or other personnel committed to the project at no cost to the sponsor.
At the time the College receives an award, all cost share commitments agreed to by the sponsoring agency are mandatory and, as such, represent binding obligations of TMCC.