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Proposal Timelines

Two kinds of time lines need to be considered in a proposal: Internal and External.


The Internal time line describes the schedule of events/activities that will be conducted if the project or program that the proposal is funded (presented as a “calendar” with “milestones”). This should be linked to the funding requested, which is presented in the proposal budget, to demonstrate how funds will used at the various stages of the project/program and linked to the personnel who will be responsible for each step or activity in the proposed project/program.


The External time line relates to when funding is needed to conduct the project/program. It is important to know submission deadlines, review cycles, and funding calendars of corporations and foundations to which a Letter of Inquiry or a Proposal will be sent – and understand how this will affect the development or implementation of a project or program.

You are likely to be disappointed if do not begin the funding request process until May when you need funding for September.

Suggested Timeline for Submitting Grant Proposals 

Plan your timeline by working backwards from the submission due date. For example, if your grant or fellowship proposal is due September 15, plan to get started by no later than June. Remember that the first step in grantseeking is not to sit down and write, but simply to read carefully through the grant guidelines. Below are a series of small steps that can help you more easily fit grantseeking into your busy schedule.

3-6 months before deadline

  • Read guidelines; contact your Grant Coordinator for assistance.
  • If proposal involves cost-sharing, contact your department chair and the Dean.
  • If your project will involve human subjects, vertebrate animals, or the other compliance issues, get in touch with Research Integrity.

2 months before deadline

  • Start your proposal in the Cloud Express system.
  • Draft concept paper and develop timeline for your grant-funded project.
  • Begin preparing your budget with the assistance of your Grant Coordinator .
  • Contact organizations or colleagues for letters of support.

1 month before

  • Draft proposal and share it with colleagues for feedback.
  • Send the Grant Coordinator your budget draft.

Two weeks before

  • Incorporate draft and budget feedback.
  • Complete proposal documents and budget, submit to your Grant Coordinator.
  • Upon completion of review, the grant coordinator will submit the proposal to automatically collect signatures from your department chair, the Dean, and other approvers as needed. These approvals are required before you submit any proposal for an award that will be administered through the university.

Examples of submission deadlines and review cycles

In general, the process of developing a funding request should begin 12 to 18 months before the grant is needed.

This will vary if there is a one-step process – submitting a proposal is the only step – or a two-step process (sending a Letter of Inquiry seeking an invitation to submit a proposal, then developing and presenting a full Proposal if invited).

Example for large funding program

Grant Cycle TimelineDates
Submit one page Concept PaperJan. 1 to Feb. 15
Conference call with ApplicantFeb. 15 to March 30
Pre-proposal Application DeadlineMay 1
Notification of Invitation to Submit Full ProposalJuly 15
Full Proposal Submission DeadlineAugust 30
Conduct Site VisitSeptember/October
Determination of awardsDecember
Funding awardedJanuary

For funders with no deadlines for submission.

In some cases, funders note that applications are accepted at any time. However, it is probable that there will be a period of at least three to six months before the application is reviewed by a corporate contributions committee or a foundation board of directors and a decision about providing funding is made.

Also note that the result of the initial review may then be to invite the applicant to submit a full funding request, which in turn may not be reviewed for three to six months before the final decision is reached on whether to provide funding or not.

Even in this case, the process of developing a funding request should begin 9 to 12 months before the grant is needed.

Last updated: 6/26/2020