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Grants, Contracts, RFAs, and RFPs

  • A grant is a funding mechanism for a particular scientific inquiry that you generate. You come up with the idea, they decide if it's a good idea, and they provide funding for you to do it.

  • In contrast, a contract is a funding mechanism of government agencies or other organizations to obtain specified services or goods. In other words, they come up with an idea, you tell them how you're going to do it, and they pay you to do it.

  • Grant announcements often take the form of a Program Announcement (PA) or Request for Application (RFA). These initials refer to the document that describes the government's area of interest, with general guidelines for conducting the research.

  • Contract announcements often take the form Request for Proposal (RFP). These initials refer to the document that describes the work or service the funding agency wants you to provide.

  • NIH, which will operate under a $28 billion budget during FY 2005, is one of the largest funders of research in the Federal Government. .

Please keep in mind that the NIH recently made a series of changes to the PHS 398 and PHS 2590 forms. The Research Assistant contains updated links to this information throughout the site. Follow this link to the updates.

Please note that NIH has a Revised Policy on the acceptance for review of unsolicited applications that request $500,000 or more in direct costs.


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Last updated: August 12, 2003.