CERES: Create and Submit a Funding Proposal


This article explains how to create a funding proposal and submit it for internal review in CERES.


Create and Submit a Funding Proposal

Note: The attachments contain a job aid related to this article.

This topic shows how to create a funding proposal and check it for errors and omissions. When the funding proposal will be submitted to a federal sponsor via system-to-system, ensure the funding proposal and budget are complete prior to creating the SF424. Information from the funding proposal and budget auto-populate the SF424 pages.

Create a Funding Proposal

  1. From the Dashboard, click the Create menu and then select Create Funding Proposal.

 Note: NU is not currently utilizing Complex Proposals. Do not select Create Complex Proposal. Multi-project proposals should be entered for submission in the sponsor’s submission system, with a non-system-to-system proposal record in CERES.

  1. Fill out each page of the funding proposal and click Continue.


  • The Program Director / Principal Investigator / Project Lead / Fellow field on the General Proposal Information page automatically populates to the user that creates the proposal. If you are creating a funding proposal on behalf of someone else, click the remove icon to clear the information, and then search for the appropriate person.
  • The direct sponsor you select determines whether you are subsequently queried for Federal or non-Federal grant information. If the organization you are searching for is not listed, select TBD from the list, type the name of the organization in the provided text box, and submit a request for a new organization. 
  • Once you specify the sponsor, the system creates a budget you can complete.
  • The funding proposal does not exist until the first page of the SmartForm is saved.
  • You can save, exit, and return to the funding proposal later. Select the proposal from your CERES inbox. From the workspace, click Edit Funding Proposal to edit proposal pages.
  1. On the General Proposal Information page, if you select Research as the project type, additional questions appear to collect HERD Survey information. The PI will provide the research category and R&D field code to the RA.

Note: The HERD Survey questions are not specific to NSF-funded award. The HERD Survey is administered by the NSF, but it related to all research expenditures at universities, not just NSF-sponsored research.

  1. On the Personnel page, Click Add to include project personnel, including institutional key, non-key or other significant contributors as well as any non-institutional key personnel. Select Yes if the individual is to be considered an Investigator for COI purposes. Complete the information in the slide-in window and click OK.

You can also add administrative personnel on the Personnel page and grant them read-only or edit rights.


  • TBD personnel do not need to be added to the Personnel page. Add them to the budget instead.
  • If the funding proposal will include an SF424 for a federal system-to-system submission, it is important to add all of the project personnel and subaward personnel to this SmartForm page. What is added here will map to the SF424.
  • Integration with eDisclosure is triggered automatically using the personnel listed on the funding proposal. If personnel are not listed, their COI disclosures can be missed.
  • RAs receive an email notification when the funding proposal lists NU personnel outside of the proposing department. 
  • Only users who are an editor of the funding proposal can submit for department review, as well as perform other key activities on the funding proposal. If needed, you can add yourself or others as a proposal editor or change the Administrative Contact. Whether you make yourself a proposal editor or set yourself as the Administrative Contact depends on your local business process and situation. For temporary coverage, add yourself as an editor. If you are taking ownership of the funding proposal, set yourself as the Administrative Contact. These same changes can be made using the Manage Access activity on the proposal workspace. as well. 
  1. For federal system-to-system proposal submissions, search for the specific Federal opportunity on the Submission Information page. The submission type and direct sponsor will automatically populate based on the direct sponsor and prime sponsor, if applicable, entered on the General Proposal Information page. Under Type a package ID, opportunity ID, or CFDA number, type values in one or more of the four search criteria fields, and click Find. Grants.gov returns matching opportunities, their requirements, and forms. Select the desired opportunity from the returned matches and click Save.

Note: A search value in the Competition ID field can only be used in combination with search criteria entered in the other fields. Grants.gov returns matching opportunities, their requirements, and forms (if supported by Huron SF424).

Note: If the forms are not supported, they will not show up in the search results and a warning will be shown on the next page. If this is the case, the submission will have to be completed in the appropriate sponsor eRA system, with a non-system-to-system proposal created and routed in CERES.

  1. Select the desired opportunity from the returned matches and click Save.
  2. For federal submissions that are not system-to-system submissions, on the Submission Information page:
    • The submission type and direct sponsor will automatically populate based on the direct sponsor and prime sponsor, if applicable, entered on the General Proposal Information page.
    • Select No to the Will this application be submitted system-to-system question.
    • Enter the Package ID or Opportunity ID and the opportunity title.
    • Select the funding mechanism.
    • Add the submission documents.
  3. For non-federal submissions, on the Submission Information page, click Add to upload the submission documents. The submission type and direct sponsor will automatically populate based on the direct sponsor and prime sponsor, if applicable, entered on the General Proposal Information page.
  4. The Funding Opportunity Announcement page only appears if the sponsor is federal and Yes was selected to indicate it is a system-to-system submission. If it reports all required forms are supported, but an error message indicates otherwise, return to the Submission Information page, and click the Refresh Form Support button. If a confirmation prompt appears, click OK.
  5. Continue to the Budget Periods and Key Dates page and supply the required information.

On this page, you can add, remove, and update budget periods. By default, CERES creates five (5) budget periods.

  • Click Add Period to add budget periods.
  • Click Remove Period to delete unnecessary budget periods.
  • Click Update Periods to update the period end dates or to define periods that include partial months. Check the box next to Use Advanced Editing, and specify the end dates, as in the example below. In such cases, the system calculates a decimal value for period duration by dividing the number of days in the partial month by 30. 

Note: Changing budget period duration by editing the start date or editing period intervals may produce changes in budget totals. This is because budget period duration is a variable in calculated salary totals.

  1. Continue to the Compliance Review page and answer the series of compliance-related questions.

Note: If the funding proposal is selected as the Funding Source IRB or IACUC protocol in the IRB or IACUC solutions, the solution sends information about the associated IRB or IACUC protocol to CERES Grants. The data displays on the Related IRB Protocols and Related IACUC Protocols sections on the Compliance Review pages of the funding proposal and award SmartForms. The information displayed should be in real-time and is for information purposes only. It cannot be edited in CERES Grants. If the IRB or IACUC protocol was previously approved, it requires an amendment to change the Funding Source.

  1. On the Additional Proposal Information page:
    • Select any additional resources that are required for the proposal, such as hospital personnel, IT Resources (e.g. new applications or databases), or expanded utility services (e.g., fume hoods, air conditioning).
    • Search for and select the Funding Mechanism. If there is no funding mechanism for the project, select None. Start typing the mechanism – or None – and the predictive search will narrow the list.
    • Include the Project Summary/Abstract.
    • State whether the PI is performing fundamental research and if the project is an industry-sponsored clinical trial.
    • Select any COI requirements related to the project as well as any Technology Transfer, inventions, or patents.
  2. After completing all required fields and any optional fields on the proposal pages, follow the completion instructions on the last page, validate the proposal, and then click Finish.

Note: You have only completed one of up to three steps before submitting the funding proposal into workflow. The budget(s) should be completed next. The SF424, if it is a federal system-to-system submission, will be completed third. The funding proposal, budget(s), and SF424, if applicable, should all be completed prior to submitting into workflow. 

You can continue to edit the funding proposal and budget until it is routed for Department Review.


Submit a Funding Proposal for Review

Once you've completed a funding proposal and its related components – budget(s) and if applicable, SF424, you are ready to submit it for review. Before you do, this is a good time to ensure the PI has certified the funding proposal is complete, correct, and that they will comply with institutional requirements. Ensure all areas of the funding proposal and its related components are complete before submitting it Department Review.

To submit a funding proposal for review

  1. From the workspace, click Submit for Department Review.
  2. If the system reports errors, such as required fields that were not completed, fix them, and submit again.
  3. If the Submit for Department Review dialog box reports required ancillary reviews that have not been completed, it will not prevent the funding proposal from entering Department Review or Specialist Review states. However, required ancillary reviews must be completed before the funding proposal can move forward to the Pending Sponsor Review state.

When the system reports no errors, the funding proposal advances to the Department Review state to be reviewed by the appropriate department reviewers. The funding proposal automatically advances for Specialist Review once the final level of Department Review approves, and the PI has certified. If the proposal is not yet certified, the system also sends the PI an email notification, and the proposal appears in their CERES inbox.


Funding Proposal FAQ's

Question Answer

Q: Am I able to see the status of my proposal?

A: Yes, the workflow progress will be easily visible within the funding proposal workspace, allowing for more transparency throughout the proposal development and submission process. The same is true for all transactions across the lifecycle, including awards, award modification requests, and agreements. For funding proposals, once the administrative and budget components of the proposal are ready, the Research Administrator submits the proposal into route, first for department reviews. After required  department approvals are in place, the proposal moves on to Sponsored Research for what the system displays as 'Specialist Review'.

Q: I'm submitting a non-system-to-system proposal. Where do I put the information of the proposal number in Proposal Central?

A: Use the Add Comments activity on the FP workspace.

Q: Where should I upload the internal documents?

A: Use the Add Attachments activity on the left to upload internal documents that will not be submitted to the sponsor.

Q: How do I include TBD personnel on my proposal?

A: There is no need to include them on the Funding Proposal SmartForm as the lines are only in the budget.

Q: Is there a way to run reports on pending proposals?

A: From the Grants module Funding Proposals page, navigate to the ‘Sponsor Review’ tab to see all the pending proposals. That tab is sortable by column headers, filterable, and can be exported to Excel.

Q: Is it typical to be asked for HERD information for a non-NSF proposal?

A: Yes, classification information to support Northwestern’s annual HERD survey research expenditure submission will now be captured for all proposals. The Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey is the primary source of information on research and development expenditures at U.S. colleges and universities. The survey collects information on R&D expenditures by field of research and source of funds and also gathers information on types of research, expenses, and headcounts of R&D personnel. The survey is an annual census of institutions that expended at least $150,000 in separately accounted for R&D in the fiscal year. The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) at the National Science Foundation conducts the annual survey, which ranks research institutions by their annual research expenditures. For research type and specific field classifications, your principal investigator will need to provide you with this information. For more information about the HERD survey, visit the NSF HERD page. Northwestern’s expenditure data is submitted annually by Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs.

Q: Where should I list subawards on proposals?

A: Subaward personnel are added on the "Personnel" funding proposal page. The subaward itself is added as a budget -- once the funding proposal's SmartFormsare complete, navigate to the primary sponsor budget workspace by clicking the budget name in the "Working Budgets" section, then click the "Create Subaward" button. Note: although you can add the subaward personnel on the subaward budget as well, they will only be mapped to the SF424 if they are entered on the funding proposal.




Article ID: 2263
Thu 4/6/23 10:12 AM
Thu 8/3/23 12:50 PM

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