Doing Research in MAE










Calls for Proposal

                  Read the call for proposal in its entirety, for pertinent and specific requirements of this proposal.  Send the call to your grant manager and let them know you’re going to propose to this sponsor.  Allow plenty of time to prepare the proposal, including 5 days for the grant manager and 5 days for ORPA for their final approval of the proposal.  The proposal must be uploaded and submitted to the University’s online research system, Coeus.  In addition, sponsors may have their own online proposal submission systems, such as Fastlane (NSF) , NSPIRES (NASA), or (DOD, NIH, DOE).


                  Decide who will work on the proposal, and how much effort will be spent by each person/position for each year of the project.  A separate line must be included for fringe rates charged for various years and classes of personnel.  See current rate sheet for current fringe rates.  Graduate students will also require accompanying tuition on the same project.


                  The rate of increase of tuition from year to year is 4%.  It is exempt from indirect costs.

The full rate of tuition is matched 50-50 by the Graduate School on grants paying 62% indirect cost rate. If the indirect cost rate paid by the sponsor is <62%, the grant must support 100% tuition costs.  See current rate sheet for current tuition charges.


Sub Awards

                  If someone from another institution is needed to provide effort, expertise, or student effort on your proposal, we will need to set up a sub award with that institution.  We require a Statement of Work, budget and justification of the budget from your sub awardee.  In addition, there are other forms required from the sub award institution.  Assistant Grant Managers will send the required forms to your sub award institution for you.

See checklist   (


                  Both foreign and domestic travel must be identified and estimated as closely as possible.  Specify who will be traveling, and where, when, duration of travel, and for what purpose.  Travel to Canada and Mexico are considered foreign to most sponsors now.  All federal sponsors require compliance with the Fly America Act, whereby US air carriers must be used for all flights covered by federal funds, with few exceptions.  See the following flowchart for federally funded flights to foreign countries. 

International travelers should review OIT’s International Travel Guidelines for recommendations to minimize risks to University and personal devices, as well as ORPA’s Foreign Travel Issues webpage.

Scientific Supplies and Services

                  Estimate what you may need to purchase in the way of scientific lab supplies and services such as calibration or maintenance.  Note that general supplies or office supplies are not appropriate for research funds.  Computing devices under $5K per unit may be direct charged to the project if they:

  • are essential, reasonable and allocable to the project in that they are necessary to acquire, store, analyze, process, and publish data and other information electronically including accessories (or “peripherals”) for printing, transmitting and receiving, or storing electronic information,
  • are not purchased for convenience or preference.

Note that computers costing over $5K are considered equipment and need prior approval from the sponsor.  Documentation should be kept that describes how the proposed computing device meets the above requirements.

                  Visa costs for short-term travel can be included on proposal budgets if they can be clearly identified as relating directly to the project.  Long term visa costs (such as H1B or J1) are not allowable on research projects.

Participant Support

                  Participant support costs are allowable on research projects with prior sponsor approval.  This includes stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid on behalf of trainees or participants (not employees) in connection with conferences or training events.  If the project contains an educational or outreach component and the agency approves, then these costs are permissible.  Such costs must be included in the proposal budget, and do not calculate indirect costs.


                  Obtain current quotes for each item >$5K that you’ll require to do the work on the project.  At the time of obtaining the quote, you need to also ask the vendor for the ECCN (Export Control Classification Number) for each item, as well as whether it is ITAR-controlled (International Trafficking in Arms Regulations).  If it is ITAR-controlled, it will not be allowed to be purchased at Princeton.  Since each piece of equipment must be sponsor-approved, you should include all equipment that is required to do the work on the project, throughout the entire period of the proposal.  However, if you elect to purchase a piece of equipment after the award begins, you must 1) request sponsor approval, and 2) re budget to cover the cost of this equipment.


F&A Costs (Indirect Costs)

                  Facilities and Administrative costs (indirect costs) are costs that are general and cannot be directly allocated to the research project.  Such costs are administrative salaries, building maintenance, utilities, etc.  Princeton University’s current federally negotiated rate for F&A Costs is 62% of modified total direct costs, which excludes tuition, equipment, participant and sub award costs >$25,000, per the Department of Health and Human Services rate agreement that is negotiated annually.  In the unusual event that the sponsor of your proposal pays indirect costs on Total Direct Costs (TDC), the F&A rate applies to all budget items and should be used when the sponsor does not allow the federally negotiated rate.

                  When Princeton University is the sub recipient, the organization that receives a federal award directly is obligated to honor Princeton’s negotiated F&A rate.  By the same token, Princeton PI’s may not negotiate rates with their sub recipients. 

                  If a sponsor publishes a maximum F&A rate that it will pay on a specific proposal and is less than the federally negotiated rate, Princeton’s Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORPA) may or may not accept the proposal.  A copy of the page describing this rate must be attached to your proposal in Coeus.

Budget Justification

                  After you have decided on the various components of your budget and have arrived at a total, you will then need to write a budget justification which explains each component of the budget.



                  Aside from export control issues, you must also determine whether your project will involve live animals, human subjects, biohazards, or conflict of interest.  See the Research Integrity and Assurance web site:  (  Such issues should be included in Coeus on the Special Review tab.



                  This form is required to be signed by the PI, and attached to Coeus for each proposal.  (



                  Answers to the questions are required before submission of each proposal.  Please see link to the questionnaire.


                  You will be notified by email if your proposal has been awarded and assigned a chart string by ORPA.  MAE grant managers and business manager are also notified.  You will be assigned a grant manager who will add personnel to your new project and monitor expenses.  They will send monthly status and projection statements, showing expenses that occurred during the past month.  They are there to help you manage your project’s future outcomes.  They will also request no-cost extensions, re- budgets, or pre award costs for you.

                  The grant managers will also assist you in preparing and submitting your proposals.  Please give them plenty of time to work on the proposal (5 days), as well as an extra 5 days for ORPA to approve it.  Please send them a copy of the Call for Proposal and discuss the parameters of the project and your budgetary or program needs.




The first step in determining if export controls apply to a particular activity is to determine if an export is occurring.  The Export Administration Regulations define an export as:

  1. “An actual shipment or transmission out of the United States, including the sending or taking of an item out of the United States, in any manner;
  2. Releasing or otherwise transferring “technology” or source code (but not object code) to a foreign person in the United States (a “deemed export”)…”

                                                                        Export Administration Regulations (15 CFR 734.13)

An exporter is also responsible if they know that an item or technical data being exported is intended for a third country.  This is known as a re-export, and the US exporter remains responsible for the ultimate destination of the item/data.



If an export is occurring, the next step is to determine if the item is subject to export control regulations.  There are three types of information that are excluded from export controls:

  1. Information that is in the public domain.  Information that has been published and is widely available in libraries, through distribution at public conferences, open patent applications, etc. is excluded from export controls.
  2. Information commonly taught in academic catalog courses is not subject to export control regulations.
  3. Research results arising from the conduct of fundamental research activities:
    1. Research in science, engineering, or mathematics;
    2. Where research results are ordinarily published (there are no restrictions or approvals on the publication of the research results); and
    3. There are no restrictions on access to the research results (for proprietary or national security reasons).

NOTE:  Equipment being exported from the US never qualifies for the fundamental research exclusion.  The fundamental research exclusion applies only to research results, not physical items.

The three primary sets of export control regulations:

  1. Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
  2. International Traffic Arms Regulations (ITAR)
  3. Office of Foreign Assets Control Regulations (OFAC)



Assuming that an export (or re-export) is occurring, and that the item/data is subject to export control regulations, an export license may be required.  In order to make this determination, four primary questions must be answered:

  1. What is the item/data that is to be exported? 
  2. Where is the item going? 
  3. Who is the recipient of the item? 
  1. What is the end-use of the exported item/data? 


By providing the Princeton Export Control office with this information, an export license determination can be made.  The contact information is: or (609) 258-3819.

The amount of time required to obtain export licenses varies by US government agency.  For this reason, it is imperative to identify exports well in advance so that the requirement to obtain export licenses does not delay research activities.



Additional Information Related to Export Controls at Princeton may be found on the ORPA Export Controls webpage, including:

Frequently Asked Questions

Issues Related to International Travel

What types of technology are export controlled?

How to determine if equipment/technical data is export controlled.






                  The only cost sharing allowed for Princeton research projects is when required by the sponsor.  You must decide cost sharing commitments at the time the proposal is being prepared.  Please see your grant manager to discuss the type and sources of cost sharing.  You will then need to meet with the Chair of MAE to discuss the cost sharing proposed for your project.