Tips on Writing a Competitive Grant Proposal & Preparing a Budget

Note: The following information is general guidance that applicants can use to assist them in applying for EPA funding opportunities.

I. Tips on Writing a Competitive Grant Proposal

A federal grant is an award of financial assistance from a federal agency to a recipient to carry out a public purpose of support authorized by federal law. Grants are subject to statutory, regulatory, and policy-based requirements, depending on the particular program. Federal agencies, including EPA, have various grant programs that post competitive grant opportunities on the site.  General information about an agency’s programs can be found in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. Specific information about particular funding opportunities is described in corresponding competitive announcements, which are prepared in accordance with an OMB prescribed format (located at 2 CFR 200 Appendix I) and posted on the site.

Competitive announcements are generally divided into several sections consistent with the OMB prescribed format, and usually include the following:

I. Funding Opportunity Description
II. Award Information
III. Eligibility Information
IV. Proposal and Submission Information
V. Proposal Review Information
VI. Award Administration Information
VII. Agency Contacts
VIII. Other Miscellaneous Information

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All EPA competitive opportunities require applicants to submit proposals through Detailed submission instructions are described in section IV of the announcement.

When preparing proposals, applicants must carefully review the terms of the competitive announcement and make sure the proposal complies with the requirements in the announcement. Proposals must be submitted by the deadlines specified in the announcement and address all of the evaluation criteria in the announcement. Proposals must also comply with any threshold eligibility requirements and meet any match requirements described in the announcement.

Some competitions provide the opportunity for pre-proposal/application assistance to potential applicants interested in competing for a grant. If applicable, this will be specified in the announcement. The pre-proposal/application assistance may include helping potential applicants determine whether they and/or their proposed project is eligible for funding, or responding to requests for clarification of the announcement.

For additional information, EPA has a competition policy that governs the grant competition process at EPA. This policy can be found at EPA's Policy for Competition of Assistance Agreements. Additional competition information can be found at the Policy for Competition of Assistance Agreements.

II. Guide for Preparing Grant Application Budgets:

EPA and many other federal agencies require applicants to complete the SF-424A Budget Information Form. You should follow the instructions included with the SF-424A when preparing your budget. In addition, a budget narrative is required to support all of the proposed costs in the budget. The budget narrative should provide sufficient detail for the various line items where funds are being requested. EPA will review the proposed budget and budget narrative to ensure costs are reasonable, allocable, necessary, and allowable per the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and cost principles. Please refer to the Office of Grants and Debarment budget detail guidance for further assistance in preparing your budget and budget narrative.

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