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My Arts and Sciences

Proposals and Pre-Award Activity

Identify Funding Opportunities

Locating and securing research funding is becoming increasingly competitive, as funding opportunities are limited and the number of researchers vying for those dollars continues to grow. Pivot is a comprehensive searchable database of funding opportunities and scholar profiles.  Register for weekly funding alerts.

Also, you can sign up to receive funding notices from the USC Office of Research and Grant Development online.

Start a Proposal

Once you’ve reviewed the sponsor requirements, begin to assemble some supporting data. The university requires that all proposals be entered into the USC Electronic Research Administration  (USCERA) system at least three business days before the proposal due date.  

At a minimum, you need to upload:

  1. a proposal summary,
  2. a budget,
  3. budget justification. 
  4. Include any attachments or information you think will aid your internal proposal approvers (your department chair, a dean’s office representative, and a SAM representative).

See our USCeRA Frequently Asked Questions [pdf] document for PIs and Unit Approvers.

The Sponsored Awards Management (SAM) office offers a budget template on their website. If you would like assistance with developing your budget, or have any other proposal questions, please contact us.

If you anticipate recruiting postdoctoral fellows or other researchers from a global talent pool, please contact the Office for International Scholars for position-specific salary benchmark data.

If your sponsor requires a Data Management Plan as part of your proposal, there are samples available. The USC Library offers access to sample data management plans and also a link to DMPTool to help researchers build plans that comply with sponsor requirements.

Graduate Student Health Insurance

Per announcement in May 2021, USC will offer fully subsidized health insurance for all full-time PhD students and graduate teaching assistants who elect to receive the student health plan.  The procedures for this program were recently announced on the Graduate School’s website.  Grant budgets including support for graduate research assistants (GRAs) should include funds to cover the cost of GRA health insurance, using published student health insurance premiums as a basis for the budget estimate.  GRA health insurance costs should be included on the same budget line as GRA tuition.Indirect Costs and Fringe Benefit Rates

USC’s current F&A (indirect cost) rate for on-campus research projects is 49% of modified total direct costs (total direct costs minus equipment, tuition, and the amount of subawards over $25,000 each).  The off-campus rate should be applied when the majority of the project’s scope of work will be conducted outside of USC facilities.

Waived Indirect Cost
Indirect cost incurred by the university in performance of a sponsored project that cannot be charged to a sponsor based on the sponsor’s requirements is referred to as waived indirect cost.  Depending on the sponsor’s guidelines, waived indirect costs may be included as cost share.

Fringe Benefits
USC’s fringe benefit rates are updated every six months, and are posted online. The SAM budget calculator can help you with your personnel and fringe benefits calculations.  For full-time faculty and staff, budgets should include health insurance – these costs vary by appointment type (9 month or 12 month) and level of coverage (employee only or full family).

Cost Share
Cost share is the portion of project costs not paid by the project sponsor.  Cost share should only be included in your project budget when it is required by a sponsor’s solicitation.  Federal guidelines regarding cost share allowability are available online.

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