In case you missed the notice, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has announced new policies for the electronic submission of grant applications. If you have been writing education grants for the last few years, you are probably aware of the electronic submission process. But there are two new policies and requirements that are important to know even if you’ve never used an online system to submit your proposals.

According to ED’s web site, the department is transitioning to Grants.gov, a web site that allows individuals and organizations to find and apply for grants electronically from all federal grant-making agencies, not just ED. The department is encouraging anyone who is thinking about applying for an ED grant to go to Grants.gov and register now. I’ve heard from a few people that the registration process can take longer than you expect. Apparently, folks who wait until the last minute to register and submit their applications online might run into unexpected delays that can result in a rejection of their applications. So, my advice is to attend to this now (finish reading this edition of eSchool News first, of course!) instead of putting it off. There usually are not many deadlines for ED grants during the summer months, so you are liable to forget to do this! Visit the Grants.gov site and complete the “Get Started” steps to register.

You should note, however, that ED is not planning to use Grants.gov for all of its grant competitions. Some programs will continue to use ED’s electronic submission system, e-Application. You will have to read upcoming requests for proposals (RFPs) carefully to be sure which of the two systems is being used for the submission of proposals. If a competition is using the Grants.gov system, it will not be using the e-Application system–and vice versa. In future years, ED plans to use Grants.gov as the primary means for accepting electronic submissions of proposals.

As in the past, applicants can ask for a waiver for the electronic submission requirement; however, the department has changed its policy and procedural requirements for permitting applicants, under certain circumstances, to submit paper applications for those competitions that require electronic submission.

Formerly, applicants could submit a waiver for the electronic submission up until the application deadline. Now, applicants who meet one of two conditions–they do not have access to the internet or the capacity to upload large documents to the e-Application or Grants.gov systems–must submit a written statement to the department. This statement must indicate which condition applies and must be mailed or faxed to the program office at least 14 calendar days before the application deadline. If an applicant does not submit the statement or fails to submit it in a timely manner, ED will not accept the paper proposal and will notify the applicant of his or her rejection.

To view a copy of these new policies, go to the page of ED’s web site listed below. If you have any questions about the new policies and requirements, you can send an eMail message to grantspolicy@ed.gov.

See this related link:

“New Policies for the Electronic Submission of Grant Applications”
http://www.ed.gov/policy/fund/guid/gposbul/esubmitpolicysummary.html

Deborah Ward, CFRE, is an independent grant writing consultant. She welcomes questions at (717) 295-9437 or Debor21727@aol.com.