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Research and Grants

Grants FAQ

Notify the college grants manager, Terri Moorer, of your intention to submit and forward a copy of the sponsor guidelines. This should happen as soon as possible, and no later than three business days before it is due in USCERA, which also requires three business days for review and submission.

Terri assists with the pre- and post-award process, which includes budget preparation; application forms; compliance of USC, federal, and state guidelines; USCERA and workspace, NSF Fastlane and SAMS Domestic navigation; and serves as the liaison between Sponsored Awards Management (SAM), Grants and Funds Management and the PI.

If you would like the Associate Dean of Research or others to review your proposal for content, please notify Linwan Wu  as well. He and/or others who have expertise in your area may be able to help review for content before you submit.

We also have a freelance professional we can reach out to for grant writing, editing and development services for large grants. Please contact Terri if you are interested in working with this consultant.  

When a call for proposals is limited, the Research and Grant Development office will issue a call for two-page preproposals and impanel an internal review committee of three anonymous volunteer faculty with previous experience with the sponsor. The internal review committee will review the preproposals based on how well each addresses the criteria in the sponsor’s solicitation and return its rankings to the SmartState Program Manager Richard White along with pro and con comments of each preproposal. White will then notify the applicants of the final status of their preproposals and include the pro and con comments for constructive purposes.

The University of South Carolina Electronic Research Administration (USCeRA) is the web-based electronic research administration system used at USC. USCeRA is the central system through which USC performs proposal and award administration functions including the following:

  • USC electronic proposal routing and approval
  • Electronic award account set-up
  • Searchable proposal and award data

Drawing from faculty-maintained research profile information, USCeRA also powers USC’s searchable Faculty Expertise Database (FacED), a tool designed to foster research collaboration and to showcase the wide array of expertise and talent offered by USC faculty. By unifying all of these vital functions into one easily accessible web-based system, USCeRA saves valuable faculty time in developing and managing sponsored awards and serves as a valuable tool for researchers system-wide.

All proposals that require USC to enter into a contract, account creation, and involve USC departments such as SAM, payroll, accounts payable, Grants and Funds Management, etc., MUST go through USCeRA. Once a proposal is submitted, your Director and Dean will review, approve, and it will be sent to SAM for review and submission to the sponsor.  Only SAM has the authority to submit a proposal and enter into a contract with a sponsor. 

If another university is lead, you must submit a budget, scope of work, etc., to USCeRA for approval. USC will be listed as a subaward and receive a contract if awarded. You can’t receive direct compensation from an external source for work related to your position/research at USC unless you receive prior approval.


Also, faculty must report outside activities and financial interests yearly, so disclosures alert for potential conflicts.

Note USC’s Outside Professional Activities for Faculty Policy # ACAF 1.50 before entering into any agreement. If you have questions regarding that policy, please see Rachel Rolli. If you have other questions related to specific grants and USCeRA, please ask Terri. She is our liaison to SAM.

There are very rare occasions when SAM will permit the PI to submit to the sponsor as long as the proposal has been reviewed by Terri, the Dean, and the Director. There is no guarantee this will be permitted by SAM. SAM requires a minimum of three business days for review and submission. If there is a potential problem meeting the deadline, Terri will alert SAM for guidance.

SAM can create separate accounts to distribute funds awarded outside our college and schools. If you are included in a sponsored project with another department, the lead PI should request a separate subaccount when submitting the proposal to USCeRA. If awarded, a subaccount will be created with your budget, IDC, and revenue (if any). We recommend subaccounts for all awards now. If you are collaborating with another university or entity outside USC, please ask to be listed as a subrecipient.

Depending on sponsor guidelines, faculty can choose summer compensation and/or a course buyout. The buyout rate is 12.5% of faculty salary + fringe + health. Buyouts must be approved by the school director and the dean (typically one course buyout per year is allowed, or two in rare exceptions).

Terri should be your first contact if/when you are working on a grant. Terri will work closely with SAM.  If you would like assistance in reviewing the content of your grant proposal (the idea, the writing, etc.), please reach out to the Associate Dean of Research. Time permitting, Linwan will be happy to review proposals and/or she might be able to solicit feedback from the school directors and/or other experts in your area of research.

Terri routinely searches for funding opportunities for the college.  Faculty are also encouraged to search for funding. Two external and two internal sites for funding are listed below:

Please notify Terri and Linwan about your idea. They can help you search for possible grant funders and/or help you find collaborators who might be able to help pursue your goals.

It varies by grant, but typically the Principal Investigator:

  • Is responsible for all actions required to manage and complete the scientific and programmatic aspects of the sponsored project.
  • Initiates the hiring or assignment process and approves the selection or appointment of individuals to the project and is responsible for communicating staff changes to departmental administrative staff.
  • Ensures the integrity and safeguarding of data.
  • Ensures the completion, accuracy and timeliness of reports.
  • Initiates and approves purchases, reimbursements, faculty/staff compensation, tuition, etc. This includes providing administrators with project chartstrings when requesting payments, which will help avoid confusion when researchers have multiple grants. 
  • At the time expenditures are initiated, determines that expenditures are allowable, allocable, and reasonable; approves them; and provides justification for the transaction, if necessary. In both budgeting and charging of expenses, the Principal Investigator adheres to Cost Accounting Standards, such as consistency in allocating costs.
  • Initiates the process of documenting cost sharing and/or matching and for ensuring that cost sharing obligations are met from allowable and verifiable sources, including those by third party collaborators, if included in approved budget.
  • Initiates requests for rebudgeting as the sponsor requires.
  • Initiates cost transfer requests. When salary transfer requests are made, ensures these are based on actual effort expended and not merely as budgeted (per OMB Circular A-21).
  • Identifies and proposes a resolution of any account deficit.
  • Reviews subrecipient invoices for appropriateness and, to monitor progress of the work, approves payment of subrecipient invoices.
  • Uses Finance Intranet for financial monitoring and identifies and resolves errors in the account in a timely manner. If appropriate and required at budget period end, the Principal Investigator requests that remaining balances are carried forward.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.