Limited Submissions FAQ

Below are some questions commonly asked pertaining to the limited submission process at Penn State.  If you do not find your answer below, contact


Why must I submit an NOI and Application to Penn State and not automatically to the sponsor?

Solicitations for which a limited number of proposals are allowed from an institution are best run through a peer review process to both ensure quality of the proposals and also to ensure that the university coordinates its strategic investments for limited opportunities.  If Penn State does not coordinate and exceeds the institutional limit, the likely result is all our proposals for that solicitation will be rejected without review.

I am an investigator located at a branch campus, do I submit to the downselect at University Park?

It depends.  Certain solicitations consider branch campuses as separate, by definition, but others do not.  It is best to consult with University Park early to make a determination.  Send an email to

Why are some downselects started months ahead of time and before the solicitation is out?

Best practices have shown that for some recurring and new solicitations an early start is necessary to both complete the complex proposal on time,  and to produce high quality connections and ideas.  Our experience is that many of the successful proposal teams begin developing their ideas long before a solicitation is announced, and some have already been through one round of agency reviews.


To whom do I address science/technical questions before submitting?

Each downselect competition will have a “technical chair(s)”, often an institute director with expertise related to the discipline or topic.  If a chair is not listed on the internal announcement, you may contact for directions or at any time for general questions.

What happens if I miss the Notice of Intent Deadline or Full Application Deadline?

Reasonable exceptions can be made for both deadlines, but the review team meets in the near-term after the application deadline, posing a risk that late applications will not receive full consideration.  The ability to meet deadlines is an unwritten criterion for any proposal, and is particularly important for the large and complex proposals that many of these limited submissions represent.

Who reviews the applications?

Reviewers include the associate deans of research in colleges from which there were applications, plus relevant institute directors.  For some solicitations the reviewers may include faculty who won prior awards or have other relevant expertise.

What major factors are considered in the scoring of applications?

Based on institutional knowledge, the review panel tries to prioritize the proposals that have the best chance of being funded (e.g., match to solicitation, prior success with agency, team strengths, timely idea) with a backdrop of also being strategic for the university.  It is always a good idea to discuss your concept with your associate dean or an institute director, who can help you frame your idea to maximize its potential for success.

Who has the final decision on which application(s) go forward?

The Vice President for Research (VPR) makes the final decision on downselect submissions.  The review team consisting of the associate deans and institute directors and faculty representatives scores the applications.  If there is a clear, statistical winner(s) the recommendation is made to the VPR who has final authority. If a winner(s) is not clear statistically, the review team meets face-to-face to resolve and may solicit additional information from each other or from outside the group. The recommendation or summary of the meeting is then given to the VPR for final decision. 

How soon will I know the result so that I may start working in earnest with my team?

Generally, you can expect 2-3 weeks after the application due date, depending on whether clear winners are determined immediately or if there is more discussion as above.

Can I resubmit next year if my proposal fails in the downselect?

If your proposal is not selected in this round but you and the review panel feel it has potential then you can work with an Institute Director or Associate Dean to develop it further, either for a resubmission in the following round or to another call.  Indeed experience has shown that the development of a pipeline of proposals is often the most successful strategy.

If my proposal is selected but fails with good scores can I have priority in the following downselect?

Priority is not a guarantee, but we appreciate that many selection processes expect a resubmission, agencies included.  The downselect panel does review proposal history, and it is expected that feedback received in the previous round(s) will be addressed at a minimum.