Modifications and Extensions

It is necessary for such requests to be submitted through official channels. Your assigned Research Administrator should be familiar with the terms and conditions of your award. He or she can help you prepare your request.

The most commonly requested award changes are the following:

No-cost Extensions (NCE)



A No-Cost Extension is an extension of the period of performance beyond the expiration end date of the award. Extensions are sometimes needed to allow the Principal Investigator to successfully complete the project.  As the phrase “no cost” suggests, there is no additional funding provided by the Sponsor. 


A No-Cost Extension may be requested by the PI of a project if the project period end is approaching and there is a programmatic need to continue the research and there are sufficient funds remaining to cover the extended remaining effort from the original award.


NCEs for Federal Grants


Many federal grants are issued under the Research Terms and Conditions (RTCs) as published on the NSF website. These grants generally include an option to extend the end date of a project for up to one year without requesting the sponsor’s approval.  Penn State is required to notify the sponsor prior to exercising this option.  The RTC Appendix A Prior Approval Matrix is a good reference document on which agencies utilize this option under § 200.308 Revision of budget and program plans (e)(2):


For one-time extensions, the recipient must notify the Federal awarding agency in writing with the supporting reasons and revised period of performance at least 10 calendar days before the end of the period of performance specified in the Federal award. Reference the agency specific requirements for instructions on how to do this since they differ between agencies. This one-time extension must not be exercised merely for the purpose of using unobligated balances. Extensions require explicit prior Federal awarding agency approval when:

  • The terms and conditions of the Federal award prohibit the extension.
  • The extension requires additional Federal funds.
  • The extension involves any change in the approved objectives or scope of the project.


College research offices should email to notify the office of No Cost Extension Requests.  Incoming No Cost Extension Approvals that are sent to this email address will automatically be matched with the corresponding approval.


All other NCE Requests


In almost all other cases, it will be necessary to receive the sponsor's prior written approval before extending the end date of a project. Many sponsors will not accept a request for an extension unless it is submitted by an authorized organizational official. The assigned College Research Office Administrator can help you prepare an appropriate request based on the terms and conditions of the specific award. A copy of this request should be forwarded to OSP for inclusion in the contract file.


Sending NCE Requests to OSP


Provide as much identifying information as possible when emailing NCE requests to the address so that processors can easily identify the corresponding award:


SUBJECT: NCE REQUEST / Award# / Sponsor / PI / OSP# / Additional Reference Numbers if applicable


Body of Email should include:


  • NCE Justification.  Give the reason for the request and acknowledge that this extension will be accomplished with no additional funds requested from the sponsor and that it is necessary for the effective and economical conduct of the project.
  • Current end date of the project and the new requested end date.
  • Attach supporting documentation, as needed.  Be sure that it is clear that the PI is aware of and approves of the extension and includes sponsor contact information if applicable.


NOTE: NCE Approvals cannot be processed with a corresponding NCE Request.  This is needed to ensure that the Principal Investigator (PI) is aware of and approves of the extension. 

Budget Revisions

Many federal and industrial projects provide the Principal Investigator with broad latitude to re-budget funds as necessary to meet program objectives. However, such latitude is never absolute. All purchases must be consistent with the sponsor's Terms and Conditions along with Penn State's Cost Accounting Standards. In addition, the terms and conditions of the award may require the recipient to request the sponsor's prior approval before shifting funds from one budget category to another. Other awards may require the sponsor's prior authorization of certain expenditures. For example, it is frequently necessary to get the sponsor's prior approval before issuing subcontracts, purchasing capital equipment, or spending project funds on foreign travel. Copies of formal requests should be forwarded to OSP for inclusion in the contract file.

Change of Project Personnel

It is necessary to request the sponsor's prior written approval before changing the Principal Investigator (even if the change is only temporary). Many sponsors also require approval of any changes to "Key Personnel" (this term may be defined differently by different sponsors, but generally includes all faculty members and other researchers making a significant contribution to the project). Typically, the sponsor requires biographical sketches, as well as a justification for any changes in PI or Key Personnel. 

For a change of PI or addition of a Co-PI, please submit the appropriate form below along with the biographical sketch, justification for the change, and a pdf copy of the original IAF to OSP.

Please refer to the Change of Project Personnel Instructions for specific details of the approvals required in each circumstance above.

Change of Scope of Work

It is always important to keep the sponsor informed of any changes in the scope of work. Significant changes to the scope of work will require the sponsor's prior approval. Copies of all official correspondence related to changes in the scope of work should be forwarded to OSP for inclusion in the contract file.