Register early. Registration is by far the hardest part of the whole process. Don't put it off to the last minute. Grants.gov advises that registration usually takes up to 5 business days but it can take longer; we recommend that you allow at least two weeks. For help, call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726, e-mail email@example.com, or consult the information posted on the Grants.gov website at Help. The Grants.gov Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Be extremely careful when entering your registration information and make sure your information on file with the entities involved is correct and consistent. In the second step of the registration process, your information will be validated with the IRS and Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). If your information doesn't match exactly -- like having a comma in your organization's name on file with the IRS, but not with D&B -- it can snag your registration.
Make sure your registration information is up to date. Your organization's System for Award Management (SAM) registration -- part of the Grants.gov registration process -- must be renewed every year. SAM will alert your organization's SAM Point of Contact when it is time for renewal. You can check your current SAM registration status by entering your DUNS number at "Search SAM" at www.sam.gov. Also verify your registration with Grants.gov and make sure it is current before you apply, especially if your e-mail address has changed.
Be sure you're using the correct application package. Generally, each NEA application deadline has a specific Grants.gov package. You can't, for example, use the package we posted for our March Art Works application deadline to apply to the August Art Works deadline even though it may look the same.
Review the Grants.gov software requirements. You must have a version of Adobe Reader that is supported by Grants.gov installed on your computer in order to access, complete, and submit applications. Non-compatible versions of Adobe Reader or other Adobe products will lead to errors and prevent you from submitting your application. If more than one computer will be involved in the preparation of the application package, ensure that the same version of Adobe Reader is used.
Focus on your attachments (narrative, budget, biographical information, etc.). As always, these are the key parts of a NEA application. You can work on your attachments long before downloading the application package. (And when you do download the package, remember to save it to your computer so you don't need to be online to work on the forms.)
When working with the forms, complete the SF-424 (Application for Federal Domestic Assistance) form first. Certain fields -- e.g., your organization's name -- will then pre-populate the other forms, saving you some work.
Yes, the DUNS is important. The DUNS you enter on the SF-424 form must match exactly the DUNS you used when you registered with SAM. If it doesn't match -- even if you just transpose two digits -- we won't get your application because the Grants.gov system will kick it back to you. If your organization has more than one DUNS (many do), make sure you're using the right one for applying via Grants.gov.
Converting your documents to PDFs helps you (and us). Using PDFs allows you to preserve the formatting of your documents so they can be presented to panelists exactly as you intend. It also ensures we can open the documents and simplifies processing on our end. If you don't already have software to convert files to PDF before you attach them, there are many low-cost and free software packages that can do this. To learn more, go to PDF Conversion Programs.
You're the only one who can ensure that your application is complete. Yes, the Check Package for Errors function on the forms will tell you if you missed a required field. But it can't tell you if you forgot to attach a required document. So be sure you've included everything required by the instructions on the Attachments form. This is especially true if you created multiple versions of the application package as you worked on it. We've had several applicants submit early drafts of their application by mistake; we couldn't accept them because they were missing required attachments and were therefore incomplete. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. That's why we recommend that you save only one version of your application by overwriting it each time you save your work.
Submit your application no later than 10 days prior to the deadline to give yourself ample time to resolve any problems that you might encounter. You take a significant risk by waiting until the day of the deadline to submit.