Grants.gov Tips

What is Grants.gov

Grants.gov is the federal government's online application system. It provides one central portal where organizations and individuals can electronically find and apply for grants throughout the federal government. Grants.gov is THE single access point for over 1,000 grant programs offered by the 26 federal agencies that make grants. Learn more by visiting www.grants.gov.

Who should use Grants.gov?

All applicants to the National Endowment for the Arts are required to use Grants.gov.

The first step in applying through Grants.gov is registration. This is a multi-step process for which you should allow at least two weeks. Registration must be completed before you can apply. See "Registering as an Organization" for details. Start on this now; don't wait until right before your deadline!

Register or Renew/Verify Registration with Grants.gov

NOTE: Applicants are required to change their Grants.gov passwords every 60 days. See www.grants.gov for more details on requirements for Usernames and Passwords.

It is your organization's responsibility to create and maintain a regularly updated registration with Grants.gov. This includes registration with the System for Award Management (SAM), where your organization's information must be renewed annually. Finalize a new or renew an existing registration at least two weeks before the application deadline. This should allow you time to resolve any issues that may arise with Grants.gov or SAM. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in your inability to submit your application.

If your organization is not yet registered, go to Grants.gov's Registering as an Organization. Allow a minimum of two weeks for this multi-step, one-time process. If your organization already has registered, renew your registration with SAM and verify that your registration with Grants.gov is current.

If you have problems with registration:

  • SAM Federal Service Desk: Call 1-866-606-8220 or see the information posted on the SAM website at SAM User Help.
  • Grants.gov Contact Center: Call 1-800-518-4726, e-mail support@grants.gov, 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.

Maintain documentation (with dates) of your efforts to register or renew at least two weeks before the deadline.

You do not need to complete the registration process to download the application package and begin to prepare your material (see below). However, you will need your Grants.gov Username and Password that you obtain during the registration process to submit your application.

Registration Tips:

  • 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 support@grants.gov, or consult the information posted on the Grants.gov website at General Support. 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.

  • Even if you aren't registered, you can work on an electronic application. While you need to be registered in order to submit an application, you don't need to be registered (or an AOR) in order to work on one.

Creating your application

  • 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 February Art Works application deadline to apply to the July 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 your application was validated and accepted by Grants.gov. See below.

Submitting your application

  • 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.

  • Just because Grants.gov received your application doesn't mean it's been accepted. Ensure that your application was validated and accepted by the Grants.gov system. Go to Track My Application to track the validation and progress of your application submission through Grants.gov. There are several reasons applications may not be validated. Maybe there was a problem with the DUNS (see above). Bottom line: Don't wait until just before the deadline to submit. If you turn off your computer right after submitting, you may not learn the application was kicked back until too late. Give yourself some extra time to make adjustments and resubmit, if necessary.

  • Sometimes the problem isn't Grants.gov or you, it's your computer. You'll need to work with your own IT administrator to fix the problem. It may be due to the presets on your computer or your Internet Service Provider. If your IT administrator isn't available, just try submitting from another computer and see if that works. Another reason to submit early!

Sign up to be notified of funding opportunities

You can ask Grants.gov to provide you with notification of upcoming funding opportunities that might be of interest. Sign up so you will be notified whenever we post new guidelines. You do not have to provide a Funding Opportunity or CFDA Number.

Have questions? Should I contact Grants.gov or the NEA?

You should contact Grants.gov for:

  • ALL questions related to registration (e.g., help in completing all of the steps in registration; checking on your registration status; verifying or updating your registration information).
  • Help in applying through Grants.gov, i.e., the mechanics of getting your application through the system.

Grants.gov Contact Information
The Grants.gov Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Telephone: 1-800-518-4726
E-mail: support@grants.gov
Website: www.grants.gov

You should contact the Arts Endowment for:

  • Questions about your specific project or the content of your application (e.g., eligibility, the appropriate discipline/field for your project, project breadth).

Please contact the Arts Endowment ONLY after you have reviewed the guidelines and the Frequently Asked Questions. You should contact the staff for the category and/or discipline that is most appropriate for your project (see Agency Contacts).