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NCRAC Proposal Submission Frequently Asked Questions

Budget Proposal and Justification

Q. Will NCRAC pay indirect costs associated with my project?

A. At this time, NCRAC does not cover indirect costs. 

Q. What is the difference between equipment and supplies?

A. The main difference is the cost of an item. Iowa State University considers items that cost more than $5,000 as equipment but other universities may have different values.  The important issue is how sub-award institutions request reimbursement from Iowa State University for supplies or equipment.

Q. Will NCRAC cover equipment costs associated with my project?

A. Generally, NCRAC does not cover equipment costs. However, individual requests can be submitted to NCRAC administrative support for consideration if the equipment is critical to the project.

Q. Will NCRAC cover facility improvements?

A. NCRAC will not cover the costs of improvements made to facilities. The NCRAC Review Board operates under the assumption the institution has adequate facilities to perform the proposed research.

Q. Are matching/indirect costs required?

A. No.

Q. Is the project chair responsible for developing and managing the budgets of co-PIs?

A. No. Each PI for the project will submit their individual budgets to the chair for inclusion into the complete project proposal; final budget will be the sum of all individual budgets. Following USDA-NIFA approval, each PI will have his or her own sub-award through Iowa State University. Sub-awards are submitted on an individual year basis in which the second year of funding is contingent on the suitable performance of the preceding year.

Q. What is the process for managing budget changes on a project?

A. If there are to be deviations from the budget line items that were approved in project outlines by both NCRAC and USDA then a letter requesting and explaining the reasons for the need of line item deviations must be written by the Principal Investigator(s) to the Director of NCRAC for approval.

Q. Is there a limit to travel costs for the project?

A. Beginning with 2012 Work Group project outlines and all future funding cycles, the Board will require the travel budgets to include: (1) explanation on how it is related to the RAC mission; (2) a limitation to one person who can speak on behalf of the project to national conferences for reporting on project results to broaden potential impacts whenever feasible; and (3) a minimal amount of regional travel unless it is essential to completing project objectives or to deliver project findings to regional constituents. Computer and/or phone-based communication tools and technologies should be used whenever possible in lieu of travel.

Q. How are No-Cost Extension requests handled?

A. The needed information is listed on our forms page and depending on the funding source, budgets may be restricted to individual years. Depending on funding sources, year 1 may not automatically roll into year 2 if both years are funded from separate federal grants.

Salary and Personnel

Q. Will NCRAC pay for graduate student tuition waivers?

A. No. 

Q. Can the Chair of the project also be the Extension Liaison?

A. Yes

Q. Are graduate student assistantships allowed?

A. Yes, NCRAC allows for salaries and benefits but not tuition waiver related to graduate student assistantships.

Q. What salaries and benefits are allowed?

A. The NCRAC program does not ordinarily pay salaries for principal research investigators or extension specialists (PIs) who participate in funded projects. A priority of the program is to use PIs who are salaried on hard-money by their employing unit. The Board of Directors will consider, on a case-by-case basis, those situations during a period of 2-3 months in a year when that PI's hard-money contract does not pay salary (e.g., PIs on 9-10 month hard-money appointments). Salary support for secretaries, technicians, and student labor and graduate student stipends are allowable on grants. In this regard, the intention of the Board of Directors will be to approve personnel budgets that have adequate support to accomplish the work proposed by PIs. Justification of request for personnel monies must be attached to budgets submitted in project outlines for full and out-of-cycle proposals. 

Approval Process and Forms

Q. Who can write letters of support for proposed projects?

A. NCRAC requires three letters of support that must come from private commercial industry and/or aquaculture associations. Additional letters from governmental agency staff may be submitted but all must relate as to how the proposed research will help the private commercial aquaculture industry.

Q. When is the signed institutional approval letter from the PI institution due?

A. After the NCRAC Board makes its initial approval for the project to be submitted to USDA-NIFA for their final review and approval.

Q. Are institutional approval forms (animal use or human subjects) required to be submitted to NCRAC?

A. Per the federal code on research ethics, PI institutions are required to notify Iowa State University that all required forms for NCRAC-funded research are completed and approved by that institution’s review committees for Responsible Research. These forms need to be available to NCRAC upon request during the course of the project.

Q. When are signed letters of Intention of Extension and Industry Liaisons due for NCRAC review?

A. At the time of submission of out-of-cycle and full RFP proposals.

Helpful References

ncrac policies.pdf