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Solicitation and Sponsor Information

In support of the research enterprise, UC San Diego works with over 1,300 different types of sponsors and agencies. Each one can have unique and nuance policies and guidance. In research administration, sponsor refers to the external entity with which UC San Diego enters into an agreement and can impact how you prepare the proposal and manage the agreement. This information provides key content on how best to work with various types of sponsors.

Reading Solicitations

Sponsor guidelines and funding opportunities provide the primary instructions that need to be followed for the proposal to have the best chance of being reviewed and accepted. By reading the funding opportunity (also called a funding opportunity announcement) you will be able to better guide and advise your PI to avoid common mistakes that may hurt the chances of the proposal or that may even disqualify it. Reading the funding opportunity is the first thing you should do when your PI says they would like to submit a proposal. This will also be requested by the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) so that they too can read it and check it during their review before the proposal to fix any errors before submission.

While funding opportunities/announcements are sometimes referred to as solicitations, there is a difference between solicited and unsolicited announcements.


  • Solicited – a sponsor releases a specific call for proposals. It will define specific areas of research or specific topics or types of projects. Often have a limited opportunity to apply.
  • Unsolicited – a sponsor will have broad guidelines allowing for a wide range of innovative ideas. Will often have a large window to apply.

Funding opportunities often go by a variety of names and acronyms, such as:

  • RFA - Request for Application
  • RFP - Request for Proposal
  • RFQ - Request for Qualifications; Request for Quotation
  • BAA - Broad Agency Announcement
  • PA - Program Announcement
  • PON - Program Opportunity Notice


TIP: Always obtain the opportunity and read it thoroughly, making notes of any special instructions and/or important information of note.


Commons Issues to Avoid

Some of the most common issues that can cause problems both at the time of submission and at the time of award negotiation can be avoided by reading the solicitation ahead of time with special attention to the following:


Before a PI submits a proposal to an agency they will want to review the funding opportunity for eligibility. Some limitations include:

  • Institutional
    • Is it limited to a specific type of institution? (State Gov., Educational)
  • Limited number of proposals allowed
    • Does it limit the number by an individual investigator or the institution as a whole?
  • PI experience or specialty
    • Is the investigator of the correct level? (Young Investigator)
  • Required capabilities or institutional resources
    • Will the institution or laboratory have leadership support?


  • Typically, proposals have due dates for when they need to be received by the sponsor. These are known as deadline dates. Each proposal can have a different deadline date, thus making it a critical piece of information since the majority of sponsors will not even consider a proposal that has been submitted past the deadline date.  Some even have systems that will block the submission if attempted after the deadline date. Most of the time, deadline dates are accompanied by a time and time zone in which the proposal is due. Because sponsors can be located anywhere in the United States or even the world, it is important to keep in mind your time zone and the guidelines provided by the sponsor.
  • TIP: Always make note of the deadline (including the time zone) to ensure you have enough time to gather additional information, send it for review, make corrections, and/or fix errors before the submission deadline.  Last-minute proposals run the risk of simple errors that could be avoided and the risk of a proposal being rejected.
Special Instructions
  • Specific sections required:
    • Look for things highlighted in colored font
    • Language such as - “Without… the proposal will be considered non-compliant”
  • Things not to include:
    • Language such as - “Do not include…; may cause grounds for rejection.”
  • Additional compliance requirement?
    • Additional Conflict of Interest (COI)
    • Institutional Review Board (IRB)/ Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval letters at the time of proposal

Different Sponsor Types

UC San Diego works with various sponsors and agencies, click on each one to get additional information on important information related to those types of sponsors:

For more information or questions email