NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications

Notice Number: NOT-OD-06-086

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

Key Dates
Release Date: August 11, 2006

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH), (


This notice provides an update and further clarification of the policy published on January 27, 2005 (Notice OD-05-030). The new dates for AREA applications are included as is information about the New Investigator Pilot.  Further details about the process of accepting late submissions are provided.

NIH expects that grant applications will be submitted on time. Standing dates are listed at:

The long standing NIH policy on late applications is stated in the application instructions. Late applications are generally not accepted. Permission for a late submission is not granted in advance. In rare cases, late applications will be accepted but only when accompanied by a cover letter that details compelling reasons for the delay. While the reasons are sometimes personal in nature, an objective evaluation of their merit requires that some details be provided. It is not sufficient, for example, to state simply that there has been an unforeseen circumstance that delayed submission. Specific information about the timing and nature of the cause of the delay is necessary so that a decision can be made. Only the explanatory letter is needed; no other documentation is expected.

NIH will consider accepting late applications based on the acceptability of the explanation and the processing time required for two different kinds of submission dates:

The windows of time for consideration of late applications have been carefully chosen so that the late applications can be processed with the cohort of on-time applications. In all cases, when the regular standing submission date or expedited submission date falls on a weekend or federal holiday and is extended to the next business day, the window of consideration for late applications will be calculated from that business day.   Note that the late window always ends in a receipt (not submission) date for both paper and electronic applications.    

NIH will not consider accepting late applications for the Special Receipt Dates for RFAs and PARs.   This includes the special receipt dates (March 20, July 20, and November 20) for resubmission/amended applications that are part of the New Investigator Pilot (

NIH will consider all late applications received within the window of time specified above but will not automatically accept all of them. The reasons for the delay will be carefully considered by the Division of Receipt and Referral at the Center for Scientific Review and a decision made.  In unusual cases the reasons provided will be considered by senior staff of CSR; Institutes/Centers will be consulted for applications that are their review responsibility.  Applications submitted within the window with reasons that are not found to be acceptable will be returned without review. NIH does not expect to accept any applications received beyond the window of consideration.

In the past, late applications have been accepted for reasons such as: death of an immediate family member of the Principal Investigator, sudden acute severe illness of the Principal Investigator or immediate family member, or large scale natural disasters. Recent service by the Principal Investigator only (this does not include other participants in the application) on an NIH extramural review group that could reasonably be expected to require a time commitment that could have been used to prepare an application is also an allowable reason. Note this applies only to NIH extramural review activities, not those of other Federal agencies or private organizations.  Examples of reasons that have not led to the acceptance of a late application are: heavy teaching or administrative responsibilities, relocation of laboratory, health problems, personal events, or review service for participants other than the principal investigator, attendance at scientific meetings, or having a very busy schedule.

It is important to emphasize that these various examples are just that, examples. No NIH staff member whether in the Center for Scientific Review or any of the other Institutes/Centers has the authority to give permission in advance for a late application. Contacting the Division of Receipt and Referral or any other component of the NIH will not lead to either permission to submit late or an evaluation of the acceptability of the reasons for a delay.

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