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Special Instructions for Submitting K22 Applications from Unaffiliated Applicants using the SF424 (R&R)

These Instructions apply only to candidates applying to a K22 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) that allows unaffiliated individuals to apply. These special instructions must be used in conjunction with the instructions provided in the particular FOA.

A. Instructions for Unaffiliated Applicants

There are several sets of instructions that will need to be followed for unaffiliated applicants.

  1. SF424 (R&R) Application Guide: The FOA provides a link the appropriate SF424 (R&R) Application Package and the appropriate SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.   
  2. FOA Instructions: For K22 Programs, candidates should also carefully review the specific K22 FOA since it will provide program-specific instructions.
  3. Special Instructions for Unaffiliated Individuals: Unaffiliated candidates should follow the instructions provided below instead of the instructions provided in Section IV of the K22 FOA, in reference to registration at and eRA Commons.

In order to submit an application to NIH, unaffiliated applicants must register with both and eRA Commons, acting as their own "organizations". Essentially, they will be registering as if they were doing business as a contractor with the Federal Government. See specific instructions below.

B. Registration

NIH requires all applicants to have their own DUNS number. Unaffiliated candidates will need to register with as if they are Federal contractors and follow the organizational registration procedures. See for a checklist outlining steps for registering.

Please note that these procedures include registering with both Dun and Bradstreet to obtain a DUNS number, and with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR).

Unaffiliated candidates should NOT register as an individual with, or their applications will not be able to be processed by NIH.

Direct questions regarding registration to: Customer Support
Contact Center Phone: 800-518-4726
Business Hours: M-F 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time

C. eRA Commons Registration

You will also need to register as your own business in the eRA Commons. To register as an unaffiliated candidate in the Commons, go to:

From the home page of the eRA Commons system click on "Grantee Organization Registration" (it is to the right hand side under the section "About the Commons").

Complete the required fields as requested. When completing the field "Institution Name", use the following format: If the unaffiliated candidate’s name is "Joe Britop", provide the following for the Institution Name: UNAFFILIATED CANDIDATE – JOE BRITOP

Required Fields:

  1. Institution Name
  2. DUNS Number
  3. Street Address
  4. City
  5. State
  6. Zip Code
  7. Country

Account Information Fields: (Account Administrator is not required)

  1. First Name
  2. Last Name
  3. Title
  5. Phone
  6. Fax
  7. E-mail (Will be validated by NIH)

Fill in all your registration data and make sure you go to the bottom of the registration form and click on "Submit."

After clicking on Submit, a screen comes up telling you to print the form. Please print this form immediately; you will not be able to get back to that screen to print the form later. You must sign and fax a copy of the form to us at 301-451-5675.

Follow the rest of the registration instructions. Please ensure you answer the e-mails confirming your registration as requested! You will receive multiple e-mails separated in time by a day to a week. The first is to verify the Signing Official's (you are the Signing Official) e-mail address. Your response to the second e-mail activates your account. Once the account is activated you will be e-mailed your user name and initial password.

Once your Signing Official account is active, you will need to make sure you also create a principal investigator (PI) account for yourself if you do not already have a PI account, or affiliate your existing PI account with your organization. See Please note that the PI account is the account you will be using to access the review results (priority score and summary statement) for your application.

Direct questions regarding the Commons registration to:
eRA Commons Help Desk
Phone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
Business hours: M-F 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time

D. Special Instructions for Specific sections of the SF424 (R&R) Application

Unaffiliated candidates must also use these special instructions when completing an application. These are to be used in conjunction with the instructions found in the FOA and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

D.1.  Special Instructions for 4.2 Cover Component, Item 5. Applicant Information 

  • Legal Name Field: The Name provided in the Legal Name field must match the name registered in the eRA Commons; e.g., UNAFFILIATED CANDIDATE – JOE BRITOP.
  • Organizational DUNS Field: Enter the DUNS of the unaffiliated individual.  This also must match the DUNS provided during the eRA Commons registration.

D.2.  Special Instructions for the SF424 (R&R) Detailed Budget Component

While a budget component is required for all “K” applications, for unaffiliated K22 candidates, budget information is limited to only specific items:  

  • The Senior/Key Person section of the budget should include only the name of the candidate. 
  • Base Salary column should be left blank. 
  • Person months must be completed.
  • Requested salary and fringe benefit columns enter “0” dollars.
  • F. Other Direct Costs, Material and Supplies (F.1.): enter the specific total direct cost dollar level allowed by the specific FOA.
  • H. Indirect Costs: All “K” applications are reimbursed at 8% of modified total direct costs.  Follow the instructions found in Part I.7.4.6 of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide to complete this budget section.

This page last updated on December 16, 2008
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