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Understand Funding Opportunities

Decorative image link to the video: How to choose th right FOA

NIH advertises availability of grant support through notices of funding opportunities (NOFOs) - previously referred to as funding opportunity. Search for a funding opportunity specific to your area of interest or apply to one of our generic parent announcements.

Make sure you...

  • Search for funding opportunities in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts or Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer . ( is the federal-wide portal for advertising funding opportunities that is used by all federal grant-making agencies.) NIH posts all funding opportunities on both sites.
  • Use the instructions in the funding opportunity in conjunction with the application guide to prepare your application. If instructions conflict, follow the funding opportunity.
  • Pay attention to notices posted in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. Notices may highlight topics of special interest to NIH or update key aspects of funding opportunities. Guidance included in notices supersedes guidance in the funding opportunity and application guide.
  • Submit applications in response to a specific funding opportunity.
  • There is not a generic application form package that can be downloaded and used for all grant application submissions. You must use the application form package associated with the funding opportunity to which you are applying. Access the opportunity-specific form package through your chosen submission method (ASSIST, institutional system-to-system solution, Workspace). Learn more Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer
  • Read the funding opportunity carefully. Applications that include clinical trials must be submitted in response to a funding opportunity that allows clinical trials (even if other studies on the same application are not clinical trials). Learn more about clinical trial specific FOAs.
  • Make sure that the NIH Institute or Center that might be interested in your research is listed as a participating organization in the funding opportunity. Notices of special interest may identify NIH Institutes or Centers participating in the notice initiative that are not listed in the funding opportunity used for submission.
  • Return to the funding opportunity to check the Related Notices section before submission to ensure you are in line with the most recent guidance.
  • Pay particular attention to the review criteria and write your application keeping these review criteria in mind. 


  • Contact NIH staff listed in the funding opportunity to discuss your application
FOA Thumb

Types of Funding Opportunity/Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs)

Type of FOA


Parent Announcements

  • Broad funding opportunities allowing applicants to submit an investigator-initiated application for a specific activity code
  • Many NIH institutes and centers (IC) participate
  • Usually ongoing (3 yrs)
  • Use standard due dates

List of Parent Announcements

Program Announcements (PAs)

  • Funding opportunities issued by one or more Institutes and Centers to highlight areas of scientific interest
  • Encourage applications for a new or ongoing program
  • Usually ongoing (3 years)
  • Use standard due dates
  • Types of PAs:

PAS: with set-aside funds
PAR: special receipt, referral, and/or review considerations

Note: There is growing use of "Notices of Special Interest", rather than topic-specific PAs, to highlight areas of scientific interest. The notices designate existing funding opportunities to use for application submission.

Requests for Applications (RFA)

  • Funding opportunities issued by one or more Institute or Center to highlight well-defined areas of scientific interest to accomplish specific program objectives

(Make sure the science you are proposing fits the scope of the RFA!)

  • Indicate the amount of set-aside funds
  • Indicate anticipated number of awards
  • Usually single due date
  • Institute/Center usually convenes review panel


Numbering System

  • PA Numbering (e.g., PA-23-008): Indicates a PA issued in 2023 or for funding in 2023 (23) with an associated serial number (008).
  • RFA Numbering (e.g., RFA-HL-23-004): Indicates an RFA issued by NHLBI (HL) in 2023 or for funding in 2023 (23) with an associated serial number (004).
  • Notice Numbering (e.g., NOT-OD-23-025): Indicates a Notice issued by the Office of the Director (OD) in Fiscal Year 2023 (23) with an associated serial number (025).