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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 funding opportunity announcements (FOAs). Search for an FOA specific to your area of interest, or apply to one of our generic parent announcements.

Make sure you...

  • Search for FOAs 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 of our FOAs on both sites.
  • Use the instructions in the announcement in conjunction with the application guide to prepare your application. If instructions conflict, follow the FOA.
  • 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 FOAs. Guidance included in notices supersedes guidance in the FOA and application guide.
  • Submit applications in response to a specific FOA.
  • 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 FOA to which you are applying. Access the FOA-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 FOA carefully. Applications that include clinical trials must be submitted in response to an FOA 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 FOA. Notices of special interest may identify NIH Institutes or Centers participating in the notice initiative that are not listed in the FOA used for submission. 
  • Return to the FOA 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 FOA to discuss your application
FOA Thumb

Types of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs):

Type of FOA


Parent Announcements

  • Broad FOAs 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)

  • FOAs 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 FOAs to use for application submission.

Requests for Applications (RFA)

  • FOAs 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-19-008): Indicates a PA issued in 2019 or for funding in 2019 (19) with an associated serial number (008).
  • RFA Numbering (e.g., RFA-HL-19-004): Indicates an RFA issued by NHLBI (HL) in 2019 or for funding in 2019 (19) with an associated serial number (004).
  • Notice Numbering (e.g., NOT-OD-19-025): Indicates a Notice issued by the Office of the Director (OD) in Fiscal Year 2019 (19) with an associated serial number (025).
This page last updated on April 16, 2019
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