Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What if my single sign-on doesn’t work?
A: Single sign-on works using your PennKey information. Check to see that you have entered your information correctly.

Q: Who do I contact if I don’t know my PennKey information?
A: Check the following website:

Q: Are there any changes to the program that have been implemented?
A: For FY23, the URF program will support Research Grants and Conference Grants. We continue to use a software system to manage the application, review, and post-award processes.

Q: I am a BA.  Can I login to my PI's application?
A: We do not currently allow multiple people to work on, access or submit applications; either a BA does the application entirely (for the PI) or the PI does it.   After an application is awarded, the PI will add the BA to the application, and the BA will then be able to login to that application to provide protocol #’s and budget codes.

Q: Will I be able to submit after 5:00pm on the deadline date?
A: The program will not accept any applications or changes to applications after 5:00pm.

Q: Are adjunct faculty eligible to apply?
A: No.

Q. Are emeritus faculty eligible to apply?
A: No.

Q. Are full professors eligible to apply?
A: Full professors are ineligible to apply to the Biomed panel for research grants. They may apply for Conference Grants only. Full professors are eligible to apply for all grant types to the Humanities, Natural Sciences and Engineering, and Social Science and Management panels..

Q: Regarding eligibility for the Biomed panel, why are faculty who have previously received URF research awards ineligible to apply for research grants in this cycle?
A: With limited resources and multiple applications to the Biomed panel, we prioritize awards to junior faculty who have never received funding from this University program.

Q: Why are full professors and late-stage associate professors ineligible to apply for research grants in the biomedical panel?
A: The URF has always prioritized junior and mid-career faculty in Biomed. The dislocations associated with the pandemic further emphasize this goal and this year we have decided to focus the limited resources for the Biomed panel on awards that would maximize impact.

Q:  This year’s application includes questions about race and gender. Will this information be considered in the reviews?
A:  The responses to the race and gender questions are optional. The purpose of including them is to better understand who is applying for and receiving grants.

Q: Are CHOP faculty eligible to apply?
A: Yes, but awards must be expended on University of Pennsylvania facilities, equipment and/or on associated University technical staff, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students. 

Q: Can an investigator reapply with the same proposal that was unfunded in a previous cycle?
A: Yes, but the proposal must be revised, with changes clearly indicated.

Q: What does the “references” requirement refer to?
A: References refer to bibliographical references for any assertions, precedents cited, or background material. References are NOT included in the application page limit.

Q. Can an investigator apply for more than one funding opportunity in one cycle?
A: No.  Investigators can only apply for one funding opportunity in each cycle.

Q: What information should be included in a letter of collaboration?
A: Letters of collaboration should include the willingness of the collaborator to perform his/her role, exactly what his/her role will be, how long he/she is prepared to participate, and the resources available to support the project. Letters that are merely endorsements of the project should not be included.

Q: Are Co-PIs applications accepted?
A: Yes, if both Co-PIs meet eligibility requirements. As noted on the first page of the application, applicants are expected to include a letter of collaboration, a one-page biosketch, and a letter of support from the Department Chair (if applicable) for each co-PI. These additional documents are NOT included in the page limits.
Note: Awards will only be made to the PI listed on the application.

Q: What information should be included in a letter of support?
A: There are two types of letters of support: one type of letter of support provides information about matching and/or supporting funds for the proposal from the PIs school/department. The other type of letter of support should briefly discuss the research proposal in the context of the importance of the work to the discipline.

Q: What information should be included in a letter of support from a Department Chair for instructors or research associates applying for URF grants?
A: Letters of support should confirm that the Instructor or Research Associate will be appointed to Assistant Professor by the time the applicant will receive the award. It should also provide assurance of the applicant’s research independence as distinct from being part of a large research team.

Q: Does the budget have to be approved by my BA or grants manager?
A: The application should be approved by the BA in your department to make ensure that items listed are allowable. The PI must certify on the applicant information page that the BA has reviewed the budget.

Q: What does it mean when you ask that the applicant certifies that the budget and application have been approved by the Department Chair and BA?
A: This means that you have sent the budget to the BA for approval and that the BA has reviewed it to ensure that the items listed are allowable.

Q: Are investigators permitted to use URF awards for travel in relation to the proposed research?
A: Yes, with the exception of proposals going to the Biomedical Panel.

Q: Are living expenses an allowable cost for outside faculty members traveling to Penn to collaborate on a project?
A: If the faculty member is NOT placed on payroll and has to stay at a hotel, it would be considered allowable since it is similar to a consultant expense. In general, travel expenses are allowed (EXCEPT for Biomed applications).

Q: Is there a financial requirement for undergrads?
A: Faculty members wishing to consult about how to effectively engage an undergraduate, or to identify undergraduates appropriate to their project needs, may consult Dr. Ann Vernon-Grey, Associate Director for Undergraduate Research at the Center for Undergraduate Research (CURF). There is no specific financial requirement for undergrads except that it is not permitted to pay them less than the minimum wage in the state of PA. For questions related to calculating benefits for students, please contact your business administrator.

Q: Who serves on the Review Panels?
A: The Review Panels are made up of Penn faculty with relevant expertise, who are able to provide informed and objective reviews of submissions.

Q: How long will the review process take?
A: We expect the reviews to be complete within 10 weeks. As soon as decisions are made applicants will be notified by email of the review decisions.

Q: Do investigators receive feedback on their proposals?
A: Reviewers serve on a voluntary basis and the number of applications received are too numerous to allow for individual feedback. In some cases, we are able to provide feedback but this is at the discretion of the review panel chair.

Q: Who makes the funding decisions?
A: After assessing the Review Panel recommendations, the Vice Provost for Research will issue awards.

Q: What is the award term?
A: One year from the date of the award.

Q: What if I need more than one year to complete my project?
A: Investigators can apply for a six-month no-cost extension.

Q:  What if I don’t spend all the funds that were awarded?
A: All unexpended funds must be returned to the URF.

Q: Is a list of all URF awards made public?
A: The list of awards is published in the Almanac and will be available on the OVPR website.

Q: Do you have questions that are not covered above?
A: Please direct your questions to