Documents for Applying

In this section, you will find documents helpful in preparing your proposal submission. This includes templates, budgetary information, and hints for strong proposal writing.

It will also be useful to review archived Calls under each grants program section, grantwriting webinars,  reporting expectations and materials and the subaward process for current grantees. 

Submission Process 

Submitted proposals that fulfill the submission requirements will undergo the evaluation of a Technical Review Panel - researchers, educators, and agricultural producers- following the scoring review criteria included in the Call for Proposal.  The Technical Review Panel ranks and provides recommendations of proposals. The Western SARE Administrative Council selects the proposals to be funded during its winter and summer meetings. You will be notified of the status of your submission shortly after the final selection.     

Jump to:

Budgetary Details

Western SARE is a federally funded USDA-NIFA program hosted by Montana State University (MSU).  As stewards of these federal funds, Western SARE/MSU staff review proposed project costs to make certain they are reasonable, allocable and allowable per Title 2: 2 CFR Part 200 - Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. Please see the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR).

To help in the review of proposal budgets, as well as to expedite the award process, applicants must submit a detailed line-item project budget and Budget Justification that provides narrative details for each proposed line-item cost. All items should be described in the Budget Justification in sufficient detail that would enable Western SARE to determine that the costs are reasonable and allowable for the project per the Code of Federal Regulations referenced above.  Please note, applicants are required to use the Western SARE Budget Worksheets provided in the online proposal platform for the grant program to which they are applying – no other budget template will be accepted.  Please review the Western SARE Budget Categories and Guidance document to learn about the Western SARE – and MSU – approved budget categories.

Additionally, MSU, as well as all recipients of Western SARE grants (subrecipients) are held to the same Research Terms and Conditions and NIFA Agency Specific Terms and Conditions

Complimentary to the Code of Federal Regulations and the Agency Specific Terms and Conditions, the NIFA Federal Assistance Policy Guide also provides direction for recipients of NIFA-funded grants.

Indirect Cost Recovery Guidance

The information that follows should serve as a guide for understanding and calculating Indirect Cost (IDC) Recovery (also commonly referred to as F&A or Facilities & Administrative costs) as a part of the proposed budget.  Please note: these guidelines apply to all Western SARE grant opportunities (Research & Education; Sabbatical Research & Education; Professional + Producer; Graduate Student Grants in Sustainable Agriculture; Professional Development Program Grants; Research to Grass Roots; and, State Implementation) with the exception of Farmer and Rancher Grants (all funds go directly to the producer; therefore, IDC recovery is not allowed).

USDA NIFA may apply legislative limits on IDC recovery for its various programs.  Under the SARE program and for projects funded in 2022 or later, NIFA states IDCs may not exceed 10% of the Total Direct Costs (TDC) requested.  Note: the 10% TDC limit is a cap on the portion of an applicant’s budget that may be requested for IDCs; it is not an IDC rate.  

For Western SARE grant recipients between 2019 – 2021, please refer to the IDC guide that applies to your award.

When applying for a Western SARE grant, please be aware there are three IDC recovery scenarios.  Only one scenario will apply to the applicant and is dependent upon whether the applicant’s organization has a Federally Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA).

Entity Applicants with a NICRA:

For entities that have a NICRA, IDCs MUST be calculated at a rate of 10% of Total Direct Costs (TDC). This is the maximum indirect cost recovery (IDC cap) allowed under the SARE program per USDA/NIFA.  The 10% TDC IDC cap should be applied consistently to both the primary applicant and any proposed lower-tier subrecipients; therefore, include the total costs of any/all proposed lower-tier subawards in the IDC recovery base.

Non-Federal Entity Applicants without a NICRA:

Per Federal Uniform Guidance, non-Federal entities that have never had a NICRA, or previously had a NICRA but it is no longer in effect, may claim up to 10% of modified total direct costs (MTDC) as de minimis to cover overhead. MTDC includes all direct costs except for the following: the amount of each lower-tier subaward that exceeds $25,000 and participant/trainee support costs. Alternatively, an entity without a NICRA may decline IDC recovery entirely (i.e., requesting the 10% de minimis is not required).

Example: The CFP states applicants may request up to $75,000 total costs.  The PI’s organization does not have a NICRA and will request the 10% de minimis rate as IDC recovery.

Proposed Budget

Salaries & Fringe                             30,000

Supplies & Materials                       4,645

Travel                                                 2,900

Contracted Services                        2,000

LT Subaward to X Organization    29,000

Total Direct Costs Requested       $68,545

MTDC                                                 $64,545 ($68,545 – $4,000 for the portion of the subaward in excess of $25K)

IDCs Requested                                $6,455 ($64,545 x .10)

Total Costs Requested                   $68,545 TDC

                                                              $6,455 IDC

                                                            $75,000 Total Costs


CFP        Call for Proposals

IDCs       Indirect Costs (also known as F&A – Facilities & Administrative Costs)

MTDC    Modified Total Direct Costs

NICRA   (Federally) Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement

TDC        Total Direct Costs

Generating Program Income

Western SARE is federally-funded by USDA-NIFA through a Cooperative Agreement with Montana State University (MSU) which serves as the Host Institution for the Western Region. The following information includes a summary of the USDA-NIFA Policy Guide section on Program Income and Western SARE/MSU-specific requirements for grant applicants/recipients. 

What is Program Income and Why it Must be Reported

Program income is gross income earned by a Western SARE grant recipient (hereafter, subrecipient) that is directly generated by a supported activity or earned as a result of the Federal award during the period of performance.

NIFA follows the addition method for treatment of program income. As such, program income earned by grantees during the project period is added to the Federal award. The program income must then be used for award purposes and under the conditions of the award (2 CFR 200.307(e)(2)).


$75,000 (award amount) + $2,000 (Program Income) = $77,000 available for project costs.

Program income may only be used for allowable costs in accordance with the applicable cost principles and the terms and conditions of the award. Once earned, program income must be expended as soon as possible and before the award end date. It must be used before requesting additional reimbursement for expenses from Western SARE.

Program income MUST be reported to MSU by the Western SARE subrecipient.  The amount of program income earned and the amount expended will be documented on MSU’s annual federal financial reporting to USDA NIFA.  MSU’s Office of Sponsored Programs will provide instructions for reporting program income.

Generating Program Income on a Western SARE-Funded Grant

If an applicant wishes to generate program income through activities proposed in their Western SARE project, this must be included in the proposal.  Specifically, an applicant must address the following questions:

  • How will the program income be generated (e.g., charging a registration fee for a workshop or training)?
  • How much program income is anticipated (e.g., up to 50 people may attend the training and the registration cost will be $25, thus $1,250 in program income will be generated.)?
  • How will generating program income benefit the project?
  • How will the program income be utilized (e.g., the income will be used to pay for lunch and refreshments provided during the workshop.)?
  • When during the project period will the program income be generated and will there be sufficient time to expend it?

Please include these details in the budget justification section of the proposal so that reviewers and Western SARE Administrative Council and staff can objectively evaluate the budget in relation to the proposed activities.  Applicants must keep in mind that any fees charged in association with a project activity should not make it cost-prohibitive to attendees, and options to broaden program accessibility should be considered.

If a current Western SARE subrecipient DID NOT include program income in their grant proposal, the PI, Authorized Official, or fiscal officer must request prior approval from Western SARE to generate program income.  Using the Western SARE Project Modification Request form found on the Western SARE website, the subrecipient must submit their request, addressing the five questions listed above, at least 30 days prior to when program income will be generated.  Please check “Other Project Modification” and provide responses on the last page of the form.  Submit the form to the Western SARE Fiscal Manager and appropriate Program Manager (see website). 

Please note, generating program income is not permitted on Farmer/Rancher, Graduate Student, and Sabbatical grant programs.

Full details about program income can be found in the USDA-NIFA Policy GuideSee section V. Post award Federal Requirements, E. Program Income. 

For questions pertaining to program income, please contact:

Jen von Sehlen, Western SARE Fiscal Manager
[email protected]

Montana State University, Office of Sponsored Programs
[email protected]

Gantt Chart and Time Table

A Gantt chart is a method of showing tasks or events over a specific timespan. On the left of the chart is a list of the specific activities and along the top is a suitable time scale. Each activity is represented by a bar. The position and length of the bar reflects the start date, the length of an activity and the end date.

A good Gantt chart allows you to see the following:

  • A list of activities
  • When each activity begins and ends
  • How long each activity is scheduled to last
  • Where activities overlap with each other.
  • The start and end date of the entire project 
  • A Gantt chart shows what is to be done and when it is to be done.

Simple Gantt charts are easy to make using spreadsheet software like Excel.

Find sample charts and more information.

Successful Objectives

An objective is a statement in specific and measurable terms that describes what you intend to achieve.

SMART Objectives:


What specifically is to be achieved? What results are to be achieved through the proposed actions? Keeping objectives simple ensures they are clear and specific. This also reduces the chance for disputes or confusion for reviewers. Complex objectives should be broken into sub-objectives. This allows individuals to focus their efforts and guides them in marshaling the resources necessary to achieve results.


How will you know how when an objective has been achieved? Some objectives can be measured quantitatively; others must be measured qualitatively. What data will be used to measure/track if the objectives are being accomplished? 


Accountability for performance objectives must specifically state who is accountable. A clear explanation of what is to be done will help reduce confusion for reviewers. Defining accountability will ensure a sense of urgency and purpose on the part of the proposal.


For an objective to be meaningful, it must be realistic and reasonable. A well written performance objective focuses on the goals required to meet the objective. Objectives should challenge the project team toward continuous accomplishment, but should not be unrealistic or unattainable.

Time bound

An achievable time frame must be set for reaching each objective. Consider assigning specific target dates not only for the performance objective itself, but also for each lesser milestone. Remember to be specific toward achieving results, and guide action in a results-oriented way toward the objective.

Logic Models

PDP Logic Model

Research and Education Logic Model (this model is used for R&E, Farmer/Rancher, Professional + Producer, and Graduate Student proposals)

Animal Welfare Guidelines and Assurance Statement

Please review the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching.

Please download the Animal Care Plan Questionnaire for your proposal.

Signature Page

Please download this signature page for your proposal. This document is not required for Farmer/Rancher proposals.

Obtaining a Unique Entity Identifier

Should your proposal be funded, please be advised: any entity receiving Federal Funds in any amount is required by the Federal Government to obtain a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) from the System for Award Management (SAM). If you have previously registered with SAM, and your registration is active, you will have automatically been assigned a UEI by SAM. If you have not previously registered, a UEI can be obtained at no-cost by visiting

A UEI is required before we can establish your Subaward Agreement or Subaward Service Agreement; therefore, we encourage you to begin the process as soon as you learn your proposal will be funded.   Please note: the UEI is NOT required to APPLY for a Western SARE grant.

For your convenience, please review the Quick Start Guide for Grantee Registrations.

If you have questions, please contact [email protected].

Conflict of Interest

Please download this Conflict of Interest statement

Special Farmer/Rancher Note: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Marshall Islands, and Palau

Due to special restrictions placed upon the island groups within the land grant administration of the College of Micronesia (Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Marshall Islands, and Palau), all Farmer/Rancher grant proposals must be submitted under the direction of a Principal Investigator from the College of Micronesia. This requirement allows the land grant Dean and Director at the College of Micronesia to have adequate fiscal and audit controls on these funds. 


  • For these special types of Farmer/Rancher grants, there would be no additional technical adviser, but this person associated with the College of Micronesia would become the Principal Investigator.
  • These special types of Farmer/Rancher grants will be administered as a Professional + Producer grant and handled as progress payment. This means Indirect Costs can be charged by the College of Micronesia and should be included in the budget of the proposed project.
  • For these special types of Farmer/Rancher grants, requirements that exist in the Farmer/Rancher Call for Proposal apply, such as up to $20,000 per proposal is allowed for a single producer and up to $25,000 for three or more producers.

It is important to remind those from the Pacific insular area (specifically those on Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Marshall Islands, and Palau) that although this requirement applies to Farmer/Rancher grants, these same island groups are fully authorized to submit regular Professional + Producer, PDP Competitive, and Research and Education proposals.