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Understanding the Federal Program Descriptions

Content provided by the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
10.217 Higher Education Challenge Grants

AUTHORIZATION:

National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, Section 1405, 7 U.S.C 3121,1417(b)(1); 7 U.S.C 3152(b)(1).
OBJECTIVES: Click here for help!
To increase institutional capacities to respond to State, regional, national, or international educational needs by strengthening college and university teaching programs in the food and agricultural sciences.

TYPES OF ASSISTANCE:

Project Grants
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USES AND USE RESTRICTIONS:

Funds may be used only in targeted areas, e.g., curricula design and materials development, faculty preparation and enhancement for teaching, instruction delivery systems, scientific instrumentation for teaching, student experiential learning, and student recruitment and retention, as cited in the annual program announcement in the Federal Register. student tuition remission, room and board, fees or other financial assistance (scholarships, fellowships, etc.). Also, funds may not be used for the renovation or refurbishment of research, education, or extension space; the purchase or installation of fixed equipment in such space; or to plan, repair, rehabilitate, acquire, or construct buildings or facilities (i.e., greenhouses, laboratories, or other structures). Promotional items (e.g., T-shirts and other give-a-ways) and food functions (e.g., cookouts or other social meal gatherings) are considered ‘entertainment’ expenses, and are also not allowed under this grants program. Federal Cost Principles governing this grant program state that items not eligible for Federal funding may also not be used as an applicant’s contribution toward meeting matching requirements.

Section 7132 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, amended the National Agriculture Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (7 U.S.C. 3310(a)), limiting indirect costs to 22 percent of the total Federal funds provided under each award. Therefore, when preparing budgets, applicants should limit their requests for recovery of indirect costs to the lesser of their institution’s official negotiated indirect cost rate or the equivalent of 22 percent of total Federal funds awarded.

**Special Note on Indirect Costs as in-kind matching contributions. Indirect costs may be claimed under the Federal portion of the award budget or, alternatively, indirect costs may be claimed as a matching contribution (if no indirect costs are requested under the Federal portion of the award budget). However, unless explicitly authorized in the RFA, indirect costs may not be claimed on both the Federal portion of the award budget and as a matching contribution, unless the total claimed on both the Federal portion of the award budget and as a matching contribution does not exceed the maximum allowed indirect costs or the institution’s negotiated indirect cost rate, whichever is less. An awardee may split the allocation between the Federal and non-Federal portions of the budget only if the total amount of indirect costs charged to the project does not exceed the maximum allowed indirect costs or the institution’s negotiated indirect cost rate, whichever is less. For example, if an awardees' indirect costs are capped at 22 percent pursuant to section 1462(a) of NARETPA (7 U.S.C. 3310(a)), the awardee may request 11 percent of the indirect costs on both the Federal portion of the award and as a matching contribution. Or, the awardee may request any similar percentage that, when combined, does not exceed the maximum indirect cost rate of 22 percent. Fully discretionary.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

Applicant Eligibility:   All U.S. public and private nonprofit colleges and universities offering a baccalaureate or first professional degree in at least one discipline or area of the food and agricultural sciences.

Beneficiary Eligibility:   All U.S. colleges and universities having a demonstrable capacity to teach the food and agricultural sciences.

Credentials/Documentation:   A Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number must be obtained - A DUNS number is a unique number that identifies an organization. It has been adopted by the Federal government to help track how Federal grant money is distributed. If your organization does not have a DUNS number, call the special Dun & Bradstreet hotline at 1-866-705-5711 to receive one free of charge. You will receive a DUNS number within several days of your request. Please note, individual proprietorships (i.e. farmers, ranchers) can request and receive a DUNS number, but must register with Grants.gov as an organization, not as an individual.

Registration with Central Contractor Registry (CCR) is required - The CCR is the central government repository for organizations working with the Federal government. If your organization is not already registered, identify the primary contact who should register your organization. When your organization registers with CCR, it will be required to designate an e-Business Point of Contact (e-Business POC). The e-Business POC authorizes individuals to submit grant applications on behalf of the organization and creates a special password called a Marketing Partner ID Number (M-PIN) to verify individuals authorized to submit grant applications for the organization. Visit the CCR Web site at http://www.ccr.gov to begin this process. It may take several days to collect the information needed for your organization’s registration. The CCR Assistance Center can be reached at 888-227-2423. This information collection is approved under OMB Control No. 0524-0039, “NIFA Application Kit for Research and Extension Programs.”

Applicants must furnish the information required in the request for applications (RFAs). Successful applicants recommended for funding must furnish the information and assurances requested during the award documentation process. These include, but are not limited to the following:

Organizational Management Information - Specific management information relating to an applicant shall be submitted on a one time basis, with updates on an as needed basis, as part of the responsibility determination prior to the award of a grant identified under this RFA, if such information has not been provided previously under this or another NIFA program. NIFA will provide copies of forms recommended for use in fulfilling these requirements as part of the preaward process. Although an applicant may be eligible based on its status as one of these entities, there are factors which may exclude an applicant from receiving Federal financial and nonfinancial assistance and benefits under this program (e.g., debarment or suspension of an individual involved or a determination that an applicant is not responsible based on submitted organizational management information). This information collection is approved under OMB Circular Control No. 0524-0026, “Assurance of Compliance with the Department of Agriculture Regulations Assuring Civil Rights, Compliance and Organization Information.”. OMB Circular No. A-87 applies to this program.

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APPLICATION AND AWARD PROCESS:
Pre-application Coordination:   All RFAs are published on the Agency’s website and Grants.gov. Applicants must complete the Grants.gov registration process. Please see the following Grants.gov link for more information: http://www.grants.gov/applicants/get_registered.jsp. An environmental impact statement is required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure:   OMB Circular No. A-102 applies to this program. OMB Circular No. A-110 applies to this program. Formal proposals should be submitted to the Proposal Services Unit, NIFA, as outlined in the solicitation of applications. Application procedures are contained in the program regulations and required forms are contained in the Grant Application Kit. This program is subject to the regulatory provisions of USDA, 7 CFR Part 3015, et seq., and all successor regulations.

Award Procedure:   Applications should be submitted as outlined in the RFA. Applications must follow the instructions provided per Grants.Gov and in the Agency guide to submitting applications via Grants.gov.

Deadlines:   Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time:   

Section :094 - Deadlines:
Dates for specific deadlines are announced in the RFA each fiscal year. Information is also available via our website and may be obtained via the Grants.gov website. Respective links are provided below:

http://www.nifa.usda.gov/
http://www.grants.gov

Section :095 - Range of Approval/Disapproval Time: From 30 to 180 days.

Appeals:   

Not Applicable.

Renewals:   

Specific details are provided in the Request for Applications (RFA) each fiscal year.

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ASSISTANCE CONSIDERATIONS:

Formula and Matching Requirements:   

This program has no statutory formula. Matching Requirements: Percent: 100.%. A grant recipient is required to match the USDA funds awarded on a dollar-for-dollar basis from non-Federal sources. Matching funds are not required to come in any particular amount from any one source. However, all matching funds pledged in this application must be accompanied by documentation. MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:   

Grants are awarded for a one (1) to three (3) year period and may receive no-cost extensions as appropriate up to a maximum of five (5) years. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: by letter of credit.

POST ASSISTANCE REQUIREMENTS:

Reports:   Grantees also are required to submit annual and summary progress reports via NIFA's Current Research Information System (CRIS). This reporting requirement was approved under OMB Control No. 0524-0042, “NIFA Current Research Information System (CRIS).” CRIS is an electronic, web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submission of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. Cash reports are not applicable. Grantees also are required to submit annual and summary progress reports via NIFA's Current Research Information System (CRIS). This reporting requirement was approved under OMB Control No. 0524-0042, “NIFA Current Research Information System (CRIS).” CRIS is an electronic, web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submission of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. A final “Financial Status Report” (SF-269) or “Federal Financial Report” (SF-425) is due within 90 days of the expiration date of the grant and should be submitted to the Awards Management Branch, Office of Extramural Programs at the address listed below, in accordance with instructions contained in 2 CFR 3430.55 (also refer to Section 3015.82 of the Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations).

Awards Management Branch
Office of Extramural Programs
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
STOP 2271
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-2271
Telephone: (202) 401-4986.

Grantees also are required to submit annual and summary progress reports via NIFA's Current Research Information System (CRIS). This reporting requirement was approved under OMB Control No. 0524-0042, “NIFA Current Research Information System (CRIS).” CRIS is an electronic, web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submission of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects.

Audits:   In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133. Audits will be conducted in accordance with guidelines established in the revised OMB Circular No. A-133, “Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations,” and implemented in 7 CFR 3052. This program is also subject to audit by the cognizant Federal audit agency and the USDA Office of Inspector General.

Records:   In accordance with the Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Non-profit Organizations [2 CFR 215, Subpart C, Section 215.53, (OMB Circular A-110)] grantees shall maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for authorized purposes. Grant-related records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and must be retained at least three (3) years. Records must be retained beyond the three-year period if litigation is pending or audit findings have not been resolved.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION:

Account Identification:  

12-1500-0-1-352.

Obligations:   (Project Grants) FY 08 $5,140,057; FY 09 est $5,397,840; FY 10 est $22,227,840 - The difference between the appropriation and obligation numbers reflects legislative authorized set-asides deducted as appropriate, and in some cases the availability of obligational authority from prior years.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance:  

If minimum or maximum amounts of funding per competitive project grant or cooperative agreement are established, these will be announced in the annual program announcement or Request for Application (RFA).

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PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
Fiscal Year 2009: No Current Data Available Fiscal Year 2010: WILL BE PROVIDED BY PROGRAM UNIT AT A FUTURE DATE. Fiscal Year 2011: No Current Data Available

REGULATIONS, GUIDELINES, AND LITERATURE:

7 CFR Part 3430, Competitive and Noncompetitive Non-formula Grant Programs – General Grant Administrative Provisions and Program-Specific Administrative Provisions; 7 CFR Part 3015, USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations; 7 CFR Part 3017, Government wide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) ; 7 CFR Part 3018, New Restrictions on Lobbying; 7 CFR Part 3019, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-profit Organizations; and 7 CFR Part 3021— USDA implementation of Governmentwide Requirements for Drug-free Workplace (Financial Assistance) and 7 CFR Part 3405, Higher Education Challenge Grants, Administrative Provisions, and Grant Application Kit.

INFORMATION CONTACTS:

Regional or Local Office:   None.

Headquarters Office:   USDA, NIFA, National Program Leader, Institute of Youth, Family, and Community, Division of Community and Education 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., STOP 2250, Washington , District of Columbia 20250-2250 Email: Policy@nifa.usda.gov Phone: (202) 720-2324 Fax: (202) 720-2030.

Web Site Address:  
http://nifa.usda.gov/program/higher-education-challenge-grants-program /

EXAMPLES OF FUNDED PROJECTS:

Fiscal Year 2009: No Current Data Available Fiscal Year 2010: It is anticipated that similar projects will be funded in Fiscal Year 2010. Fiscal Year 2011: No Current Data Available

CRITERIA FOR SELECTING PROPOSALS:

Within guidelines established for the program as described in the Request for Application (RFA).

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