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Answers to Institutional Predoctoral Training Grants (T32) Frequently Asked Questions

Important information about NIH institutional training grants can be obtained from the T kiosk. Answers to many questions can be found on the NIGMS training Website and in the most recent T32 Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs):

New applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NIGMS staff to discuss their plans to submit a new application as early as possible.

Information on allowable costs and other grants management information is available in 2 CFR Parts 215 and 220 Link to external web site.

Frequently Asked Questions

Preparing and Submitting a New or Renewal Application

Q. I have a NIGMS-supported predoctoral training grant in basic biomedical sciences area that’s due for renewal. Do I submit a new or renewal application, and which FOA should I use?

A. All predoctoral T32 training grant applications in basic biomedical sciences disciplines from institutions that were previously or are currently supported with NIGMS-funded predoctoral T32 training grants must be submitted under the new NIGMS-specific T32 FOA (PAR-17-341). Further, all applications (new as well as those from established programs) in response to the new NIGMS T32 FOA (PAR-17-341) must be submitted as new (-01) applications.

See the Guide notice NOT-GM18-005 for additional information.

Q. Does NIGMS support training grants with combined predoctoral and postdoctoral training?

A. No, the predoctoral training programs are predoctoral ONLY; the postdoctoral training programs support ONLY postdoctoral trainees.

Q. I plan to submit a new T32 predoctoral application. How many trainees can I request? Is there a limit?

A. NIGMS predoctoral T32 programs are intended to enhance early-phase (that is, pre-dissertation period), interdisciplinary training for future biomedical scientists. When requesting trainees, consider how your T32 would nominate students from among the accepted biomedical graduate students derived from a common, "umbrella" program, and/or direct admission to various Ph.D. programs or cluster areas. Consider how many training grant eligible students work with program PIs or complete relevant coursework activities to be appropriate for your training program. Also consider whether other NIGMS training programs at your institution tap into the same pool of students. You must have a sufficient number of faculty research mentors, resources and outstanding candidates to justify your request. It's also important to note that the T32 training grants do not support all of the potential candidates that are associated with the overall training program. Generally, new programs start with a small number of students (usually 4) and ramp up over time.

Q. Is there a standard timetable for student participation in training grant programs?

A. No. However, we strongly encourage that training grant support be concentrated in the first 2 to 3 years of graduate school when it can have strongest impact, although programs should develop mechanisms to continue the involvement of senior students in the program after they have gone off T32 support.

Q. Are there specific forms for the tables that are requested in a T32 grant application?

A. Yes, NIH has required table formats for T32 applications; these can be found on the NIH SF424 Application and Submission Website, There are different tables required for new versus renewals, and for predoctoral versus postdoctoral applications. Be sure to read the "Introduction to Data Tables" and the instructions and rationale for each table. These tables are extremely important to the review of your application: make sure they are filled out correctly.

NIH recently revised the required tables necessary for T32 training grants. While there used to be 12 tables necessary for all T32 grants, the number of tables has been reduced to 8. This implementation was designed to minimize the reporting of individual-level information and extend the tracking of trainee outcomes from 10 to 15 years. View slides from the webinar [PDF, 384KB] describing these changes in detail. There is also a set of frequently asked questions that can help guide PIs to properly fill out the new tables.

Q. When is my predoctoral training grant renewal application due?

A. NIGMS standard receipt dates for predoctoral T32s are January 25, May 25 and September 25. Since NIGMS funds predoctoral T32s once a year on July 1 and makes funding decisions in March-April of each year, applicants are strongly advised not to wait until the September receipt date for funding the following July. To read more, see

Q. Can I request more slots on my competitive renewal?

A. Yes, but they must be well justified and, again, reflect the training grant-eligible student pool, eligibility for your training program, faculty and resources. Do not expect expansion of the trainee slots unless there has been significant change in these aspects, and understand that slots can be reduced in future years as well.

Q. How do I fill out the IACUC and IRB dates on the face page? Does human subjects education apply?

A. For competing awards using the SF424 application:
Note that IACUC and IRB approvals for the full training grant application are not required. In many instances, trainees supported by institutional training grants will be participating in research supported by research project grants for which the IACUC and/or IRB or a determination of exemption exists. Existing IACUC/IRB approval is sufficient for trainees, provided that the IACUC/IRB determines the research would not be substantially modified by the participation of a trainee. Although IRB or IACUC approval dates will not be required in the application, the human subjects or vertebrate animal research projects that involve trainees must have IRB or IACUC approval. Ensuring compliance with this requirement is the responsibility of the awardee institutions. ICs may request that awardees provide the IRB or IACUC approval documentation for specific projects with traineesSee application instructions for complete details.

The recipient institution must ensure that trainees have received the proper training/education in human subjects and vertebrate animals and to ensure they are properly supervised when working with human subjects or live vertebrate animals.

For non-competing continuation (RPPR) applications:
As with the competing application, it is not necessary to provide the IRB or IACUC approval dates in the application. It is the awardee institution’s responsibility to ensure human subjects or vertebrate animal research projects that involve trainees have the IRB or IACUC approval prior to the trainees involvement.

Complete section F.3 (Significant changes to Human Subjects, Vertebrate Animals, Biohazards, and/or Select Agents) only if the use or care of human subjects, vertebrate animals, biohazards and/or select agents is not reported under another NIH award.

Q. Are there other resources available that would be helpful in preparing an application for NIGMS support of a new predoctoral training program?

A. Yes. There is information on predoctoral training areas that NIGMS supports at At this site, there are also listings of currently supported training grant institutions, and many of those programs have active Web sites. Information about the goals and organization of successful training grant programs are available from the NIGMS program directors for each of the training areas, also available at the link above.


Q. Who evaluates applications for institutional training grants?

A. Applications are reviewed by a scientific review committee organized by the NIGMS Office of Scientific Review. Many of these reviewers are themselves directors of training grant programs. A broad range of scientific disciplines are represented on the review committees. View more information on the training grant review process, including current review committee rosters.

Q. Will our application receive a site visit?

A. Site visits are at the discretion of the NIGMS Office of Scientific Review and are prioritized based on a number of factors, including: Was the application site visited for the last competing application? Have there been any significant changes since the last competing application (e.g. significant change in the structure, curriculum or objectives of the program)? Generally, competing renewal applications receive higher priority for site visits than new applications. In all cases, it is critical that applications for both new and continued support should be thorough, accurate and up to date to allow a complete evaluation without a site visit.

Budget and Funding

Q. Are T32 applications subject to NIH policies requiring prior approval before submitting applications with direct costs exceeding $500,000 in any one year; i.e. including a cover letter identifying IC staff who have agreed to accept assignment of the application?

A. No. NIGMS does not require that applicants for T32 training grants with direct costs over $500,000 obtain prior approval from NIGMS staff before submitting their T32 application or include a cover letter with their application indicating prior staff approval.

Q. In calculating the requested budget on a competing training grant budget, may increases for inflation be included in the future years?

A. The costs per trainee are not escalated for inflation in the future years. All costs per trainee, with the exception of adjustments to accommodate the different stipend levels for postdocs, do not increase in the future years.

Q. Does NIGMS provide travel funds for T32 predoctoral trainees?

A. Yes, NIGMS pays a flat rate of $300 per trainee per year for travel.

Q. Can we request costs for family health insurance for trainees?

A. Tuition, fees and health insurance (self-only or family) are allowable trainee costs only if such charges are applied consistently to all people in a similar training status at the organization, without regard to their source of support. Health insurance can include coverage for costs such as vision and/or dental care if consistent with organizational policy. Health insurance is awarded as part of the Training Related Expenses category.

Q. Can I expect to be fully funded at the Council recommended slot levels listed on my summary statement?

A. While NIGMS tries to support all programs at or near the Council recommended slot level, this will depend on the availability of slots and the NIGMS training budget at the time of award. Never assume your program will receive an increase in slots, either in the competing or noncompeting years, until told by the NIGMS program director or stated on the Notice of Grant Award. In noncompeting years, a slot increase will also depend on how successful the training program has been in filling their current slots with well-qualified trainees.

Trainee Appointments and Terminations

Q. How are Statements of Appointment and Termination Notices submitted and when are they due? Are they due every year, even if trainees remain on the grant?

A. The Statement of Appointment (Form PHS 2271) should be submitted at the time of the trainee's appointment and is required for new appointments and re-appointments. Grantees must submit the PHS 2271 data electronically using the xTrain system. The Termination Notice (Form PHS 416-7) (also submitted via xTrain), is due within 30 days of the end of training grant support and is required for all students terminating from a training grant. The necessary forms can be found at More information is available at xTrain (eRA Commons).

Q. What is the minimum length of an appointment for a trainee?

A. Generally, trainees under Kirschstein-NRSA institutional research training grants are appointed for fulltime 12-month continuous periods. No trainee may be appointed under a regular Kirschstein-NRSA institutional research training grant for less than 9 months except with prior written approval of the NIH awarding IC, and then usually only to complete an ongoing program of training. An initial appointment of less than 9 months may be allowed as long as an assurance is included that the individual will be immediately reappointed in the subsequent year so that the cumulative continuous training period is at least 9 months.

Q. If my award includes 4 trainee slots, does that mean I can only appoint 4 students?

A. No. Each trainee slot is equivalent to 12 trainee months. You may appoint a combination of trainees for a total of 48 months during that budget period. This is an NIGMS practice and may not apply to training grants issued by another NIH IC. See the question above regarding minimum length of appointment.

Q. If an appointment crosses over to the next budget year, will the awarded number of slots in that next year be decreased?

A. No. Since trainees may be appointed at any time during the 12-month budget period, appointments will often cross over into the next budget period. Since a trainee's full 12-months of stipend and tuition is charged to the budget year in which the appointment was made, this does not impact awarded slots in the following budget year.

Q. How many years of support can be received at the predoctoral level?

A. No individual trainee may receive more than 5 years of aggregate NRSA support at the predoctoral level, including any combination of support from NRSA institutional research training grants and individual fellowships. However, NIGMS training grants are intended to enhance early-phase training, and our expectation is that trainees will be on NIGMS T32 for only about 2 years, for example, years 1 and 2 or 2 and 3.

Q. Is undergraduate NRSA support factored in when considering an NRSA predoctoral appointment on a T32?

A. No, only prior NRSA predoctoral support would be counted toward the limit.

Q. Can someone with an M.D. be appointed on a predoctoral training grant to earn a Ph.D.?

A. This is somewhat unusual, but the person could be trained on the predoctoral grant but compensated only at the predoctoral level. The grantee institution, however, could supplement him/her at the postdoctoral level but cannot use training grant or other federal funds for this supplementation.

Q. One of our students is an asylee (refuge/person seeking asylum) who has applied for but has not yet received a currently valid Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-551A). Can we submit an approval letter from the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service while awaiting the I-551A along with the Statement of Appointment form?

A. No. Policy requires that NRSA trainees must have a currently valid Alien Registration Card (I-551A) and provide a notarized statement verifying the possession of permanent residency documentation with the Statement of Appointment Form (2271) at the time of award. There is a distinction between an asylee and a permanent resident. An asylee is not considered a permanent resident.

Q. May a new trainee be appointed during a no-cost extension?

A. No. No-cost extensions are granted to allow continuation of trainees currently appointed.

Progress Reports, Publications and Noncompeting Applications

Q. When is my noncompeting progress report RPPR (T-5) due?

A. Non-competing progress reports for NIGMS T32s are due November 15. The receipt date for noncompeting progress reports for T34s (MARC training grants) is October 15.

Q. What period is covered in the progress report?

A. The progress report should cover the period from the last Notice of Grant Award to the time of writing/submitting the report. Technically, since NIGMS requests the progress reports for T32s on November 15, this will cover the period from July 1 of that year to November 15. However, you should include information from the date of the previous progress report.

Q. The SF424 instructions say to list all publications (full citation) for each trainee that resulted from work done during their training. How should this information be provided?

A. NIH provides a sample table format for trainee publications (see Data Table 5 and 5A for predoctoral applications and 5B for postdoctoral). Note that for competing renewal applications, this should include publications for ALL trainees who were supported by the T32 at any time during the past grant period, or up to 10 years if beyond the first competing renewal. Include all trainees, even those with no publications (designate "no publications"). Summarize these data in the body of the application, including, for example, the average number of publications, how many students published as first author and how many students completed doctoral training without any first-author publication resulting from their graduate research. Applicants should note that Public Access Policy requires that any publications of individuals supported by a T32 be linked to the grant, and have a PMCID. More information can be found at and Note that if your application is selected for funding, NIH will request a Just-in-Time My Bibliography PDF compliance report for the most recent year of trainee publications.

Post Award and Grants Management

Q. If the training grant award was issued in July and a stipend increase subsequently made effective the next Federal fiscal year, i.e., after October, will the training grant receive an increase?

A. No. Any stipend increases are effective only for T32 program awards made with funds from the fiscal year in which the stipend increase was effective. No retroactive adjustments or supplementation of stipends or other budgetary categories with Kirschstein-NRSA funds for an award made prior to October are permitted. However, an institution may use other funds to adjust funds for existing trainees.

Q. Can funds be re-budgeted between categories on a training grant?

A.Funds may be re-budgeted only as follows (see also answer to the next question below):

Trainee-Related Expenses: Rebudgeting of funds awarded in a lump sum for trainee-related expenses does not require NIH awarding IC prior approval.

Trainee Costs: For rebudgeting purposes, trainee costs include funds awarded in the stipends or tuition/fees budget categories. These costs may not be used for other purposes except under unusual circumstances and then only with the prior approval of the NIH awarding IC. Unless otherwise restricted, rebudgeting into or within the stipends and tuition/fees is allowable without prior approval of the NIH awarding IC.

Trainee Travel: For rebudgeting purposes, trainee travel is not considered a trainee cost and, therefore, may be rebudgeted into any other budget category without prior approval of the NIH awarding IC.

Q. Is NIGMS prior approval required for rebudgeting of funds on a training grant?

A. Yes, in some cases. Prior approval is required to rebudget stipends and/or tuition into the Travel or Trainee Related Expenses (TRE) categories. However, no prior approval is required (unless otherwise restricted by the terms and conditions of the grant award) for categories as shown on the following table:



























Q. Can I rebudget funds and appoint an additional trainee without prior approval?

A. Yes, you may rebudget funds from the current budget year as long as the number of trainees does not exceed the Council recommended level as reflected on the most recent summary statement. You may not carryover funds from a prior year for this purpose.

Q. Can we use funds from training-related expenses to partially fund the salary of an individual involved in managing our program?

A. Yes, training-related funds may be used to defray such costs as staff salaries when they are directly related to the training program.

Q. Are program directors authorized to use some of the travel funds on the training grant to support student travel to meetings outside the U.S.?

A. Trainee travel, including attendance at scientific meetings (both in the U.S. and abroad) that the institution determines to be necessary to the individual's research training, is an allowable trainee expense. Justification for the travel is key. In addition, U.S. flag air carriers must be used to the maximum extent possible when commercial air transportation is the means of travel between the United States and a foreign country or between foreign countries.

Q. Can the faculty on a training grant use NIH funds for travel to institutions to give seminars and to present information about the training program to undergraduates?

A. Yes. Under the Training Related Expenses category of a training grant, funds are provided to defray such training costs as staff travel and other expenses directly related to the training program. If a program director is representing more than one program, the grantee institution should allocate the costs among all of the programs.

Q. Is automatic carry-over of unexpended balances permitted on NIGMS training grants?

A. No. NIGMS does not permit automatic carryover from one budget period to the next. These funds are used by the Institute to offset future year commitments. This helps us to utilize the training budget available in the most judicious manner possible.

Q. Is it possible for the awarding IC to change the start date of the award to coincide with the start of the school year?

A. No. However, since trainees may be appointed at any time during the 12-month budget period, you could appoint all of your trainees to start in September, or whenever date coincides with your training schedule.

Q. How do we change the program director (PD) on the training grant?

A. A request for change of PD must be countersigned by the grantee organization, the current PD and the proposed new PD, and must include a current biographical sketch or CV for the nominee. NIGMS will review the nominee's qualifications, re-evaluate the program in light of the proposed change and provide a written decision to the grantee.

Q. If the PD plans to be absent from the program for more than 3 months, what is required?

A. A countersigned letter requesting approval of an acting PD should be submitted to NIGMS. The letter should describe plans for the conduct of the program during the original PD's absence and indicate that the acting PD will have signature authority on trainee forms. NIGMS will review the request and provide a written decision to the grantee.

Q. Can we transfer our training grant to another institution?

A. Generally, no. Ruth Kirschstein-NRSA institutional research training grants may not be transferred except under the most unusual circumstances.

Q. Where do I submit the Federal Financial Report (FFR)?

A. Electronic submission of the FFR through the eRA Commons is required from the grantee for each budget period no later than 90 days after the end of the calendar quarter in which the budget period ended. The NIH Commons is available at Additional information on electronic submission of FFRs is available at the Commons Web page, or by contacting the eRA Service Desk Toll-free: 1-866-504-9552; Tel: 301-402-7469; Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET (closed on federal holidays). If you need immediate help (i.e. you are within 2 days of a deadline or in the event of a security emergency), call the Service Desk rather than submitting a web ticket. Note that the Service Desk's busiest hours are 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. ET.

Q. On an FFR, how do we reflect the dollars associated with stipends and tuition for appointments that cross over into the next budget period (late appointments)? Should they be shown as an unobligated balance, or an unliquidated obligation?

A. These monies should be reflected as an unliquidated obligation since these are bona fide expenses charged/incurred to the Stipend and Tuition categories but have not yet been paid. As a reminder, if the FFR report covers the final budget period of the project period, it must have no unliquidated obligations and must indicate the exact balance of unobligated funds.

Q. What is the importance of submitting Termination Notices, Appointment Forms and Federal Financial Reports in a timely manner?

A. The forms are critical to establishing the payment of stipends and other costs and determining possible payback service. Failure to submit the required forms in a timely manner will result in an expenditure disallowance or a delay in any continuation funding.

Q. Are predoctoral trainees subject to the NRSA payback requirements?

A. No, only postdoctoral trainees are subject to the payback obligation and then only for the first 12 months of postdoctoral NRSA support. The 13th and subsequent months of NRSA postdoctoral support can fulfill the obligation but if the support ends prior to the second full year of support, some form of payback will be required. For predoctoral trainees appointed on or after June 10, 1993 (in accordance with legislation passed in 1993), there is no payback requirement.

Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)

Q. My institution currently does not have a NIGMS-supported M.D.-Ph.D. training program but would like to apply for one. What FOA should we use to prepare our new application?

A. All new applications for support of the integrated predoctoral dual-degree M.D.-Ph.D. training should use the NIH T32 Parent FOA (PA-18-403), until further notice.

Q. I already have a NIGMS-supported MSTP grant. What FOA should I use to prepare my renewal application?

A. All renewal applications for support of the integrated predoctoral dual-degree M.D.-Ph.D. training through the Medical Scientist Training Program should use the NIH T32 Parent FOA (PA-18-403), until further notice.

Q. I am thinking about pursuing a M.D.-Ph.D. degree. Are there resources to help me plan my M.D.-Ph.D. or other dual degree integrated training program?

A. A successful program requires a team effort, with the important players in medical and graduate education at your institution participating in the effort. All funded programs have several committees to help steer and operate the program and recruit and select students. One or more experienced administrative assistants are often required to make an effective program. Note that NIGMS encourages innovative training programs, and those with different approaches and clear intended outcomes.

There is an association of M.D.-Ph.D. programs that is also part of the GREAT Group of the AAMC. Membership includes both federally funded and unfunded programs. The directors and their staffs are very willing to provide advice and are an invaluable source of ideas.

There is a recent report on the History and Outcomes of 50 Years of Physician-Scientist Training in Medical Scientist Training Programs (Harding, et al. Acad. Med. 92 (10):1390-1398, 2017) that may also be of interest to those who plan to pursue a career as physician-scientists.

Q. What areas are acceptable for the Ph.D. part of the dual degree?

A. It is the program's responsibility to have a combined, integrated curriculum that provides an efficient and feasible course of study in a range of scholarly areas while preserving the quality of the graduate and medical education. Programs may elect a very broad range of graduate options, including social and behavioral sciences, health care delivery and economics, ethics and engineering. Program directors may wish to consider how the MSTP will complement any CTSA TL1 programs on their campuses.

Q. The MSTP training grant provides only part of the support of the combined degree education. What are the NIH expectations about the support of the remainder of the training?

A. It is expected that all students will be fully supported, with tuition and stipend, throughout their training for both degrees. Programs are expected to demonstrate a level of support to be competitive with similar existing funded programs.

Q. It may be difficult for students to finish their graduate training in time for the start of the clinical clerkships at the start of the M3 year in May. Should the student finish his/her thesis after beginning the clerkship?

A. Experience has shown that it is highly desirable to have all students finish their doctoral work prior to entry into the clerkships.

Q. We have concerns about the number of students who leave the MSTP program to pursue medical degrees. What are the expectations of NIH in the regard?

A. The numbers of such students from well-established programs varies from year to year, but generally averages no more than 10 percent. It is important to select students who are firmly committed to research careers and to provide a strong program identity to all trainees, accompanied by career counseling for the entire training period.

Q. My program is relatively new, or recently reorganized. Considering that it takes about 8 years for a student to obtain both degrees, and several years more to complete a residency and further training, how long should I wait to apply for MSTP support?

A. There is no hard and fast rule. The reviewers and program staff expect to see students pursuing graduate programs of very high quality, publishing their research and to have some idea about student residency choices.

Q. Is it possible to change the program director for a MSTP?

A. . Yes, a change of program director (PD) is allowable; however, prior approval from NIGMS is required and because this program involves synchronization between the medical and graduate schools the new PD should be someone who is nominated by a high ranking official at the institution (i.e. a dean).

In order to change the PD, a letter, countersigned by the nominating official, the outgoing PD, the incoming PD and an authorized business official must be submitted to NIGMS. Furthermore, the letter should include a copy of the new PD's CV as well some information regarding his/her past training record. If approved, a revised Notice of Grant Award will be issued reflecting the change.

Q. NRSA predoctoral support is limited to 5 years (60 months). I understand that MSTP trainees may request a waiver of this limit up an additional 12 months (for a total of 6 years or 72 months). What is the process for requesting this?

A. If at any time during a trainee's upcoming appointment, the period of aggregate NRSA predoctoral support will exceed 60 months (5 years), a Statement of Appointment form along with a waiver request (see sample format [DOC, 23KB]) must be submitted.

Q. Our MSTP program has a combination of in-state, out-of-state, medical school and graduate school tuition levels. Should these be broken down in our competing application? Are they factored in when calculating a per trainee figure?

A. Yes. Breakdowns must be provided so that we may apply the tuition formula and arrive at an appropriate per trainee figure.

NOTE: View additional FAQs for NIH training grants.

This page last reviewed on February 26, 2018