How to Apply

Please Note: All open Office of Head Start funding opportunity announcements are in the process of being modified to correct an administrative error on the part of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). As a result, APPLICATIONS ARE NOT BEING ACCEPTED AT THIS TIME. We strongly encourage you to sign up to receive updates on your specific announcement from Grants.gov. By doing so, you will be notified by email when the modification is complete. The modifications being processed should NOT affect how you address the application requirements located in Section IV.2. of the funding opportunity announcement. Once the announcements have been modified, you will need to download and complete the revised application package from Grants.gov in order to submit your application. Therefore, we anticipate extending the due date for announcements with a closing date of Nov. 30, 2015, to Dec. 15, 2015.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

The following steps provide registration guidance for a company, institution, state, local or tribal government, or other type of organization that wishes to submit an application for funding. The registration process is a one-time process, which is required before representatives of an organization can submit grant application packages electronically through Grants.gov. Please note that some steps of the process may require follow-up actions to renew or update information. The registration process can take one to three weeks depending on your organization.

Planning to Apply

Step 1: Obtain Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number

The DUNS number is the nine-digit or thirteen-digit ( DUNS + 4) number established and assigned by Dun and Bradstreet, Inc. (D&B) to uniquely identify business entities. The Federal government has adopted the use of DUNS numbers to track of how federal grant money is allocated.

All applicants and sub-recipients must have a DUNS number at the time of application in order to be considered for a grant or cooperative agreement. A DUNS number is required whether an applicant is submitting a paper application or using the Government-wide electronic portal, http://www.Grants.gov. A DUNS number is required for every application for a new award or renewal/continuation of an award, including applications or plans under formula, entitlement, and block grant programs. A DUNS number may be acquired at no cost online at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform.

To acquire a DUNS number by phone, contact the D&B Government Customer Response Center:
U.S. and U.S. Virgin Islands: 1-866-705-5711
Alaska and Puerto Rico: 1-800-234-3867 (Select Option 2, then Option 1)
Monday - Friday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Central Time
The process to request a DUNS Number by telephone takes between 5 and 10 minutes.

Grants.gov will not be able to process your application without a DUNS number.

Step 2: Register in System for Award Management (SAM) Eligibility Requirements

The System for Award Management(SAM) is the official U.S. Government system that consolidated the capabilities of CCR/ FedReg , ORCA, and EPLS. There is no fee to register for this site. Entities may register directly from this page.

All applicants must have a DUNS number (www.dnb.com) and be registered with the SAM (www.sam.gov). Applicants are required to maintain an active SAM registration until the application process is complete, and should a grant be made, throughout the life of the award. Finalize a new, or renew an existing, registration at least two weeks before the application deadline. This action should allow you time to resolve any issues that may arise. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in your inability to submit your application or receive an award. Maintain documentation (with dates) of your efforts to register or renew at least two weeks before the deadline. See the SAM Quick Guide for Grantees at https://www.sam.gov/sam/transcript/SAM_Quick_Guide_Grants_Registrations-v1.6.pdf [PDF, 34KB].

HHS requires all entities that plan to apply for, and ultimately receive, federal grant funds from any HHS agency, or receive sub-awards directly from recipients of those grant funds, to:

  • Be registered with SAM prior to submitting an application or plan;
  • Maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which the entity has an active award or an application or plan under consideration by an OPDIV; and
  • Provide its active DUNS number in each application or plan it submits to the OPDIV.

ACF is prohibited from making an award until an applicant has complied with these requirements. At the time an award is ready to be made, if the intended recipient has not complied with these requirements, ACF:

  • May determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive an award; and
  • May use that determination as a basis for making an award to another applicant.

Former Central Contractor Registration (CCR) Registrants
If you had an active record in CCR, you have an active record in SAM. You do not need to do anything in SAM at this time, unless a change in your business circumstances requires updates to your entity record(s) in order for you to be paid or to receive an award, or if you need to renew your entity(s) prior to its expiration. SAM will send notifications to the registered user via email 60, 30, and 15 days prior to expiration of the entity. To update or renew your Entity records(s) in SAM, you will need to create a SAM User Account and link it to your migrated entity records. You do not need a user account to search for registered entities in SAM; simply type the DUNS number or business name into the search box.

Step 3: Username & Password

When your organization registers in SAM, you will be required to designate an E-Biz Point of Contact ( E-Business POC). This person will be given a special password called an " M-PIN." This password gives this user the sole authority to designate which staff members from your organization are allowed to submit applications electronically through Grants.gov. Designating an E-Biz Point of Contact safeguards organizations from individuals who may attempt to submit grant application packages without permission.

Staff members from your organization designated to submit applications are called Authorized Organization Representatives ( AOR). AOR must register with the Credential Provider to obtain their usernames and passwords at http://apply07.grants.gov/apply/OrcRegister. They will need to know your organization's DUNS number to complete the process. After your organization registers with the SAM, AOR must wait one business day before they can obtain their usernames and passwords. AOR usernames and passwords serve as "electronic signatures" when your organization submits applications on Grants.gov.

AOR will receive a username and password when they submit the information.

Step 4: Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) Authorization

AOR must register with Grants.gov for an account at https://apply07.grants.gov/apply/GrantsgovRegister. They will need to enter the username and password they received when they registered with the Credential Provider (obtained in Step 3). This creates an account on Grants.gov that allows AOR to submit applications on behalf of the organization and track the status of submitted applications. AOR will be registered when they submit the information.

Step 5: Track AOR Status

When an AOR registers with Grants.gov, your organization's E-Business ( E-Biz) POC will receive an email notification. Your E-Business POC must then log into Grants.gov (using the organization's DUNS number for the username and the "M-PIN" password obtained in Step 3) and approve the AOR, thereby giving him or her permission to submit applications. When an E-Biz POC approves an AOR, Grants.gov will send the AOR a confirmation e-mail. AOR can also log in to the For Applicant home page at http://www.grants.gov/applicants/applicants.jsp using their username and password (obtained in Step 3) to check if they have been approved. Only the E-Biz POC can approve AOR. This allows your organization to authorize specific staff members to submit grants.

Submitting an Application
Grants.gov is also the website used to submit grant applications electronically. If your organization has not submitted an application through Grants.gov before, be aware that it may take up to a full week to complete the set-up.

Grants.gov Online Application Resources

Listed below are links to online resources that explain the submission process via Grants.gov:

  • Grants.gov Overview: Need a quick lesson on how to Register, Find and Apply? Watch this short video to get tips on registering with Grants.gov; finding grant opportunities; understanding your search results; and, applying for opportunities.
  • Organization Registration Overview: Brief Overview of Registration Process. NOTE: Registration takes, approximately, 3-5 business days; but, allow 4 weeks to complete all steps.
  • If you have any additional questions please visit the Applicant Resources section of Grants.gov. Watch the Grants.gov Applicant Training Video. It is a 21-minute overview about Grants.gov Applicant Training.

Helpful tips for submitting an application on Grants.gov:

  • Contact the Grants.gov Contact Center if you have any issues submitting your application. Please have the Funding Opportunity Number (FON), name of your agency, and specific area of concern available to help expedite your inquiry. Keep your ticket number.
  • Don't wait until the last minute to submit an application so that there is time to correct any errors.
  • Keep your tracking number in case you need to contact the Grants.gov Contact Center.

Grants.gov FAQs

Q: I completed the self-help password reset but did not receive the email. What happened?

A: If you performed a password reset for the E-Biz POC at Grants.gov, but did not receive the temporary password, there are a few factors that can cause this to occur.

  1. There is no AOR registered for your organization's DUNS number. Until at least one AOR has completed the registration process, the E-Biz POC login at Grants.gov is not yet active. As a result, the E-Biz POC password reset feature will not work until at least one AOR has completed the registration process. Once an AOR has registered, the E-Biz POC will receive an email notification.
  2. You are using an email address other than the email address on file at Grants.gov. Grants.gov uses the Primary E-Business Point of Contact email address associated with the SAM registration. To verify the email address on file with SAM, please visit www.sam.gov. Please note that if you have recently updated the email address associated with the Primary E-Biz Point of Contact it may take up to one business day for the changes to reflect on the Grants.gov site.
  3. On October 11, 2010, a security enhancement required all existing E-Biz POCs to login using the MPIN and establish a Grants.gov password. Until this step is completed, the E-Biz POC login at Grants.gov is inactive. As a result, the E-Biz POCs password reset feature will not work until this step is completed.

If you are unsure if any of these circumstances apply to you, you may contact Grants.gov support at 1-800-518-4726 or by email at support@grants.gov.

Note: In some organizations, a person may serve as both an E-Biz POC and an AOR, in this case this person will receive two emails regarding password resets. Look closely at the link provided to determine if the email is intended for an E-Biz POC or Applicant. The link will either contain 'userType=applicant' or 'userType=ebiz.'

Q: How do I download an application?

A: To download the grant application package, please reference the following instructions:

  1. Once you have searched for a grant opportunity, the results will display on the search results screen. Each opportunity title is a hyperlink for that given grant. Click on the Title of the grant of your choice. Follow these steps:
  2. At the top of the synopsis page, just below the title of the grant, there are three menu options. "Synopsis" (highlighted in grey), "Full Announcement" and "Application." Click on the "Application" menu link at the top, right corner of the screen.
  3. A new window will display, entitled "Select Grant Applications to Download." Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click on the "Download" link, which is displayed under the Instructions and Application tab at the bottom right corner of the screen.
  4. Download links for the application instructions and application package will be displayed. Clicking on these links will automatically open the documents onto the screen. It is recommended that these documents be saved to the computer.
  5. To save both the instructions and the application package, click each file to open. Then click "File," "Save A Copy," and select a location on your computer to save each file. Then click the "Save" button.

Important Note: Read the grant application instructions carefully. For additional questions regarding the specific opportunity, please reference the agency contact information located at the top of the Grant Application Package.

Q: How do I find grants using the Advanced Search?

A: The Advanced Search option allows users to filter search results based on any combination of the following criteria:

    • Grant Status: (Open, Closed or Archived)
    • By Date
    • By Organization Eligibility
    • By Funding Activity Category
    • By Agency
    • By Funding Instrument Type (Grant, Cooperative Agreement, Procurement Contract, Other)

To perform an Advanced Search on Grants.gov please reference the follow steps:

  1. From the Grants.gov home screen, select "Find Grant Opportunities" from within the red menu on the left side of the screen.
  2. On the "Find Grant Opportunities" page, select the "Advanced Search" option either on the left in the blue navigation bar or in the middle of the page.
  3. On the "Advanced Search" page select the search criteria. To select multiple items within each list, hold down the CONTROL or SHIFT key and make multiple selections. Mac users should hold the APPLE or SHIFT key.
  4. The search results screen will appear with the opportunity titles as hyperlinks. Click on the link to view the announcement

Q: I am the E-Biz Point of Contact (POC). How do I authorize or de-authorize an AOR in Grants.gov?

A: To authorize or de-authorize an AOR, reference the following steps:

  1. Navigate to www.Grants.gov.
  2. From the Grants.gov home page, click on the E-Biz POC LOGIN on the right side of the page under the FOR APPLICANTS section.
  3. The E-Biz POC LOGIN PAGE will display. Enter the DUNS # and password and click the LOGIN button.
  4. The MANAGE APPLICANTS screen will display with no applicants listed. To view all applicants associated with the DUNS # in the top right corner of the screen, ensure that ALL is selected under the SEARCH BY box. Click the SEARCH button.
  5. The current list of AOR will display. NOTE: A maximum of 50 AOR will display on each page. Click the page numbers located under the SEARCH BY box to navigate to other pages.
  6. To change the status of an AOR, click on the AOR name or username to highlight the row. Note that the buttons on the top of the AOR list are now active.
  7. On the top of the page, above the AOR list, click on the REASSIGN ROLES button.
  8. The REASSIGN USER ROLES window will display for the selected AOR. Highlight the AUTHORIZED APPLICANT role. Using the arrows in the middle of the page, move the role to the left or right side of the screen.
  9. To authorize an AOR, move the AUTHORIZED APPLICANT to the right hand box titled CURRENT ROLES.
    To de-authorize an AOR, move the AUTHORIZED APPLICANT to the left hand box titled REMAINING ROLES.
  10. Click the CONTINUE button to save the changes.

Q: What is the registration process for an organization?

A: The registration process for an organization can take between three to five business days or as long as four weeks and depends on several factors. There are four main steps:

  1. Obtain a Data Universal Numbering System ( DUNS) number. DUNS numbers can typically be obtained within the same business day. For information on obtaining a DUNS please visit http://www.dnb.com/get-a-duns-number.html/.
  2. Register with www.sam.gov. If you had an active record in CCR, you have an active record in SAM. You do not need to do anything in SAM at this time unless a change in your business circumstances requires updates to your entity record(s) in order for you to be paid or to receive an award, or if you need to renew your entity prior to its expiration. SAM will send notifications to the registered user via email 60, 30, and 15 days prior to expiration of the entity. Finalize a new, or renew an existing, registration at least two weeks before the application deadline. This action should allow you time to resolve any issues that may arise. To update or renew your entity records(s) in SAM, you will need to create a SAM User Account and link it to your migrated entity records. For additional information regarding the SAM registration process, please visit www.sam.gov. Review the SAM Quick Guide for Grantees: https://www.sam.gov/sam/transcript/SAM_Quick_Guide_Grants_Registrations-v1.6.pdf [PDF, 34KB]
  3. Register with Grants.gov as an Authorized Organization Representative ( AOR). Complete your AOR (Authorized Organization Representative) profile on Grants.gov and create your username and password. You will need to use your organization's DUNS Number to complete this step.
  4. E-Biz Point of Contact must authorize the AOR. Before submitting a grant application package, an AOR must receive approval within his or her organization to submit applications on its behalf. This authorization protects an organization from individuals who may submit applications without permission. The E-Business Point of Contact ( E-Biz POC) performs the final step in the Grants.gov registration process. The E-Biz POC authorizes someone to submit a grant application on behalf of their organization.

For detailed information on the registration process, including an animated tutorial visit Grants.gov at http://www.grants.gov/applicants/organization_registration.jsp.

Q: How do I check the status of my submitted grant application?

A: Grants.gov is able to provide information as to whether the grant was received by Grants.gov or the agency. For information regarding whether the grant was accepted or approved by the agency, please contact the offering agency.

In order to track the status of a submitted application, you will need the grant tracking number. This number is provided in the automatic email generated by Grants.gov once the grant has been submitted.

To check the status of a submitted application, use the following steps:

  1. Go to www.grants.gov.
  2. On the left hand menu, select TRACK MY APPLICATION.
  3. Enter the grant tracking number in the space provided and click the TRACK button.

The status screen will display the date and time that the grant was received by Grants.gov or the agency.

Has My Application Been Received?

After submitting an application, you should receive two emails. Please note that your application has not been successfully submitted until you receive the validation email.

Submission Receipt Email Notification

Within two business days after your application package has been received by the Grants.gov system, you will receive a submission receipt email which indicates that your submission has entered the Grants.gov system and is ready for validation.

This email also contains a tracking number for use while tracking the status of the submission as well as a "Track My Application" link to use to see the progress of your submission.

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Submission Validation Receipt and Rejected with Errors Email Notifications

After you receive the submission receipt email, the next email you will receive will be a message validating or rejecting your submitted application package with errors. The Grants.gov system is designed to check for technical errors within the submitted application package. Grants.gov does not review application content for award determination.

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Rejected with Errors Email
Indicates that Grants.gov was unable to process your application because of an error(s) and cannot accept the application until you correct the error(s) and successfully resubmit the application. You will receive email notification with information on how to log on to the application section of grants.gov to view the reason of the rejection to be able to correct the error and re-submit.

Office of Head Start Retrieval Email Notification

Once your application package has passed validation, it is delivered to the Office of Head Start for award determination and further approval. After the Office of Head start has confirmed receipt of your application, you will be sent a third and final email from Grants.gov. The Office of Head Start may also assign your application package an agency-specific tracking number for use within their internal system.

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Office of Head Start Assigned Tracking Number  Notification

If a grantor agency-specific tracking number is assigned to your application package, you will receive an email from Grants.gov indicating that an agency-specific tracking number has been assigned to your application package. The agency-specific tracking number is not included in this email.

The grantor agency will send you an email containing their tracking number, this tracking number can only be used to track your application package within the grantor agency's system.

If you have questions about an application submission that is assigned an agency-specific tracking number, please address the grantor agency directly. Grantor contact information can be found on the synopsis for the funding opportunity, and the cover page of the application.

Please Note:To track your application within the Grants.gov system you must use the tracking number assigned to you by Grants.gov (the Grants.gov tracking number is sent in the submission receipt email).

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Application Receipt Postcards from the Office of Head Start

The Office of Head Start will provide acknowledgement of receipt of hard copy application packages submitted via mail or courier services. Application receipt postcards are mailed from the OHS Operations Center and provide the applicant their grant application tracking number for future reference.

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Tracking Your Application on Grants.gov

Once you have received a Grants.gov tracking number included in your submission receipt email, you can track and check the status of your grant application submissions on Grants.gov.

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What If I Still Have Questions?

If after reading the information above you still have questions, please select the "Ask a Question" button below to send an email to contact the OHS Grant Review Operations Center. All questions regarding your application status and/or submission will be answered via email.

OHS Grant Review Operations Center
Hours of Operation: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time
Phone: 1-888-242-0684

Last Reviewed: September 2015

Last Updated: November 20, 2015