Funding FAQs

Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NNLM funding and related topics.

Scope of Funding

What can or cannot be purchased with NNLM funds?

NNLM funding supports outreach programs and professional development activities. You may use subaward funds to pay for personnel, travel, conference and event fees, consulting services, equipment, supplies, communications, and other things that are necessary to support the project or activity. Generally, NNLM funding may not be used:

  • to support entertainment expenses, such as the purchase of alcohol,
  • to purchase Intellectual Properties, such as copyrights or patents,
  • to purchase general-use real estate or furniture, or
  • to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

We recommend reviewing the NIH Grants policy statement to learn what other items may be limited or prohibited.

What is an IRB?

Under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an appropriately constituted group that has been formally designated to review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects. In accordance with FDA regulations, an IRB has the authority to approve, require modifications in (to secure approval), or disapprove research. This group review serves an important role in the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects.

For more detailed information on IRBs, use the IRB Frequently Asked Questions information sheet from the FDA.

Is my project considered "human subjects research"?

According to Title 45, Code of Federal Regulations 46, a human subject is "a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research:

  • Obtains information or biospecimens through intervention or interaction with the individual, and uses, studies, or analyzes the information or biospecimens; or
  • Obtains, uses, studies, analyzes, or generates identifiable private information or identifiable biospecimens."

If you are unsure if your project meets these criteria:

Please note that some NNLM funding does not support human subjects research. Refer to the specific Request for Applications for award guidance and restrictions.

Does NNLM fund research studies?

NNLM primarily funds direct health information outreach. All projects should include direct outreach activities, such as training, health fairs, or programs for the public.

For federal research awards, please search

How is applying for funding from NNLM different than other NIH funding?

NNLM Regions, Offices and Centers (ROC) have Cooperative Agreements with the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health. NNLM awards are subawards under these Cooperative Agreements. If funded, your institution will sign a Cost Reimbursement Research Sub-award Agreement with the ROC’s sponsoring institution.

Unlike most NIH funding, NNLM funding does not support projects for clinical intervention.

Eligibility Guidelines

How many applications will be funded?

It depends on how many quality applications are received, the budget amounts requested, and the number of awards available from the Region, Office or Center. Refer to the specific Request for Applications for more details.

Who can I contact with additional questions?

If you have additional questions after reading through the Request for Applications and these FAQs, please request a consultation with NNLM staff. You will receive a response within 3 business days.

If my organization has received funding in the past, can we reapply?

Yes. Please note that organizations that have not been funded since May 2021 will receive priority if there are more quality applications then available funds. Priority may also be given to more recent subawardees who are applying for a different type of award than previously received. Previous awardees that did not comply with award requirements will not be funded at the discretion of the Associate/Executive Director.

Our application was not accepted last year, can I reapply?

Yes. Make sure that any reviewer concerns were addressed. Read the Request for Applications, instructions, and review criteria carefully, as they may have changed since last year.

If you have concerns about reapplying or about your application, you can request a consultation to discuss it with the Region, Office or Center.

Who is eligible to apply for funding?

Any NNLM Member Organization is eligible for funding opportunities in their region, and any organization in the United States that has health information access as part of its work is eligible to become a Network member. Members include public libraries, community colleges, health departments, community based organizations, clinics, associations, K-12 schools, and more.

Can individuals apply for funding?

Consult with your Regional Medical Library if you are not associated with an NNLM Member. There may be specific professional development opportunities for which you are eligible to apply.

Application Process

Where can I find the deadline for an application?

Specific due dates and deadlines are listed on the Request for Applications.

Where/How do I submit an application?

You can submit an application from the specific Request for Applications to which you are responding. View the NNLM Proposal Writing Toolkit for more detailed instructions on the submission process, including tutorials and templates you can use to build your application offline.

Are there any requirements for submitting an online application?

Yes. Refer to our system requirements in the NNLM Proposal Writing Toolkit for detailed information.

Do I need to apply for the maximum amount listed?

No! Ask for the amount that is needed to fulfill project objectives.

Can we include Indirect Costs (IDC) or Facilities and Administration (F&A) fees in the project budget?

Yes. However, it is factored into the total budget for the project. It can not exceed the maximum amount listed for the award.

I wanted to apply for a specific award type, but I don't see it listed. Did you stop offering it?

Award opportunities change throughout the cooperative agreement period. Contact your Region, Office or Center to discuss the project and determine what current awards may be comparable to previous offerings.

Review and Selection Process

Who reviews applications?

After the application deadline, your project proposal will be reviewed by the staff of the funding Region, Office or Center (ROC), and/or external reviewers that are selected by the ROC. The Review Committee is made up of Network members who represent the Region; public libraries, a variety of health science libraries, and community organizations.

Applications over $50,000 are subject to additional review by the National Library of Medicine. 

How and when will applicants be notified of the review committee decisions?

After scoring is complete, the Review Committee will meet and make final recommendations for funding to the Associate/Executive Director of the Region, Office or Center. Applicants will receive a copy of reviewer comments along with a final decision regarding funding.

Are applications blinded?

No. However, reviewers will be asked to disclose any conflicts of interest or bias that would prevent them from fairly and objectively rating an application.

Who should write the "Letter of commitment from institutional leadership that includes acknowledgement of award requirements"?

The letter should come from a person 1) who is empowered to sign contracts on behalf of the institution and 2) who is able to commit the needed staff time and resources to successfully complete the proposed project and comply with award requirements. 

Selected Projects

What paperwork will be required of awardees?

Requirements differ between funding institutions and can change over time. Consult with the funding Region, Office or Center to determine what documentation will be required.

How will award funds be dispersed?

All awards are cost-reimbursable. Your institution pays for budgeted expenses and then sends line item invoices to get reimbursed. As long as an awardee is up to date with reporting and is complying with other award requirements, invoices can be sent to us as frequently as once a month.

How should we recognize the receipt of this grant in press releases and developed materials?

Awardees must acknowledge the support of the National Library of Medicine whenever publicizing the work under an award in any media by including an acknowledgment substantially as follows:

"Developed resources reported in this [publication, press release, website] are supported by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, under Cooperative Agreement number XXXXXX. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health."

Contact your funding Region, Office or Center to get the cooperative agreement number.

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