How to Get a No-cost Extension for Your Award

A no-cost extension is the extension of a previously approved project period without additional funds. There are two types:

  1. final period extensions, the most common type; and
  2. internal extensions, the extension of a reporting period other than the final period (for example, an extension of Year 2 of a three-year award). These are rare, and not applicable to all sponsors.
General Process

Research grants and contracts are contractual obligations between the sponsor and The University of Texas at Austin. Since the period of performance is an agreed upon contractual element, most federal sponsors, and many other sponsors, require that the request comes from an authorized representative of the institution. These requests are handled through the Office of Sponsored Projects.

  1. Prepare a request letter on UT letterhead addressed to the grants management specialist or program officer of the sponsor. The letter must be signed by the PI. Leave a blank space for OSP to add a signature block for the signature of the Authorized Official. The letter should contain this information:
    1. The sponsor’s award number.
    2. The amount of funds remaining.
    3. The amount of additional time requested.
    4. A brief justification for the extension request. Keep in mind that extension justifications must be scientifically based, i.e., based on the research needs. The justification cannot imply that the extension was driven by the desire to spend remaining funds or to pay for salaries or appointments.
    5. A brief explanation of the work to be done during the extension period.
  2. Send a copy of the letter to the OSP Grants & Contracts Specialist for the award. The specialist will have the letter signed and submit to the sponsor. Account dates will be modified once the approval comes from the sponsor, which can come in the form of a simple notification or an amendment to the award.
  3. Be aware that this is a generic process. Some sponsors will require more or less information for the request. If you have questions, contact the OSP Grants & Contracts Specialist for your award.

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Process for Specific Sponsors
National Institutes of Health (NIH)

1st No-Cost Extension

If the award is under FDP/expanded authorities, NIH grantees are allowed one grantee-approved no cost extension. It should be noted that this extension must have a valid justification and be sent to NIH no earlier than 90 days before the end of the project and no later than the end date. 60 days from the end date would be a good target.

To get this first extension, contact Kyle Frasch at 512-471-2474 or kfrasch@austin.utexas.edu with the award number/OSP number/account number and answers to the following questions:

  • How long would you like the extension? Up to twelve months is allowed.
  • Confirm that No.1 and No. 2 of the conditions listed below apply AND advise which (or all) of the conditions listed under No.3 apply to the situation:
    1. no additional funds are required to be obligated by the NIH awarding office
    2. the project’s originally approved scope will not change, and
    3. any one of the following conditions applies:
      • Additional time beyond the established expiration date is required to ensure adequate completion of the originally approved project.
      • Continuity of NIH grant support is required while a competing continuation application is under review.
      • The extension is necessary to permit an orderly phase-out of a project that will not receive continued support.

Additional Information Related to NIH Extensions

2nd (or subsequent) No-Cost Extension

The PI will need to prepare a letter, as described under General Process, to the Program Officer at NIH. This letter must be signed by the Office of Sponsored Projects. Contact the OSP Grants and Contracts Specialist for your award.

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

All no-cost extension requests are to be submitted by the PI or the PI’s staff through the Grants Online system. The request will be routed to OSP for approval and final submission to NOAA.

NOAA Policy

General Guidance:

NOAA requires that ALL Award Action Requests be approved by a Recipient Authorized Representative (GCS). Grants Online enforces this business rule by routing all requests through the Recipient Authorized Representative for submission to NOAA.

An Award End Date may ONLY be extended through:

  • A funded amendment through an application (SF-424)
  • A No-Cost Extension – Invocation of Expanded Authority. Invocation of Expanded Authority must be submitted to NOAA 10 or more days prior to the Award End Date. Grants Online automatically enforces this business rule.
  • A No-Cost Extension – Without Invocation of Expanded Authority. Without Invocation of Expanded Authority is required to be submitted to NOAA 30 or more days prior to the Award End Date. Failure to meet this requirement is sufficient grounds for rejection of the request by NOAA.

Recipients having Expanded Authorities must exercise their No-Cost Extension – Invocation of Expanded Authority before they request a No-Cost Extension – Without Invocation of Expanded Authority. Enforcement of this rule is at the discretion of the Grants Specialist.

The PI and/or Department Administration must prepare the request with appropriate justification in Grants Online and “submit”. This will generate an email to GCS that we have to approve and submit a request to NOAA. Adherence to the deadlines stated above is required. Additional time should be given in case there are any problems encountered with Grants Online.

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National Science Foundation (NSF)

All no-cost extension requests are to be submitted by the PI or the PI’s staff through the www.research.gov system. The request will be routed to OSP for approval and final submission to NSF.

NSF Policy

(i) Grantee-Approved Extension. Grantees may authorize a one-time extension of the expiration date of the grant of up to 12 months if additional time beyond the established expiration date is required to assure adequate completion of the original scope of work within the funds already made available.4 This one-time extension may not be exercised merely for the purpose of using the unliquidated balances. Grantees are not authorized to extend an award that contains a zero balance. The grantee shall notify NSF, providing supporting reasons for the extension and the revised expiration date, at least ten days prior to the expiration date specified in the grant to ensure accuracy of NSF’s grant data. All grantee-approved extension notifications must be submitted via the FastLane system. For grantee-approved extensions, no amendment will be issued.

(ii) NSF-Approved Extension.

(a) If additional time beyond the extension provided by the grantee is required and exceptional circumstances warrant, a formal request must be submitted to NSF via FastLane. The request must be submitted to NSF at least 45 days prior to the expiration date of the grant. The request must explain the need for the extension and include an estimate of the unobligated funds remaining and a plan for their use. As indicated above, that unobligated funds may remain at the expiration of the grant is not in itself sufficient justification for an extension. The plan must adhere to the previously approved objectives of the project. All requests for NSF-approved extensions must be submitted via the FastLane system. Grantees are not authorized to extend an award that contains a zero balance. NSF program officers are authorized to approve the first no cost extension request on current active awards.

(b) The first no-cost extension request will be subject to the approval of the cognizant Program Officer. The sponsored projects office and PI will be electronically notified of the disposition of this request by the cognizant NSF Program Officer. The second no-cost extension will continue to be subject to the approval of an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer, and, if approved, will be in the form of an amendment to the grant specifying a new expiration date. Grantees are cautioned not to make new commitments or incur new expenditures after the expiration date in anticipation of a no-cost extension.

(c) Grantees are not authorized to extend an award that contains a zero balance.

d. Two-Year Extensions for Special Creativity

A program officer may recommend the extension of funding for certain research grants beyond the initial period for which the grant was awarded for a period of up to two years. The objective of such extensions is to offer the most creative investigators an extended opportunity to attack adventurous, “high-risk” opportunities in the same general research area, but not necessarily covered by the original/current proposal. Awards eligible for such an extension are generally three-year continuing grants. Special Creativity Extensions are generally initiated by the NSF Program Officer based on progress during the first two years of a three-year grant; PIs will be informed of such action a year in advance of the expiration of the grant. In response to the Program Officer’s recommendation, the PI should submit the required information electronically via the supplemental funding request module in FastLane.

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Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)

All no-cost extension requests are to be submitted by the PI or the PI’s staff through the Space Telescope Grants Management System. The request will be routed to OSP for approval and final submission to STScI.

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Other Sponsors

Contact your OSP Grants and Contracts Specialist

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Getting an Extension if We Are a Subawardee

End dates for subawards are limited by the end date of the prime award. For example, if the prime award ends on December 31, we won’t be able to get an extension to our subaward beyond that date unless the prime award receives an extension, either through a funded extension or its own no-cost extension.

Be aware that an extension of the prime award doesn’t automatically extend our subaward. An extension of our subaward will require an amendment to the agreement.

To request a no-cost extension for your subaward, follow the instructions under General Process above.

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