The grant lifecycle refers to the entire process a grant goes through—from creating the opportunity through implementation and ending with the closeout. While the grant lifecycle can be long and includes some complex elements, it also has a lot of consistency and follows a relatively linear path.
The grant lifecycle is comprised of three distinct phases: Pre-Award, Award, and Post Award. These main three phases are consistent across the different federal grant-making agencies as defined by the Uniform Guidance for Federal Awards.
- Pre-Award Phase: The beginning of the process that includes the grantor announcing the funding opportunity through the application submission and review of grant applications.
- Award Phase: The shortest of the three phases, the award phase is when the federal agency sends the official Notice of Award (NOA) to the successful applicant and the grant becomes legally binding.
- Post Award Phase: The final phase is also the longest phase, as it contains the implementation of the grant program, along with all the reporting, audits, and closeout processes.
How Long Is the Grant Lifecycle?
The duration of the grant lifecycle and its phases varies based on several things: grant type, grant program, federal agency, and authorizing legislation. The duration of the Post Award phase varies the most because that is when implementation occurs (i.e., doing the work of the grant).
Here’s a generalized timeline of the grant lifecycle, but please remember that this is an example.
Pre-Award Phase (approximately 4 months)
- Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) published on Grants.gov
- Grant applications are due 30 to 60 days after the FOA is published
- Applications undergo review process (e.g., peer review, financial review) for 1-3 months
Award Phase (approximately 1-2 months)
- Funding recommendations become a final funding decision
- Grant-making agency sends Notice of Award (NOA) to successful grant applicant
Post Award (approximately 1-5 years)
- Implement the grant program
- Applicant does routine progress and financial reporting for the duration of the grant
- Grantors conduct audits and monitoring for the duration of the grant
- Closeout is the official ending to the grant
There is a lot more to the grant lifecycle, so if you have additional questions please let us know in the comments section below. Look out for our next installment in the What Is series for more information about the grant lifecycle.
In the meantime, you can also refer to The Grant Lifecycle page on Grants.gov for more information.