A request for application (RFA) is a type of solicitation notice in which an organization announces that grant funding is available. An RFA informs researchers and other organizations that they may present bids on how the funding could be used. The request for application will typically outline what type of programs are eligible, what the expectations are, and how applications are submitted and reviewed.

Breaking Down Request for Application (RFA)

A request for application is commonly associated with government agencies and non-profit institutions, as these organizations are more likely than non-governmental agencies to release money in the form of grants. For example, a government agency has earmarked funding for research on green energy. It releases an RFA indicating the guidelines and limitations of the project, how much money is available, and the scope of the project (in this case, green energy).

Request for Application (RFA) Examples

An RFA will include an outline of the project in question, how applications will be evaluated, the timing of both the submission and evaluation process and more key information. For example, a recent request for application from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a program that seeks to build the capacity of drinking water systems includes the following sections:

  1. Applicant eligibility
  2. Project eligibility
  3. Threshold issues
  4. Evaluation issues
  5. Timing and logistics
  6. Budget concerns
  7. Funding clarifications
  8. Miscellaneous (addresses uncategorized questions)

The National Institutes of Health (a part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service) provides a similar outline via its NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, which is published daily. The NIH, which "considers applications for the support of basic or clinical biomedical, behavioral, and bioengineering research," describes its request for application process like this:

  • Identifies a more narrowly defined area for which one or more NIH institutes have set aside funds for awarding grants.
  • Usually has a single receipt (received on or before) the date specified in the RFA announcement.
  • They are usually reviewed by a Scientific Review Group convened by the issuing awarding component.

Request for Application (RFA) as Part of the Grant Process

A request for application is one aspect of the grant-making process. Using the NIH example above, such a process has many stages and generally begins with a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), in which a federal agency publicizes its intentions to award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements, usually at the result of a competition for funds. An FOA is soon followed by a Program Announcement (PA), which discloses priorities or areas of emphasis, and sets the timing guidelines for how long the opportunity is open. The RFA is the next step, followed by a Request for Proposal (RFP), which is a solicitation for contract proposals, and finally a Notice (NOT), which announces policies and procedures, amendments to the RFA or PA announcements and other informational items.