No-Cost Extension

Learn about no-cost extensions and how to request one.

What is a no-cost extension?

NIH defines a no-cost extension (NCE) as an extension of time to a project period and/or budget period to complete the work of the grant under that period, without additional federal funds or competition. Additionally, a project’s originally approved scope cannot change. 

Who is eligible to request a first no-cost extension?

In most cases, recipients can successfully request a grant’s first NCE in the eRA Commons without NINDS prior approval as long as the conditions below are met.

  • No additional funds are required to be obligated by the NIH awarding office
  • The project’s originally approved scope will not change 
  • Any one of the following applies: 
    • Additional time beyond the established expiration date is required to ensure adequate completion of the originally approved project
    • Continuity of the NIH grant support is required while a competing continuation (also known as renewal or Type 2) application is under review
    • The extension is necessary to permit an orderly phase out of a project that will not receive continued support

Having unobligated funds at the end of a grant is not, in itself, sufficient justification for a no-cost extension.

How can I request a first no-cost extension?

To request a first no-cost extension, use the No-Cost Extension feature in the eRA Commons Status module, which allows signing officials (SOs) to request an NCE of up 12 months. Failure to request a first no-cost extension prior to the end of the original project period will require NINDS prior approval. This prior approval must be submitted as an official request to the assigned grant management specialist and should include all documentation that is required for a subsequent NCE. These requirements are described below.

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Important Note
The link for accessing the no-cost extension feature is available 90 days before the project period end date and is removed at midnight on the project period end date.

By extending the final budget period, the recipient agrees to update all required certifications and assurances, including IRB and IACUC approvals, in accordance with applicable regulations and policies.  All terms and conditions of the original award continue during the extension period. 

How do I request a subsequent no-cost extension?

In the rare instance that a second or third extension is needed, the request must be submitted at least 30 days before the end of the project period.  Third no-cost extensions are seldom approved by NINDS. All subsequent requests require the authorized business official/signing official’s concurrence and should be submitted through the Prior Approval module in the eRA Commons (preferably) or emailed to the grants management specialist and program officer indicated in your eRA Commons account.

Requests must include the following information: 

  • Detailed explanation of why the project could not be completed by the originally approved end date 
  • Scientific rationale for continuing the project
  • If requesting a third extension, provide a compelling scientific justification that warrants a third and final extension
  • A brief progress report that communicates the scientific progress made after the last RPPR was submitted
  • The estimated unobligated balance (The total direct cost and F&A remaining)
  • PHS 2590 Form Page 2 (Detailed budget reflecting proposed plans to use the remaining funds)
  • PHS 2590 Form Page 6 (Checklist reflecting calculated F&A costs)
  • Budget justification
  • Level of effort of key personnel named in the NOA. Section 8.1.1.3 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement requires a measurable level of effort of key personnel during an extension
  • Updated certifications and assurances, including IRB (if applicable under the Revised Common Rule) and IACUC approvals

What is an interim no-cost extension?

In rare instances, NINDS may extend a budget period that is not the final budget period of an active competitive segment. This is done when NINDS identifies a grant that is behind in progress and can benefit from additional time in order to catch up to the approved goals of the research project. No additional funds will be awarded for the interim no-cost extension period, and the final project period end dates will be extended out one year. 

In cases when an interim NCE is used, recipients will work with Program and Grants Management staff to complete this process. Use of an interim no-cost extension may result in removal of the recipient’s ability to exercise their expanded authority's ability to request their first NCE. 

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