Submission Troubleshooting and Technology

Late Applications

Consider institutional deadlines or NIH/NINDS preapproval requirements when determining your true deadline. Submit early to avoid delays and a potential late application. If you miss the NIH deadline, it's unlikely you will be able to submit late.  No one at NIH, whether in the Center for Scientific Review or any of the other NIH Institutes/Centers, has the authority to give permission in advance for submission of a late application

Technical Troubleshooting

Use the Right Software Version

Be sure to use the right version of the Adobe forms and Reader or Acrobat. Check using Adobe Software Compatibility. Troubleshooting

If you are having trouble when submitting directly to, try these tips to avoid interference from browser security settings and other programs:

  • Delete browser history cache entirely.
  • Remove all browser toolbars.
  • Ensure pop-up blocker is off.
  • Close all other applications.
  • Under Internet Options, Settings, make sure that "Every time I visit the web page" is checked.
  • In Adobe's Trust Manager, Allow All Web sites. Find the Trust Manager under Edit, then Preferences.
  • Open the application file only by dragging from the desktop into Internet Explorer.

For technical support and information

Work With Your Institution, Avoid Delays, and Address Technical Issues

  • Your business office may have its own internal deadlines and processes for submission. If the institution is the source of your delay, NIH will not accept a late submission.
  • Ideally submit an application at least one week before the corresponding due date, to provide more than enough time to make corrections stemming from failed validations or content-related upload errors.
  • NIH is under no obligation to accept applications that are late for technical problems that are due to connectivity or a local submission system (e.g., a system-to-system solution) issue.
  • Be aware that if your application does miss the deadline, you will probably have to correct and try again for the next receipt date (if any). Read the rules for Late Applications and Post-Submission Materials.
  • Also remember that all correspondence related to your application should go through your institution’s business office.


  • If you run into trouble, follow the NIH Office of Extramural Research’s guidance on Dealing With System Issues and take the following actions:
    • Go to Need Help? to find the appropriate Help Desk and contact information. Get in touch with the appropriate Help Desk immediately, over the phone and in writing.
    • Maintain a record of the steps you take to resolve the problem.
    • Once the issue is resolved, make note of it in your application’s cover letter. Include the confirmed system issues, Help Desk ticket numbers, and the steps taken to resolve the issues.
    • Notifying your program officer or scientific review officer is not a substitute for contacting the appropriate Help Desk.

Act Now to Avoid Post-Submission Rejection

The NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) will perform a manual review of your application later to confirm it meets certain requirements. This is another potential failure point you can avoid by planning ahead.  Before you ask your business official to submit, check that you do the following:

  • Leave out other support. You submit this just-in-time instead; visit Responding to Pre-Award Requests (Just-in-Time).
  • Provide sufficient human subjects or animal research documentation.
  • Document your preapproval to submit any application that requires it, for example:
    • Requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs for any one year
    • Applying for an R13 or U13
  • Include documentation of your approval for using select agents.
  • Submit a modular budget if requesting $250,000 or less in annual direct costs for activity codes requiring modular. NIH does not accept detailed budgets for these applications even if the rest of it is in good order.
  • Use proper font size, margins, and other formatting.

CSR may return your application to you without a peer review if you fail to do any of the following: complete all required form fields, use the correct forms, format your documents properly, or follow instructions in the NOFO and SF 424 Application Guide.

And finally, NIND's program staff may decline your application if you don't meet the requirements of our request for applications or institute-specific program announcement.

Application: Check That it's in Good "Form"

  • We strongly advise that you never use placeholder files for any form attachments, as some applicants have been known to mistakenly leave placeholder files for their submission, rendering their application incomplete and therefore unacceptable. 
  • Before you hand off your application to your authorized organizational representative (AOR)—the person who submits your application—you may want to do a preliminary check to see that your forms are in order. 
  • If you're using ASSIST, you can do this by using the "Check for Errors" button. This button looks for some very basic form errors (e.g., ensures you completed all the fields marked required by
  • Even if you get an all-clear after clicking the button, keep in mind that additional and all Commons validations take place after you submit your application.

Pass Electronic Validations

  • Validations are automated checks of an application's form data and attachments. They do not spot content issues, for example, a missing data table from your Research Plan.
  • Once your AOR submits your application, it must pass two validations: and eRA Commons. If it fails either one, you must go through the entire submission process again.
  • If your application does not pass the automated validations (error checking), you should immediately correct any errors and work with your AOR to resubmit the application.
  • During busy periods this process can take hours and some errors can take some time to resolve. 
  • You must submit the corrected application before 5 p.m. local time on the application’s due date. 
  • If there are problems caused by our electronic systems provide documentation that you contacted the Help Desk before the submission deadline. If the eRA Service Desk confirms a federal computer system issue you may be able to submit a late application. 

First Step: Validation

  • After submitting by 5 p.m. your institution's local time on the due date listed in the notice of funding opportunity, your authorized organizational representative (AOR) should receive a submission receipt with a timestamp, which determines whether your application is on time or late.
  • Next, your AOR should receive a validation confirmation or rejection email message from For a sample, see Email Notifications From and NIH. This confirmation usually arrives within minutes, but it can take 48 hours or more during busy periods.
  • Find more information at’s Applicant FAQs and Encountering Error Messages.

Next Step: eRA Commons Validation

  • After passing validation, your application data move to NIH for the more thorough Commons validation, which can take up to 24 hours.
  • Check the eRA Commons Status module frequently for its arrival, rather than wait for the confirmation email. 
  • The Commons check may result in errors, warnings, or both. Your application will pass validation if it receives warnings only.
    • Errors—inaccuracies, inconsistencies, omissions, and some formatting problems that cause your application to be unacceptable.
    • Warnings—potential issues that won't stop your application from moving forward but can reflect serious problems you should correct.

In case of "error." If Commons flags errors, you'll need to correct them since they stop your application from moving forward. The only way to correct errors is to submit a corrected application, which means going through the entire submission process again.

Should you correct? If your application has no errors, only warnings, you’ll need to decide: is the warning important enough to address? Do you still have time to send a corrected application and get the application through again?

View Your Application Image

  • The automated validations check for technically defined parameters of NOFOs and the SF 424 Application Guide, such as page length, but they do not flag content issues, such as a missing data table in the Research Plan, a blank attachment, or a corrupted image. Refer to How We Check for Completeness for a full explanation.
  • Once your application passes Commons validation, the system generates an application image for your review, which you can access by using the Status module in the eRA Commons.
  • Your “viewing window” lasts until the deadline or until midnight Eastern Time two business days after your application passes validations, whichever comes first.
  • Check that your finished pages are loaded correctly and verify that none of your uploads are blank, missing, duplicated, or corrupted.
  • Correct and resubmit your application on or before the due date if you find an error. 

To clarify, this is not a “correction window.” You cannot make further edits to your uploaded application. Instead, you are withdrawing the application and submitting a new application that corrects the errors you found.

  • If you spot problems before the deadline and you have time to correct, you may also want to consider making changes as a result of validation warnings. Then choose your next step:
    • If you're happy with the application image, do nothing and your application will continue onward for Peer Review.
    • If you spot technical problems with the image, don't reject it. Instead, contact the eRA Service Desk immediately for help.
    • If it's before the deadline and you want to correct content, read the next section.
  • The viewing window is separate from the correction process and does not affect the deadline. Even if your viewing window extends beyond the deadline, you can't make corrections after the deadline—you can only address technical problems.

Correcting Content Problems After Commons Validation

  • Decide whether to send a corrected application by balancing two factors: timing and the severity of the problem.
  • If you want to fix problems not resulting from validations, consider the timing and severity of the issue. 

During Two-Day Viewing Window

  • Have your signing official reject the application image before the two-day viewing window expires, making sure there is enough time to get the corrected application through
  • Then ask your organization to submit your corrected application.

Just Before the Deadline

  • If you're not sure whether you have enough time to get a corrected application timestamped before the deadline, decide whether to send a corrected application by balancing two factors
    • Timing. A corrected version might miss the deadline. If the application has only minor flaws, you may choose to go with the original application.
    • Severity of the problem. If you allow a severely compromised application to proceed, you may waste one of your two allowed application attempts.
  • If your application misses the deadline, you will probably have to correct and try again for the next due date (if any). NIH accepts late applications only for certain reasons; read more at Late Applications and Post-Submission Materials.

After the Deadline

  • No corrections are allowed. If there are technical issues with the image, contact the eRA Service Desk immediately for help.
  • Your application will move to NIH CSR where it will proceed to Peer Review as is unless you withdraw it. For more on that decision, read below.



Want to contact NINDS staff?
Please visit our Find Your NINDS Program Officer page to learn more about contacting Program Directors, Grants Management Specialists, Scientific Review Officers, and Health Program Specialists.