Considering submitting your application late to the NIH due to COVID-19?

Are you considering submitting your application late to the NIH due to COVID-19? You must include a cover letter.

Due to the impacts of the response to COVID-19, the University of Michigan took the necessary public health actions to restrict human subjects research interaction on March 13, 2020, and required all researchers to leave the physical premises on Friday, March 20, 2020. As a result of U-M’s suspension in research operations and the State of Michigan’s executive stay-at-home order, some researchers are experiencing delays with completing application submissions to the NIH.

Under NOT-OD-20-082, NIH has indicated that they will accept late applications if the applicant’s delay is a result of university closure due to the effects of COVID-19. However, acceptance of late applications is considered on a case-by-case basis and if submitted late, must be accompanied by an explanatory cover letter; those without an explanatory cover letter will be returned.

Grant Services & Analysis has created cover letter templates to assist investigators who are considering submitting a late application to the NIH due to the impacts of COVID-19. These editable word documents are available for download and are tailored to laboratory shutdowns as well as restrictions on human subjects research.

Late submission due to Laboratory Shutdown – Template Cover Letter

Late submission with Human Subject Research – Template Cover Letter

Please note: Submitting an application late does create some risk of acceptance since the NIH will not give permission in advance for late submissions, and they are not obligated to accept late proposals. However, NIH policy language related to late submissions due to the impacts of COVID-19 has indicated they will likely be lenient. Investigators must submit late applications as soon as possible after research operations have resumed, and the date of the late submission cannot exceed the number of days an investigator’s institution was officially closed (e.g., if the university closed 2 months before the grant deadline NIH may consider accepting the submission up to 2 months after the deadline). The accommodation of this much of a delay in an application submission is unlikely though, since it poses challenges to the timeline for conducting review. The standard Continuous Submission deadline for this Advisory Council round is in early August, and we anticipate that no petitions for late submissions would be granted after that point.

Further information on the NIH Late Application Policy due to COVID-19 can be found here, and updated information and guidance from the NIH for applicants is also available.

Questions? Contact



Contact us at or 734-763-4272 / Fax: 734-615-9458

2800 Plymouth Road, NCRC Building 520, Room 3174, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2800

A list of Grant Services & Analysis is available in the Personnel Directory.