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No Cost Extensions

A no-cost extension (NCE) is an extension of the end date when additional time is needed to complete work on a sponsored project and there are sufficient sponsor funds to support all work for the duration. 

Sponsor terms and conditions often dictate the manner in which a no-cost extension may be requested or executed. NIH grants, for example, usually allow for a one-time NCE up to 12-months to complete a project. Different sponsors have different methods and allowances. Check your award/agreement for any language about no-cost extension. Sometimes the solicitation will be the source. If not explicitly addressed in these documents, Sponsored Research staff may need to contact the sponsor for guidance.  

Some awards require a formal amendment to the award, agreement, or subaward to recognize a no-cost extension. 

Requests for NCEs are facilitated by the submission of a No-Cost Extension Change Request. All requests must come through Sponsored Research and communications with the sponsor must be done by Sponsored Research staff. An NCE is a modification to the award’s project period between the sponsor and Northwestern University and is therefore a central office activity. PIs and/or department RAs or other personnel are not to send requests to the sponsor by email or otherwise directly solicit NCE approvals.

NCE requests are not to be submitted and will not be approved when:

  1. Insufficient sponsor funds remain to support the extension period. 
  2. New cost share is the source of the support for the extension period. 
  3. The account is in deficit. 
  4. The purpose of the NCE is to expend remaining sponsor dollars. 

NCE requests for a no-cost extension request will be considered when the below criteria are present:

  1. Work on the project has yet to be completed. 
  2. Sponsor terms and conditions allow for an extension request. 
  3. Sufficient sponsor funds remain to support all the residual work. 
  4. Key and non-key personnel have effort on the project. Effort reductions for personnel, when allowed, are communicated within the change request. 
  5. Changes in key personnel are identified, including those who are coming off the project during the NCE, and communicated within the change request. 
  6. All compliance approvals (IRB/ACUC and COI, etc.) are up-to-date and either already cover the extension period or will be maintained throughout the extension period. 
  7. In cases where a formal request letter is required from the PI, the letter addresses the work yet to be done, includes the requested new end date, identifies the remaining balance, and provides a budget and budget justification for the extension period. 

NCE requests are to be submitted to SR for review no earlier than 90 days before the current end date and no less than 30 days before the current end date.