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No Cost Extension (NCE)

No Cost Extension (NCE)

What is a No-Cost Extension?

A No-Cost Extension (NCE) is an extension of the period of performance beyond the expiration end date of the award. Extensions are sometimes needed to allow the principal investigator to successfully complete a project. As the phrase “no cost” suggests, there is no additional funding provided by the Sponsor.

An NCE may be requested by the Principal Investigator when all three of the following conditions are met:                 

  • The end of the project period is approaching, AND

  • There is a programmatic need to continue the research, AND

  • There are sufficient funds remaining to cover the extended effort

Requesting a No-Cost Extension

If you require a NCE, please contact your ORSP Grants Specialist via email with the following attachments:

  1. Award Information including the award number, award  title, and sponsor name.

  2. Justification Letter detailing what unexpected event(s) delayed the progress of the project, how the unexpected events were remedied, what progress will occur during the NCE period to successfully complete the Statement of Work, and how the NCE will benefit the project’s results.

  3. Anticipated Balance indicating the anticipated amount of funds remaining for the NCE period.

  4. Compliance Information (as applicable) detailing the protocol type (e.g. IRB, IACUC, REHS), number, title, and expiration date

Please note that funds remaining in the account is not a justifiable reason for requesting a NCE. Extensions may be requested only for programmatic reasons (such as the work took longer than expected). However, it is appropriate to state that sufficient funds remain in the account to support the project for the additional period of time.

No-Cost Extension Deadlines

Sponsors require NCE requests be submitted prior to the award’s current end date. Please notify your ORSP Grant Specialist as soon as possible upon determining the need for an NCE Request in order to ensure adequate time for review, approval, and adherence to sponsor-specific guidelines and electronic systems.

Review the award document terms and conditions to determine applicability and prior approval (link to prior approval) requirements. A few examples of sponsor deadlines for NCE Requests are provided below:

Award Type


Example Deadlines

Federal One-Time Extension with Prior Approval Exempted

Some federal sponsors have delegated the responsibility for approving NCEs for awards to the institution. For example, NSF, NIH, ARO, AFOSR, NEA, NEH, DOE and DoED allow an institution to internally approve a one-time request to extend the end date of the project period up to an additional 12 months, unless otherwise noted in the award terms and conditions. Prior approval is required for any subsequent extension.

For NIH, request is due between 0-90 days prior to award expiration.     

For NSF, request is due ≥ 10 days prior to award expiration

Federal, State, Municipalities, and Not-For-Profit Entities with Prior Approval Required

Other federal, state, municipalities, and not-for-profit sponsors require prior approval for NCE requests. For example, ONR, AFOSR, and State of New Jersey generally require prior approval for NCE requests. If the sponsor has not delegated approval authority to the institution, a written prior approval must be obtained by the sponsor.

For NIH, request is due ≥ 30 days prior to award expiration

For NSF, request is due ≥ 45 days prior to award expiration

Note: NSF requires that NCE requests be submitted via FastLane. The Principal Investigator or department administrator should initiate the request through FastLane, then push the Submit to SRO button. The Fastlane request notification is received by both the GCA and the ORSP Grant Specialist. Once the request has been reviewed, confirmed, and approved, the request will be submitted to NSF via FastLane.        

Outcome of NCE Requests

The ORSP Grant Specialist will notify the principal investigator whether the sponsor approves or rejects a NCE request. The sponsor always retains the right to refuse a NCE request. Examples of reasons to refuse might include:

  • An extension may not be granted solely because there is money left over. Programmatic benefit must be justified.

  • Funding may have come from a prior year’s appropriation and cannot be extended.

  • The amount requested in the extension request appears excessive to the sponsor.

  • Request falls beyond the required NCE request deadline.

It is best to request the NCE ahead of time to manage an orderly accomplishment of project work and to have a contingency plan in case the sponsor does not approve the extension.