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The Discretionary Grant Application Process

Online application form icon.Overview

Grants are one way of providing federal financial assistance, or reallocated resources, to eligible participants. Federal grants give recipients the opportunity to fund planning, research, infrastructure, and other project ideas.

Potential recipients must apply for competitive grants, and projects are selected by USDOT based on eligibility, evaluation criteria, and agency priorities.

Getting Started

Finding Opportunities

All federal opportunities can be found through, the centralized resource for federal grant funding.

The USDOT Navigator may also be used to identify applicable resources.

Getting a Unique Entity Identifier

Discretionary grants are grants that USDOT awards to eligible applicants through a competitive selection process. Eligible applicants vary by program but may include state, Tribal, and local governments; transit providers; universities; research institutions; law enforcement agencies; nonprofit organizations; and others.In order to apply for and receive federal grants, applicants must first receive a Unique Entity Identifier (formerly a DUNS Number) by registering with the System for Award Management (SAM) through, a portal for creating federal contracts and receiving federal funds.

There is no registration fee, but this process takes time. It can take many weeks to be finalized so potential applicants are encouraged to start this process as soon as possible.

Accessing Resources

For more information on the grants funding process and supporting resources, see:

Next in This Section

The following pages describe the grant application process for USDOT and other federal agencies on the following linked pages:

Grant Applicant Roadmap

The Grant Applicant Roadmap helps applicants navigate general activities during the USDOT discretionary grant funding process, through the pre-award, award, and post-award stages of funding.

Other Federal Agencies’ Grant Funding Process

Other Federal Agencies’ Grant Funding Process provides links to the funding opportunity pages of federal agencies outside of USDOT that offer federal rural transportation grants.