Knowing NIH grant paylines is important in having a good idea of whether or not your project will be funded.

An NIH payline is determined based the combination of the available funds and applications for those available funds.  The Impact score is evaluated relative to the NIH payline.  The NIH payline is the cutoff for funding: an Impact Score higher than Payline is generally not going to get funded.  An Impact Score less than Payline will generally result in a funded grant.

In NIH terminology the Small Business Innovation Research Awards (SBIR) is coded as R43/R44, and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) as R41/42.

Individual funding institutions set their paylines or impact scores as follows:


Payline of 25 for R41/42

Payline of 23 for R43/R44

NCI budget limits are now at $3 million cap with waiver for Phase II and $400k for Phase I.


STTR R41, R42: 28 (FY 203)

SBIR R43, R44: 2 (FY 2023)

Note: 2021 interim paylines were STTR 26 and SBIR 26.

Prior FY:

Payline of 28 for R41/42

Payline of 33 for R43/R44



Zone of Consideration impact scores:

10-40 for R41/R42

10-40 for R44 (increased from 33 in FY18)

Impact score of 28 for R43



Payline of 30 based on experience, although “no stated payline” starting in 2020.

2019 paylines:
SBIR Phase I is Priority Score 33.
SBIR Phase II is Priority Score 30.
STTR Phase I is Priority Score 30.
STTR Phase II is Priority Score 20.
No specific payline for FastTrack but “follows Phase II” paylines.


Priority score of 30 or lower for SBIR

Possible funding payline in the 36 to 37 range


Priority score of 21 for SBIR

Priority score of 22 for STTR


Impact Score of 55, SBIR based on experience


Impact Score of 35 SBIR based on experience, although no stated payline


Impact Score of 32 SBIR based on experience, although no stated payline

NEI, NCATS, NHGRI, NIAAA, NIDCD, NLM, NIBIB, NIMHD, NINR, NCCIH, FIC, NINDS, NIMH, NIA: no specific payline or no information available.

NIA FastTrack cap with waiver is $2.8 million, down from $3.3 million.

There are many benefits to funding from SBIR and STTR, and they can be competitive programs to access. Having an application that lands in the payline or impact number zone is not a guarantee of funding, of course, but it puts your life sciences organization in a good position to obtain non-dilutive funding for your project or plans.

At Grant Engine, we have experience creating applications for various funding programs, tailored to highlight why our clients are different from the rest and worthy of a grant.

With our help your business will have a strong likelihood of winning a grant, getting into the payline or impact score for whichever funding institute is preferable. Contact us to learn more.