How to Become a Grant Reviewer

You can actually make money as you become a better grant writer?


This process has helped increase my skills (10x!) as a grant writer, increased my income by thousands of dollars, and I’ve met people all over the United States.

So, what am I talking about?

I am talking about becoming a federal peer grant reviewer.

You do NOT have to have a Ph.D. or years of grant writing experience to be able to become a grant reviewer.

You don’t even have to be the executive director at a nonprofit or an established freelance consultant.

You need to have experience, education, knowledge, or skills in a certain grant program that is being reviewed.

What is a federal grant reviewer?

Someone who is not a federal employee, but who may have experience working/volunteering in the topic of the grant program, education, or other relevant skills.

For example, if you have experience if you work at a substance abuse treatment facility for youth and SAMHSA has a grant available for this same topic, then you might be eligible to be a reviewer.

If you work at a museum and work on a cultural grant program, you may be able to apply to review cultural museum grants!

Or for example, I wrote a published academic paper on Human Trafficking Indicators and have been able to be a peer reviewer on a myriad of different human trafficking grants.

Why Become a Reviewer?

You will 10x your grant writing skills as a reviewer! By sitting on the other side of the fence and scoring grants and understanding the process, you will elevate your grant writing skills.

Plus, you will understand that reviewing grants is a human process. There are actual people reading your application and having to score it based on a criterion, not on emotion. But human nature does come into play. Peer grant reviewers have a very intense and short period of reviewing grants and they can get tired.

What I have learned as a grant reviewer is that we as people love to critique, but when a grant writer actually uses headlines and organizes the grant based on the scoring criteria the grant reviewer wants to break out in song and dance.

Plus, you get paid as a grant reviewer (more of that down below).

It’s a win, win, win!

How Do You Become A Peer Reviewer?

You do have to go through each federal agencies’ process and apply it. For example, if you are looking to apply for SAMHSA grants, then you would apply to SAMHSA on their agency website. As they have many different grants awarded from addiction programs to the capacity building you go through one streamlined application.

You would do this for each federal agency you want to apply to.

Some requirements they may ask for include:

  • A resume
  • Taking a short quiz
  • Filling out an online application
  • A written review synopsis
  • Other, as needed

In a nutshell, here are 9 steps:

  • Apply online on the federal agency website
  • You have to register for the online portal to receive/review grant applications
  • Look over the applications and make sure you do not have a Conflict of Interest with any of the applications and submit a non-Conflict of Interest Policy
  • You need to review the grants utilizing the score criteria and written feedback for each section
  • You submit all your scoring and narrative on the online portal
  • You have a panel conversation with usually two other panelists and a chair
  • You negotiate
  • You update all scores and narrative and resubmit on the online portal (if needed)
  • You submit an invoice and receive payment!


How many grants will you review?

You can get any number of grants, but generally between 8 to 12 grant applications

How long do you get to review?

Normally about 7 to 10 days, but this can be pushed up or extended.

Is there always a phone call discussion with the other grant reviewers on your panel?

Not always. Some federal programs do not include a phone call, while others will have multiple phone calls depending on how different scores were among the peer reviewer panelists.

How much do you get paid?

Once again this depends on the federal agency, but usually about $125 up to $140 per grant application.

Federal Agencies

When on each website, look for “peer reviewer” or “apply to be a reviewer” or something of that nature. It varies how this is titled per website.




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