It's about prestige in the research field.
Posted on: May 20, 2012 at 15:30:13 CT
A grant application from someone at Michigan vs someone at Kentucky will be viewed differently. Now, this doesn't speak in universals because it depends on the research histories of the PIs but an established research record at a top tier university (typically AAU) is simply valued more. For all the talk about blinding names/reputations, etc., it does matter.
And, there are other factors. I'm quite sure the University of South Florida can get some NSF grants to study marine issues even though they're not an AAU school.