I am currently applying for an NIH F31 (PA 14-147). The application instructions, my university's instructions, and literally everyone I've talked to about this has advised that my sponsor needs to have a record of mentoring and graduating students, or else I need a more experienced co-sponsor. I am my advisor's first student, and none of the post-docs have finished, so effectively my sponsor has no faculty record of successful mentorship. I have gently brought this up to my advisor, but he seems to think a co-sponsor is unnecessary.
How big of a hit to my review score is it if my sponsor has no record of faculty-level mentorship? Is this a deal breaker, and is it even worth applying without a more experienced co-sponsor? I would appreciate advise from people who have personally sat on review committees for this or other mentored NIH grants (even post-doc level), but any informed opinions are appreciated.