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Glossary of Grant-Related Terms

"Cost Principles for Educational Institutions," a circular published by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that establishes the principles for determining the costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other government agreements with educational institutions (also known as Sponsored Projects).

Allowable Costs
Those categories of costs that can be charged to a grant, such as salaries and equipment. Certain types of costs, such as the cost of alcoholic beverages are not allowable and may not be charged to a contract or grant.

Application Package
A group of forms and documents for a specific funding opportunity which are used to apply for a grant.

A formal examination of an organization's or individual's accounts or financial situation. An audit may also include examination of compliance terms, laws, and regulations.

Financial assistance that provides support or stimulation to accomplish a public purpose. Awards include grants and other agreements in the form of money or property in lieu of money, by the federal government to an eligible recipient. The term does not include: technical assistance, which provides services instead of money; other assistance in the form of loans, loan guarantees, interest subsidies, or insurance; direct payments of any kind to individuals; and contracts which are required to be entered into and administered under federal procurement laws and regulations.

The detailed statement outlining estimated project costs to support work under a grant or contract.

Budget Period
The interval of time - usually twelve months - into which the project period is divided for budgetary and funding purposes.

Budget Adjustment
The act of amending the budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

Code of Federal Regulations

Close Out
The act of completing all internal procedures and sponsor requirements to terminate or complete a research project.

Consortium Agreement
Group of collaborative investigators/institutions; arrangement can be formalized with specified terms and conditions.

Provide technical expertise for ta limited duration necessary for the conduct of the sponsored project.  Consultants are temporary arrangements with external companies or individuals.  Consult SP for guidance on the use of consultant and approved contractual rates.

Continuation Project
A project approved for multiple-year funding, although funds are typically committed only one year at a time and are divided into budget periods.  At the end of each year a progress report is submitted and reviewed.  If satisfactory progress has been made, funds are still availalble, and the sponsor is still interested in the project, an award is made for the next budget period.  Continuation projects generally are not in competition with other projects and are not subjected to peer review beyond the initial project approval.

Contract/Grant Officer
A sponsor's designated individual who is officially responsible for the business management aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract.  This may include matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of a grant or contract and also interpreting the associated administration policies, regulations, and provisions.

A general term, used as a noun or adjective, that can describe virtually any type of arrangement in which more than one party supports research, equipment acquisition, demonstration projects, programs, or institutions. Cost sharing can be in the form of "hard dollars," or in-kind contributions such as time committed to a project.  Example: A university receives a grant for a project estimated to have a total cost of $100,000. The sponsor agrees to pay 75% ($75,000) and the university agrees to pay 25% ($25,000 is the cost-sharing component.)


Expenditures exceed funds available.

Direct Costs
Clearly identifiable costs related to a specific project. General categories of direct costs include but are not limited to salaries and wages, fringe benefits, supplies, contractual services, travel and communication, equipment, and computer use.

Discretionary Grant
A grant (or cooperative agreement) for which the federal awarding agency generally may select the recipient from among all eligible recipients, may decide to make or not make an award based on the programmatic, technical, or scientific content of an application, and can decide the amount of funding to be awarded.

Earmark Grants
Earmark grants are grants that are appropriated by Congress prior to a peer review. The term "earmark" is a reference to the Congressional Record where the awards are written into the legislation specifically with the grant applicant's name, activity and dollar amounts.

Funds that have been set aside or "claimed" for projected expenses pending actual expenditure of the funds.

A fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for faculty/research positions (e.g., endowed chair).

Tangible nonexpendable personal property, including exempt property, charged directly to the award and having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit. However, consistent with recipient policy, lower limits may be established.

Expiration Date
The date signifying the end of the performance period, as indicated on the Notice of Grant Award.

An additional period of time given by the sponsor to an organization for the completion of work on an approved grant or contract. An extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent after the original expiration date.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs
Costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity. F&A costs are synonymous with Indirect Costs.

Final Report
The final technical or financial report required by the sponsor to complete a research project.

FirstGov is a public-private partnership, led by a cross-agency board and administered by the Office of FirstGov in the General Services Administration's Office of Government-Wide Policy. Launched in September 2000, it is the only official U.S. Government portal to 47 million pages of government information, services, and online transactions. The site offers a search engine that searches every word of every U.S. government document. also features a topical index, online transactions, links to state and local government, options to contact the government, and other tools.

Fiscal Year (FY)
Any twelve-month period for which annual accounts are kept (at SVSU, July 1 through June 30).

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), signed into law by President Johnson in 1966, opens up governmental records for public examination. Any person may request official records, with the government having several weeks to both respond to, and potentially appeal, a request. Federal agencies are required by law to provide reference materials in assisting the request of information.
The agency notifies the PI upon receipt of request for a copy of his/her proposal. Note that many contract proposals are protected by Exemption #4, which covers trade secrets and confidential business information.

Fringe Benefits
Includes such items as health insurance, retired benefits, life insurance, disability and social security.  The current rate of 34% is an average used to estimate fringe benefits costs.  Actual costs could be more or less, depending on the actual benefits selected by the employee and their salary.

Funding Cycle
Range of time during which proposals are accepted, reviewed, and funds are awarded. If a sponsor has standing proposal review committees (or boards) that meet at specified times during the year, application deadlines are set to correspond with those meetings. For some sponsors, if proposals are received too late to be considered in the current funding cycle, they may be held over for the next review meeting (i.e., National Science Foundation's Target Dates).

Funding Period
The period of time when federal funding is available for obligation by the recipient.

Funds given with few or no conditions specified.  Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs.

A type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. A grant, as opposed to a cooperative agreement, is used whenever the awarding office anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during the performance of the activities.

Human Subjects Protection Committee (Frank Dane)

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Contributions or assistance in a form other than money. Equipment, materials, or services of recognized value that are offered in lieu of cash.

Incremental Funding
A method of funding contracts that provides specific spending limits below the total estimated costs. These limits may be exceeded only at the contractor's own risk. Each increment is, in essence, a funding action.

Indirect Costs
Costs related to expenses incurred in conducting or supporting research or other externally-funded activities but not directly attributable to a specific project. General categories of indirect costs include general administration (accounting, payroll, purchasing, etc.) sponsored project administration, plant operation and maintenance, library expenses, departmental administration expenses, depreciation or use allowance for buildings and equipment, and student administration and services. (See also Facilities and Administrative Costs.)

Indirect Cost Rate
The rate, expressed as a percentage of a base amount (MTDC), established by negotiation with the cognizant federal agency on the basis of the institution's projected costs for the year and distributed as prescribed in OMB Circular A-21.

Investigator-Initiated Proposal
A proposal submitted to a sponsor that is not in response to an RFP, RFA, or a specific program announcement.

Institutional Review Board (for human subjects research at SVSU, this is the same as HSPC).


Key Personnel
The personnel considered to be of primary importance to the successful conduct of a research project. The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff.


Matching Grant
A grant that requires a specified portion of the cost of a supported item of equipment or project to be obtained from other sources. The required match may be more or less than the amount of the grant. Some matching grants require that the additional funds be obtained from sources outside the recipient organization. Many matching grants are paid in installments, the payments coinciding with the attainment of pre-specified levels of additional funding. (Also see Challenge Grant.) Matching grants are very common in the sciences, especially for equipment. They are standard practice in some government agencies.

Materials and Supplies
Expendable items less than $5,000/item.  Each item should be listed and carefully justified in terms of need to support goal/objectives.

An award document that modifies any aspect of an existing award. Example: Carryover approvals, adding or deleting special terms and conditions, changes in funding levels, administrative changes initiated by the agency, extensions that include changes in terms, change of principal investigator, etc.

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC)
The amount of funds to which an indiret cost rate will be applied.  In many cases costs such as equipment, graduate student fees, the amount of a subcontract in excess of $25,000, rent, alteractions and renovations, and patient care costs are subtracted from the total direct costs before applying an indirect cost rate.

Memorandum of Understanding

New Award
An award not previously awarded or a renewal or continuation award treated as a new award by the sponsor and given a new agency number.

New Proposal
A formal request to a sponsor for funds to support a new project.

National Council of University Research Administrators

National Endowment for the Humanities

National Institute of Education

National Institute of Health

No Cost Time Extension
An extension of the period of performance beyond the expiration data to allow the principal investigator to finish a project. Usually, no additional costs are provided.

Notice of Grant Award
The legally binding document that serves as a notification to the recipient and others that a grant or cooperative agreement has been made; contains or references all terms of the award; and documents the obligation of funds.

National Science Foundation

OMB Circulars
Regulatory circulars issued by the Office of Management & Budget (OMB).


Peer Review
A system using reviewers who are the professional equals of the principal investigator or program director who is to be responsible for directing or conducting the proposed project. It is a form of objective review. Peer review is legislatively mandated in some programs and in other programs is administratively required.

Also known as Principal Investigator or Project Director and, is typically, a faculty member who submitted a proposal that was accepted and funded by an external sponsor. The PI has primary responsibility for technical compliance, completion of programmatic work, and fiscal stewardship of sponsor funds.

A brief description, usually 2-10 pages, of research plans and estimated budget that is sometimes submitted to determine the interest of a particular sponsor prior to submission of a formal proposal. Also termed Preliminary Proposal.

Principal Investigator (PI)
Also known as Project Director and, is typically, a faculty member who submitted a proposal that was accepted and funded by an external sponsor.  The PI has primary responsibility for the conduct of research or other activity described in a proposal for an award.  The PI is also responsible for technical compliance, completion of programmatic work, and fiscal stewardship of sponsor funds.

Prior Approval
The requirement for written documentation of permission to use project funds for purposes not in the approved budget, or to change aspects of the program from those originally planned and approved. Prior approval must be obtained before the performance of the act that requires such approval under the terms of the agreement.

Priority Score
A score derived from the rating given a research proposal by each member on a review committee.  It is used to help determine which approved proposals should be granted awards, based on funds available.

Program Announcement
Describes existence of a research opportunity. It may describe new or expanded interest in a particular extramural program or be a reminder of a continuing interest in an extramural program.

Program/Project Officer
A sponsor's designated individual officially responsible for the technical, scientific, or programmatic aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the principal investigator/project director of the grantee/contractor organization, the program/project officer deals with the grantee/contractor organization staff to assure programmatic progress.

Progress Report
Periodic, scheduled reports required by the sponsor summarizing research progress to date. Technical, fiscal, and invention reports may be required.

Project Period (PP)
The total time for which support of a project has been programmatically approved. A project period may consist of one or more budget periods. (Also see Budget Period.)

An application for funding that contains all information necessary to describe project plans, staff capabilities, and funds requested. Formal proposals are officially approved and submitted by an organization in the name of a principal investigator.

An organization receiving financial assistance directly from an awarding agency to carry out a project or program.

The contractual rules and procedures governing sponsored research projects.

Renewal Application/Proposal
A competitively reviewed proposal which builds upon the original work performed.  It generally extends the scope of work, the time period, and includes a request for additional funds.

Request for Applications (RFA)
Announcements that indicate the availability of funds for a topic of specific interest to a sponsor. Proposals submitted in response to RFAs generally result in the award of a grant. Specific grant announcements may be published in the Federal Register and/or specific sponsor publications.

Request for Proposal (RFP)
Announcements from a funding agency or foundation to solicit proposals for new grant opportunities. The RFP lists a topic of research, methods to be used, product to be delivered, appropriate applicants sought, deadline, and eligibility requirements.  Notices of federal RFPs are published in the Commerce Business Daily.

A modified and resubmitted request for funding for a project that was previously not funded either because it was denied by the sponsor or withdrawn by the principal investigator.

Salary and Wages
The time and effort of all personnel should be included in your budget.  Proposed salaries must be in accordance with University rates and expressed in terms and percentage of effort.  For faculty, that rate is the amount approved for the eight-month academic year.  SP will assist you in determining faculty release time and summer salary.

Scope of Work
The description of the work to be performed and completed on a research project.

Senior Personnel
Professional personnel who are responsible for the scientific or technical direction of project.

Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR)
Agency administered programs supported by ear-marked federal funds, making grants to small business entities.

Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)
Grant applications and/or programs to fund small business "teamed" with research institutions.

The organization that funds a research project.

A payment made to an individual under a fellowship or training grant in accordance with pre-established levels to provide for the individual's living expenses during the period of training.

Subcontract, Subgrant, or Subagreement
A document written under the authority of, and consistent with the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement), that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.

Supplemental Proposal
A request to the sponsor for additional funds for an ongoing project during the approved performance period.  A supplemental proposal may result from increased costs, modifications in design, or a desire to add a closely related component to the ongoing project.  Some sponsors also offer supplemental programs which are designed to fund the hiring of minority or undergraduate students.

Task Order
A legally binding document authorizing work and appropriating funds as a supplement to a basic contract.

Teaming Agreement
An agreement between two or more parties to participate in a research project or teaching activity.

Terms of Award
All legal requirements imposed on an agreement by the sponsor, whether by statute, regulation(s), or terms in the award document. The terms of an agreement may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to protect the sponsor's interests.

Third Party In-Kind Contributions
The value of non-cash contributions provided by non-federal third parties. Third party in-kind contributions may be in the form of real property, equipment, supplies and other expendable property, and the value of goods and services directly benefiting and specifically identifiable to the project or program.

Total Direct Costs (TDC)
The total of all direct costs of a project.

Total Project Costs
The total costs incurred by the institution to carry out an approved project or activity.  Costs include the direct and indirect costs charged to the sponsor and any cost sharing costs contributed by the performing organization.

Includes meals, lodging, airfare, and ground transportation.  See the SVSU Operations Manual for reimbursement guidelines.


Unrestricted Funds
Monies with no requirements or restrictions as to use or disposition. Grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements are considered to be restricted funds, while gifts are usually considered unrestricted funds.

Unsolicited Proposals
Proposals submitted to a sponsor that are not in response to an RFP, RFA, or program announcement. (See also Investigator-Initiated Proposal.)