Commonly Used Grant Terminology

AB C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary.


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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. Refer to OMB Circular A-21 for allowable costs which can be charged to Federal contracts and grants.

Awarded Funds Funds which have been obligated by a funding agency for a particular project.
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Bequests A type of donation or gift. Bequests and gifts are awards given with few or no conditions specified. Gifts maybe provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available. The unique flexibility, or lack of restrictions, makes gifts attractive sources of support.

Budget The detailed statement outlining estimated project costs to support work under a grant or contract. (See also rebudget.)

Budget Period The interval of time--usually twelve months--into which a Project Period has been divided.

Budget Adjustment (Rebudgeting) The act of amending a budget by moving funds between and within categories or line items.
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CBD Commerce Business Daily. A procurement document published daily by the Federal government.


Competing Proposals Proposals that are submitted to a sponsor and will be in competition for funds along with other proposals.

Consortium A group of investigators from the same or different institutions banding together to collaborate on a project.

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 progess has been made, funds are still available, 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 A mechanism for procurement of a product or service with specific obligations for both sponsor and recipient. Typically, a research topic and the methods for conducting the research are specified in detail by the sponsor, although some sponsors award contracts in response to unsolicited proposals. A contract is generally considered to be for the benefit of the sponsor, and a grant is for the benefit of the recipient.

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. Serving as the counterpart to the business officer of the grantee/contractor organization, the grant/contract officer is responsible for all business management matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of a grant or contract and interprets the associated administration policies, regulations, and provisions.

Cooperative Agreement An award similar to a grant, but in which the sponsor's staff may be actively involved in proposal preparation, and anticipates having substantial involvement in research activities once the award has been made.

Cost-Sharing A general term that describes an arrangement in which more than one party contributes to the total cost of a project. 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). The $25,000 is the cost-sharing component.

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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 equipment.

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

Endowment 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).

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

Extension An additional period of time given by the sponsor to an organization for the completion of work on an approved grant or contract at no additional cost to the sponsor. An extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent after the original expiration date (a.k.a. No Cost Time Extension).
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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 (a.k.a. Indirect Costs).

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

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

Fringe Benefits Employee benefits paid by the employer. (e.g., FICA, Worker's Compensation, Withholding Tax, Insurance, etc.)

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 or they may be returned and have to be resubmitted by the next deadline.
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Gift Gifts and bequests are funds given with few or no conditions specified. Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs.
Grant 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.

Grant/Contract Officer A sponsor's designated individual who is officially responsible for the business management aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the business officer of the grantee/contractor organization, the grant/contract officer is responsible for all business management matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of a grant or contract and interprets the associated administration policies regulations, and provisions (For definition of scientific officer, see Program/Project Officer.).
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In-Kind Contributions or assistance in a form other than money. Equipment, materials, or services of recognized value that are offered in lieu of cash.

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 A percentage (rate) applied to the sponsor supported project costs. The rate is multiplied by a base amount, the product of which is the indirect costs the grantee will recover from the sponsor. The base amount can be the total direct costs (TDC) charged to a contract/grant or a portion of total direct costs. The later is usually referred to as modified total direct costs (MTDC). The rate, and base to which the rate is applied, are determined by negotiations with a sponsor. UC Davis has negotiated a number of different rates depending on the location (i.e. on-campus/off-campus), and the nature of the project (i.e. research, public service, instruction) Rates and base amounts for Federal contracts/grants are negotiated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). For non-Federal sponsors the indirect cost rates and base amounts are negotiated individually with each sponsor/program.
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Key Personnel The personnel considered to be of primary importance to the successful conduct of a project. The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff.
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Matching Grant A grant that requires a specified portion of the cost of a supported item of equipment or project 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.

Mission A sponsor's stated purpose, which is designed to address a specified set of problems. Almost all federal research agencies are designated as mission agencies.

Modification An award document that modifies any aspect of an existing award. Examples: approval to carry forward funds to a subsequent budget period, adding or deleting special terms and conditions, changes in funding levels, administrative changes initiated by the agency, change of principal investigator, etc.

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC) The amount of funds to which an indirect cost rate will be applied. In many cases costs such as equipment, graduate student fees, the amount of a subcontract in excess of $25K, rent, alterations and renovations, and patient care costs are subtracted from the total direct costs before applying an indirect cost rate.
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New Award A grant or contract to fund a new project.

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

No Cost Time Extension An extension of the period of performance beyond the expiration date to allow the principal investigator to complete a project at no additional cost to the sponsor.

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 and condition under which the project will be conducted.
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Peer Review A system using reviewers who are the professional equals of the principal investigator to evaluate the scientific merit of proposals. Peer review is legislatively mandated in some programs and in other programs is administratively required.

PHS Public Health Service (note: the National Institutes of Health is a part of the PHS).

Prelimary Proposal 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.

Principal Investigator (PI) The individual responsible for the conduct of research or other activity described in a proposal for an award.

Prior Approval The requirement for written 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.

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 A document issued by a sponsor which describes the existence of a funding 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. (For definition of business officer, see Grant/Contract Officer.)

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

Project Period 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.)

Proposal 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.
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- R -


Rebudget The act of amending the budget buy moving funds from one category or line item to another.

Regulations The 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 Proposal (RFP) Announcements that specify a topic of research, methods to be used, and product(s) to be delivered. Proposals submitted in response to RFPs generally result in the award of a contract with terms and conditions which provide the sponsor with a lot of control over how the project is conducted.

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


Salaries and Wages (S&W) Payments made to employees of the institution for work performed.

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

Senior Personnel Personnel responsible for the scientific or technical direction of project.

Sponsor The organization that funds a research project. Often referred to as a funding agency.

Stipend 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 a project 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.
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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.

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.
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Unrestricted Funds Moneys 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 Proposal Proposals submitted to a sponsor that are not in response to an RFP, RFA, or RFQ.

USDA United States Department of Agriculture.

USIA United States Information Agency.
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VA Veterans Administration.

VAH Veterans Administration Hospital.
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