Grant/Contract Terms/Acronyms & FAQS
Grant and Contract Definitions
Abstract – A component of the application
narrative that summarizes the proposal.
Activities – A component of the application
narrative that explains the specific tasks the applicant will
undertake to accomplish project objectives.
Agency review criteria – Technical and
business criteria agencies use to evaluate assistance
Allocable cost – A cost that is chargeable
to an award because it is incurred specifically for the award,
benefits both the award and other work, or is necessary to the
Allowable cost – A cost that is reimbursable
by the federal government in accordance with the cost
principles. However, the cost must also pass other tests (e.g.
allocable, reasonable, necessary, and consistently applied).
Appendices – Optional component of a grant
application which supports or otherwise supplements the
narrative. Appendices may include news or journal articles,
letters of support, statistical data, and other documentation.
Application package – A collection of
materials, provided by the agency soliciting grant applications,
which is intended to supply the potential applicant with the
materials and information necessary to apply. Sometimes called
an application kit.
Assistance – In the definition of federal
domestic assistance, refers to the transfer of money, property,
services or anything of value, the principal purpose of which is
to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation
authorized by federal statute.
Beneficiary – Person or group that Congress
and the agency intend to benefit through the grant program.
Bibliography – A component of the
application narrative that lists all of the resources consulted
or reviewed in the proposal preparation process.
Block grant – A type of mandatory grant
where the recipient (normally a state) has substantial authority
over the type of activities to support, with minimal federal
Budget – A financial plan that estimates the
costs of conducting future activities. The budget is intended to
express the program objectives, and how they will be carried
out, in terms of resources required. It is an integral part of
the grant application.
Budget narrative – Serves to give meaning to
and explain budget elements, especially major costs and those
marked by complex calculations. A budget narrative is not always
needed or required.
Budget Period – Usually 12 months, one or
more budget periods make up the Project Period (see Project
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance – The
single, authoritative, government-wide,
comprehensive source document on federal domestic assistance. It
is intended to serve as a guide to all domestic assistance
programs and activities, regardless of dollar size or duration.
Certification – A sworn statement that must
be signed by a recipient official with the authority to bind the
organization to the information being certified.
Closed-ended grant – A type of mandatory
grant where the award imposes an upper limit on the amount of
funds the federal government will pay for program activities.
Commerce Business Daily – Publication that
used to list federal government procurement invitations,
contracting awards, subcontracting leads, sales of surplus
property, and foreign business opportunities. It was replaced by
the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) database on
January 1, 2002.
Continuation plan – A component of the
application narrative that explains how the project will
continue after the requested funding ends.
Contract – A legally binding agreement to
provide expertise to conduct research, training, or other
Cooperative agreement – Federal assistance,
distinguished from grants based on the level of federal
involvement. If the government is substantially involved in
programmatic work under the award, the assistance arrangement is
a cooperative agreement.
Cost principles – Provide guidance on
determining whether charges to a federal award are allowable,
allocable, and reasonable. Also provide guidance on developing
indirect cost rates.
Cost sharing - Cost sharing is a
contribution, mandatory or voluntary, of cash or services
provided by the grantee institution or a third-party to the
overall costs of a sponsored project. If cost sharing is
required by the funding agency (mandatory cost share), the level
and type of contributed support are generally specified in
program guidelines or application instructions.
Cover letter – A component of the grant
application often used in addition to or in lieu of a form face
page. This letter may function either as a letter of transmittal
or as a brief restatement of the initial features of the
proposal, providing the reviewer with a “big picture”
introduction to the remainder of the application.
Debarment – Federal sanctions which
prohibits an entity from receiving federal funds, either
directly or indirectly, for a specific length of time.
Direct cost – A cost identified specifically
with a particular cost objective, such as a grant or cooperative
agreement, project, service, or other activity or an
Discretionary grant – Also known as a
categorical or project grant. It permits the federal government,
according to specific authorizing legislation, to exercise
judgment in selecting an assistance recipient through a
competitive grant process. The government can put conditions on
the grant and determine the amount of funding.
Dissemination plan – A component of the
application narrative that lays out how the project results will
Evaluation plan – A component of the
application narrative that sets out procedures which will be
used to measure how well the project meets its objectives.
Face page – The Standard Form 424 or similar
agency-specific form that functions as a cover sheet for the
application. It usually consists of several self-explanatory
queries about the project and requires the signatures of the
project director or principal investigator and an applicant
organization official with the authority to commit that
organization to grant terms and conditions.
Facilities and Administrative costs -
Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs, sometimes referred to
as Indirect Costs, are those expenses related to research
that cannot be easily identified with a particular sponsored
project, instructional activity, or any other institutional
activity. These costs are classified under two broad
categories: Facilities (depreciation and use allowances,
equipment, operation and maintenance, and library expenses) and
Administrative (general, sponsored projects, departmental, and
school administration, and student administration and services).
F&A is normally an element of every proposal budget, unless it
is disallowed by the sponsor. The current negotiated rate at SU
is 48% of salaries.
Federal Business Opportunities (or FedBizOpps)
– Database of federal procurement opportunities that replaced
the Commerce Business Daily on January 1, 2002.
Federal financial participation – The
agency’s obligation to reimburse the recipient for the costs of
an approved grant program based on a fixed percentage. There is
no upper limit on the amount of funds the federal government
will pay for allowable services and activities.
Federal Register – Daily periodical that
provides a uniform system for publishing regulations and legal
notices issued by federal agencies and the president. In
accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, agencies are
required to publish a request for comments on any new or changed
regulations. In addition, the Federal Register contains notices
of funding availability (NOFAs).
Field review – Conducted by mail or e-mail,
this process involves sending reviewers a copy of the grant
application to evaluate and return with score and comments.
Fiscal Year (FY) - A 12-month period for
which annual accounts are kept. SU’s FY is July 1 to June
30. The federal government's FY is October 1 through
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – Gives
members of the public a right to access virtually all records of
Fringe benefits - Fringe benefits are direct
costs associated with salaries and wages and include the
following items: FICA (Social Security); retirement;
insurance for medical, dental, life, unemployment insurance,
long-term disability and employee liability coverage; and
Grant – Federal assistance, in the form of
money or property, authorized by federal law to support programs
which the government wishes to encourage. Although assistance
awards usually involved an award of funds, recipients may also
receive “property, services, or anything of value,” as long as
it accomplishes a public purpose. See also Cooperative
Grant official – Federal agency official
responsible for business and financial aspects of the grants
High-risk applicant/recipient – Generally,
an organization that is financially unstable, inexperienced,
financial depending on federal support, seriously deficient in
program or business management systems, or a historically poor
performer who has committed material violations of terms and
conditions of previous awards.
Indirect cost (Facilities and Administrative costs)
- A cost incurred for common or joint objectives of an
organization that cannot be readily identified with a particular
Mandatory grant – A grant that a federal
agency is required to award if the recipient meets the
qualifying conditions. It is also known as an entitlement grant
because, upon meeting the qualifying conditions, the recipient
has an enforceable right to receive the assistance. It is
sometimes called a formula grant, because the amount of the
grant is usually determined by a formula prescribed by law or an
Methodology – A component of the application
narrative that explains how the activities will be undertaken.
Needs statement – A component of the
application narrative that identifies the problem to be
addressed by the proposed project.
Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) –
Federal Register notice that a grant program is accepting
applications. It provides information about the program and
criteria for submissions. See also program announcement.
Notice of Grant Award (NGA) – Formal,
written notice from the awarding agency to the recipient that
the recipient is being offered an assistance award. Basic
contents include the amount and date of the grant, CFDA number
for the program, grant award number, accounting classification
numbers, certifying official’s signature, grant terms and
conditions, responsibilities of the awarding federal agency, and
any information on laws or regulations incorporated by
Objectives – A component of the application
narrative that explains how the project will resolve the
problems identified in the needs statement and establishes
measurable benchmarks for success.
Open-ended entitlement grant – A special
grant that departs from normally applicable appropriations law,
because the recipient (usually a state) spends the money first,
and the federal government is then obligated to reimburse the
federal share as calculated under the statutory formula.
Organizational capabilities – A component of
the application narrative that establishes the applicant’s
ability to carry out the project and explains how the project
will be managed.
Other resources – A component of the
application narrative that describes the equipment, supplies,
facilities, and training required to complete the project.
Panel review – Process involving several
people assembled in the same place who review, rate, and comment
on grant applications as a group. See also field review.
Peer review – Grant application review
process involving application review by peers of the applicant.
Based on the premise that a group of peers is best able to
evaluate a project’s merit.
Policies – Internal agency directives that
supplement and clarify the agency’s administrative regulations.
In some limited instances they may serve as the basis for most
of the agency’s administrative requirements. Policies lack the
force and effect of law and, therefore, are not binding on
Preapplication – Required for all
construction, land acquisition, and land development projects or
programs involving more than $100,000 in federal funds, unless
the awarding agency determines that a preapplication is
unnecessary. The preapplication process serves multiple
purposes, including: establishing communication between the
awarding agency and the applicant, determining the applicant’s
eligibility, making a determination as to the proposed project’s
competitiveness, and eliminating proposed projects which have
little or no chance of being funded before the applicants incur
the significant expenses often associated with the application
Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI or PD)
- The individual designated by the grantee institution
to direct the project or activity being supported by the grant
and who is responsible and accountable to the institution for
the proper conduct of the work.
Privacy Act – Protects certain types of
grant application information (e.g. salaries, pending patents)
from disclosure outside the government.
Program announcement – An announcement of a
grant program which may be published in the Federal Register or
otherwise distributed to potential applicants. Also known as a
notice of funding availability.
Program description – A description of a
grant program published in the Catalog of Federal Domestic
Program grant – A type of discretionary
grant; name implies a specific project has been proposed and
approved for assistance.
Program guidelines – Advice and suggestions,
relating to a specific grant program, developed by the awarding
agency in lieu of or in addition to codified program
regulations. Unlike program regulations, guidelines do not
have the force and effect of law.
Program narrative – An indepth explanation
of the grant proposal, it should include an explanation of the
need for assistance, why the applicant is the most qualified to
carry out the project, and/or a description of the problem that
requires a solution and the results or benefits expected once
that solution has been achieved.
Program official – Federal agency official
responsible for programmatic aspects of the grants process.
Program regulation – Codified regulations
relating to a specific grant program promulgated by the awarding
agency at the direction of, or with permission from, Congress.
Established by the awarding federal agency, it applies to a
specific grant program. Recipients are legally bound to follow
all program regulations in conducting a grant project.
Project period - The total time approved by
the funding agency for a supported project, including any
extensions approved by the institution or the funding agency.
The project period consists of one or more budget periods which
are usually 12 months each.
Reasonable cost – A cost is considered
reasonable if, in it nature and amount, it does not exceed that
which would be incurred by a prudent person under the
circumstances prevailing at the time the decision was made to
incur the cost.
Recipient – An entity (e.g., state,
hospital, individual) that has been offered a grant and has
subsequently accepted the awarding agency’s terms and conditions
Renewal – A continuation of a project for
which the proposal submission is competitive.
Reviewer – A qualified individual, usually
an area expert, selected from within or outside of the federal
government to review grant applications for an agency. They
provide scores and comments based on the project’s merit and
feasibility of implementation.
Schedule – A component of the application
narrative that establishes the timetable for accomplishing the
objectives and sets milestones for implementing project
Service/Outreach – Providing services to
students and to the community at large.
Staffing and personnel – A component of the
application narrative that explains the qualifications for each
key staff position required to complete the project, and
identifies the individuals selected to fill those staffing
State plan – A document that a state must
submit to receive mandatory grants. State plans describe the
proposed uses of federal funds and assure compliance with
pertinent statutory and regulatory requirements.
Stipend - A payment made to an individual to
provide for the individual's living expenses during the period
of training or education as part of the grant. Normally, a
stipend is not for services rendered; it is not salary or wage,
subject to income tax withholding or FICA/Medicare taxes,
although the value of a stipend may be taxable as income.
Streamlined review – Process intended to
save the time and expense of review committees by screening out
applications with no chance of receiving funding.
Subaward (subcontract, subgrant) - A
document written under the authority of, and consistent with the
terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract or
cooperative agreement), that allocates a portion of the research
or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution
Supplement – A request for funding for a new
idea related to a funded project, for expansion of the project's
scope, or for special purposes which may enhance the progress of
the research, such as purchasing a piece of equipment or to
support undergraduate and minority students.
Suspension – Temporary disqualification of
an entity from receiving federal funds, either directly or
indirectly, while suspect circumstances are under investigation.