Graduate Studies & Research
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Acronyms, Definitions
& FAQs

Grant/Contract FAQs

Grant/Contract Definitions

Grant/Contract Acronyms

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Grant/Contract Terms/Acronyms & FAQS

Grant and Contract Definitions

A     B    C    D    E-F     G-I     M-O     P     R     S

A

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 applications.

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 organization’s operations.

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.

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B

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 administrative restrictions.

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 Period below).

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C

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 service. 

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.

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D

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 organization. 

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 be distributed.

E

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.

F

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.

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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 September 30.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – Gives members of the public a right to access virtually all records of federal agencies.

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 worker's compensation.

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G

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 agreement.

Grant official – Federal agency official responsible for business and financial aspects of the grants process.

H

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.

I

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 cost objective.

M

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 agency regulation.

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Methodology – A component of the application narrative that explains how the activities will be undertaken.

N

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 reference.

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O

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.

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P

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 recipients.

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 process.

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.

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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 Assistance.

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.

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R

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 of award.

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.

S

Schedule – A component of the application narrative that establishes the timetable for accomplishing the objectives and sets milestones for implementing project activities.

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 requirements.

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.

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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 or organization.

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.

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