Office of Sponsored Programs

Pre Award Grant Terminology

Applicant:  the entity requesting a grant; the agency or organization seeking funds.

Application notice:  The Application Notice is published on grants.gov and invites applications for one or more discretionary grant competitions. It provides basic program and fiscal information on each competition, informs potential applicants when and where they can obtain applications, and cites the deadline date for a particular competition. 

Application package:  The Application Package contains the application notice for one or more programs, and all the information and forms needed to apply for a discretionary grant. 

Appropriations legislation: a law passed by Congress to provide a certain level of funding for a grant program in a given year. 

Assurances:  a variety of requirements, found in different Federal laws, regulations, and executive orders, which applicants agree in writing to observe as a condition of receiving federal assistance and may include legally-binding statements signed by the applicant which states the applicant will do or refrain from doing certain things; when assurances are required by the grantor, assurance forms are usually included in the grant application package.

Authorized Representative (AOR):  The AOR is the official within an applicant organization with the legal authority to give assurances, make commitments, enter into contracts, and execute such documents on behalf of the applicant as may be required by a grant maker. The signature of the Authorized Representative certifies that commitments made on grant proposals will be honored and ensures that the applicant agrees to conform to the grant maker's regulations, guidelines, and policies. Note that the Authorized Representative is not necessarily the Project Director. 

Authorizing legislation: a law passed by Congress to establish or continue a grant program. 

Budget narrative:  the section of a proposal that explains the budget. Explanations can include the derivation of amounts (for example, a $1,250 budget item derives from 100 people at five meetings each using a $2.50 expendable item), the itemization of totals, the purpose of purchased supplies and services, and the justification of the size of salaries, fringe benefits, and indirect costs.

Budget period: periods of time (usually 12 months) into which a project is divided for budget and reporting purposes; for multi-year projects, a continuation proposal is usually required each year the project continues.

Cash Match: cash contributions made to a project by the grantee or another party, usually at the requirement of the grantor.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) lists all domestic assistance programs of the Federal Government.  It includes information about a program's authorization, fiscal details, accomplishments, regulations, guidelines, eligibility requirements, information contacts, and application and award process.  It is maintained by the General Services Administration in both a printed publication and a database.  

Certification: a statement, signed by an applicant or grantee as a prerequisite for receiving Federal funds that it meets or will adhere to certain conditions and/or will undertake or not undertake certain actions. 

CFDA Number:  an identifying number for a Federal assistance program, composed of a unique two-digit prefix to identify the Federal agency (e.g., 10 for the Department of Agriculture), and followed by a period and a unique three-digit code for each authorized program.  

Competitive Review Process:  used by multiple granting agencies to select discretionary grant applications for funding, in which applications are scored by subject-area experts and the most highly scored applications are considered for funding. 

Contract:  A mutually binding legal relationship obligating the seller to furnish supplies or services and the buyer to pay for them. Contracts do not include grants and cooperative agreements.

Cooperative Agreement:  An award mechanism used in lieu of a grant in which substantial programmatic involvement by the sponsor is anticipated.

Cost-sharing:  a requirement that a portion of the project costs be assumed by the grantee; also known as matching.

Deadline date:  the date by which a discretionary grant application must be received by the granting agency in order for it to be considered for funding. 

Direct Costs:  total costs directly attributable to carrying out a grant project, including salaries, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, services, etc. 

Discretionary grant:  an award of financial assistance in the form of money by the Federal government to an eligible grantee usually made on the basis of a competitive review process. 

Discretionary grants:  A competitive grant program in which the applicant designs the proposal, and the funding agency ranks the proposals received and determines which will receive grant awards; also called competitive grants or project grants.

DUNS Number:  A number specifically designated by Dun & Bradstreet, on behalf of the federal government, for federal accounting purposes.  It is required on all grant applications. 

Time and Effort Reporting:  Mechanism, by which faculty /administrative effort commitments and salary charges made to sponsored projects are documented, reported on and signed by the individual working on the award, or by an individual possessing firsthand knowledge about personnel working on the award.

Electronic Research Administration (ERA):  Electronic and Web-based systems designed to support the administration, management and knowledge base of sponsored research.

Employer Identification Number (EIN):  the number issued by the federal government to identify the entity, also known as the federal tax ID number.

Evaluation:  an assessment of the project's success in meeting its intended outcomes; usually includes a formative evaluation and summative evaluation (see formative and summative evaluation).

Federal Register:  a daily compilation of Federal regulations and other Federal agency documents of public interest, which is prepared by the National Archives and Records Administration for public distribution by the Government Printing Office. 

Financial Conflict Of Interest (COI):  The revealing of relevant significant financial interests of faculty and or staff (including those of their spouses and dependent children) which could appear to affect their research. Conflict of Interest Disclosure statements are required by the College for National Science Foundation or Health and Human Services.

Fiscal Year:  A twelve month period, for which an organization plans the use of its funds; for the federal government, the fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30; for the State of Georgia, the fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30. The fiscal year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends (for example, in the State of GA, FY 2007 runs from July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007).

Formative Evaluation:  conducted during the operation of a project, generally for the purpose of providing immediate feedback to the project administrators about the status of project activities so that project revisions may be made.

Formula Grants:   funds made available to the school district based on a formula prescribed in legislation, regulations, or policies of the agency; formula grants are non-competitive.

Fringe Benefits:  amount paid by the employer for employee benefits such as retirement, health insurance, unemployment insurance, etc.; salary plus fringe benefits equals the total personnel costs. 

 Funding priorities:   a mechanism of focusing a grant competition on the areas in which the agency is particularly interested in receiving applications.  Priorities can be absolute, which the applicant must address in order to be considered for funding; competitive, which the applicant has the option of choosing whether or not to address and for which they may receive additional points, or invitational, which the applicant is encouraged but not required to address. 

Grant Award Notification:  an official document signed by the authorized official stating the amount and the terms and conditions of an award for a discretionary grant. 

Grant Period:  the period of time specified in the grant award notice or contract during which costs may be charged against the grant or contract.

Grant:  An arrangement under which there is a transfer of funds, property, services or anything of value from the sponsor to the institution to assist the institution in reaching a particular institutional goal or public purpose. Typically, no programmatic involvement between the institution and the sponsor occurs under a grant. Financial assistance in the form of money, or property or technical assistance in lieu of money, awarded by a government agency or private organization (foundation or corporation) to an eligible applicant to accomplish some public purpose.

Grantee: an individual or organization that has been awarded financial assistance under one of the agency's grant programs; the legal entity to which a grant is awarded and which is accountable to the funding agency for the use of funds provided.

Grantor:  (also known as funder or funding agency) any legal entity, public or private, that awards grants to the school district, individual schools, or departments; grantors include local, state, or federal government agencies, private foundations, private or public non-profit organizations, and corporations.

Guidelines:  set of general principles used in preparing proposals, also known as Request for Proposals (RFP).

Indirect cost rate:  the percentage established by a Federal department or agency for a grantee organization, which the grantee uses in computing the dollar amount it charges to the grant to reimburse itself for indirect costs incurred in doing the work of the grant project. 

Indirect Costs:  overhead; costs incurred in the overall functioning of the institution; costs not readily identified as direct project expenditures (i.e., accounting services, space, utilities). Indirect costs must be requested when funding is from a federal or state source, unless specifically prohibited by the agency.

In-Kind Or In-Kind Contribution:  dollar value of non-cash contributions to a project by the grantee or another party other than the funder, which directly benefit a grant (examples: volunteer services, equipment use, facilities, staff time).

Institutional Review Boards (IRB):  Review boards established by institutions to ensure the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects participating in research conducted under their auspices. IRB's make an independent determination to approve, require modification in, or disapprove research protocols based on whether human subjects are adequately protected, as required by federal regulations and local institutional policy.

Key Personnel:  Individuals who contribute in a substantive way to the scientific development or execution of a project, regardless of whether or not they receive compensation from the grant supporting that project. Must include Principal Investigator and any other personnel that the PI designates.

Lead Agency:   in a consortium of entities applying for a grant, the lead agency the fiscal agent responsible for overall project management & fiscal, and issuing subcontracts to other partners.

Local Education Agency (LEA):  school district or county office of education that will receive and disburse grant funds.

Matching Or Cost Sharing:  The value of third-party in-kind contributions and the portion of the costs of a project or program not borne by the sponsor. Matching or cost sharing may be required by law, regulation, or administrative decision. Costs used to satisfy matching requirements are subject to the same policies governing allowability as other costs under the approved budget.

Matching:  grantee's cash or in-kind contribution to a project, usually a percent of the total budget; see also cash match, in-kind.

Misconduct In Science:  Fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reporting research, or in reporting research results.

Notice of Grant Award (NGA):  The legally binding document that notifies the grantee institution that a grant or a cooperative agreement has been made. Contains references to the award's terms and conditions.

Organizational Capability:  the previous experience, productive capacity, personnel, and other resources that indicate that the applying organization can carry out a proposal.

Outcome Objective:  refers to the measurable change (increase or decrease) in conditions or behaviors as a result of the project's implementation (i.e., By the end of year one, the average CST score in mathematics for students participating in the project will increase by 5 percentile points).

Peer Review:  System for evaluating research applications that use reviewers who are the professional equals of the applicant.

Pre-application: (pre-proposal or letter of intent) A statement in summary form of the intent of the applicant to request funds. May be used to determine the applicant's eligibility and the competitiveness of the project with other applications and to eliminate proposals for which there is little of no chance for funding.

Principal Investigator (PI) / Co-Investigator:  Faculty or staff member who directs the technical and administrative work of a sponsored project. CoPI is a faculty member who collaborates with the Principal Investigator (PI) in the execution of the research project.

Process/Product Objective:  a major project activity/milestone and timeline for its accomplishment; helps project staff to monitor the project activities and management plan (i.e., By the end of the second month, the inservice workshops will be scheduled); can also refer to a concrete item to be produced by the project, such as a manual or a film (i.e., By the end of the sixth month, the curriculum supplement will be completed).

Program Announcement (PA):  Process by which federal agencies publicize and implement new extramural grant programs and priorities, or update existing programs. 

Program Announcement:  press release, booklet, catalog, form or notice telling of an opportunity to apply for a grant or contract.

Program regulations:  implement legislation passed by Congress to authorize a specific grant program, and include applicant eligibility criteria, nature of activities funded, selection criteria under which applications will be selected for funding, and other relevant information. 

Progress Report / Final Report:  Documentation required by sponsor at a defined time providing status of a project. May include financial, technical, or other reports. The final report is the technical or financial report required by the sponsor to complete a research project.

Project period: the total amount of time during which FNS authorizes a grantee to complete the approved work of the project described in the application. 

Project/Program Director:  individual designated by the grantee to be responsible for the administration of a project including project management, submission of all required documents, communicating with the grantor and other appropriate agencies, and carrying out project activities.

Project/Program Officer:  the official at the grantor agency who is responsible for the grant program, i.e., supervises technical and program aspects of grants; may also be responsible for administrative and fiscal aspects.

Proposal:  formal written document that provides detailed information to a funder on the components and cost of a proposed project in response to some substantiated need or problem; often confused with the term ‘grant’ – proposal represents a plan for change whereas grant is the financial award, the money.

Request For Applications / Requests For Proposals (RFA / RFP):  Formal announcement by sponsor of a funding initiative to support research projects within a well-defined area. Typically RFA's are published in the Federal Register, agency announcements, or in a foundation announcement. 

Request For Proposal (RFP):  the funder's request that includes the program overview and expectations, the guidelines, instructions, and forms necessary for the applicant to submit a proposal, and the criteria or rubric for judging proposals.

Sponsored Award / Restricted Funds:  A sponsored award is an external funding instrument, usually in the form of a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, from a sponsor, typically for a research or training project under an agreement that includes any one of the following: 

terms which bind the College to a line of scholarly or scientific inquiry specified to a substantial level of detail

  • a line-item budget
  • terms which require financial reports to be given to the sponsor
  • terms which require the award to be subject to external audit
  • terms which require unexpended funds be returned to the sponsor at the conclusion of the project
  • terms which provide for the disposition of either tangible or intangible properties that may result from the activity (tangible property includes equipment, records, theses, inventions, etc.).

Summative Evaluation:  reporting or measurement of final program results.

Target Population/Group:  a specified group or category of persons that the project will serve or impact.

Timeline:  a management tool, which details the schedule of project, tasks to be accomplished, by whom, and over what period of time.