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Grants 101

Glossary and Definitions of Grant Terms

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This glossary provides definitions of grant terms related to federal, foundation, and corporate extramural funding, as well as gifts, contracts, intellectual property, and technology transfer. UWM follows federal guidelines from the Office of Management Budget through Circulars A-21, A-110, and A-133 in planning, submitting, negotiating, and managing awards from federal agencies. At the same time, the campus follows State of Wisconsin, UW System, and UWM policies and procedures, and specific sponsor guidelines in expediting extramural grant processes.

  • OMB A-21: Office of Management and Budget Circular, “Principles for Determining Costs Applicable to Grants, Contracts, and Other Agreements with Educational Institutions.”
  • OMB A-110: Office of Management and Budget Circular, “Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations.”
  • OMB A-133: Office of Management and Budget Circular, “Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations.”


501(c)(3): The section of the Internal Revenue Code that defines nonprofit, charitable, tax-exempt organizations. Most private foundations and many other funding agencies limit their giving to organizations that have 501(c)(3) status. As a state agency, the UW System Board of Regents (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) has tax-exempt status under Section 115, Internal Revenue Code, and as a corporation could also qualify for tax exempt status under Section 501(c)3, Internal Revenue Code.

990-AR: Private foundations are required by law to submit this report to the Internal Revenue Service annually and make it available to the public for 180 days after filing. This form contains financial information on the foundation, a list of grants or contributions made during the year, and the names and addresses of foundation managers and officers. Access to 990-ARs is available through the Foundation Directory. Updated Graduate School contact information for the Foundation Directory will be available in August 2011.


Acceptance: Agreement to perform a contract in accordance with its terms and conditions. Acceptance can be expressed (in oral or written form) or implied (by performance of the contracted work). Any alterations or conditions imposed on an offer create a counter-offer, which is basically a rejection of the original offer.

Administering Department (WISPER): The department or center in which a principal investigator is affiliated. A dropdown menu is available in the electronic routing and approval system to add Department/Center of record (See also WISPER).

Advanced Account (WISDM): Authorization to expend funds (advanced spending) on a project before the award document has been completely executed.

Agency: A branch of a federal, state, or local government. Agencies often further their mission and programs by sponsoring research or programmatic projects..

Agreement: An agreement is a written understanding and intention between two or more parties with respect to the effect upon their relative rights and duties. An agreement is used in lieu of a grant when the sponsor anticipates substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during performance of the project. A cooperative agreement is used by federal agencies when a program requires more agency involvement and restrictions than a grant but requires less agency supervision than a contract. Such agreements may involve the use of an agency’s services, equipment, facilities, or significant technical collaboration.

Allowable Costs: An approved expenditure for the funded project, determined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the sponsor's requirements and/or university policy. Only allowable funds may be requested in grant budgets and charged to the grant account. OMB Circular A-21 defines allowable costs as those that:

  • Are reasonable.
  • Are allocable to the project.
  • Are given consistent treatment by use of generally accepted accounting principles.
  • Conform to any limitations or exclusions set forth by the sponsored agreement or OMB Circular A-21.

Amendment: Any change made to an existing sponsored agreement.

Animal Care Program (ACP): Governed by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC), the program's mission is to provide for the care, health and well-being of animals used for research and education at UWM.

Annual Report: A separately published report issued on a voluntary basis that describes activities of foundations and corporations and that may also describe grant application processes. Annual reports vary in format from simple printed documents listing the year’s grants to detailed publications that provide substantial information about the organization’s funding program.

Application Notice: A notice published in the Federal Register that solicits applications for one or more discretionary grant or cooperative agreement competitions, gives basic program and fiscal information on each competition, and provides application and deadline information.

Application Package: A packet that contains the application notice, information, and forms for applying for a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement.

Applicant: The legal applicant in most cases is the university. An applicant may also refer to an individual in the case of a fellowship or exchange program.

Application: The document presenting a project proposal and funding request to an agency. This document may be a letter proposal, a response to a request for proposals, or a formal application to a federal or state granting agency, or foundation.

Applied Research: An original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge, primarily directed toward a practical aim or objective.

Assurance: (See Certification). An attestation or declaration of compliance with the legal requirement of a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement.

Audit: A formal examination of an organization's or individual's accounts or financial situation. An audit may also ensure compliance with applicable award terms, laws, regulations, and policies.

Author: The person or persons responsible for creation of a copyrightable work.

Authorizing Legislation: A law passed by Congress that establishes or continues a grant program.

Authorizing Official (Signature): An officer of the university who has contracting authority to sign proposals or contracts. For external grants this is generally the Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Award: The legally binding document that notifies 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 federal funds.


Basic Agreement: A formal written document between the funding source and the university, specifying the scope and work of a project to be completed during a specific time frame. These basic agreements may take the form of a grant or a contract.

Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin-System on Behalf of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: The legal name that the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee uses in the development and submission of grants or contracts.

Broad Agency Announcement: An announcement that is general in nature and that identifies areas of research interest, including criteria for selecting proposals, and soliciting the participation of all offerers capable of satisfying the government's needs.

Budget: An estimate of expenditures to be incurred in the performance of a proposed statement of work, or the financial plan or cost assessment for the grant proposal or contract. The budget represents costs associated with project implementation.

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

Budget Period: An interval of time into which a project period is divided for budgetary purposes, usually 12 months.

Business Officer/Fiscal Agent: The financial official of the university who has primary fiscal responsibility for the university.

CFDA Number: (See Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance).


Capital Equipment: An article of property that is not permanently attached to buildings or grounds and that has an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more (exclusive of sales and/or use tax, freight, and installation) and a life expectancy of one year or more.

Capital Equipment: An article of property that is not permanently attached to buildings or grounds and that has an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more (exclusive of sales and/or use tax, freight, and installation) and a life expectancy of one year or more.

Capital Support: Funds provided for buildings, construction, equipment, or renovation.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: Identifying number for a federal assistance program, composed of a unique two-digit prefix to identify the federal agency ("84" for the Department of Education), followed by a period and a unique three-digit code for each authorized program. Alpha-designations may be added to some programs to distinguish among competitions when multiple competitions are based on the same program authority.

Center, Academic: Generally a programmatic effort associated with a school or college to facilitate the study and dissemination of information in a scholarly area. Frequently a center is viewed as multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary in nature, bringing together various faculties with an interest in an area of study.

Centers of Excellence: A special designation created by the UW Board of Regents to identify outstanding scholarly programs throughout the UW System. This designation may be used for special units such as centers or institutes, as well as for entire academic degree programs.

Certifications: (See Assurance) A written statement signed by an authorized institutional representative which certifies that an organization is in compliance with federal or state regulations.

Classified Research: An activity in which project-related information is restricted to individuals with security clearances and a need to know, and publication of results is restricted or prohibited, pursuant to established federal government classification procedures.

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

Cognizant Audit Agency: The office or staff that is designated to perform audits on behalf of the federal government for sponsored projects at a university. The cognizant audit agency for UWM is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Collaborator: An individual who collaborates with the principal investigator in the scientific development or execution of a project. A collaborator would typically devote a specific percent of effort to the project and would be identified as key personnel.

Company-Sponsored Foundation: (also referred to as a corporate foundation): A private foundation whose assets are derived primarily from the contributions of a for-profit business. While a company-sponsored foundation may maintain close ties with its parent company, it is an independent organization with its own endowment, and as such is subject to the same rules and regulations as other private foundations. (See also Private Foundation).

Competing Continuation Application: A request for financial or direct assistance to extend, for one or more additional budget periods, a project period that would otherwise expire. Competing continuation applications compete with other competing continuation, competing supplemental, and new applications for funds.

Compliances: (See Assurance).

Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA): An agreement that projects unpublished, research-critical or commercially valuable information from unauthorized disclosure or use.

Confidential Information: Information that is not generally known to the public and is the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain secrets (See also Trade Secret; Proprietary Information/Data).

Conflict of Interest: Circumstances in which an individual’s legal or moral obligations to an employer or other party conflict with, or may be negatively affected by, the individual’s personal interests, financial or otherwise.

Congressional Legislative District (U.S.): UWM is located in Congressional District WI-004.

Consortium: A consortium is two or more institutions working on the same research project. Either each institution is funded directly by the supporting agency, or one primary institution receives the funds, and then issues sub-awards to the other members of the consortium.

Consortium Agreement (Teaming Agreement): A collaborative arrangement in support of a research project in which some portion of the research is carried out through a formal agreement between the university and one or more outside organizations.

Consultant: A person paid to work on an externally funded project, who is generally not an employee of the university. A consultant is an expert in the field participating in a short-term, limited, and specifically defined role to deliver services consistent with the goals and objectives of the grant or contract. A consultant is not paid as an employee but as an independent contractor with the university. Some grant agencies specify consulting rates or limitations on the amount of service that can be performed.

Continuation Award: Additional funding awarded to the same grant for a budget period following the initial budget period of a multi-year discretionary grant or cooperative agreement.

Continuation Proposal/Renewal Proposal: Additional funding increments for projects beyond the original grant period. See specific sponsor guidelines for submission requirements.

Contract: An oral, written, or otherwise manifest agreement between two or more competent parties in which an offer is made and accepted, and each party benefits.

Cooperative Agreement: An application for funding which, if awarded, will require the substantial involvement of personnel from the grant-funding agency. Commonly used by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): One investigator sharing equal responsibility for the direction of a research program.

Copyright: A bundle of property rights conferred by law upon the author of an original work, including the right to exclude others from copying or distributing the work without the author’s permission. Works of authorship include literary pieces, musical compositions, dramatic selections, dances, photographs, drawings, paintings, sculpture, diagrams, advertisements, maps, motion pictures, radio and television programs, sound recordings, architectural design works, and computer software programs. In the U.S., copyright attaches to and protects works of authorship at the point they are fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

Corporate Giving Program: A grant-making program established and administered within a profit-making corporation or company. The amount of a corporate giving program is usually tied to the previous year’s profits and sometimes tied to company-sponsored foundations. Corporate giving is not generally used to fund large research projects.

Cost Accounting Standards: Federally mandated accounting standards intended to ensure uniformity in budgeting, accounting and reporting project costs.

Cost Reimbursement: At UWM, a sponsored project agreement that requires the funding recipient to invoice the sponsor after-the-fact for reimbursement of allowable costs incurred in performance of a project.

Cost Sharing: The portion of project costs not borne by the sponsor or the university’s support of a project through cash or in-kind services. Cost-sharing requirements vary, but they generally represent a percentage of the total project cost. Acceptable cost-sharing contributions must meet the following criteria:

  • The contributions to be cost-shared are verifiable by UWM financial records.
  • The contributions to be cost-shared are allowable, allocable, reasonable, and necessary for proper and efficient accomplishment of specific project or program objectives.
  • Federal funds, directly or indirectly, are not used for cost sharing on other federally funded projects, except where authorized by federal statute to be used for cost sharing or matching.
  • The contributions to be cost-shared are not included as contributions for any other project.
  • The contributions to be cost-shared are directly identifiable with the sponsored project as outlined in the proposal budget and/or budget justification, and thus incorporated in the award notice.


DUNS Number: (See Data Universal Numbering System).

Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS): A unique nine-character identification number provided by the commercial company Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). UWM’s assigned number is 627906399 (Note: To be used only with extramural support grants and contracts).

Deadline: The published date and/or time that a grant application is to be either postmarked/mailed or electronically submitted to the funding agency.

Deficit: The result of expenditures exceeding the project funds available.

Direct Assistance: A financial assistance mechanism whereby goods or services are provided to recipients in lieu of cash. Direct assistance generally involves the assignment of federal personnel or the provision of equipment or supplies such as vaccines.

Direct Costs: Direct costs charged to sponsored agreements must be allowable, allocable, and reasonable. These costs can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activities, or can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. Direct costs do not include overhead or other indirect costs. Examples:

  1. Compensation of employees for performance of work under the sponsored agreement, including related fringe benefit cost.
  2. The costs of materials consumed or expended in the performance of the work.
  3. Other items of expense incurred for the sponsored agreement, provided such costs are consistently treated in like circumstances.

Disallowed Costs: Charges to an award that the awarding agency determines to be unallowable, in accordance with the applicable federal cost principles or other terms and conditions contained in the award.

Discretionary funds or programs: Funds or programs not mandated by legislation for which an agency or program staff may have some authority to solicit and fund proposals for special projects or program activities. These discretionary funds may vary from year to year in amount and program focus.

Division: Administrative subdivision, i.e., college or school of the university that provided the environment and infrastructure support in which the research program(s) of the principal investigators(s) is (are) conducted.

Domestic Travel: Travel within one’s own country. Granting agencies differ in definition.

Donated Property: Property provided by an outside party for specific activities related to a sponsored project and/or research activities of the university. Title to the property passes to the university at essentially no cost.


Earmark Grants: Earmark grants, sometimes called congressional mandates or federal set-asides, are grant funds appropriated by Congress without 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.

Effective Date: Thedate specified in an award document signifying the official start of an award.

Effort: The amount of time, usually expressed as a percentage of the total, which a faculty member or other employee spends on a sponsored project. No one is allowed to spend more than 100% total commitment on all academic activities, including grant-sponsored research, university-sponsored research, teaching, administration, advising and other contracted duties.

Effort Certification and Reporting Technology (ECRT): At UWM a Web-based system for principal investigators to certify their own effort if they receive salary support on a sponsored project and to certify effort of graduate students, postdoctoral trainees and classified staff effort who receive salary on a PI’s award.

Effort Reporting: A report that reflects an after-the-fact reporting of the percentage of activity (effort) of each employee. Each report must account for 100% of the activity for which the employee is compensated and which is required in fulfillment of the employee's obligations to the institution. The report must reasonably reflect the percentage of effort applicable to each sponsored agreement, and to other activities defined on the report. Each report must be signed by the employee or by a responsible official having first hand knowledge of the work performed. Consult the UWM Web site for Effort Reporting policy and procedures.

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

Endowment: Funds intended to be invested to provide income for continued support of an organization or to be used to support projects funded within that organization. Such funds may be restricted to a designated purpose (research, scholarships, etc.) or unrestricted (general university support).

Entity Identification Number (EIN): UWM is assigned the following EIN: 39-1805963.

Entity Identification Number for Public Health Services/National Institutes of Health Submissions (EINS): UWM is assigned the following EINS number: 139-1805963-B5.

Equipment: Generally, articles of non-expendable, tangible, personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more for a single unit. Equipment is not a replacement part or component that returns a piece of equipment to its original condition. If a component increases the capability of the original equipment and has an acquisition cost that meets or exceeds the established equipment cost thresholds, it is considered a capital item.

Executive Order 12372 (Excerpt): States, in consultation with local general purpose governments, and local special purpose governments they consider appropriate, develop their own processes or refine existing processes for state and local elected officials to review and coordinate proposed federal financial assistance and direct federal development, the federal agencies shall, to the extent permitted by law (See also State Single Point of Contact).

Expanded Authorities : Policy implemented by some federal granting agencies that delegates certain prior approval authority to grantee institutions. Prior approval allows for internal university approval of administrative and spending actions without consulting the funding agency, thus avoiding delays in project progress.

Expenditures: Line items in a budget that are spent for personnel, consultants, equipment, travel, supplies, etc.

Extramural Funds: Funding for research, training or public service programs provided by federal or private sources outside the university.


Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs: Also referred to as indirect costs, overhead, overhead costs, or administrative costs. Reimbursement for actual institutional expenses that support extramural activities but cannot be directly charged to a specific grant or contract. F&A costs result from shared services such as libraries, plant operations and maintenance, utility costs, general, department and sponsored projects administrative expenses, and depreciation or use allowances for buildings and equipment. Information on current F&A cost rates are available from the Graduate School Researcher Central Web site.

Fastlane: An interactive real-time electronic application and reporting system used to conduct National Science Foundation business over the Web.

Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR): A codified system ofuniform policies and procedures for acquisition by executive agencies. These regulations govern all aspects of federal procurement.

Federal Earmarks or Federal Set-Asides: (See Earmark Grants).

Federal Financial Assistance: Transfer of money, property, or other direct assistance to an eligible recipient to support or stimulate a public purpose authorized by statute.

Federal Register: The official government document, printed and published online daily, that reports all legislative actions of Congress, including the appropriation of funds to special programs and the guidelines and regulations used to award those funds to individual projects. Program guidelines and requests for comments on proposed guidelines and regulations are published here.

Federal Set Asides: (See Earmark Grants).

Fellowship: An award that enables individuals to pursue study in their field or related fields. A fellowship often advances, synthesizes, or expands the applicant’s specific area of interest. Some fellowships also include teaching with research, especially in other countries. Typically fellowships are awarded directly to an individual applicant, not to the university. Often fellowships are used to supplement sabbatical leaves.

Financial Report: A report generated by the university’s research accounting office and sent to the funding agency to report actual expenditures on a grant or contract, annually and at project’s end.

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

Fiscal Year: Any 12-month accounting period. The fiscal year for the university and the state begins on July 1st and ends on June 30th. The federal government fiscal year begins on October 1st. The first day of the calendar year is often the beginning of the fiscal year for corporations and foundations. Most external grants are awarded based on the fiscal year of that entity.

Fixed Price Agreement: At UWM, a sponsored-project agreement that involves the payment of pre-determined increments of funding at fixed time periods or upon completion of the deliverables.

Foreign Travel: Foreign travel includes travel outside of the United States and its territories and possessions (Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Canal Zone) and Canada. A trip is considered foreign travel for all legs of the itinerary if the traveler does not return to his or her post prior to departure for a foreign destination. Most grant agencies have specific rules governing foreign travel, including approved federal per diem rates and the use of U.S. air carriers.

Formal or Full Proposal: Any proposal submitted by a university employee to an outside entity that may directly lead to an award. A formal proposal may be an expanded version of a preliminary proposal, preproposal or white paper, providing a detailed statement of the proposed work. The formal proposal constitutes a final application to the funding source. All formal proposals require an institutional endorsement by the Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs or other designated authorizing official.

Foundation: An organization established to disburse funds for philanthropic purposes; usually privately owned.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): A federal statute that requires full or partial public disclosure of information and documents controlled by the United States government.The FOIA applies to federal agencies and does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, or by state or local government agencies. Each state has its own public access laws that should be consulted for access to state and local records.

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

Full and Open Competition: The solicitation of bids from prospective suppliers that is used to ensure that all responsible bidders are permitted to compete for the procurement.

Full Proposal: The full proposal should present the (1) objectives and scientific, engineering, or educational significance of the proposed work; (2) suitability of the methods to be employed; (3) qualifications of the investigator and the grantee organization; (4) effect of the activity on the infrastructure of science, engineering and education; and (5) amount of funding required. It should present the merits of the proposed project clearly and should be prepared with the care and thoroughness of a paper submitted for publication.

Fundamental Research: Research in science and/or engineering where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community or where the resulting information is about to be published. The new knowledge is generally for the public good.

Funding Criteria: The review criteria associated with the evaluation of a proposal for funding. For federally sponsored programs, the criteria are printed in the program guidelines or the Federal Register and often follow a specific point system.


General Purpose Equipment: Equipment that is not limited to research, scientific, or other technical activities. Examples of general purpose equipment include office equipment and furnishing, air conditioning equipment, reproduction and printing equipment, motor vehicles, and automatic data processing equipment.

General Purpose Foundation: An independent private foundation that awards grants in many different fields of interest.

Gift: At UWM a monetary contribution of general or unrestricted support for broadly defined activities in one or more program areas.To qualify as a gift, extramural support must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Detailed reports are not required—neither periodic or final, nor fiscal or technical. (The principal investigator may provide the donor with a brief statement that the expenditures were in accord with the intent of the gift);
  2. No provisions (delays, advance notice) are imposed by the donor concerning publication of data and information derived from the activity;
  3. There is no specific time limit on the expenditure of funds;
  4. Rights to any patent/copyright are not retained by the donor.

Gift in Kind: At UWM, a non-monetary gift of personal or real property.

Graduate Assistant: A post-baccalaureate student performing research, teaching or service for an academic department.

Grant: A grant represents a mutual joining of interests on the part of the grantor and grantee institution in the pursuit of common objectives. In this relationship, the grantee institution shares with the grantor the obligation to act in the public interest in achieving a common purpose. This is a relationship of trust which imposes upon the grantee institution the responsibility to ensure that the grant funds are utilized for the purpose for which they were awarded, and to exercise the same probity and prudence in their expenditure that is extended to the use of the grantee institution's own funds.

A grant is distinguished from a contract in that a grant does not constitute the procurement of goods and services by the grantor. The grant is a unilateral act.

Grants are usually from federal, state, local, foundation, or corporate entities.

  • Challenge Grant: a grant award that will be paid only if the recipient organization is able to raise additional funds.
  • Consortium Grant: a grant made to one institution in support of a project that is carried out through a cooperative arrangement between or among the grantee institution and one or more participating institutions.
  • Continuation Grant: funds awarded for the continuation of a previously funded project. It is usually not competitive with other proposals but is contingent upon successful performance in the previous year and also availability of funds.
  • Demonstration Grant: a grant made to establish or demonstrate the feasibility of a theory, activity or approach.
  • Formula or Block Grant: a grant awarded on the basis of some formula for distribution prescribed by legislative or executive direction; for example, state grants made to local school districts on the basis of enrollment figures.

Grant Closeout: The final stage in the lifecycle of a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement. During this phase, the funding agency ensures that all applicable administrative actions and required work of a discretionary grant or cooperative agreement have been completed by the grantee. The funding agency also reconciles and makes any final fiscal adjustments to a grantee's account.

Grants.gov: A storefront Web portal for use in electronic collection of data (forms and reports) for federal grant-making agencies.

Grantee: A grantee is the legal recipient of a grant. When the university accepts a grant award on behalf of an individual it becomes the grantee.

Grantor: funding agency or source that has agreed to provide financial support in the form of a grant.

Grants Officer: The official authorized to take final action on a grant. At UWM it is generally the Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Guidelines: The document that outlines program goals to be addressed in a proposal and that provides specific instructions on what content to include in a proposal, the format it should take, and the funding criteria.


HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act): A federal statute which, among other things, regulates the use and disclosure of protected health information (PHI), which is defined as information about health status, provision of health care, or payment of health care that can be linked to an individual, including any part of a patient’s medical record or payment history.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Any college or university established prior to 1964 whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary of Education to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered, or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.

Hispanic Servicing Institutions (HSIs): are defined in federal law as accredited and degree-granting public or private nonprofit institutions of higher education with 25 percent or more total undergraduate Hispanic, full-time equivalent student enrollment.

Human Subjects: A living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains:

  • Data through intervention or interaction with the individual.
  • Identifiable private information.

Human Subjects Assurance Number: UWM complies with the DHHS Office of Human Research Protections requirements. Its assurance of compliance number is FWA00006171 (expires 07/14/09).


Indirect Costs: (See Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs).

Informal Proposal: A short (2-5 pages) description of the proposed project that does not involve a commitment of university resources or a signature on behalf of the university. An informal proposal may include a total cost estimate but does not include a budget and is not expected to result directly in an award. The purpose of an informal proposal is usually to inform and interest the potential sponsor enough to request a more detailed formal proposal. Sometimes called a letter proposal, mini-proposal, preliminary proposal, pre-application, concept paper, or white paper.

Informed Consent: The voluntary written agreement obtained from a human subject (or the subject's legally authorized representative) to participate in research or related activity, before participating in that activity. The consent must permit the individual (or legally authorized representative) to exercise free power of choice without undue inducement or any element or deceit, fraud, force, duress, or other form of coercion or constraint.

In-Kind Contribution: A non-cash commitment (such as contributed personnel effort, facilities use, or supplies) to share the costs of a sponsored project. This type of contribution may require written documentation and audit.

Institute: An organizational unit that provides both an academic and an educational service outside the traditional degree structure.

Institutional Authorized Officials: Individuals authorized by the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents to sign grants, contracts, and agreements on behalf of UWM.

Institutional Review Board (IRB): A board or committee organized to protect human subjects by minimizing the risks of their participation in research and maximizing the potential benefits, and by ensuring that they receive all the information necessary to give their legally effective, fully informed consent to participate as required by law for the ethical and legal conduct of the research.

Intellectual Property (IP): Products of the human mind that have commercial value and can be protected by law, including copyrightable works, ideas, discoveries, and inventions.

Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA): An agreement whereby two or more public agencies may contract with each other provided that such contracts are authorized by the governing bodies of each agency. Such agreements also are used by universities for faculty members who temporarily work as program officers at federal agencies.

Intergovernmental Personnel Assignment (IPA): At UWM, an agreement under which a university employee is detailed to work for an outside entity for a defined period of time.

Invention: Under U.S. law, a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.

Invention Disclosure: Done through the UWM Inventor Portal, it is the reporting of discoveries or inventions that arise from research conducted with UWM resources or using UWM facilities.

Inventor: An individual who contributes to at least one claim of a patentable invention.

Investigator Initiated Research: A funding mechanism that supports an investigator submitting an application to an agency on a topic of his or her choice (also known as unsolicited research).

Invitation to Bid: Written documents soliciting pricing and/or technical proposals to supply goods or services as specified in the requesting document. Correct use of Invitations to Bid constitutes full and open competition (See Request for Proposal (RFP).


Key Professional Personnel (or key personnel): All individuals who participate in the scientific or intellectual development or execution of the project. Typically, key personnel have a Ph.D., Ed.D., or M.D., but may also include the master's or baccalaureate level, provided they contribute in a substantive way to the research.


Laboratory: An organizational structure that has research as its primary mission. The program may offer occasional seminars but these are secondary to its primary purpose.

Letter of Inquiry: A letter of inquiry is initiated by an applicant to determine if a proposed project is within a private agency's fundable program areas and to request agency policy and program information, as well as instructions and forms.

Letter of Intent: A letter of intent notifies a funding agency that an application will be submitted in response to their solicitation. The letter may contain general program information, unofficial cost estimates, and a request for application guidelines, instructions, and forms.

Letter of Support: A letter from a collaborator or other interested party that states their support of the project.

Loaned Equipment: Property provided by an outside party for use by an institution for a sponsored project or research-related activities. Title to the property remains with the lender.

Lobbying Certification: (See Certifications).


Major Project: A large, complex project that entails assembling and managing teams of investigators. Such projects also require a significant amount of administrative effort to complete specifically identified requirements of the project. Examples from OMB Circular A-21 are:

  • Large, complex programs such as General Clinical Research Centers, Primate Centers, Program Projects, environmental research centers, engineering research centers, and other grants and contracts that entail assembling and managing teams of investigators from a number of institutions.
  • Projects that involve extensive data accumulation, analysis and entry, surveying, tabulation, cataloging, searching literature, and reporting (such as epidemiological studies, clinical trials, and retrospective clinical records studies).
  • Projects that require making travel and meeting arrangements for large numbers of participants, such as conferences and seminars.
  • Projects whose principal focus is the preparation and production of manuals and large reports, books and monographs (excluding routine progress and technical reports).
  • Projects that are geographically inaccessible to normal departmental administrative services, such as research vessels, radio astronomy projects, and other research field sites that are remote from campus.
  • Individual projects that require project-specific database management; individualized graphics or manuscript preparation; human or animal protocols; and multiple project-related investigator coordination and communications.

Mandatory Cost Sharing: Cost sharing required by a sponsor as a condition for making an award. It requires the university to contribute a certain overall percentage of project costs.

Master Agreement: At UWM, an agreement which doesn’t itself provide funding, but instead sets the terms under which subsequent activities may be funded without further negotiation between the parties.

Matching Funds: A cash commitment to share the costs of a sponsored project (See also Cost Sharing). These are funds that must be supplied by the grantee as cash or in-kind contributions, depending on the funder’s requirements. The funder also may require a specific percent match.

Material Transfer Agreement : A contract under which one party (the provider) makes a tangible product, material, or resource available to another party (the recipient) for use in a research project free of charge or, for the cost of preparation and shipment.

Memorandum of Agreement: A written agreement between two or more parties, which delineates the tasks, jurisdiction, standard operating procedures, or other matters which the agencies or units are duly authorized and directed to conduct. Sometimes referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Memorandum of Understanding: (See Memorandum of Agreement).

Misconduct in Science Certification: (See also Certifications). Misconduct in science means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

Modification: (See Amendment).

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC, MTDC Base, Base): Consists of Total Direct Costs (TDC) minus “…equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care and tuition remission, long term space rental costs, scholarships, and fellowships as well as the portion of each subgrant and subcontract in excess of $25,000” (Source: OMB Circular A-21). Some sponsors also require that participant support be excluded from the MTDC Base.

Modular Budget: An NIH budget format used in R01, R03, R15, and R21 grant applications. When $250,000 or less in annual direct costs is requested, the modular budget eliminates the need for budget details. Applicants request budgets in modules of $25,000. At UWM, however, a detailed budget is required internally to prepare the modular budget.


No-Cost Extension (NCE): Provides for an additional period of performance to accomplish project goals. Permission for NCE generally must be requested from the sponsor.

No-Fund Agreement (NFA): At UWM, a research agreement not related to the provision of funds or other types of extramural support.

Non-competing Continuation Application: A request for financial or direct assistance for a second or subsequent budget period within a previously approved project period.

Notice of Award (Notice of Grant Award): (See Award).


Office of Management and Budget (OMB): A branch of the Executive Office of the President. OMB helps the president formulate spending plans; evaluates the effectiveness of agency programs, policies, and procedures; assesses competing funding demands among agencies; and sets funding priorities. OMB ensures that agency reports, rules, testimony, and proposed legislation are consistent with the president's budget and with administration policies.

Office of Management and Budget OMB A-21 : Office of Management and Budget Circular, “Principles for Determining Costs Applicable to Grants, Contracts, and Other Agreements with Educational Institutions.”

Office of Management and Budget OMB A-110 : Office of Management and Budget Circular, “Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations.”

Office of Management and Budget OMB A-133 : Office of Management and Budget Circular, “Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations.”

Organized Research: All research and development activities that are "separately budgeted and accounted for," according to Circular A-21. Sponsored research and university research are combined into the organized research function for Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A) purposes.

Outcomes: The changes in (or benefits achieved by) clients due to their participation in program activities. This may include changes to participants’ knowledge, skills, values, behavior, or condition of status.

Overhead: (See Facilities and Administrative Costs).


Participant: Program participants are the recipients of service or training provided at a workshop, conference, seminar, symposium or other short-term instructional or information-sharing activity funded by an external grant or award, or the training beneficiaries of the project or program funded by an external grant or award. A participant is not involved in providing any deliverable to the university or a third party or would not be terminated or replaced for failure to perform. University employees may not be participants.

Participant Costs: Costs used to pay program participants small stipends and reimbursement of travel costs or other out-of-pocket costs incurred to support attendance at a workshop, conference, seminar, symposium, or other short-term training or information-sharing activity.

Peer Review: A process used by many federal and some private funding agencies, whereby committees of experienced research investigators in the same research area or with the necessary expertise (from other institutions) review and recommend applications to the funding agency.

Performance Standard: The number and percent of clients/measures/data/experiments conducted who are expected to achieve the result. Also called target, it should be based on professional judgment, past data, research, or professional standards.

Preliminary Proposal or Pre-proposal: A brief outline or narrative of proposed work and sometimes budget, for informal review by a sponsor to determine whether a full proposal should be submitted. Three predominant reasons for requiring submission of a preliminary proposal are:

  • Reduce the proposers' unnecessary effort in proposal preparation when the chance of success is very small. This is particularly true of exploratory initiatives where the community senses that a major new direction is being identified, or competitions that will result in a small number of actual awards.
  • Increase the overall quality of the full submission.
  • Distill the number of applications that will be submitted to the agency and the number of anticipated reviewers needed to review.

Principal Investigator (PI): A person authorized to assume responsibility for the administrative and programmatic aspects of a project that utilizes extramural support, including ensuring funds are spent in accordance with institutional and sponsor guidelines.

Principal Investigator (PI) Status (UWM): Only faculty and probationary or indefinite status academic staff may serve as a principal investigator on a sponsored project. Others may serve only by permission of both the Dean/Division Head administering the award and the Vice Chancellor for Research & Economic Development.

Prior Approval: Written approval by an authorized awarding agency official evidencing prior consent.

Private Foundation: A nongovernmental, nonprofit organization with funds (usually from a single source, such as an individual, family, or corporation) and program managed by its own trustees or directors. Private foundations are established to maintain or aid social, educational, religious, or other charitable activities serving the common welfare, primarily through the making of grants. (See also 501(c)(3); Public Charity).

Program: An organized set of services designed to achieve specific outcomes for a specified population that will continue beyond the grant period.

Program Announcement: A generic funding opportunity accompanied by agency approved merit review criteria.

Program Description: A funding opportunity with broad, general descriptions of programs and activities. Program descriptions, like program announcements, utilize the generic eligibility and proposal preparation instructions.

Program Income: Program income is gross income earned by a research grant recipient from the activities, part or all of which are borne as a direct cost by the grant. Examples are fees for services performed under the grant, rental or usage fees charged for use of equipment purchased with grant funds, third party patient reimbursements for hospital or medical services paid from the grant, funds generated by the sale of commodities, such as cell lines or research animals developed from or paid for from the grant, and patent or copyright royalties.

Program Officer: An employee of a funding agency who oversees applications, funded projects and sometimes evaluates or determines funding for proposals. In federal agencies program officers generally have research and academic backgrounds similar to those of applicants.

Program Solicitation: The term "program solicitation" encourages the submission of proposals in specific program areas of interest. The solicitations in general are more focused than program announcements, and normally apply for a limited period of time. Competition among proposals is more precisely defined than with program announcements, and proposals received compete directly with each other for NSF funding. Program solicitations are issued when the funding opportunity does one or more of the following:

  • Provides supplemental proposal preparation guidance or deviates from the guidelines established in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide.
  • Contains additional, specially crafted review criteria relevant to the program.
  • Requires submission of a letter of intent or preliminary proposal.
  • Deviates from (or restricts) the standard categories of proposers.
  • Limits the number of proposals that may be submitted by any organization and/or researcher/educator.
  • Specifies additional award conditions or reporting requirements.
  • Anticipates use of a cooperative agreement.
  • Permits inclusion of the payment of fees to awardees, when appropriate.

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

Project: A planned undertaking or organized set of services designed to achieve specific outcomes that begins and ends within the grant period (A successful project may become an ongoing program).

Project Director: (See Principal Investigator).

Project Grants: The funding, for fixed or known periods, of specific projects. Project grants can include fellowships, scholarships, research grants, training grants, traineeships, experimental and demonstration grants, evaluation grants, planning grants, technical assistance grants, survey grants, and construction grants.

Proprietary Information/Data: Commercially valuable information developed or obtained at private expense which the owner has taken reasonable measures to keep confidential.

Proprietary Research: Research owned by and reserved exclusively for the client who purchased the research.

Proposal: A written statement/document establishing project objectives, need, methodology, qualifications of investigator(s), and budget plan for a funded project.

Public Charity: A nonprofit organization that qualifies for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Public charities are the recipients of most foundation and corporate grants. Some public charities also make grants (See also: 501(c)(3); Private Foundation).


Re-budgeting: Reallocation of funds available for spending between budget categories to allow best use of funds to accomplish the project goals.

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

Renewal: A competitively reviewed proposal requesting additional funds extending the scope of work beyond the current project period (applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only).

Request for Applications (RFA): An RFA includes instructions and information necessary to complete and submit an application. Any resulting awards are normally funded by a grant.

Request for Proposals (RFP): An RFP contains specific instructions for technical and cost proposals and usually includes a sample contract with terms and conditions that need to be reviewed and approved before submission of the proposal. The institutional endorsement for this type of proposal is considered an official offer; therefore, the proposal must meet certain internal requirements before it can be signed and submitted.

Research Grant: An award given to fund investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories in the light of new facts, or the application of such new or revise theories.

Research Services Order: At UWM, an agreement used in connection with short-term, limited-scope projects sponsored by a private, for-profit entity.

Resubmission: A resubmission is a request for funding from a sponsor for a proposal that has previously been rejected by the same sponsor. Occasionally, sponsors will request that an applicant make certain changes to a proposal and resubmit it. If a proposal has been substantially revised, or if the changes have not been made at the request of a sponsor, the proposal should be considered a new application.

Revised Budget: A revised budget is a revision of the budget for a previously submitted proposal, and is submitted to a sponsor only at the request of the sponsor. The sponsor will usually suggest the areas and categories in which a budget should be revised.


Scholarly Works: These include, but are not limited to, articles written for publication in academic journals, textbooks, works of art, musical compositions, and literary works. Theses and dissertations are not generally considered scholarly works but rather educational projects. Works by non-faculty employees are not usually considered scholarly works.

Scope of Employment: Activities that have been assigned to an employee by his/her supervisor or that are performed during normal working hours or that fall within the employee’s job description.

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

Seed Money: A grant or contribution used to start a new project or organization. Seed grants may cover salaries and other operating expenses of a new project.

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

Site Visit: A visit by funding agency staff to the research or program site to determine adequacy of staff and facilities to determine initial funding or to assess progress on a continuing project.

Sole Source Acquisition: Issuing an award to a subcontractor without full and open competition. This process may be done if an award is the result of a collaboration (where the ideas, concepts, and methodology were developed by the two parties jointly). There are restrictions on the use of this means of procurement, and documentation must show justification for using sole source acquisition.

Special Purpose Equipment: Equipment that can be used only for research, scientific, or other technical or scholarly activities.

Sponsor: An external funding source that enters into an agreement with the university to support research, instruction, public service, or other sponsored activities. Sponsors include private businesses, corporations, foundations and other not-for-profit organizations, other universities, and federal, state, and local governments.

Sponsored Project: A project supported by an external funding source under a mutually binding agreement that restricts the use of funds to the approved project and stipulates other conditions with which the university must comply. Sponsored projects typically:

  • Are initiated by a formal proposal and award notice.
  • Are restricted to a particular purpose as described in the proposal.
  • Require technical and/or financial reports.
  • Entail other administrative requirements.

Sponsored Research: All research and development activities that are sponsored by federal and non-federal agencies and organizations, according to Circular A-21. This includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques where the activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where these activities are not included in the instruction function. Sponsored research is combined with university research under the function of organized research for Facilities & Administration purposes.

Sponsored Research Agreement: At UWM, a template agreement that expresses the terms under which the university ordinarily conducts extramurally funded research with a private, for-profit sponsor. It is written to establish a fair and mutually beneficial relationship between the parties, consistent with law, applicable regulations, and institutional policies.

State Single Point of Contact : a process where a state agency reviews selected federal proposals submitted from that state to coordinate federal financial assistance to that state and to monitor federal grant applications and awards coming into that state. States may choose not to participate and states also may select only certain types of grant proposals for this review. Proposals generally are to be submitted for review well before the deadline in case the state wants to limit the number of proposals submitted.

Statement of Work: A description of the work to be performed and completed on a research project.

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.

Sub-award: A mechanism which is used to provide funding to an institution (subrecipient) that is collaborating with the lead institution (prime awardee) in the performance of a funded project. The sub-award is formalized with a sub-award agreement.

Subcontract: A contract between a prime contractor and a subcontractor to furnish supplies or services for the performance of a prime contract.

Subcontractor: A party that enters into and performs a subcontract.

Submission Windows: Designated periods of time during which proposals will be accepted for review.

Subrecipient: The legal entity to which a sub-award is made and which is accountable to the prime awardee for the use of the funds provided.

Supplemental Proposal: Additional support requested to ensure adequate completion of the original scope of work.

Supplies: All personal property excluding equipment, intangible property, and debt instruments as defined in this section, and inventions of a contractor conceived or first actually reduced to practice in the performance of work under a funding agreement.


Technology Transfer: The process of transferring scientific findings from one organization to another for the purpose of further development and commercialization.

Termination: The cancellation of awarding agency sponsorship, in whole or in part, under an agreement at any time prior to the date of completion.

Terms of Award: All legal requirements imposed on a grant by the federal government, whether by statute, regulation, or terms in the grant award document. Each Notice of Grant Award may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to attain the objectives of the grant, facilitate post-award administration of the grant, conserve grant funds, or otherwise protect the federal government's interests.

Timeline: A schematic or description of goals, objectives, benchmarks, and activities, with a designated time set for reaching completion. Timelines may also include responsible persons and measurable outcomes or products.

Total Direct Costs: The sum of all direct costs in a proposal budget (See Direct Costs).

Trade Secret: Information that is not generally known to the public, which is the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy and which derives its value in part from its confidentiality.

Training Grant: Programs which provide instructional activities for participants.

Transmittal: Formal, legal mailing or electronic submission of the proposal to the funding agency.

Tribal Colleges: Tribal colleges are those institutions cited in section 532 of the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act of 1994 (7 U.S.C. 301 note), any other institution that qualifies for funding under the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), and Diné College, authorized in the Navajo Community College Assistance Act of 1978, Public Law 95-471, title II (25 U.S.C. 640a note).

Tuition Remission: Waivers for a variety of tuition costs applicable to graduate students with a graduate appointment who may have their instructional and/or non-resident fees waived; athletes; employees, non-residents, etc. (See UWM Administrative Services Manual).


Unallowable Costs: Specific categories of costs that cannot be charged, directly or indirectly, to federally sponsored agreements in accordance with federal regulations.

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 Proposals: A proposal submitted to a sponsor that is not in response to a Request for Proposal, Request for Application or Program Announcement.

Unsolicited Research: (See Investigator Initiated Research).


Voluntary Cost Sharing: Cost sharing which is not required by the sponsor or shown on the proposal budget. Voluntary cost sharing is, however, usually reported as cost sharing through the effort reporting system in addition to mandatory or committed cost sharing.


WISPER (Wisconsin Proposal Electronic Routing): At UWM, a Web-based electronic routing and approval tool for extramural funding applications and agreements.

WISDM (Wisconsin Data Mart): At UWM, a Web-based system for viewing campus financial data.

Work: An original creation of authorship produced in a tangible medium, including literary pieces, musical compositions, dramatic selections, dances, photographs, drawings, paintings, sculpture, diagrams, advertisements, maps, motion pictures, radio and television programs, sound recordings, architectural design works and computer software programs.

Acknowledgements: Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, Central Michigan University, Federal Demonstration Project, Florida State University, Foundation Center, Grants.gov, Guide to Managing Federal Grants, Manchester College, Montana State University, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Saginaw Valley, Write Winning Proposals, Tennessee State University, University of Alaska, University of California Los Angeles, University of Iowa, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Rochester, and University of Washington

Page last updated on: 01/29/2014