Key Terms

Addendum: Extra documents you include with your grant, such as letters of support. These must be labeled and referenced with the narrative of the grant.

Agency: Department or branch of federal, state, or local government. It may also refer to a public charity, sometimes called an organization.

Allocability: A cost is allocable to a particular sponsored project, if the goods and services involved are chargeable or assignable in accordance with relative benefits received or other equitable relationship. 

Allowability: The determination of whether or not costs can be charged to a sponsored project as a direct to F&A cost.

Allowable Cost: A cost incurred by an award recipient that is (a) reasonable for the performance of the award, (b) allocable, (c) consistent with regulations, policies, and procedures of the recipient for both federally / state-supported and other activities of the organization, (d) accorded consistent treatment as a direct or indirect cost, (e) determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and, (f) not included as a cost in any other federally / state supported cost (unless authorized).

Amended Proposal: A proposal modified after it has been submitted but before the award is made; it may be initiated by either the submitting organization or the funding source.

Application Deadline: Due date for application submission. Application is likely not to be accepted once the deadline has passed.

Announcement Number: Use this number to search for specific funding opportunities on It can be used to search for current or past funding opportunities.

Application Package: A group of specific forms and documents for application to a particular funding opportunity.

Authorized Organization Representative (AOR): The individual, named by the applicant/recipient organization, who is authorized to act for the applicant/recipient and to assume the obligations imposed by federal laws, regulations, requirements, and conditions that apply to grant applications or awards. This individual is authorized to sign on behalf of the university/foundation/organization.

Auxiliary: A CSU organization which is (a) included in the list of auxiliary organizations in good standing maintained by the Chancellor pursuant to Section 42406, infra, and/or (b) which is an organization specified in Education Code Section 89900, which is any organization using the name of the State or a campus, or representing an official relationship with a campus, or in which any campus official participates as a director as part of their official position. (5 CCR 42400, Definition).

Award: The document that provides funds to a recipient to carry out an approved program or project (based on an approved application or progress report).

BAA: Broad Agency Announcement.

Boilerplate: Sections of a proposal applicable to various requests, i.e., organizational descriptions, professional resumes, etc. It is often maintained by organizations submitting numerous proposals to reduce preparation time.

Budget: The financial plan for your grant is itemized to show the breakdown of income and expenses.

Budget Justification: Written explanation of items listed in the budget. Provides rationale for why items are being requested.

Campus: In ICSUAM Section 11000 for Sponsored Programs, Campus means either the University or the Auxiliary/Foundation.

Ceiling Amount: The maximum amount of funding an organization may request in its application budget.

CFDA Number (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number): The number assigned to a federal program in the CFDA.

Close Date: The deadline designated by the grant-making agency for submission of a particular grant application.

Consistency: A cost is considered to be treated consistently when the expense is treated as either a direct or F8tA cost under like circumstances.

Compensated Effort: Compensation for effort consisting go campus assignment, reimbursed time, additional employment, direct pay, and cost share for faculty and staff performing services under Sponsored Projects.

Competing Continuation: Application submitted to extend the support period for a project whose funding would otherwise expire.

Conflict of Interest: This occurs when an employee or their immediate family has a significant financial interest that is determined to affect the ability to execute the grant or contract objectively.

Consultant: Independent entities engaged under a grant to provide a specific service or product (product purchase or fee-for-service). They are not employees of the grantee and no employer-employee relationship exists between the consultant and the grantee.  

Continuation Grant: An extension or renewal of existing program funding for one or more additional budget period(s) that would otherwise expire. Continuation grants are typically available to existing recipients of discretionary, multi-year projects; however, new applicants may be considered

Receipt of a continuation grant is usually based on the availability of funds, project performance, and compliance with progress and financial reporting requirements. Continuation applications may compete with other continuation requests submitted to the awarding agency.

Contract: An agreement between the University or Auxiliary and a Sponsor to provide an economic benefit, generally in the form of services, for compensation. The agreement is binding and creates a quid pro quo relationship between the parties.

Contractor:  See Vendor / Contractor.

Cost Sharing / Cost Match: Represents that portion of project or program costs not borne by the sponsor (generally the federal government). Cost sharing can be voluntary or mandatory (that is, required by means of a statute or law), and can take the form of either cash or in-kind contributions. 

  1. Cash: Represents actual verifiable expenditures from the recipient or from non-Federal third parties - and includes costs incurred by the University to Auxiliary, including indirect costs.
  2. In-Kind: Represents the value of all non cash contributions, including services and property provided by non-Federal third parties. 
  3. Mandatory: ​​​​​​​Required by the sponsor or funding agency supporting the sponsor project. Some sponsors require that the recipient of an award provide some level of cost sharing or matching costs as a condition of receiving the award.
  4. Voluntary: That portion of the project costs that the campus provides on its own initiative when the sponsor does not require cost share or the amount of cost share provided is more than the sponsor's mandatory requirement. 
    1. ​​​​​​​Voluntary committed: ​​​​​​​Quantified and included in the proposal budget and award and becomes a binding requirement of the award.
    2. Voluntary Uncommitted: Effort that is over and above that which is committed and budgeted for in a sponsored agreement. Voluntary uncommitted effort is not required to be documented or tracked. 

Deadline: Date after which a proposal will not be accepted for review; often stated as a receipt date or a postmark date.

Direct Costs: The total dollar amount necessary to fund your project. Includes money only, not indirect costs. Direct costs are those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular final cost objective, such as an award, or other internally or externally funded activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy. Costs incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances must be treated consistently as either direct or indirect (F&A) costs.

Disallowed Costs: Any charges to the approved grant that the sponsor or grantmaker has determined to be beyond the scope of the purpose of a grant, excessive, or otherwise unallowable.

DUNS Number: The nine-digit number established and assigned by Dun and Bradstreet, Inc. (D&B) to uniquely identify entities. A non-Federal entity must have a DUNS number to apply for, receive, and report on a Federal award.

Eligibility: An applicant must meet the criteria to apply for the grant/program. Eligibility is determined by organization type, regional location, population, or previous awards.

Eligible Applicants: Any organization that meets the eligibility requirements of a funding opportunity. Eligibility for each program is different and is presented in the FOA.

Equipment: Definition varies – usually considered as any item having an approximate unit value in excess of $500 and an estimated usefulness of more than two years.

Facilities & Administrative Costs: See indirect costs.

Fellowship: An award made directly to an individual supporting specific educational pursuits.

Fiscal Year: Federal budget year. Goes from October 1 to September 30.

Fringe Benefits: Payments in addition to base salary for social security, retirement, health insurance, etc.

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA): A publicly available document by which a federal agency makes known its intentions to award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements, usually due to competition for funds. Funding opportunity announcements may be known as program announcements, notices of funding availability, solicitations, or other names depending on the agency and type of program. Funding opportunity announcements can be found at in the Search Grants tab and on the funding agency's or program's website.

Funding Period: The period when federal funding is available to the recipient.

Gift: ​​​​​​​Any item of value given to the University by a donor who expects nothing in return, other than recognition and disposition of the gift in accordance with that donor's wishes. There is no formal fiscal accountability to the donor beyond periodic progress reports and summary reports of expenditures. These reports may be thought of as requirements of good stewardship, and, as such, may be required by the terms of a gift. They are not characterized as contactual obligations or "deliverables".

Grant: A financial contribution to a Recipient to carry out an approved project or activity. A Grant generally anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement of the Sponsor with the Recipient during performance of the project or activity, but Sponsors usually require deliverables/progress reports and/or final report - and an accounting of the use of funds or return of unused funds. 

Grant Application: Document(s) submitted to an organization with the intent to secure funding.

Grant Period: Time period when proposed / active grant occurs.

Grant Proposal: See "Grant Application."

Grantee: An legal entity that receives an award and assumes responsibility for fiscal accountability for managing awarded funds, supervision of grant-supported activities, and submission of final reports.

Grantor: Agency, organization, etc., who is providing the grant.

Guidelines: Procedures set forth by a funder that grantseekers should follow.

Indirect Cost Rate Agreement: A formal agreement signed by the university representative and the federal government.

Indirect (F&A) Costs: Those costs incurred for a common or joint purpose benefitting more than one cost objective, and not readily assignable to the cost objectives specifically benefitted, without effort disproportionate to the results achieved. To facilitate equitable distribution of indirect expenses to the cost objectives served, it may be necessary to establish a number of pools of indirect (F&A) costs. Indirect (F&A) costs pools must be distributed to benefitted cost objectives on bases that will produce an equitable result in consideration of relative benefits derived. 

In-Kind Contribution: Refers to a contribution of services or items that an organization donates instead of a monetary sum to help fund the project (I.e., contributing a staff member's time).

Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs): IHE is defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001, which states, "an educational institution in any State that—

  1. admits as regular students only persons having a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the recognized equivalent of such a certificate, or persons who meet the requirements of section 1091(d) of this title;
  2. is legally authorized within such state to provide a program of education beyond secondary education;
  3. provides an educational program for which the institution awards a bachelor's degree or provides not less than a 2-year program that is acceptable for full credit toward such a degree, or awards a degree that is acceptable for admission to a graduate or professional degree program, subject to review and approval by the Secretary;
  4. is a public or other nonprofit institution; and
  5. is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association, or if not so accredited, is an institution that has been granted pre-accreditation status by such an agency or association that has been recognized by the Secretary for the granting of pre-accreditation status, and the Secretary has determined that there is satisfactory assurance that the institution will meet the accreditation standards of such an agency or association within a reasonable time."

IRB: Institutional Review Board – A review body established to protect the welfare of human subjects recruited to participate in activities. Protects the rights of individuals by guarding privacy, reducing risk, etc.

Letter of Intent: A preliminary, non-binding indication of an organization's intent to submit an application.

Letter of Support: A letter attached to a proposal that indicates support from an expert, organizational leader, financial backer, etc. who tells why they believe your project should be funded.

Matching Funds: Refers to a dollar amount the grantee or other outside party agrees to contribute to the project.

Multi-year Budget: Budget representing the cost of a project of more than one year's duration; a separate budget is prepared for each year.

Narrative: The written portion of your grant proposal. Often, the grant guidelines will detail what is expected in the narrative and the maximum page length. Always adhere closely to these institutions.

NOA (Notice of Award): The officially legally binding award document that (a) notifies the recipient of the award of a grant and (b) contains or references all the terms and conditions for the grant and funding limits.

Nongovernmental Investigator: For non-governmentally funded projects, a Principal Investigator ("Investigator") who has primary responsibility for the scientific and technical conduct and reporting of a research project funded by a nongovernmental entity.

NSF Investigator: The term "Investigator" means the principal investigator, co-principal investigators/co-project directors, and any other person at the organization who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting go research or educational activities funded by or proposed for funding by NSF.

  1. Note: For purposes of policy #11010.02, regardless of funding source, "Investigator" also includes the investigator's purse/domestic partner and dependent children. 

Objective: Specific, measurable aims for a project with matching outcomes to measure them.

Outcomes: Expected project results, which can be used to measure its success.

Pass-Through Grants: Grants awarded to a grantee, such as a state administrative agency, with the requirement that the majority, if not all, of the funds are distributed to other generally small organizations or agencies.

Peer Review: The process of evaluating proposals for funding; usually involves experts representing the same general fields or disciplines as the proposal topics. 

Performance Report: Regular collection of data to assess whether the correct processes are being performed and desired results are being achieved.

PHS Investigator: ​​​​​​​Investigator means the project director or principal investigator and any other person, regardless of title or position, who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research funded by the PHS, or proposed for such funding, which may include, for example, collaborators or consultants. 

Principal Investigator: ​​​​​​​The individual (whether referred to in the Contract or Grant as a Principal Investigator, Project Director, or other similar terms) designated by the Sponsor dProgram Administrator to be responsible for ensuring compliance with the academic, scientific, technical, financial, and administrative aspects and for day-to-day management of the Sponsored Program.

Private Business Use: When space in a tax-exempt, bond-funded facility (TEBFF) is utilized by nongovernmental/non-university entities (including the Federal Government); or utilized for purposes that provides an non-governmental entity with a special legal entitlements with respect to the use of a TEBFF.

Procedure: Describe the critical steps undertaken to achieve policy intent; internal controls that demonstrate compliance with policies/regulations.

Planning Grant: Research designed to lay the framework to implement larger-scale projects.

Policy: ​​​​​​​A definite course or method of action to guide and determine present and future decisions and describe the rules that establish what will or will not be done. 

Post-Award: After a grant is awarded, post-award assists with implementing the grant, reporting progress, and completing closeout requirements.

Post Mark Date: Indicates the location and date the Postal Service accepted custody of a mail piece.

Pre-Award: The beginning of the grant process – involves finding / solicitating funding announcing opportunities, creating/submitting applications, and application review.

Preliminary Proposal: Some grants require a preliminary proposal to be submitted and accepted before being allowed to submit a full proposal.

Program Officer: A federal / state agency staff member who reviews grant proposals and processes applications for the board of trustees.

Project Cost: Total allowable costs incurred under a Federal award and all required cost sharing and voluntary committed cost sharing, including third-party contributions.

Project Director: Individual responsible for activities involved in the grant, including evaluation and follow-up.

Project Period: The period established in the award document during which awarding agency sponsorship begins and ends.

Proposal: A written application, often accompanied by supporting documents, submitted to an agency or foundation requesting a grant.

Reasonableness: A cost is reasonable if the nature of the goods or services acquired or applied, and the amount involved therefore, reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken under the circumstances prevailing at the time the decision to insure the cost was made.

Recipient: The University to Auxiliary designated as the Sponsored Program Administrator and award a Contract or Grant. The Recipient is either the University or Auxiliary, as the case may be, even if a particular component is designated in the award document, and shall not be an individual, department, or other constituent unit. 

Related Principles: Principled are codified norms, rules, or values that represent what is desirable and positive for the organization. 

Research: ​​​​​​​From 45 CFR 46.102, "Research means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop to contribute to generalizable knowledge." The terms encompasses basic and applied research. Basic research is defined as systemic study directed toward fuller knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications towards processes or products in mind. Applied research is defined as systemic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific needs may be met.

Review Criteria: Critical elements of the grant program presented in the FOA, RFP, NOFO, etc. The criteria assist the applicant in presenting pertinent information and provide the reviewer with a standard for evaluating an application.

RFA (Request for Applications): See request for a proposal.

RFP (Request for a Proposal): An acronym for Request for Proposal. They are also referred to as FOAs, RFAs, NOFOs, etc. When the government issues a new contract or grant program, it sends out RFPs that list project specifications and application procedures.

Salary Cap: A limitation imposed by the Sponsor on the amount of salary that can be directly charged to projects.

Significant Financial Interest: ​​​​​​​Anything of monetary value, including but not limited to salary or other payments for service (e.g., consulting fees or honoraria); equity interests (e.g. stocks, stock options); being na owner, partner, director or officer in a non-publicly held company or entity; and, intellectual property rights (e.g., patents, copyrights) and royalties from such rights. Refer to the CSU FCOI Disclosure Requirements by Funding Source Chart for specific definitions for each funding source. 

Sound Business Practices: A set of practices that contribute to achieving compliance and a targeted level of quality.

​​​​​​​Specialized Service Facilities: A Specialize Service Facility (SSF) as defined by 2 CFR 200.468, is an operating unit that provides highly complex or specialized services to internal or external users. 

Sponsor: The part/entity paying for services or other economic benefit under a Contract or providing financial assistance/contribution for a project or activity under a grant.

Sponsored Agreement: A Contract, Grant, or other agreement from the Sponsor to the Campus.

Sponsored Projects: A project resulting from a grant, contract, or other agreement between the campus and a sponsor.

​​​​​​​Sponsored Program Administrator: The entity (University or Auxiliary) designated by the Campus to administer the Sponsored Program.

​​​​​​​Sponsored Program Records: Include, but are not limited to, accepted proposals and applications; Contracts or Grant agreements; program reports and data; correspondence; budgets and supporting financial documentation; and other records relating to receipt, review, award, evaluation, status, and monitoring of Sponsored Programs.

Sponsored Program Work Product: Any work created in the performance of a Sponsored Project. Unless the cOntract or Grant states otherwise, Sponsored Program Work Product does not include journal articles, lectures, images, books, or other works that are subject to copyright protection and have been created through independent academic effort and based in the findings of the Sponsored Program. 

Subaward: An award (sub grant to subcontract) of financial support from prime awardee/pass-through entity to a qualified organization for the performance of a substantive portion of the programmatic effort funded under the prime award. This term also includes awards made by a sub-recipient to a lower tier sub recipient. It doe snot include payments to a contractor or payments to an individual that is a beneficiary of the program.

Subcontract: A legal agreement to transfer a grant or contract from the awarded institution to another organization. Terms and conditions of the original contract/grant also apply to the subcontract.

Subrecipient: The legal entity to which a sub award is made and which is accountable for the use of the funds provided incurring out a portion of the prime awardee's/pass-through entity's programmatic effort under a sponsor project. A sub recipient has responsibility for programmatic and/or administrative decision making and adherence to the applicable sponsor program compliance requirements. The term may include institutions go higher education, non-profit organization, for-profit corporations, and foreign or international organizations at the discretion of the Federal awarding agency. 

System for Award Management (SAM): SAM validates applicant information and electronically shares the secure and encrypted data with the federal agencies' finance offices to facilitate paperless payments through Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). SAM stores your organizational information, allowing to verify your identity and to pre-fill organizational information on your grant applications.

Termination: The ending of a Federal award, in whole or in part at any time before the planned end of the performance period.

Total project or Program Costs: the total allowable costs (direct and indirect) incurred by the recipient to carry out a grant-supported project or activity. Total project or program costs include costs charged to the award and costs borne by the recipient to satisfy a matching or cost-sharing requirement.

Unallowable Cost: A cost specified by law or regulation, federal cost principles, or term and condition of the award that may not be reimbursed under a grant or cooperative agreement.

University: ​​​​​​​One of the campuses of the California State University or the Office of the Chancellor.

Useful Guidelines: ​​​​​​​Non-mandatory, supplemental information about acceptable methods for implementing policy requirements. 

Vendor/Contractor: ​​​​​​​A Vendor/Contractor is responsible for providing goods or services necessary to conduct the research or other programmatic effort, but is not responsible for the results of the research or effort. Vendors/Contractors provide similar goods or services to many different purchasers. A Vendor/Contractor is only required to meet the terms of the procurement agreement and is not subject to compliance requirements of a Federal (or other) Sponsor.