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Grants Glossary

Before presenting the guidelines and requirements, it is important to establish a common understanding of key terms used in this Manual and/or generally associated with grants processes.  Below and on the following pages are definitions of such key terms organized by the following categories:


Pre-Proposal (Preliminary Proposal; Pre-Application; White Paper; Letter of Inquiry; Letter of Intent to Apply)

Solicited or unsolicited, a brief presentation by the PI of goals, methods, personnel, project evaluation, and budget submitted to a funding agency. Pre-proposals are used by funding agencies to determine the eligibility of the applicant and the suitability of the proposed project for support. The pre-proposal is usually in letter form for private agencies and can be an abbreviated form of the standard proposal format for public agencies. Unsolicited pre-proposals are not official requests for funding.



A project proposed for the first time to a sponsoring agency.


Non-Competing Continuation

A request of support for a second or subsequent budget period within a previously approved project period.



A continuation of a project for which the proposal submission is competitive.



A request for funding for a new idea related to a funded project, for expansion of the project’s scope, or for special purposes which may enhance the progress of the research, such as purchasing a piece of equipment or to support undergraduate and minority students.




Award Mechanisms


The type of award mechanism to be utilized is determined by OGSR based on the requirements of the award, regardless of what it may be called by the Sponsor in the application or award documents. 



A legally binding agreement to provide expertise to conduct research, training, or other service.


Cooperative Agreement

Legal document that transfers money, property, services or anything of value to the recipient in order to accomplish a public purpose. Substantial involvement is anticipated between the sponsor and the recipient during performance of the activity.



A request for funds from a public or private source to support research, training, outreach, service, or other purpose.


Sub-Award (Sub-Contract, Sub-Grant)

A document written under the authority of, and consistent with the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract or cooperative agreement), that allocates a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.



Budgets and Budget-Related


Budget Period

Usually 12 months. One or more budget periods make up the Project Period. (See Project Period below.)


Cost Sharing

A contribution, mandatory or voluntary, of cash or services provided by the grantee institution or a third-party to the overall costs of a sponsored project. If cost sharing is required by the funding agency (mandatory cost share), the level and type of contributed support are generally specified in program guidelines or application instructions.


Cost sharing commitments are not normally made in a proposal unless required specifically in the program announcement. The percentage of the mandated cost share and the potential significance of the proposed scholarly activity to the overall mission of the institution and the academic or interdisciplinary unit will be considered by the Vice Provost in recommending and/or approving institutional cost share.


Direct Costs

Costs that can be specifically identified with, and charged to, a particular project or program, such as salaries and benefits of project personnel, travel, equipment, services, and supplies.



A tangible article that has a useful life of more than one (1) year and an acquisition cost of $3,000 or more.  Note: This is the definition for TCNJ purposes. Often, a funding agency will define equipment differently. 



Sponsor or grantee approval of additional time (generally not to exceed 12 months) to any budget period, including the final budget period, of a previously approved project (performance) period.  The extension is generally made without additional funds.  Approval of an extension must be formalized in writing by either the sponsor or the grantee.


Facilities and Administrative Costs (aka Indirect Costs)

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs, sometimes referred to as Indirect Costs, are those expenses related to research that cannot be easily identified with a particular sponsored project, instructional activity, or any other institutional activity. These costs are classified under two broad categories: Facilities (depreciation and use allowances, equipment, operation and maintenance, and library expenses) and Administrative (general, sponsored projects, departmental, and school administration, and student administration and services). F&A is normally an element of every proposal budget, unless it is disallowed by the sponsor. The current negotiated F&A rate, applicable through June 30, 2016, at TCNJ is 65.0 percent of salaries. 


Fringe Benefits

Fringe benefits are direct costs associated with salaries and wages and include the following items: FICA (Social Security); retirement; insurance for medical, dental, life, unemployment insurance, long-term disability and employee liability coverage; and worker’s compensation.



See definition for Equipment.


Reasonable Costs

A cost for which 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 incur the cost was made.


A payment made to an individual to provide for the individual’s living or project-related expenses during the period of training or education as part of the grant. A stipend is not for services rendered; it is not salary or wage, subject to income tax withholding or FICA/Medicare taxes, although the value of a stipend may be taxable as income.

  • Research Stipend: Includes money received in exchange for research and is a taxable fee for service. This stipend is applicable for faculty, not for students.

  • Training Stipend: When the purpose of the position is for the student to gain experience, not for the purpose of finding research results or for any institutional gain. No structured work schedule can be included in order to be excluded from income taxation. This stipend is applicable for students. Consult with OGSR for specific examples of appropriate text to decipher training stipends.

  • Housing Stipend: Includes a housing fee waived for students. If the housing cost is charged to the account, it is not excluded from taxable income. If housing is provided without allocation of funds, it can be excluded from taxable income.


Total Project Costs

The total allowable costs incurred by the grantee institution to carry out an approved grant-supported project or activity, including costs charge to the sponsor, and costs contributed by the grantee as listed in the grant application.






Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA)

The Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance is a government-wide compendium of Federal programs, projects, services, and activities that provide assistance or benefits to the American public. It contains financial and nonfinancial assistance programs administered by departments and establishments of the Federal government.


Fiscal Year (FY)

A 12-month period for which annual accounts are kept.  The TCNJ and State of New Jersey FY is July 1 to June 30. The federal government’s FY is October 1 through September 30.


Funding Agency

The agency, entity, or organization that provides the funding for a particular grant or contract.


Performance Period

See “Project Period.”


Project Period

The total time approved by the funding agency for a supported project, including any extensions approved by the institution or the funding agency. The project period consists of one or more budget periods which are usually 12 months each.


Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI/PD)

The individual designated by the grantee institution to direct the project or activity being supported by the grant and who is responsible and accountable to the institution for the proper conduct of the work.


Program/Project Officer

A sponsor’s designated official responsible for the technical, scientific or programmatic aspects of the award, including monitoring progress and working with PI’s on project-related issues.


Reassigned Time

Time and effort for an employee is temporarily reassigned from normal duties to other approved assignments such as, for faculty, research or administrative duties.



Systematic study of an idea directed toward new and/or more complete knowledge and understanding of a particular subject.



See “Funding Agency.”