Sources:, Foundation Center, Funding Solutions Corp, Mary Licklider – The University of Missouri Grant Writer Network, National Institutes for Health

  • A
    A-21 Office of Management and Budget Circular A-21: “Cost Principles for Educational Institutions.” Available at
    A-110 Office of Management and Budget Circular A-110: “Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Other Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Non-Profit Organizations.” Available at
    A-133 Office of Management and Budget Circular A-133: “Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations.” Available at
    abstract A brief summary (usually one page or less) of the grant proposal. It is often the first part of the proposal reviewers read and may be the only part some reviewers read. After the grant is awarded, the sponsor often publishes the abstract.
    activity A specific step taken within each objective to achieve your goal.
    ADVANCE NSF funding program, Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers (ADVANCE). Details are available at
    AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access) The catalog for the collections of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Library, as well as a primary public source for worldwide access to agricultural information. The database covers materials in all formats and periods, including printed works from as far back as the 15th century. Available at
    allowable costs Expenses that can be charged to a grant project in keeping with the sponsor’s guidelines and the relevant OMB circulars.
    authorized signer An individual authorized to commit the institution to follow a certain course of action, such as submit a proposal to a grant sponsor. Individuals within sponsored programs offices typically perform this function at institutions of higher education.
    award Funds provided by a sponsor to pay expenses for a specific project.
  • B
    biosketch or biographical sketch A short description (usually 2–4 pages) of an individual’s qualifications, usually including education, other professional preparation, work experience and appointments, publications, and honors/awards. NIH biosketches also require a personal statement and a list of current and recently completed research support. NSF biosketches require lists of synergistic activities. Both NSF and USDA require information about collaborators.
    broad agency announcement (BAA) An announcement of a federal agency’s general research interests that invites proposals and specifies the general terms and conditions under which an award may be made.
    budget justification A narrative description of all budgeted expenditures in a project.
  • C
    CA (confidentiality agreement) A legal agreement that defines the rights and obligations of all participants involved in exchanging confidential information between or among the signing parties.
    CAREER NSF funding program, Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program . Details are available at See K awards for the NIH’s career funding mechanisms.
    CFDA (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance) A database of all federal programs, projects, services, and activities for which spending is authorized. Every authorized program does not necessarily receive funding, however. Every federally sponsored funding opportunity announcement will be associated with a CFDA number. Access is available at
    compliance Adherence to all applicable federal, state, and institutional research-related rules and regulations. Research compliance includes research integrity, human subjects protection (see institutional review board [IRB]), research animal care and welfare (see animal care and use committee [ACUC]), export controls, classified and sensitive research, lobbying activities, and conflict of interest. Additional areas include radiation safety and biological safety. Fiscal and sponsored programs aspects of research compliance (such as effort verification reports and grants management) are typically handled by the institution’s sponsored programs office.
    conflict of interest Any circumstance in which an individual could potentially benefit personally from performing a sponsored project or other institutional responsibility. Any potential conflict of interest should be called to the attention of the institution’s conflict of interest contact person as soon as possible.
    consortium agreement Terms and conditions for personnel from two or more organizations to work together on a project.
    consulting Professional activity related to an individual’s field or discipline where a fee-for-service or equivalent relationship with a third party exists. For grant proposal budgeting purposes, the consulting line is used when the work to be performed is a small part of the project, is work routinely provided for the general public and not unique to the project, and involves little discretionary judgment.
    cooperative agreement A type of award requiring a written agreement in which substantial involvement is anticipated between the sponsor and the awardee institution during the performance of the project.
    co-principal investigator (co-PI) A member of the research team with status equal to the PI (principal investigator).
    COS (Community of Science) A set of subscription information resources accumulated for the global research and development community. Includes funding opportunities, an expertise database, and customized access to a range of professional reference databases including US Patents, MEDLINE, AGRICOLA, and GeoRef, among others. Recently replaced by PIVOT. PIVOT access is available at
    cost sharing That portion of the total project costs which is not paid by the sponsor and is the responsibility of the grantee institution.
  • D
    DHHS U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are part of DHHS. See for further information.
    direct costs Costs that are easily identified with a particular project, in contrast to costs which are part of the institutional infrastructure and not readily assigned to one specific project.
    dissemination Activities to inform other individuals and institutions about the results of a project. These activities can include publishing, presenting results at professional conferences, creating websites, sharing data, conducting webinars, hosting classes or seminars, and submitting progress reports to sponsors.
    DOE U.S. Department of Energy. See for further information.
  • E
    ED U.S. Department of Education. See for further information.
    effort The portion of time an individual spends on a project or activity, typically expressed as a percentage of full-time effort (FTE) or as person months per year.
    effort verification Reporting in response to the mandate that applies to all federally sponsored contracts or grants requiring that the distribution of pay must accurately reflect the effort devoted to a project.
    endowment grant A grant to be invested in perpetuity for the ongoing operations of an organization.
    export controls Federal rules about the distribution of strategically important products, services, and information to foreign nationals and countries for reasons of foreign policy and national security.
    extension Additional time to complete a project beyond the agreed-upon end date.
    evaluation The systematic monitoring and assessment of resource allocation; programs, interventions, and activities; management actions; program performance; and resulting outcomes.
  • F
    F&A (facilities & administrative costs) Infrastructure costs associated with sponsored projects; the percentage is periodically negotiated with the institution’s federal cognizant agency to allow the institution to recover some of the infrastructure costs associated with sponsored projects. Also known as indirect costs or overhead costs.
    funding opportunity announcement (FOA) term for any agency announcement of the availability of funding.
  • G
    GeoRef Database established by the American Geological Institute in 1966 to provide access to the geoscience literature of the world. Available at
    gift In contrast to grant, funds that are awarded with few or no restrictions.
    GK–12 NSF funding program, Graduate STEM Fellows in K–12 Education (GK–12). Details are available at
    goal The overall, broad purpose of a project or organization.
    GOALI NSF funding program, Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI). Details are available at
    grant In contrast to gift, funds pledged by a sponsor to support research or another specific project.
    Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Guidelines published by NSF for grant proposal development and submission. Available at
  • H
    human subject Living human being involved in a research project as a subject. The protective oversight for research activities involving living humans is delegated to the institutional review board (IRB).
    human subjects narrative Narrative section of a grant proposal describing the project’s human subjects research activities and the protections planned for those human subjects.
  • I
    IGERT NSF funding program, Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program. Details are available at
    indirect costs See F&A.
    institutional review board (IRB) Committee that oversees research involving human subjects to ensure protection of those subjects in keeping with federal and institutional compliance regulations. IRB approval must be obtained before a project involving human subjects can begin and before grant funding can be awarded.
    intellectual property Works created by human beings, such as discoveries, inventions, and musical, literary, and artistic works. Common types of intellectual property protections include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights, and trade secrets.
  • K
    K awards A range of NIH funding mechanisms for supporting career development of biomedical scientists. Details are available at
    key personnel Any person whose intellectual involvement is essential to the success of a project; also known as senior personnel.
  • L
    letter of commitment A notice describing commitments of resources (such as personnel time, space, equipment, or funding) made by an organization or individual to a given project. A letter of commitment may also contain elements of a letter of support.
    letter of intent (LOI) A notice of intent to apply to a specific funding opportunity. LOIs usually contain contact information and a brief description of the proposed project that enables the sponsor to plan for the proposal review process.
    letter of support A notice of support for a particular area of scholarship or project without making any commitments of resources for the project.
    limited submission Programs for which the sponsor limits the number of applications or nominations that a given institution or individual may submit.
    logic model A graphic or table representing how the project team will manage the project’s inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes to solve identified problems.
  • M
    matching grant A grant that requires a portion of the project’s cost be supplied from sources other than the sponsor.
    material transfer agreement (MTA) A document used for the transfer of materials between institutions.
    memorandum of understanding (MOU) An agreement describing the roles and responsibilities of the individuals or organizations involved in a specific project or activity. An MOU is usually signed by an authorized signer from each party.
    modified total direct costs (MTDC) That portion of total direct costs against which the F&A rate can be applied; for example, total direct costs modified by removing those budget items to which F&A charges cannot be applied.
    modular budget The NIH allows many projects with total direct costs of up to $250,000 per year to submit only limited budget information to reduce the administrative burden to applicants, reviewers, and NIH staff. Modular grant applications request direct costs in $25,000 modules and may request up to 10 modules per year. The NIH Modular Research Grant Application web page at provides detailed information about the application process, including samples of relevant pages from a grant application.
    MRI NSF funding program, Major Research Instrumentation Program. Details are available at
  • N
    NSF National Science Foundation. Details are available at
    NIH National Institutes of Health. Details are available at
  • O
    objective The interim benchmarks to be achieved during the project toward the long-term goal or goals that the project addresses.
    OMB circulars Government-wide policy directives issued by the Office of Management and Budget that apply to grants. Circulars that apply to institutions of higher education include A-21, A-110, and A-133.
    outcomes The results of a project. Outcomes are often designated as short-term (for example, increasing awareness), intermediate, and long-term (for example, larger-scale, longer-term social, economic, civic, or environmental conditions).
    overhead See F&A.
  • P
    peer review Objective assessment of the merit of applications by peers, or individuals with expertise equivalent to that of the individuals whose applications they are reviewing.
    person months The portion of time an individual spends on a project or activity, expressed as the number of months per year.
    PHS 398 Public Health Service (PHS) grant application forms used by the NIH and other PHS entities. Available at
    preproposal Comparatively brief documents containing technical information submitted to a sponsor which can lead to an invitation to submit a full proposal.
    principal investigator (PI) or project director (PD) Team member who is responsible for all aspects of the work described in the grant proposal and serves as the sponsor’s primary programmatic contact for the project.
    program announcement Request for grant applications in stated scientific areas. The sponsor may or may not set aside funding specifically for these programs.
    program income Gross income that is directly generated by a supported activity or as a result of a grant award. The income may derive from such sources as fees for services performed as part of the project, the use or rental of real or personal property acquired under a funded project, the sale of commodities or items fabricated under a funded project, or interest on loans made with award funds.
    program officer An employee of the sponsor who provides information about sponsor activities and funding opportunities. Some program officers review drafts and discuss reviews of previously submitted proposals.
    program project grant (PPG or P01) NIH funding mechanism that usually includes several closely related research projects and several core facilities to support those projects.
    progress report Report summarizing the work to date on a funded project. Multiyear awards frequently require a progress report before the next year’s funding is released.
    project director See principal investigator.
  • R
    request for applications (RFA) Announcement detailing availability of grant funds for well-defined scientific areas, generally with a single receipt date and funds set aside specifically for the announced program.
    request for proposals (RFP) Announcement with a single receipt date requesting proposals for a contract to meet a specific need.
    resubmission Submitting a revised proposal to the same sponsor after it failed to receive funding when it was submitted earlier. Some sponsors limit the number of resubmissions.
    RET NSF funding program, Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) in Engineering and Computer Science. Details are available at
    REU NSF funding program, Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). Details are available at
  • S
    scope of work (SOW) A written description of work to be performed on a project.
    senior personnel See key personnel.
    SF (standard form) 424 Standard cover sheet used by most federal agencies for grant applications. Available at
    solicitation Formal document that elicits proposals for acquisition or financial assistance awards. Includes requests for proposals (RFPs), requests for applications (RFAs), and broad agency announcements (BAAs).
    sponsor An organization that provides funds to other entities to carry out programs or projects.
    sponsored programs office Administrative office that helps personnel acquire and manage external funding for research, training, and public service projects. Sometimes called sponsored research office.
    start-up grant A grant to cover the costs of starting a new program or organization.
    stipend A fixed sum of money paid for services or to help cover expenses.
    subcontract or subaward Agreement for personnel from another organization to carry out a specific portion of the scope of work described in a proposal.
  • T
    technical assistance grant A grant to support organizational development.
    total direct costs (TDC) The sum of all direct costs for a project.
  • U
    unallowable costs Costs that cannot be included in a project budget because of specific laws, regulations, or sponsor limitations.
    unitized cost Costs that are calculated on a per-unit basis to include all personnel, supplies, and other expenses involved in producing each unit.
    USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture. Details are available at