Sponsored Programs Terminology


Select the phrase below for more information.


The individual(s) designated by the awarding agency to be responsible for ensuring compliance with the academic, scientific, technical, financial and administrative aspects for the day-to-day management of the sponsored project.


The organization that funds a project.


  • Grant: A grant provides financial support with few formal detailed stipulations as to the direction of the project, and does not define a specific outcome or deliverable.
  • Contract: A contract is an agreement for which there are specific obligations for both the sponsor and the recipient. The sponsor has more involvement in the award and defines a specific outcome or deliverable.
  • Cooperative Agreement: A cooperative agreement is an agreement by which the sponsor and grantee work together to achieve a specific objective. The sponsor has substantial involvement in the project.


  • Cost Reimbursable: A cost reimbursable award indicates that the sponsor will reimburse for actual costs incurred. Any unspent funds revert to the sponsor. Since it is difficult to estimate the cost of a research project, most sponsored projects are cost reimbursable.
  • Fixed-price: A fixed-price award indicates that the sponsor will provide a set amount of money, and in turn the PI agrees to accomplish project objectives within a specific timeframe. The award amount remains constant even if actual costs for the project are above or below the agreed amount. Unspent funds do not revert to the sponsor.


Direct costs are those costs which can be identified specifically with a particular project. Typical direct costs include, but are not limited to: salary, travel and supplies.


F&A costs are those costs incurred in conducting or supporting externally-funded activities, but not directly attributable to a specific project. F&A costs include, but are not limited to: general administration, and sponsored programs administration.


Costs that are reasonable, necessary allocable and consistently applied. Certain types of costs (e.g., alcoholic beverages) are not allowable and may not be charged to a contract or grant.

  • Reasonable:  an expense is reasonable if the purchase is necessary, allocable and appropriate in quantity and fairly prices. Occasionally a purchase which on its own may look unreasonable, may be reasonable when examined in context with its necessity.
  • Necessary: An expense is necessary if the purchase is needed to carry out the project. Will the project be harmed if this purchase is not made? The sponsor considers all expenses specifically identified in the approved budget necessary expenses.
  • Allocable: A cost is allocable if the goods or services involved are chargeable in accordance with benefits received, or if it is incurred solely to advance the work under the project. Costs that benefit more than one project are not allocable when it cannot be determined how much each project benefits. Allocable costs may not be shifted to other sponsored projects to meet deficits caused by overruns. Nor may those costs be shifted to avoid restrictions imposed by law of the sponsored project. Allocable funds may not be shifted for reasons of simple convenience either.


Cost Sharing is defined as any project cost not borne by the sponsor. Cost-sharing often comes in the form of a financial contribution made by an institution (agreed to by the dean of the college) to a project supported primarily by a grant or contract. Cost sharing can come in the form of cash match or in-kind match. Cash match is an actual cash contribution. In-kind match is a non-cash contribution (e.g., the value of equipment or the value of goods and services directly benefiting the project and specifically identifiable to it). There are three types of cost sharing: mandatory cost sharing; voluntary committed cost sharing; and voluntary uncommitted cost sharing.

  • Mandatory Cost Sharing: is cost sharing required by a sponsor as a condition of making an award. The requirement is usually expressed in terms of a percentage of the total project cost or as a fixed dollar amount. Mandatory cost sharing must be identified and reported to the sponsor.
  • Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing: is cost sharing the University may offer in a proposal to make a proposal competitive or to show the resources necessary to complete a project. The offer becomes a part of the award. Voluntary Committed cost sharing must be identified.


An instrument used when two or more agencies enter into a joint project in which each agency contributes its own resources, or in which there is not exchange of goods or services between agencies.


A document that modifies any aspect of an existing award. Examples include, but are not limited to a change in PI or an approval of a carry-forward request.


An extension of the period of performance beyond the expiration date. This allows the PI time to finish the project. Usually, no additional costs are provided.


A document written under authority of the sponsored project, which transfers a portion of the substantive effort to another institution or organization.



The CSUF Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC) is a non-profit public corporation that was incorporated in 1959 for the purpose of promoting and assisting the educational mission of Cal State Fullerton.