A-21:  A circular published by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that establishes the principles for determining the costs applicable to grants, agreements, and other government agreements with educational institutions.   "OMB Circular A-21: Cost Principles for Educational Institutions." , Relocated to 2 CFR, Part 220 (See OMB)

Abstract:  A brief overview of a project, usually ½ page or less at the beginning of the grant.  Also known as an executive summary.

Administrative Costs:  See Indirect Costs.

Allocable Costs:  Those allowable costs that actually benefit the grant or agreement to which they are being charged.

Allowable Costs:  Those categories of costs that can be charged to a grant, such as salaries and equipment.  Certain types of costs, such as the cost of alcoholic beverages are not allowable and may not be charged to an agreement or grant.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009:  The economic stimulus package of $787 billion signed into law by the President on February 17, 2009.  Also known as the "Recovery Act".

Application Package:  A group of specific forms and documents for a specific funding opportunity which are used to apply for a grant.

Appropriation Request:  A formal request submitted to a local Senator and/or Representative for funding to be included in legislation which establishes a federal activity.  The legislation will set limits on the amount of money, which can be set aside for the activity.  If awarded, a full proposal that includes program specifics must be submitted to the appropriate governmental agency.

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

Award:  Funds that have been obligated by a funding agency for a particular project.

Award Letter:  The written notification sent by the funding agency announcing that the project has been funded, the amount of the award, the length of the funding period, and the start/end dates.

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Budget:  The detailed statement outlining estimated project costs to support work under a grant or agreement.  (See also rebudget).

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

Budget Period:  The interval of time (usually twelve months) into which the project period is divided for budgetary and funding purposes.
Challenge Grant:  A grant that provides monies in response to monies from other sources, usually according to a formula.  A challenge grant may, for example, offer two dollars for every one dollar that is obtained from a fund drive.  The grant usually has a fixed upper limit, and may have a challenge minimum below which no grant will be made.  This form of grant is fairly common in the arts, humanities, and some other fields, but is less common in the sciences.  A challenge grant differs from a matching grant in at least one important respect: The amount of money that the recipient organization realizes from a challenge grant may vary widely, depending upon how successful that organization is in meeting the challenge.  Matching grants usually award a clearly defined amount and require that a specified sum be obtained before any award is made.

Close Out:  The act of completing all internal procedures and funding agency requirements to terminate or complete a project.  College staff must assure that necessary scientific, administrative, and financial reports have been received, implemented and documented in compliance with the funding agency policy.

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI):  An individual involved with the PI in the development or execution of a project; may be employed by, or affiliated with, the applicant/grantee organization or another organization participating in the project under a consortium agreement.

Competing Proposals:  Proposals that are submitted for the first time or unfunded proposals that are resubmitted; either must compete for program funds.  Ongoing projects must compete again if the term of the original award has expired.

Conflict of Interest:  A significant financial interest that would reasonably appear to be directly or significantly affected by the research, educational, or service activities funded, or proposed for funding, by an external agency; and/or in entities whose financial interests would reasonably appear to be directly and significantly affected by such activities.

Congressional District:  One of a fixed number of districts into which a state is divided, each district electing one member to the US House of Representatives.  NWACC is located in the 3rd Congressional District of Arkansas.

Consortium:  A group of organizations/collaborative investigators/institutions sharing in the finances and/or administration of a single grant.

Consortium Agreement:  Agreement among members of a consortium including arrangements which are formalized with specified terms and conditions.

Continuation Project (Non-Competing):  Applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only.  A project approved for multiple-year funding, although funds are typically committed only one year at a time.  At the end of the initial budget period, progress on the project is assessed.  If satisfactory, an award is made for the next budget period, subject to the availability of funds.  Continuation projects do not compete with new project proposals and are not subjected to peer review beyond the initial project approval.

Cooperative Agreement:  An award of financial assistance that is used to enter into the same kind of relationship as a grant; and is distinguished from a grant in that it provides for substantial involvement between the federal agency and the recipient in carrying out the activity contemplated by the award.

Cost Objective:  A function, organizational subdivision, sponsored agreement, or other work unit for which cost data are desired and for which provision is made to accumulate and measure the cost of processes, products, jobs, capitalized projects, etc.  A cost objective can be any major function of the institution (e.g., a particular service or project, a sponsored agreement, or an indirect cost activity).

Cost-Reimbursement Type Agreement/Grant:  An agreement/grant for which the funding agency pays for the full costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to an agreed-upon amount.

Cost-Sharing:  Any type of arrangement in which more than one party supports program, equipment acquisition, demonstration projects, programs, institutions.  Example: The College receives a grant for a project estimated to have a total cost of $100,000.  The funding agency agrees to pay 75% ($75,000) and the College agrees to pay 25% ($25,000).  The $25,000 is the cost-sharing component.  Cost-sharing is the portion of a project or program costs not borne by the federal government.  Cost-sharing can be in the form of cash or in-kind support.  Also see Matching Funds or In-Kind Support.


Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number:  A unique nine-character identification number provided by the commercial company Dun & Bradstreet which enables organization to clearly identify trading partners as well as accurately gauge risks and opportunities.  Many grants require this number listed on a grant application.  Contact the Office for Grants for NWACC's DUNS number.

Date of Completion:  The date on which all work under an award is completed or the date on the award document, or any supplement or amendment thereto, on which awarding agency sponsorship ends.

Direct Costs:  Those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easy with a high degree of accuracy.

Discretionary Grant:  A grant (or cooperative agreement) for which the federal awarding agency generally may select the recipient from among all eligible recipients, may decide to make or not make an award based on the programmatic, technical, or scientific content of an application, and can decide the amount of funding to be awarded.
Earmark Grants:  Grants that are appropriated by Congress prior to a 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.  A requirement by Congress that a Federal Agency spend a specified amount of money for a stated purpose.  Also known as an appropriation.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) Number:  Number assigned by the IRS and is used to identify a business entity.  Also known as a federal tax identification number.  Contact the Office for Grants for NWACC's EIN number.

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

Endowment:  A fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for programs to enhance, supplement existing student services.

Equipment:  Tangible nonexpendable personal property, including exempt property, charged directly to the award and having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit.

Expiration Date:  The date signifying the end of the performance period, as indicated on the Notice of Grant Award.


Extension:  An additional period of time given by the funding agency to an organization for the completion of work on an approved grant or agreement.  An extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent after the original expiration date.


Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR):  Laws regulating government contracting. 

Federally Sponsored Activity: A sponsored activity that is supported in whole or in part with federal funds.

Fellowship:  An award made directly to an individual in support of specific educational pursuits.  Recipients may be subject to service and/or payback requirements after the fellowship terminates.

Fiscal Year (FY):  Any twelve-month period for which annual accounts are kept (at NWACC, July 1 through June 30).

Fixed-Price (FP) Agreement/Grant:  An agreement/grant for which one party pays the other party a predetermined price, regardless of actual costs, for services rendered.  Quite often this is a fee-for-service agreement.

Final Report:  May be programmatic, technical, financial, or any combination thereof; a summary of project implementation including an evaluation of the degree to which objectives have been met; required by most funding sources and appreciated by all others.  A necessary courtesy if future funds should be desired.

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

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

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Enrollment:  The equivalent number of students enrolled on a full-time basis, determined by dividing credit hours taken by student is enrolled by the average number of credit hours in a full-time load.

Funding Agency:  The external source of additional revenue.  Also known as Awarding Agency or Grantor.

Funding Criteria:  Primary evaluation standards used by a funding agency when deciding which projects to fund.  These will be used to measure the quality of the proposal and need to be addressed in a proposal.

Funding Cycle:  Range of time during which proposals are accepted, reviewed, and funds are awarded.  If a funding agency has proposal review committees (or boards) that meet at specified times during the year, application deadlines are set to correspond with those meetings.  For some funding agency, if proposals are received too late to be considered in the current funding cycle, they may be held over for the next review meeting.

Funding Opportunity Announcement:  A publicly available document by which a federal agency makes known its intentions to award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements, usually as a result of competition for funds.  May also be known as program announcements, notices of funding availability, solicitations, or other names depending on the agency and type of program.


Funding Period:  The period of time when federal funding is available for obligation by the recipient.


Goals:  General statements of anticipated project outcomes, usually more global in scope than objectives and not expected to be measurable.  If used in grant writing, goals should be supported by well-stated objectives.

Grant:  A type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of a program as specified in an approved proposal.  A grant, as opposed to a cooperative agreement, is used whenever the awarding office anticipates programmatic involvement with the recipient during the performance of the activities.  The principle purpose of a grant is to transfer a thing of value from a federal agency to a recipient to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by a law of the United States.

Grantee:  Any 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: Funding source that has agreed to provide financial support in the form of a grant.

Indirect Costs:  Costs related to expenses incurred in conducting or supporting a program or other grant-funded activities, but not directly attributable to a specific project or single final cost objective.  General categories of indirect costs include general administration (accounting, payroll, purchasing, etc.), grant project administration, plant operation and maintenance, library expenses, departmental administration expenses, depreciation or use allowance for buildings and equipment, and student administration and services (also known as Facilities and Administrative Costs).

Indirect Cost Rate:  The rate, expressed as a percentage of a base amount, established by negotiation with the cognizant federal agency on the basis of the institution's project costs for the year and distributed as prescribed in OMB Circular A-21.  At NWACC, indirect costs are calculated as 50% of the Modified Total Direct Costs (Salary and Fringe) through the US Department of Health and Human Services.  However, some agencies have a set rate that is assessed against the award (i.e., US Department of Education 8%).

In-Kind Match/Cost Sharing: Portion of project costs not bourne by the external funding agency which  involves a determination of the value of services that NWACC agrees to contribute toward a project. Some external funding agencies require cost sharing or matching for grants. 

Institutional Review Board (IRB):  Oversees all research involving human subjects; make independent determinations to approve, require modifications in, or disapprove research protocols based on whether human subjects are adequately protected, as required by federal regulations and local institutional policy.

Interim Funding:  Authorization to expend funds on a project to a specified limit before the award document has been received from the funding agency.

Intermediate Cost Objective: A cost objective that is used to accumulate indirect costs or service center costs that are subsequently allocated to one or more indirect cost pools and/or final cost objectives.

Investigator-Initiated Proposal:  A proposal submitted to a funding agency that is not in response to an RFP, RFA, or a specific program announcement.


Key Personnel:  The personnel considered to be of primary importance to the successful conduct of a project.  The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff including the PI.
Letter of Intent:  A letter that may be requested by a funding agency merely stating that the college plans to apply for a grant.

Letter of Commitment:  Written assurance of participation or contribution from an organization or individual concerning a project to be undertaken by an organization or individual if the proposal would be funded.  Letters of commitment are obtained by organizations or individuals who are considered credible in the eyes of the funding agency.

Letter of Support:  Written endorsement concerning a project to be undertaken by an organization or individual if the proposal would be funded.  Letters of support are obtained by organizations or individuals who are considered credible in the eyes of the funding agency.

Local Government:  A local unit of government, including specifically a county, municipality, city, town, township, local public authority, school district, special district, intra-state district, council of governments, any other regional or interstate entity, or any agency or instrumentality of local government.


Matching Funds: Portion of project costs not bourne by the external funding agency which is typically used to indicate that a contribution of actual dollars is needed to match (at various ratios) an external funding agency's contribution. Some external funding agencies require cost sharing or matching for grants.

Modification:  An award document that modifies any aspect of an existing award other than those named above.  Example: Carryover approvals, adding or deleting special terms and conditions, changes in funding levels, administrative changes initiated by the agency, extensions that include changes in terms, change of principal investigator, etc.


Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC): A base consisting of salaries, fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and contracts upon which the negotiated indirect cost rates are applied. NWACC's federally negotiated indirect cost rate is 50% of salaries and fringe benefits.

Need Statement:  Describes the problem area or need that the proposed project will address.

New Award:  An award not previously awarded or a renewal or continuation award treated as a new award by the funding agency and given a new agency number.

New and Competing Proposals:  Proposals that are submitted for the first time or ongoing projects that must re-compete for funding prior to expiration of the original award.

No Cost Time Extension:  An extension of the period of performance beyond the expiration date to allow the principal investigator to finish a project.  Usually, no additional funds are provided.

Non-allowed 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.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code:  A code with a maximum of six digits used to classify business establishments.

Notice of Grant Award:  The legally binding document that serves as a notification to 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 funds.


Objectives:  Specific statements of anticipated project outcomes or products which should clearly identify what will be produced as a result of the project having been funded; should be measurable and directly related to project evaluation, need statement, and budget.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB):  The Federal office that issues instructions and regulations governing a grant.  The agency publishes circulars that govern a project and will prevent a grant project director from committing acts of Federal fraud, making unauthorized purchases and payments, and provide guidance on daily activities conduct.  Click here for links to applicable OMB circulars.

Organization:  A grant applicant who is submitting a grant on behalf of a company, state, local or tribal government, academic or research institution, not-for-profit, or any other type of institution.
Peer Review:  The process of evaluating proposals for funding; usually involves experts representing the same general fields or disciplines as the proposal topics.

Period of Performance:  See Project Period.

Pre-Proposal:  A brief description, usually 2-10 pages, of program plans and estimated budget that is sometimes submitted to determine the interest of a particular funding agency prior to submission of a formal proposal.  Also termed Preliminary Proposal.

Prime Contractor:  The organization that receives the funds and implements a project funded under a contract.

Principal Investigator (PI):  A PI may be an employee, normally with an academic appointment who is or becomes eligible under this definition to submit a proposal for program support for projects in research, training, student and/or workforce development, public service, etc. to a significant degree, and who has primary responsibility for the scientific, technical and administrative conduct and reporting of the project.  A PI who is the head of a program or project may be known as Project Director or Project Administrator.  For the purposes of this definition, the terms shall be considered equivalent.

Prior Approval:  The requirement for written documentation of permission to use project funds for purposes not in the approved budget, or to change aspects of the program from those originally planned and approved.  Prior approval must be obtained before the performance of the act that requires such approval under the terms of the agreement.

Priority Score:  A score derived from the rating given a grant proposal by each.

Program Announcement:  Describes existence of a funding opportunity.  It may describe new or expanded interest in a particular program or be a reminder of a continuing interest in a program.

Program/Project Officer (PO): A funding agency's designated individual officially responsible for the technical, scientific, or programmatic aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, sub-recipient, sub-grant or sub-agreement.  Serving as the counterpart to the principal investigator/project director of the grantee/agreement organization, the PO deals with the grantee/agreement organization staff to assure programmatic progress.

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

Project Costs:  All allowable costs, as set forth in the applicable federal cost principles, incurred by a recipient and the value of the contributions made by third parties in accomplishing the objectives of the award during the project period.

Project Period (PP):  The total time for which support of a project has been programmatically approved.  A project period may consist of one or more budget periods.  Also known as Period of Performance.  (Also see Budget Period.)


Proposal:  An application for funding that contains all information necessary to describe project plans, staff capabilities, and funds requested.  Formal proposals are officially approved and submitted by an organization in the name of a principal investigator.



Rebudget:  The act of amending the budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another.  All requests for rebudgeting requires approval from the Office for Grants prior to contact with the funding agency.  Refer to the policy. (Also see Budget Adjustment.)

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

Regs:  Short for "regulations."

Regulations:  The agreement rules and procedures governing grant-funded projects.

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

Request for Applications (RFA):  Announcements that indicate the availability of funds for a topic of specific interest to a funding agency.  Proposals submitted in response to RFAs generally result in the award of a grant.  Specific grant announcements may be published in the Federal Register and/or specific funding agency publications.

Request for Proposals (RFP):  Announcements that specify a topic of program, methods to be used, product to be delivered, and appropriate applicants sought.  Proposals submitted in response to RFPs generally result in the award of an agreement. 

Request for Quotations (RFQ):  A formal request to vendors for a price quotation on equipment or supplies to be purchased.

Restricted Funds Account: An account for expenditures expended for operating purposes of a grant, but restricted to the specific purpose for which they may be expended.

Revision:  A modified and resubmitted request for funding for a project that was previously not funded either because it was denied by the funding agency or withdrawn by the principal investigator.


Salaries and Wages (S&W):  Payments made to employees of the institution for work performed.

Scope of Project: The description of the work to be performed and completed on a project.  All requests for change in scope of project require approval from the Office for Grants prior to requesting such change from the funding agency.

Site Visit:  A final step in the review of some proposals which involves a team of evaluators designated by the funding source who examine the project facilities and other resources on location.  Includes a review of the project plan and objectives with key personnel.

Stipend:  A periodic payment, similar to an allowance, made to an individual which is normally intended for living expenses associated with participation in some phase of a funded project such as a fellowship or training grant; usually related to academic studies.

Sub-Recipient Agreements, Sub-Grant, or Sub-Agreement:  A document written under the authority of, and consistent with the terms and conditions of an award (grant, sub-grants, sub-recipient agreements or cooperative agreement), that transfers a portion of the program or substantive effort of the Prime award to another institution or organization.

Subs:  Short for sub-recipients, sub-grantees.

Supplemental (Rebudgeting or Modification) Proposal:  A request to the funding agency for additional funds for an ongoing project during the previously approved performance period.  A supplemental proposal may result from increased costs, modifications in design, or a desire to add a closely related component to the ongoing project.

Supplies:  All personal property excluding equipment, intangible property, debt instruments, and inventions of a contractor conceived or first actually reduced to practice in the performance of work under a funding agreement; valued under $5,000.

Sustainability:  How the project will continue when the grant funding ends.

Synopsis of Funding Opportunity:  Summary information extracted from or based on the funding opportunity announcement.


Terms of Award:  Legal requirements imposed on a grant or agreement by the funding agency, whether by statute, regulation(s), or terms in the award document.  The terms of a grant or agreement may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to protect the funding agency's interests.

Third Party In-Kind Contributions:  The value of non-cash contributions provided by non-federal third parties.  Third party in-kind contributions may be in the form of real property, equipment, supplies and other expendable property, and the value of goods and services directly benefiting and specifically identifiable to the project or program.

Total Direct Costs:  The total of all direct costs of a project.

Total Project Costs:  The total allowable direct and indirect costs incurred by the institution to carry out an approved project or activity.

Unrestricted Funds:  Monies with no requirements or restrictions as to the use or disposition.  Grants, Sub-grants, Sub-recipients and cooperative agreements are considered to be restricted funds, while gifts are usually considered unrestricted funds.

Unilateral Award:  An award made by a funding agency to an organization without considering competitive proposals.  Unilateral awards are most often made when unsolicited proposals receive favorable treatment.

Unsolicited Proposal:  Proposals submitted to a funding agency that are not in response to an RFP, RFA, or program announcement.  (Also see Investigator-Initiated Proposal.)