Pre-Award: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are contracts and grants?

Grants and contracts are legally binding written agreements with external agencies or sponsors. The agreements provide terms and conditions for managing the grant. These are related to the scope of work contained in the original proposal and to the federal guidelines for administering grants at universities.

2. What is a sponsored project and how is a sponsored project different from a grant?

A sponsored project is funded research or scholarly activity that has a defined scope of work or specific activities. The terms “grant” and “sponsored project” are, for the most part, interchangeable. A sponsored project can be a grant, contract, or agreement.

3. What is scope of work?

Scope of work refers to the program objectives that will be carried out over the duration of the project. For federal grants, a scope of work usually contains a timetable for the delivery of the grant objectives.

4. What is a Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI/PD)?

The Principal Investigator or Project Director is the person responsible for writing the proposal, conducting the research, and managing the project. Principal Investigators and Project Directors generally are full-time, tenure-track faculty at USF.

5. What is an agency/sponsor?

An agency/sponsor is an external organization, such as a state or federal agency, which has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP). The agency then reviews the proposals received and determines if they qualify for funding.

6. What are indirect costs?

Indirect costs, also referred to as Facilities & Administrative costs, are overhead incurred by the University that are not assigned to a specific project. Examples of indirect costs are: physical maintenance of the campus and buildings, the cost of utilities, etc.

7. What is cost-sharing?

Cost-sharing is the financial support contributed by the University to a sponsored project. Cost-sharing can be either cash or in-kind contributions. At USF, cost share is defined as time contributed by faculty or staff who are employed under a continuing contract to USF or funds designated for non-personnel costs (e.g., supplies, travel, contractual services, and equipment purchases). USF policy does not allow cost share on proposals unless it is required by the funder. Please refer to the USF cost share policy on the webpage for more information.