Frequently Asked Questions

Pre-Award FAQs

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


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

The term “Scope of work” refers to a project or 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.

The Principal Investigator (PI) or Project Director (PD) is the person responsible for writing the proposal, conducting the research, and managing the project. PIs and PDs are generally full-time, tenure-track faculty at USF.  There are some exceptions based on Dean and/or Provost approval.  Please refer to the USF eligibility policy for more information.

An agency/sponsor is an external organization, such as a state or federal agency, which has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), a Notice of Application (NOA), a Broad Area Announcement (BAA), a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) or other notification soliciting applications for extramural funding. The agency/sponsor then reviews the proposals received and determines if they qualify for funding.

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.

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 for more information.

Post-Award FAQs

Employees need to complete one of three forms of training in order to gain access to the system. Please click here to see a list of scheduled Concur training sessions or to view the online tutorial, which is followed by a quiz.

A college or school budget manager typically processes all EPAFs related to grant compensation. The Office of Sponsored Programs works with the budget manager to ensure that EPAFs are coded and processed correctly. In some areas, the program assistant can process EPAFs. Please consult with your college or school budget manager to find out who processes EPAFs in your area.

Reimbursements for USF employees are processed via the Concur Travel and Expense online system.

Reimbursements for non- USF employees are processed via the Concur Online Invoicing system, which can be accessed through the Concur Travel & Expense system. Access to the Concur Online Invoicing system is limited to staff who have been trained to manage the system and have the proper security training. Please consult with your department's budget manager to determine who has access in your area and can assist you with this process.

If you have login or FOAP access issues, need assistance with navigating through the system, and/or need help with reconciling your expenses, please contact the Purchasing Department for assistance.

Expenses that are submitted through Concur have to be approved by the department budget manager (this responsibility may be delegated to another staff member but you need to check with your budget manager first). Grant-related expenses are forwarded to OSP for final approval. After OSP approves your expenses, it can take up to 48 hours for the Office of Accounting and Business Services to process your reimbursement. Please allow 5-7 business days after your expenses have been approved and fully processed to receive your reimbursement.

  • Airfare over $750 requires Vice Provost/Dean approval
  • Hotel nightly rates that exceed $200 require Vice Provost/Dean approval
  • Expense reports over $5,000 can now be approved by OSP
  • A Missing Receipt Form or the OSP Per Diem Affidavit Form is required if you are claiming per diem and not submitting receipts. On the form, you should state whether per diem was used to purchase alcohol. The form must be signed by the PI and the appropriate Vice Provost/Dean.

Please contact the Accounts Payable Department by email or at (415) 422-6371.

A cash advance may only be applied towards grant -related expenses if the following criteria is met:

  • There must be more than 90 days left in the duration of the grant 
  • The advance must be for international travel or field research costs in another country

Pre-approval from OSP and the Concur Disbursement Services Analyst is required for all advances before the funds are requested. The cash advance may be used only for allowable grant expenditures.

Any remaining non-allowable expenses will be allocated to the PI's faculty development fund or the pre-approved departmental account.

To use the departmental account, the PI should discuss his or her request with the appropriate business manager to confirm that the there are available funds for the advance.

All unused funds must be reimbursed to the University in the form of a check.

The advance should be reconciled in an expense report within thirty (30) days of the PI's return from their trip.

Please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at

Faculty who travel using grant funds should keep all receipts of their expenses. Please refer to USF's Travel Policy Below:

USF Travel Policy

Purchasing Card Policy

If you have additional questions, please contact Accounts and Business Services.

If allowable by the grant, computers or laptops may be purchased through the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS). Grantees must comply with ITS Technology Assessment Management Policy and other IT policies.

Technology Acquisition Life Cycle Management Policy

Computer Refresh High-Level Process

USF’s fiscal year begins on June 1 and ends the following year on May 31.
Grant and contract performance periods do not have to align with USF’s fiscal year.

Please contact Purchasing and Ancillary Services by email or at (415) 422-5898.

Please contact Elizabeth Denefeld  in the Office of Accounting and Business Services at x2569.

What if I have a pre-award or post-award question not answered here?

Please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at