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The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP)

Researcher's Manual - Definitions

  • Grant: A grant is an assistance mechanism used by sponsors to support research, scholarly endeavors, or activities at another institution. The federal government awards grants to institutions to support activities in line with the institution’s purposes. While technically a type of contract, a grant usually is issued as a unilateral agreement, with all terms being agreed to when funds are first spent. 
  • Contract: A contract is an agreement between two or more parties binding each party to specific terms and conditions. In sponsored programs, the federal government awards contracts to procure specific information, research, services, or goods in line with their own priorities. Contracts are always bilateral, requiring authorized signatures from each party. In the university setting, faculty are not considered authorized signatories.
  • Principal Investigator: The principal investigator, or PI, is the person responsible for the intellectual, fiscal, and administrative oversight of a grant or contract. In academia, PIs are primarily faculty members. 
  • Sponsor: A sponsor is the person or entity providing funding to carry out a sponsored program.
    • Federal, State, and City. Examples of federal sponsors include the twenty-three agencies of the federal government such as the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, or the Department of Defense. Examples of state sponsors are the New York State Board of Education and New York State Office of Child and Family Services. Examples of New York City sponsors include branches of the city government, such as the New York City Board of Education and the New York City Department of Youth and Child Development. Some agencies, like the Department of Education, exist at the city, state, and federal levels. 
    • Non-Federal
      • Profit. For-profit sponsors usually give grants through a non-profit portion of the entity. When for-profit sponsors support research or scholarly activities, they often do so as a gift rather than as a grant or contract in order to assist with their tax burden. At Lehman College, gifts are handled by the Lehman College Foundation. 
      • Non-profit. Non-profit entities such as foundations are often interested in giving grants to support their mission. Funding from non-profits such as the Guggenheim or Ford Foundations can be very prestigious. 
  • Proposal: A proposal is a request for financial or other support in order to carry out a specific project. Proposals usually include a description of the project’s activity, a proposed budget, a budget narrative or justification, and materials supporting the qualifications of the PI, the project environment or project personnel.
    • Solicited Proposals. Sponsors often solicit or request proposals in a specific subject, geographic, or cultural area in order to further their own mission or agenda. The solicitation may be called a “Request for Proposals,” “Broad Agency Announcement,” or “Program Announcement,” and contains detailed instructions on who is eligible to apply, who is eligible to be P.I., how much each project may apply for, the purpose of the program, review criteria, and specific application forms and formats.
    • Unsolicited Proposals. Sponsors may also be willing to accept proposals in areas without specific solicitations. When this is the case, there will usually be general information on the sponsor’s Web site about how to apply for support, or who to contact. 
  • Facilities and Administrative Costs: Facilities and Administrative costs (F&A) are costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity. F&A costs are synonymous with the terms indirect costs (IDC) and overhead costs. Consistent with 2 CFR 215 and 2 CFR 220, F&A cost rates are negotiated with the Department of Health and Human Services for Lehman College based on cost accounting pools and calculations from actual expenditures. 
  • Cost Sharing: Cost sharing is the total value of resources needed by and/or used for a sponsored program that is not paid for by the sponsor.

Return to the Researcher's Manual

Part 1 of the Researcher's Manual is available here as a PDF.