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The Grants Office

Glossary of Grant Terms

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An overview of a grant project, usually one page in length, required for most government grant applications.

An authorization by a federal, state or local legislature allowing government agencies to incur obligations to spend or lend money during a specific time period (usually a fiscal year) – Congress may appropriate funds only on the basis of an existing authorization.

Statements affirming the applicant institution’s compliance with equal employment opportunity, Americans with Disabilities Act, lobbying, or other government regulations, required with most federal grant applications.

Basic legislation that establishes a government program or agency;  sometimes sets limits on the amount of funding that can subsequently be appropriated but does not provide money or guarantee that funds will be appropriated in a given fiscal year.

Signature of the person legally responsible for making agreements on behalf of an organization; must appear on an application (either electronic or hard copy) before it can be considered an official request.

Document prescribing the amount of grant funds to be provided to the grantee and restrictions upon the use of those funds; may be a letter, special form, or contract.

Written notification from the funding agency indicating that a project has been selected for funding, and detailing the duration and amount of the grant award.

A financial plan for conducting a project; in grant applications, it represents the cost of performance of the project as set forth in the proposal; most grant budgets require whole dollar amounts only.

An itemized list of expenditures that accompanies a narrative grant proposal; may also include in-kind and/or matching funds from sources (including the applicant) other than the grantor.

A detailed narrative explaining: the rationale for each line item in the grant budget, and how dollar amounts were determined.


A group of organizations or institutions that share responsibility for financial management, administration, and/or activities of a single grant project

A grant award to one grantee in support of a project to be conducted under a consortium arrangement with one or more other institutions/organizations

A person with expertise in a particular subject or activity (e.g., program evaluation) who is contracted to provide services to the grant project

A letter accompanying a grant proposal summarizing the funding request and signed by a high-ranking official of the applicant organization/institution

A financial contribution required of applicants for certain grant programs; a form of matching funds.

A date specified by the funding source as the last date when proposals will be accepted for review; may be either a date when applications must be received by the grantor or the latest date when a mailed application may be post marked.

Project-related expenses that can be itemized and paid directly out of a grant budget; examples of direct costs include salaries and wages, fringe benefits, supplies, project-related travel, equipment, printing and duplicating.

The date (set by the funding source) when the grant project officially begins; allowable project costs may not be charged to the grant before this date.

Direct expenditures (in addition to salary) by an organization on behalf of its employees for such purposes as disability insurance, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, Social Security, life and health insurance, and retirement; fringe benefits are usually calculated as a percentage of salary.

A quantitative and/or qualitative assessment of a grant project, comparing project objectives and project outcomes; may include both formative (periodically throughout the project period) and summative (upon completion of the project) evaluation.

The last date of activity for a grant project; no charges may be made to the grant after this date.


The first page of a grant application; may be a standard electronic form included in the grantor’s application package; identifies the project title, grantor agency to which proposal is being submitted, contact information for applicant organization and project director, proposed project duration, total dollars requested, along with name, title and signature (electronic or live) of individual authorized to sign proposal submission.

The organization responsible for financial administration of grant funds; in a consortium grant, the applicant organization is usually the fiscal agent and contracts with other consortium members define how and when they will receive their portion of grant funds from the fiscal agent.

A 12-month period for which funds are appropriated and during which expenditures must be made; the federal fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30 and is designated by the calendar year in which it ends; the fiscal year for PCC, as well as state and local governments, runs from July 1 to June 30; many corporations use the calendar year as their fiscal year.

A non-profit organization established to disburse funds for philanthropic purposes; may be privately endowed, funded by a company, or set up in a particular community or region to serve that area’s charitable interests.


General statements of a grant proposal’s anticipated project outcomes; usually more global in scope than objectives and not expected to be measurable; should be supported by well-stated, specific, measurable objectives.

Any legal entity that receives grant funding and assumes financial responsibility for executing the grant project, as well as accountability for managing the grant budget, supervising grant-supported activities, and submitting progress reports and final reports as required by the funder.

Any funding source that has agreed to provide financial support in the form of a grant

The period of time allotted for grant-related activities, beginning on the effective date (start date) and concluding on the expiration date (end date); grantee may charge allowable costs to the grant during the grant period, not before or after this timeframe.

Directions provided by the funding source detailing how to prepare and submit a grant proposal according to any regulations governing the funder and including any priorities specific to the current grant competition

A service or tangible item donated in lieu of dollars to support the operation of a grant-funded project; given by the grantee or a third party; examples include a percentage of an administrator’s time, donated equipment or space, and a guest speaker’s time.

Expenses indirectly associated with managing the grant project; examples include administrative expenses, utilities, maintenance, and facilities; indirect costs are usually expressed as a percentage of total direct costs of the project.

A letter (usually no more than two pages in length) describing a proposed project and including a budget estimate and background information on the applicant; usually solicited by private funders to screen out ineligible projects or projects not consistent with their grant-making priorities; applicants whose LOIs are deemed eligible are then invited to submit a full proposal.

Cash or in-kind support contributed by the applicant to augment grant funds in order to attain project objectives; most grant programs do not require matching funds.

Statements of specific and measurable anticipated outcomes of a grant project; should identify clearly the expected results of project activities; project evaluation should be focused on attainment of objectives.

A grant award made in support of the planning stage of a future grant project.

A prospectus following a prescribed format developed by a funding source as a method of screening proposals prior to soliciting full proposals.

A proposal containing only the information that is essential to convey a project idea to be proposed more formally at a later date; used by some funders as a first step in the application process; will have its own submission guidelines.

Objectives and areas of emphasis developed as part of a funder’s annual program plan for a particular grant program; funder’s intent is to award grants to projects that most closely match those priorities; priorities for federal grant programs are published within a Notice Inviting Applications published in the Federal Register; may include both Competitive Preference Priorities (which earn the applicant additional points) or Invitational Priorities (which do not earn points but encourage certain project types).

A representative of a federal or state agency, or charitable foundation, who is responsible for monitoring grant projects supported by that funder, providing technical assistance to project staff, and insuring that project objectives are carried out within the framework of any regulations governing their grant program; program officers may be sources of pre-application advice, or may provide guidance to improve and resubmit a proposal that was not selected for funding.

The person responsible for directing and managing the project for the grantee; the term Principal Investigator is used on some research-based grant programs such as those provided by the National Science Foundation.

A written document submitted to a funding source requesting financial support to undertake a project.


An announcement by a funding source indicating that grant awards are available for a specific funding initiative or program, and describing in detail the required components of an application; also known as a Request for Applications (RFA) or Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA).

A final step in funder review of some grant applications; funder sends a team of evaluators to examine the proposed project facilities at the applicant’s location and review the proposed grant project plan and objectives with applicant’s key personnel.

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