Grants & Contracts

When the University receives an award, it will either be a grant/contract or a gift.


Gift: may be designated for general operations or restricted purpose:

  • no donor control over expenditures or work performed
  • no product or items of value given to donor in return

Gifts in Kind (property) non-cash gifts of:

  • tangible property (e.g., equipment, software)
  • intangible property (e.g., patents, copyrights)
  • services (e.g., photography, consulting)

*If the determination is made that the funds received by the donor/grantor should be reported as a gift, please see the UO Foundation section for procedures.


  • returns something of value to the donor
  • generally a formal agreement with use of funds restrictions
  • contains effective dates
  • may require financial or technical reports be submitted

Grants are awards used to provide assistance for a project when no substantial programmatic involvement of the funding agency is anticipated or required in the performance of the proposed activities. The term grant is often used for contracts and cooperative agreements as well.

Contracts are legally enforceable documents used to procure a product or service or to fund research, development or training.

  • Cost-Reimbursable: a contract for which one party pays the other party for the full costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to the committed budget amount. Once the committed budget amount is fully spent, the university can stop work or negotiate for additional funds to complete the project. If funds are received in advance, any unspent funds will be returned to the grantor upon completion of the project.
    • Fixed-Price: a contract for which one party pays the other party a predetermined price for services rendered regardless of actual costs. Any funds remaining after completion of the project are retained by the university and transferred to an unrestricted gift fund in the Principal Investigator’s (PI’s) department with their activity code with the funds to be used at their discretion. Risks include absorbing any cost overruns if the project costs more than anticipated.

Cooperative Agreements are types of award mechanisms that work like contracts, but allow for substantial involvement by the funding agency, when necessary, in the performance of the activities. Although this agreement may involve input and monitoring by agency staff, the overall project responsibility still rests with the award recipient.

Principal Investigator (PI) is the individual designated by the grantee institution to direct the project or activity being supported by the grant. This person becomes responsible and accountable to the institution for the proper conduct of the work.

Designated Grant Administrator (DGA) is the department administrator who assists the Principal Investigator (PI) in the administration of the grant, and acts on their behalf as a liaison with the Office of Research Services and Administration (ORSA).

Sponsored Projects Administrator (SPA) is the designee from the Office of Research Services Administration (ORSA) who coordinates with the Principal Investigator (PI) and Designated Grant Administrator (DGA) to facilitate the administration of the grant/contract.

Grant/Contract/Cooperative Agreement Submission Procedures

*If the Principal Investigator decides to submit the proposal independently through the Office of Research Services Administration (ORSA) but still needs to list someone in the Central Business Services Office as the Designated Grant Administrator (DGA), please forward a copy of the proposal documents (including the budget you are submitting) to the Central Business Services Office so we can be aware of any reporting requirements and other issues that may arise.

Pre-Award Spending

Not every grant/contract allows pre-award spending. If your grant/contract allows pre-award spending and you wish to apply, please complete and submit the Pre-Award Spending Approval Form to the Designated Grant Administrator (DGA).

Cost Sharing

Some grant applications require cost sharing, which means the university or a third party must contribute part of the cost of the project. If the contribution is from a third party, complete the Third Party Cost Sharing Contributions Form and submit it to your designated grant administrator (DGA). It is university policy that we will only obligate our institution to meet the minimum percentage or dollar amount stipulated for cost share in the sponsoring agency announcement. Contributions beyond that level require special approval.

  • Mandatory Cost-Sharing must be documented and meet the same criteria as the direct costs charged to the project.
  • Voluntary Cost-Sharing is generally discouraged by the university unless it is essential to meet project needs.
  • Matching funds are used when the grantee is required to contribute a specified percentage of the project costs to be eligible for the sponsor’s funding.

Cost Transfers

A cost transfer is an accounting entry that moves a cost from an operating fund to which it was originally charged to another operating fund including recoding a transaction to be identified as a cost share. If you need a cost transfer, notify your Designated Grant Administrator (DGA) immediately using the guidelines below to determine if the transfer is appropriate.

Cost Transfers may be appropriate in the following circumstances:
If the correction is initiated within three months of the month of the original posting of the transaction and:

  • the transfer represents the correction of a simple error or system limitation
  • the charges directly benefit more than one program, and a distribution of the costs is justified based on the benefits received
  • the charges have had a material benefit to the grant and are not otherwise prohibited by the terms of the agreement

Cost transfers are not appropriate:

  • to reduce overruns on other grants or institutional funds
  • to avoid restrictions imposed by law or by the terms of the agreement
  • for the purpose of utilizing unexpended balances
  • the expenses are of no or insignificant direct benefit to the grant
  • for other reasons of convenience

Cost Transfers After Three Months
Cost transfer requests after the three-month period are immediately suspect by auditors and require additional supporting documentation by the Office of Research Services Administration (ORSA). If the cost transfer past the three months is justified, complete the Cost Transfer Justification Form (Instructions) and submit the form to the Designated Grant Administrator (DGA).

Cost Share Transfers
A cost share transfer is performed to reclassify a transaction that did not originally identify the expense as cost share for a specific grant. To convert a cost to a cost share transaction, you must populate the activity code field with the grant code. The cost must be allowable and meet the same criteria as a direct cost transfer.

Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs

These are real costs of doing research that are not easily identifiable with a particular grant/contract. Costs are joint expenses incurred by the institution for centralized activities such as building, equipment use, depreciation, operation, and maintenance costs. See the third page of the Quick Reference Card for rates. There are exceptions to this rate structure such as agency limited rates, and some grants are not charged F&A at all.

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC)  All direct costs excluding the following list are used in the calculation of Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs:

  • capital expenditures
  • student support/participation costs
  • patient care costs
  • rental costs for space
  • portion of subgrant/subcontract in excess of $25,000

Entertainment costs
Entertainment costs are normally an unallowable expense on grants/contracts. Business meals may not be charged to the grant/contract when no need exists for continuity of a meeting and will be considered an entertainment cost. Alcoholic beverages cannot be purchased from grants or contracts, publicly or privately funded.  If the need exists and the business meal meets the qualifications to be charged on a grant/contract, complete the Refreshments at Meetings Documentation Form and submit the form to the Designated Grant Administrator (DGA).