Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)

Community College of Allegheny County

Grant Writer's Glossary

Note: You may also view the printable version (MS Word) of the glossary.

Allowable Cost: A charge that the funding agency will reimburse under the terms of the grant or contract being awarded.

Application Control CenterEntity that has been established by federal and state agencies to centralize receipt of grant proposals.

Appropriation: Legislation which establishes a federal activity. The legislation will set limits on the amount of money, which can be set aside for the activity.

Authorized Representative: Signature authority for grant forms, letters commitment, formal agreement between CCAC and other entities acting as partners for a grant or other project. The President is the authorized representative; in his absence, a senior vice president may serve as the authorized representative, generally the Vice President of Academic Affairs and/or the Vice President of Administration, Chief Financial Officer.

Award Letter: The written notification sent by the funding agency announcing that the project has been funded, the amount of the award, the length of the funding period, and the start/end dates.

Block Grants: Grants allocated by the federal government to state agencies based on a formula, not a competition.

Boiler Plate: Parts of a proposal which are standard and acquired from institutional policies, i.e. affirmative action statement, institutional profile, equal opportunity statement, etc.

Budget: The financial plan of operation showing how each cost to be charged against the grant is calculated and why the cost is necessary to the project. May require that a certain percentage of the total cost be provided by the grantee, i.e., “matched”

Cash Hard: Monies coming from the CCAC operation budget.

Cash Soft: Monies coming from grant funders and budgeted for a specific program.

CFDA: The ‘Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance’ is the federal coding structure used to identify available federal grants and loan programs. This is used by auditors and therefore must be accurate.

Categorical Funds: Funds set aside by law, statute, regulation or guidelines for use by agencies that meet specific criteria or category. The amount awarded is usually based on a predetermined formula.

Consortium: A group of organizations sharing in the finances and/or administration of a single grant.    

Contract: A legally binding agreement, with benefits and burdens flowing to all parties to the contract. In grant writing contracts can be used for different purposes: to commit two or more entities in a collaborative grant project; between a funding agency and the recipient.

Cognizant Officer: The official within the grantee institution with the legal authority to enter into agreements or contracts. At CCAC, the President is usually the cognizant officer.

Competitive Grant: A process of proposal selection based on the evaluation of a reviewer or team of reviewers. Proposals are given scores based on how well they meet stated guidelines, and are competitively ranked. Those with the highest scores are generally funded.

Concept Form: A standardized form completed by the grant writer prior to the development of the formal proposal, outlining the grant concept, operational needs, and approximate budget. 

Continuation Grant: An award that is provided for a previously funded project.

Contracted Services: Funds paid to a second party providing services to the fiscal agent.

Cost Reimbursement: Where the grantee provides proof of each expense allowed under the grant and the funding agency reimburses the documented full amount.

Cover Sheet: The top sheet of the grant proposal. This is usually a standardized form requiring the original signature of the grantee’s cognizant officer before submission.

Deadline: Due date of a proposal, non-negotiable.

Demonstration Grant: Generally a grant of limited duration which seeks to test the feasibility of an idea.

Director Contracts and Grants: The official college representative and contact in the grant procurement process. This individual is responsible for the overall functioning of the Contracts and Grants office.

Direct Costs: Expenses that are associated with the operation of a project and that are itemized by categories specified as allowable under the grant or contract.

Discretionary Funds: Funds awarded from an office based on the priorities established in that office.

DUNS Number: Assigned and maintained by Dun and Bradstreet (D&B); is referred to as the Global Location Identifier; enable organizations to clearly identify trading partners as well as accurately gauge risks and opportunities. Many grants require this number listed on a grant application. Contact the Contracts and Grants office for more information.

EDGAR (Education Department General Administrative Regulations) provides criteria and instruction on grant applications and the administration of grants and agreements. EDGAR on line

EIN Number: An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is also known as a federal tax identification number, and is used to identify a business entity. Contact the Contracts and Grants office for more information. 

Earned Income: Revenues received through fees or other payments. When received for activities funded by a grant, the income must be used to expand and/or enhance the grant related functions described in the proposal.

Evaluation: The plan for determining if the objectives and performance outcomes of the grant proposal are met along with the methods for achieving those outcomes. 

Facilities & Administrative Costs (F&A): Those costs which are not readily identifiable with a particular project or activity but which are necessary to the general operation of the organization and the conduct of that activity it performs. (See Indirect Costs.)

Fiscal Period: Refers to the time period for financial operations of the awarded funds. Grants awarded by the state of PA usually operate on a July 1-June 30 basis. Federal grants’ periods of operation vary, but the Federal government's normal fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.

Formative Evaluation: Method of identifying areas for improvement as the project is in planning stage or being implemented.

Freedom of Information Act: Federal and state laws providing public access to grant proposals and scoring that were submitted to government agencies.

Fringe Benefits: Benefits that are paid in addition to salary, i.e. life & health insurance, retirement, unemployment compensation. Benefit costs may change annually. Contact Contracts and Grants office for the latest benefits percentages.

FTE (full-time equivalent) Enrollment: The equivalent number of students enrolled on a full-time basis, determined by dividing credit hours taken by students is enrolled by the average number of credit hours in a full-time load. For CCAC, divide the number of credits taken by 12.

Funding Agency: The external source of additional revenue also referred to as Grantor, or funder.

Funding Criteria: Primary evaluation standards used by funder when deciding which projects to fund. These will be used to measure the quality of the proposal and need to be addressed in a proposal.

Goals (definition for grant application purpose): Broad-based statements of your ultimate expected result of the project being undertaken.    

Grant: Restricted funds from federal state or private agencies offered to organizations through competitive means or allocation.

Grantee: The recipient and administrator of a grant.

Grantor:  The agency or funding source awarding the funds to carry out a project.

Grant Writer: The individual or team in the organization who seeks funds to support a proposed project. The grant writer is responsible for the development of the proposal and usually manages the project as well if the proposal is funded.

Guidelines: The procedures established by the funding agency that grant seekers and grantees must follow.

Indirect Costs: The costs of doing business for the College that are not readily attributable to the grant project but are necessary for the operation of the institution. Indirect costs usually would include fees such as operating buildings, telephone expenses and general administrative salaries. The funding source usually limits the amount to be claimed as indirect costs. Contact the Contracts and Grants office for more information.         

Institutionalization: The College takes the grant-funded program or activity into the body of its regular operation, and it becomes part of the ongoing College costs

In-Kind Contribution: A non-monetary contribution of equipment, supplies, space, etc. provided by the grantee to meet cost-sharing requirements. The amount of in-kind may be limited by the funding source.

LEA: The ‘Local Educational Agency,' generally refers to an educational institution that houses or sponsors the grant project locally.

Letter of Intent: A letter that may be requested by a funder merely stating that the college plans to apply for a grant. 

Letter of commitment: Written assurance of participation from an organization or individual concerning a project to be undertaken by an organization or individual if the proposal would be funded. Letters of commitment are obtained by organizations or individuals who are considered credible in the eyes of the funder.

Letter of support: Written endorsement concerning a project to be undertaken by an organization or individual if the proposal would be funded. Letters of support are obtained by organizations or individuals who are considered credible in the eyes of the funder.

Matching Funds: Cash or in-kind support contributed by the grantee to carry out a project. Some grant proposals require a match before funding a proposal, and the amount of match will vary.

Need Statement: Describes the problem area or need that the proposed project will address. To make a compelling case as to why this program or project is needed, use statistical, testimonial, or other evidence that shows that the proposed plan is essential.

New Starts: Projects that are funded for the first time.

Non-Competitive Grant: Federal or state dollars allocated on the basis of a formula. Attached to a socioeconomic standard. Receipt of funds may or may not require submission of a proposal. These grants are also known as formula grants.

Nonresponsiveness: Bureaucratic jargon for failure to comply with all the rules, regulations, and requests of grant guidelines. A major reason for proposal rejection.

NOA: The ‘Notice of Award’ is the formal document used by the federal government to inform the grantee that the proposal has been funded.

NOFA: The ‘Notice of Funding Availability’ is an announcement from a federal agency or department that informs the public of a specific grant opportunity.

Objectives: Statements about expected outcomes that tell who is going to be doing what, when, and how much will be done. Measurable objectives become the criteria used to judge the impact of the project on the target audience and/or on organization effectiveness.

OMB (Office of Management and Budget): The Federal office that issues instructions and regulations governing a grant. The agency puts out circulars that govern a project and will prevent a grant project director from committing acts of Federal fraud, making unauthorized purchases and payments, and provide guidance on daily activities conduct.

Cost Principles for Educational Institutions (OMB Circular A-21)

 Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Other Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Nonprofit Organizations (OMB Circular A-110)

Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations (OMB Circular A-133).

Pass Through Funds: Funds that are transferred through the fiscal agent of a grant project to another entity, usually within a consortium. Pass through funds are generally provided to a second entity that then pays for activities serving the original grant project.

Performance-Based Contract: An agreement that includes a statement of the required services in terms of output; a measurable performance standard for the output; and an AQL or allowable error rate. Defined units of service have an associated cost, and the grantee is reimbursed based on the number of documented units performed during a specific period.

Planning Grant: Funding provided to support activities necessary to the design and plan of a particular program of project. A planning grant often subsidizes the production of a subsequent grant request.

Postmark Date: The date stamped by the U.S. Post Office or other mail service showing when a proposal was sent to the funding source.

Pre-Application: A preliminaryscreening process used by a funding source to identify potentially fundable projects. Pre-applications, while shorter in length than a full proposal, generally follow a prescribed format identified by the funding source.

Principal Investigator (PI): The individual responsible for leading and carrying out the terms of the award.

Problem Statement: The section of the formal proposal used to identify the specific purpose of the proposed project and convince the funding source of the critical need for the project. The problem must relate to the purposes and goals of the funding source and be supported by appropriate statistical evidence, research and expert statements.

Process evaluation: Assessment that is used to give direction or to explain behavior. This evaluation answers questions about how the project operates and documents the procedures and activities undertaken in service delivery. Such evaluations help to identify problems faced in delivering services and strategies for overcoming these problems.

Project Director: The designated individual who is responsible for the overall day-to-day administration, coordination, implementation and monitoring of the project. The project director ensures that the project is carried out in accordance with the final contract or agreement.

Project Initiator: The individual or team in the organization who seeks funds to support a proposed project. The initiator is usually responsible not only for the development of the proposal but also the management of the project and compliance with CCAC and the funder requirements should a grant be awarded.

Project Period: The period authorized by the funding agency in which the proposed activities take place. This can range from less than one year to multi-year projects.

Proposal: The document submitted to a funding source asking for monetary support for a specified period to carry out a specific project.

RFP/RFA ‘Requests for Proposals or Announcements’: Are generated by an agency who is interested in seeking proposals or applications that will accomplish the specific purposes outlined in the request guidelines.

Seed Money: Funds awarded to start up a project with the purpose of finding permanent financing from other sources.

Solicited Proposal: A proposal submitted in response to a request from the funding source.

Subcontract: Funds received from a primary grant recipient to support the costs associated with carrying out a portion of the grant project. Usually, it is not necessary to submit a proposal to receive a subcontract, although submission of a budget is usually required. The primary grant recipient and or the funding source generally requires a “Memorandum of Agreement: (MOA) describing the specific agreement in detail.

Subrecipient: A third-party organization performing a portion of a grant project. The terms of the relationship are documented in a Memorandum of Agreement. The funder holds the grant awardee responsible for all actions taken by both the awardee and the Subrecipient.

Substantial Approval: An award level from the funder, which guarantees the dollar amount and fiscal year of the grant award. This serves as an emergency measure to assure the awardees that funding will not be interrupted between the grant’s fiscal years.

Summative Evaluation: Method of looking at the results of a project at the end of the project to determine if it met its objectives and was successful. The focus on this evaluation method is on the outcomes.

Unsolicited Proposals: A written document for projects that the funder did not publish a solicitation.

Vendor: A contractor for goods or services.

Initial Source: Oakton Community College Glossary of Grant Terms

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