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Grants FAQ

For some of the most common questions regarding grants, please see our answers below. If your questions is not answered here, please contact the Grants Office.

If you want to apply for any form of government funding, you should work with the grants office. This is true whether the sponsorship will be in the form of a grant, cooperative agreement, contract, or sub-award.  You should begin working with this office before submitting a letter of intent or pre-application.

If you are interested in a grant from the private sector, you are welcome to contact either your development officer or Heidi Davis, (504) 865-3086. The grants and development offices will work together to determine how best to meet your needs.

If you seek a traditional gift, endowment, or another form of donation from the private sector, you should contact your college development officer

By sponsored project, we mean an activity which is funded by a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement and for which there is a level of accountability to the sponsor that is characterized by three things: 1) a predefined work plan or scope of work, 2) a budget, and 3) reporting requirements. All government-funded projects are sponsored projects.  

The protocol is described in under Submitting Applications. Please contact this office as soon as you decide to apply for funding. We are experts at planning and developing as well as submitting applications. The sooner we become involved in an application, the more we can contribute to its chance of success. Further, significant time is often required to secure institutional approvals, especially if course releases or cost-sharing is involved. 

While not all sponsors use these terms, the following definitions are generally accepted:  A co-PI is a co-director of the project and shares leadership responsibilities with the Principal Investigator. Co-Investigators (co-Is) and other collaborators contribute to the significant development of the project but are not on equal footing with the PI(s). Often the terms co-I and collaborator are used interchangeably, but generally, the title co-I should be reserved for collaborators who devote at least 5% effort to the project. 

A collaborator is an individual who contributes to the development of the project, whereas a consultant is usually a service provider who is not involved with shaping the project, but is performing routine services.  

Cost sharing and cost matching refer to the portion of project costs not borne by the sponsor. Often these terms are used interchangeably. When a distinction is made, the term cost-sharing is used to describe the general situation in which the university bears a portion of the project costs, and the term cost matching is used in the more specific situation in which the university’s share is required by the sponsor (see mandatory cost-sharing below). In-kind funding refers to contributions other than cash and to contributions from third-party sources. Examples of the former are a project leader devoting academic year effort to a project without the university charging his or her salary to the sponsor, and the sponsor paying for only a portion of the indirect costs associated with the project. 

Forms of Cost Sharing/Matching

  • Mandatory cost-sharing is required by sponsors, either by the program solicitation or according to statute, regulation, or policy.
  • Voluntary committed cost-sharing is not required by sponsors but proposed by project leaders to demonstrate significant commitment on the part of the university or a third party. For example, voluntary cost-sharing occurs when a faculty member specifies in the application that he or she will devote academic year effort to a sponsored project and does not request a commensurate portion of personnel costs in the budget.  This type of cost-sharing should be minimized as it results in an increased administrative burden and can result in significant financial costs, especially if the cost share is not met. In fact, some agencies, including the National Science Foundation, prohibit voluntary cost-sharing. 
  • Uncommitted cost-sharing means the application of university or third-party resources exceeding those which have been committed for a sponsored project. This type of cost-sharing is not required by a sponsor, budgeted for the project, or committed elsewhere in the application or award agreement. Uncommitted cost-sharing ideas do not adversely affect the university in the above-specified ways.

If the project is funded in any part by a government agency or office, then yes, you will need to complete an effort report for each semester during which the award is active. In some cases, reports are required for projects sponsored by the private sector as well. In such cases, the grants office will notify the project leader, and the project leader will be responsible for notifying all other project contributors required to complete reports. Forms will be provided by the grants office. Each year, fall reports are due by January 15, spring reports by May 15, and summer reports by September 15.

Whether it's a letter of intent, pre-application, complete application, or technical report, if it contains any financial information—including the total amount requested or a list of current and pending awards, then the document must be approved through the grants office before being submitted. When in doubt, route! (Or ask.) We will work with you to meet your deadline.  

A gift is the voluntary transfer of funds or property from an individual or a privately-owned organization. The donor does not expect anything of value in return other than recognition. The funds may be restricted—designated for a specific purpose—or not. In contrast, a grant, cooperative agreement, or sponsored project contract is provided by an organization, not an individual.  Grants and other forms of sponsorship generally require the performance of specific duties, such as research, reports, and the return of unused funds. Funds from a government entity are never grifts. However, funds from the private sector can be difficult to classify, and the distinction should be made by an expert from the grants or development office. In making this distinction, the following factors should be considered: whether a line-item budget is required, whether indirect costs can be charged, whether a progress report is required, whether the project has a termination period, whether unspent funds must be returned at the end of the project period, and whether there are specific instructions for the disposition of property, tangible or otherwise. (In each case, a yes is indicative of a gift.)

If there's a grant-related question that you would like answered, please email it to Heidi Davis.