Grants Office

General Provisions and Definitions

In this section we have pulled together definitions of many terms commonly used in sponsored project administration. Use this list to become better acquainted with our terminology and general policies. For example, search for "award", then try, "costs."

Administrative Acceptance

The administrative process to accept grant awards that includes the review of the award, signature of Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR), Kick-Off meeting and account setup. The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Chancellor’s Office has issued guidance on who has signature authority to commit the College in a legal agreement. In most cases, the President is the AOR, but in some cases, the Chancellor’s Office must approve the award.

Allowable Cost

Costs on grants are allowable if they meet the following criteria:

  • Reasonable
  • Allocable
  • In conformance with Federal and sponsor regulations and institutional policies and procedures
  • Treated consistently regardless of the source of funds
  • Not included as a cost in any other federally supported award (unless specifically authorized by statute)

Allocable Cost

A cost is allocable to a specific sponsored account if the goods or services involved are assignable to that account in accordance with the relative benefits received or other reasonable allocation. The PI can make the purchase if the cost is necessary to advance the work on the project.


An audit is a review of financial transactions, documentation, accounting procedures and systems by external or internal auditors. Various entities perform audits, examples include:

  • Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Internal Audit Division
  • Private audit firm hired by NSHE to complete the annual A-133 audit
  • Federal agency on agency’s awards (can be agency staff or private firm they hire)
  • Federal agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) (can be OIG staff or private firm they hire)
  • State agency (performed by agency’s employees)


An award is a grant, contract, or agreement issued by federal, state, or private entity that provides funds for a specific project to TMCC.

Award Acceptance and Kick-Off Meeting

After the TMCC Grants Office reviews the award, the award agreement is accepted and the kick-off meeting is scheduled. During the kick-off meeting, the principal investigator/project director, Grants Office staff, Budget and Planning Office staff and other related resource managers, (e.g., Human Resources, Facilities Administration, Information Technology, Institutional Research, etc.) will discuss the key aspects of the award and take responsibility for various start-up tasks. This will also include a discussion about the budget and the account setup. The PI will sign the Award Setup Cover sheet form.

Award Letter

An award letter notifies the College that the funding agency has funded a project. The award letter includes information such as the start and end dates of the award, the amount funds and applicable regulations for the management of the project.

Award Amendment

An amendment changes the terms of the award, e.g., the end date or total funding amount.


The budget is the spending plan for a proposed project. At the time of the award, the approved budget becomes a spending guide for the project. In some cases, the sponsor places restrictions on the College’s authority to modify the budget and/or to spend from certain categories.

Budget Category

A portion of the budget designated for certain types of expenditures such as salaries, fringe benefits, travel, operating, equipment, participant support, sub-awards or sub-contracts, indirect (F&A) costs etc. TMCC refers to these categories as object codes.

Carry Forward or Carryover

Carry forward is unspent funds from the prior year that the sponsor allows the College to carry into the next funding year. Sponsors do not like under-spending and carryover of large amounts from year to year. The goal is to expend all of the funds per the proposed budget. The PI should anticipate that the sponsor would not approve the carryover requests.

Closing a Project

Federal regulations require that the College complete the close out of a sponsored account within 90 days after the end date of the project. After the end date of the award, the PI should make one last review of the expenses posted to the account and move any unallowable costs to other College funds. If the account is over-spent, the PI must move the charges to other College funds to bring the award account to zero. If the PI spent less than the award amount the final financial report will reflect this information. If the sponsor has already paid the College for the full amount of the award, the College will return the underspent amount to sponsor.


A cohort is student group such as nursing students who participate together in a program. Usually programs with cohorts involve tracking and reporting of individual member and cohort progress.


Collaboration is a partnership in which key personnel from different institutions have substantial involvement in the development and performance of the project and the funding source makes only one award. The lead institution issues subcontracts or sub grants to the other collaborating institutions.

Committed Effort

Committed effort is the amount of effort proposed in a sponsored project proposal or other project application that the sponsor accepts. Committed effort should be directly charged to the sponsor. Federal regulations require that the sponsor must give prior approval on a reduction of more than 25% in PI effort on a grant.


Conformance is one of the cost principles. The College is required to make purchases or pay for salary that is in conformance with limitations and exclusions as contained in the terms and conditions of award, federal regulations, and institutional policy.


Consistency is one the cost principles. The College must be consistent in assigning costs to cost objectives. Salary, operating and tuition are examples of cost objectives.


A group of organizations sharing in the project aims, deliverables, finances and/or administration of a single grant. The lead institution submits the proposal on behalf of the consortium.

Continuation/Renewal Proposal

A type of proposal for additional funding that requests additional funds and time to complete a project beyond the original grant period.


A contract is an agreement to acquire services that benefit the project.

Cooperative Agreement

A financial assistance mechanism (grant) used when substantial Federal programmatic involvement with the recipient is anticipated by the funding agency during performance of the project. The Federal sponsor will specify the nature of the involvement in the offering or application guidance materials.

Cost Allocation

The documented method of determining the assignable cost of a particular item to one or more sponsored project accounts.

Cost Principles

The principles that determine if a cost is allowable. See also: "Allowable Costs".

Cost Reimbursement

A type of agreement in which the sponsor reimburses the College for actual allowable costs incurred in performance of the work.

Cost Share

Cost share or match is the portion of total project or program costs paid by the College or a third-party partner.

Cost Transfers

A cost transfer is an accounting entry that credits the account originally charged and moves the expenditure to a new account. Cost transfers are appropriate to correct technical errors, move charges on a memo account, ensure proper allocation of costs among accounts, and remove unallowable costs. Cost transfers are not appropriate to spend down an account. The College uses the term journal vouchers for cost transfers.

Direct Cost

Direct costs are "those costs that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity or any other institutional activity, or that can be directly assigned to activities relatively easily with a high degree of accuracy." (2 CFR 200.413)

Disallowed Cost

When an awarding agency or auditor determines that an expense that the sponsor reimbursed is unallowable, the auditor will refer to it as a disallowed cost. The College must repay disallowed costs to the sponsor.

Dissemination of Project Results

Strategies to let colleagues or organizations know about the results of a grant project. Examples include websites, publications, published articles, conference presentation, workshops etc.


Effort is the proportion of time spent on any activity. TMCC employees report effort as a percentage of their institutional activities.

Effort Certification

Certifiers must verify that the effort is correct prior to certification. Recertifying effort is not possible except in very rare circumstances. Concerns about the effort distribution shown on the page must be resolved before completing the report. Employees may face financial and criminal consequences for falsifying effort.


Permanent equipment is an item of tangible property with a minimum cost of $5,000 and that has a useful life greater than one year.

External Evaluator

A subject matter expert external to the project with the background and qualifications to conduct a high quality evaluation based on the project requirements. The College must hire evaluators in compliance with appropriate contracting rules.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs

Facilities & Administrative Costs or indirect are those expenses that not easily identified as a cost that solely benefited one project. The sponsor reimburses the College for such costs via the Facilities and Administrative Rate (F&A). F&A costs fall into one of two categories:

  • Facilities
  • Labs & classrooms
  • Library & office space
  • Electricity & internet
  • Administrative
  • Deans & department administration (including administrative assistants)
  • Grants administration
  • Office supplies

The F&A rate-setting process begins with the classification of costs for the prior fiscal year. The College assigns the costs to a prescribed set of cost pools determined by federal regulation. The College uses the cost pools in the calculation of the rate. The College submits the proposed rate to the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Cost Allocation (DCA) in San Francisco. DCA assigns a reviewer who goes through the proposal and supporting accounting schedules. Based on the review, DCA may accept the proposed rate or set a lower rate. Typically, the rate is set for four years.

Facilities & Administrative Cost Recovery and Distribution

The College recovers the allocable F&A during the invoicing process. The College uses the rate agreed to by the sponsor and charges the sponsor based on the method determined during the proposal phase, e.g., MTDC or TDC. If the award is eligible for the Grant Indirect Cost Sharing program, the financial system will automatically distribute the recovered F&A at the end of each month.

Federal Registration

Contains proposed and final guidelines, and other administrative regulations of programs as announced by Federal agencies in precise wording of the law.

Fiscal Year

The twelve-month period that determines an entity’s financial year, often stated as FY. TMCC’s fiscal year is July 1 through June 30. For example, FY15 is the fiscal year for the period July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. The Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) is October 1 through September 30.

Formula Grants

Funds distributed by the federal government (usually to state agencies) for use in specified projects. For example, the State of Nevada awards the Perkins Act funding based on a formula that includes the number of TMCC Pell Grant recipients.

Fringe Benefits

The College pays employee benefits such as life and health insurance, retirement, unemployment compensation and workers compensation in addition to salary. Benefit packages change yearly and vary by employee depending upon his/her benefit selections. Fringe benefit costs are allowable on sponsored account provided that the proportion of costs is consistent with the employees level of effort on the project.

Full Time Equivalent

A full-time equivalent measure is a way of equating the work of full- and part-time personnel. A full-time employee counts as one FTE. The FTE for a part-time employee is based on the percentage of a full time position that the College hires the employee to fill. For example, four employees who each work one-quarter of a full-time position are equal to one FTE employee.


A gift or donation is a voluntary transfer of money, services, or property (e.g., equipment, property, personnel time, etc.) from a donor without any expectation of or receipt of direct economic benefit or provision of goods or services. Donors make gifts to TMCC through the TMCC Foundation. The Foundation provides the donor with appropriate donor recognition and IRS tax documentation.


A grantee is a recipient of a grant.

Institutional Activities

Institutional activities include all job duties or assignments that benefit the College. These activities generally include:

  • Working on a grant or other sponsored project
  • Instruction
  • Maintaining office hours
  • Advising students
  • Supervising employees
  • Serving on College committees
  • Institutional/unit governance
  • Other scholarly activities that directly benefit the institution

Key Personnel

Key personnel assume the primary leadership for grant project such as Principal and Co-Investigators, Project Directors, etc. It is best to name as few people as possible under the key personnel heading.

No Cost Extension (NCE)

The College submits a no-cost extension to request a new end date of the grant from the sponsor. The TMCC Grants Office will work with the PI to determine the date to request from the sponsor. As the name implies, the College does not ask for additional funds. The College must request an NCE prior to the award end date. The level of key personnel effort commitments remain the same during the no-cost extension.

Pass-Through Entity

The pass-through entity provides an award to a sub recipient to carry out a portion of approved Statement of Work on a sponsored project. The pass-through entity assumes responsibility for oversight and management of a sub award. TMCC serves as the pass-through entity for sub-awards issued under its sponsored projects.

Program Officer

The sponsor’s employee or contractor who has the task of monitoring the project, providing technical assistance to the project, approving major changes, and insuring that the objectives are carried out within the framework of regulations.


An application submitted to an external funding source that may lead directly to a funded award. All proposals require institutional approval by the TMCC President.

Reasonable Cost

Federal regulations consider that a cost is reasonable if the item purchased and the cost of the item reflects the action that a prudent person would take under similar circumstances at the time the individual makes the purchase. The cost must be necessary to the College’s operations and/or the sponsored project’s performance. The purchase must comply with established College policies and the purchaser must be acting with due prudence in carrying out their responsibilities to the College.

Record Retention

Federal regulations require that the College retain all project related documentation for three years after the close of the award. However, some sponsors may specify a longer timeframe in the award document. Applicable records can be, but are not limited to, financial, personnel, lab notes, even computer files.

Reporting Requirements

Performance and fiscal requirements set by the funding source. The Project Director is responsible for the performance report and the TMCC Budget and Planning Office is responsible for producing and submitting financial reports.

Requests for Proposals (RFP)/Solicitation

The request for proposal or solicitation is an announcement by an agency that it is accepting proposals to accomplish a specific objective. The solicitation typically contains detailed instructions related to the written proposal.

Sponsored Accounts

TMCC sets up sponsored accounts to provide for the separate management and reporting of funds granted by sponsoring agencies. The College manages the budget and project expenses in the account.

Sponsored Project

Granting agencies award sponsored projects to the College in support of research, instruction, training, testing, service, or other scholarly activities under an agreement where the following conditions apply:

  • The sponsor requires that the Institution signs the proposal and award.
  • The project has a budget that identifies expenses by activity, function, or project period.
  • The project requires fiscal accountability including financial reports to the sponsor, an audit provision, or the return of unexpended funds at the conclusion of the project.
  • The agreement obligates the PI to report project results or convey rights to tangible (i.e., equipment, reports, etc.) or intangible properties (i.e., data, copyright or inventions) resulting from the project.
  • The agreement requires considerations such as indemnification or imposes other terms of legal accountability.


The obligation to be responsible caretaker of public and private funding resources awarded to the College.

Submission Deadlines

The sponsoring agency provides the date and time by which the College must submit applications for grants or contracts. Pay close attention to whether the deadline is "to be received at the agency", "by the deadline", or "postmarked" by the deadline and whether deadline is local time or time at the funding source’s location.


Supplanting funds is an improper use of sponsored funds to pay for ongoing activities that are budgeted for in the State accounts.

Total Institutional Salary (TIS)

Total Institutional Salary is the compensation paid to an employee for all institutional activities. Total institutional salary does not include any income that an individual earns for external work that does not use significant TMCC resources such as individual consulting or community service efforts.
TIS includes compensation from these sources:

  • State of Nevada
  • Grants and other Sponsored Projects
  • Gifts and Endowments
  • Other College Funds

Unallowable Costs

Unallowable costs are those costs that sponsor does not allow to be to be charge to a sponsored project account. For example, if a sponsor limits the award to salary costs only, travel expenses would be unallowable. Unallowable costs also include items expressly forbidden by regulations, such as purchasing alcohol and lobbying with federal funds.