Office of Research Search

Types of Funding

The term "sponsored project" refers to a financial award (contract, grant, or cooperative agreement) from a sponsor to conduct a specified research, training, or service project. Sponsors can be state or federal agencies, foundations, nonprofit groups, or private enterprises such as business and industry. Below is information about each kind of sponsored project and then, for contrast, information about gifts.


A contract is an agreement for procurement of a particular service (e.g., evaluating the effectiveness of a project) or product (e.g., a report at the end of a research project), in which an institution is paid primarily to benefit the sponsor or to help the sponsor reach a particular goal. Normally, a contract will have various terms and conditions to which both the sponsor and institution must agree before work can begin. For an award to be considered a contract, it generally must specify:

  • detailed financial and legal requirements
  • work to be performed
  • deliverables and reports to be submitted to the sponsor
  • separate accounting procedures
  • legally binding contract clauses
  • benefits that accrue to the sponsor, the institution, and the nation

Contracts are handled through the Office of Sponsored Projects (link to Contracts Section).


Grants are awards that are made to the University for the performance of certain services and research activities; the creation of particular organized research units, facilities, or products; or the development of professional training in accordance with the wishes of the granting agency. Once a grant has been awarded, the funding agency is usually less involved in the project activities than in the case of either a contract or a cooperative agreement. In the majority of cases, grants are made for the performance of specific research or creative activities which have been suggested by a principal investigator. The results of such research or creative activity are usually in the public domain, except for the professional proprietary right of authorship. Grants may be awarded by either government or non-government sources. A grant is used to help support a project, often not reimbursing the University for all of the project costs and with the grant award often being a result of an unsolicited proposal from the principal investigator. Grants generally have:

  • a requirement for specific certifications and representations;
  • an award document
  • a restriction on usage to a specific scope of work in the public interest
  • a requirement for reports of a technical nature or other deliverables
  • an obligation to separately account for expenditures
  • a commitment of University facilities, personnel, or other resources
  • a specific performance period or completion date
  • instructions for disposition of unexpended funds
  • requirements for record retention and audit

Grants are submitted through the Office of Sponsored Projects

Cooperative Agreements

A cooperative agreement is an agreement where the sponsor has substantial involvement in the project. The sponsor and grantee work together to achieve a specific objective. Cooperative agreements allow for ongoing consultations, collaborative development and execution of project activities, and public dissemination of project materials, products, or results. The cooperative agreement is used by federal agencies only whenever there is a true collaboration between the University's principal investigator and the federal funding agency's personnel such that the agency is actively involved in the direction of the research project.

Cooperative agreements are handled through the Office of Sponsored Projects


Gifts are awards given as a donation from foundations, corporations, and individuals The conditions attached to gifts, if any, normally specify the way in which the funds are to be used. Most gifts to the University are intended to support such things as student scholarships and fellowships, faculty enrichment, and academic programs. Gifts are also made for the purpose of supporting new facilities, such as laboratories, and for the purchase of equipment. Some gifts are unrestricted, made with no conditions attached, and are intended for the University's use simply within the constraints of reason and good judgment. In-kind gifts such as equipment, consulting services, or space may be awarded in place of monetary bestowals. It is normally a special interest of the donor that determines the use of gift awards. Some characteristics of gifts are:

  • the intention is to make a charitable contribution
  • the donor does not impose contractual requirements
  • funds are awarded irrevocably

Gifts are handled through the Office of Research Development.